Two words – damn wind!!

The winds have been unbelievable the last few days, I’m constantly being blown around, out of my lane a couple of times, and I’ve done a bunch of 45 mph riding just to keep upright.  Right now I’m sitting on my bed and the room is rocking, like I’ve been on the water for a day.  Even my neck is sore from my helmet being tossed back and forth.

Enough of the complaining, it’s been a great couple of days, more great scenery and roads, I’ve lost count of how many ecosystems I’ve ridden through.  I got my first taste of gravel roads, 23 miles of semi-graded county road, and the bike handled it beautifully.  The only other vehicle I met on it was another motorcycle, a rider from Seattle on his way to Tuscon after a 4 year, round the world ride!  Most of the other roads today were just as empty, often when I stopped for a photo no other cars came by.  That made it even more of a shock when I got on I-40!

I guess I should start with yesterday’s ride, here’s something new, a map of the route (zoom in for more detail):

I started at my aunt Jeanne and Cas’ house (actually, it’s Zorro’s house and he’s nice enough to let them stay there too!), it was good to see them again and the visit was way too short.  Here they all are as I was ready to hit the road:

Jeanne, Zorro, and Cas (guess who runs the place?)

The ride from Snowflake to Show Low was plain bad – the side winds were awful! I did most of it at 30 mph just to keep in my lane.  Thankfully, once in Show Low the trees blocked most of the wind and I was able to get some speed.  From there I headed SE on a great 2 lane road that wound through forest and lakes, little towns that barely existed except a name on the map, and taller and taller trees as the road went higher.

A sweet little lake/bog in the woods. It's not all dry around here.

There's one in every crowd that just won't follow the leader!

Yep, that's snow. This was at 9250 feet.

I went over three big passes, the highest at 9250 feet and the others at 8400 and 8200 feet.  Above 9000 it was quite cold and, you guessed it, windy.  I was glad to drop down a few thousand feet just for the warmth.

Even though there were shorter routes, I kept going SE on little roads and ended up on NM 32 that wound its way along the Apache Creek.  The creek has carved out a 500 foot deep canyon for 20 miles and it was a fantastic ride.  The valley was filled with quaking aspen (I was told) and the various colors of green, brown, and red made for a wonderful view.  Eventually I ended up in Quemado (Spanish for burned or scorched, named by Cortez because the local natives had burned the brush for planting) where I found the Laredo Motel, the only one open for many miles.  Amazingly it had just been remodeled and was great.  The attached cafe boasted of the best green chili cheeseburger in NM, so I had to try it.  It was OK, but the slice of American ‘cheese’ was a big let-down.

I wanted to take more pictures but it’s difficult to do.  Most of the roads I’m on are very narrow with no shoulder or pull-outs, so there’s nowhere to stop.  A couple of times I’ve stopped in the road, as long as I can see behind me and the traffic is light, and I get shots like this:

A small mesa along the road, I'd guess several hundred feet high.

Occasionally there will be an official scenic overlook and I can get shots like this:

Yet another great view across New Mexico.

So that was yesterday, it’s late and I’ll cover today’s ride tomorrow.  I’m in Albuquerque now and will be here for 2 days to take in some museums and the sights.

And remember: damn wind!

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