9.27.2006,7:08 PM
Day Eleven: Rocky Mountain High
Taos to Clayton, NM
Start: 10 am Arrive: 5:02 pm
Weather: Warm!!!!! Skies blue as can be, nary a cloud in the sky. Removed the insulating liner out of my Joe Rocket jacket for the first time in eleven days. Tomorrow, remove the Thinsulate liner from my riding pants.
Not ready to don the mesh gear yet........

I left Taos with a touch of regret. The town started to grow on me. Especially after peeling back the various layers, meeting many locals, and discovering places in nooks and crannies. Most everyone there was friendly and willing to share stories and tales. This is what traveling is all about; pulling back your sleeves and digging into the local life. Meeting people and sharing stories, absorbing the local food, weather, the landscape, the architecture....

Aldous Huxley once said: "Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him." Traveling can be moving from point A to B, or experiencing all the places in between as well as the destinations, all the layers and fittings. For me, that is what I love about traveling. And my inspiration for this love, aside from the drive running in my blood, was a book I read when I was quite young: John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley". This trip has been a small tribute to Steinbeck and his book for nurturing that drive in me so many decades ago.

I nickname this rideabout "Travels with Whee".

I don't have a dog, so my bike is my companion. As well as all of you that are following the posts here and on the TWT forum.

Tonight I am at a KOA in Clayton, NM. Rode from Cimmaroon, east of the Carson Natnl Forest, with Duncan Powers, a retired 70-year old pilot riding to Alabama from SLC on.....................
........A BURGMAN!!!
Took pictures of his scooter to show y'all that anything can be done. Duncan sold his BMW 1100GS early this year because he couldn't swing his leg over anymore. He tried out the Burgman and has ridden 3500 miles on it in two months. He rides an average of 25,000 miles/year. We parted ways in Clayton after eating a cookie at the local Subway and sharing stories. He hopes to make Alabama by nightfall tomorrow.

Hwy 64 east of Taos through the mountains was so absolutely awesome with all the fall colors and sunshine, tall cliffs, trees in the valleys and passes, small pines on the peaks...... Twisting, up and down, hairpin and corkscrews........ 8575 feet. It was breathtaking. Coming out of the forest opens into a huge green rolling valley, a high mountain valley. Gorgeous!

The only part of todays ride that had my heart in my throat was when I was behind a huge semi loaded with a huge excavator going up a hairpin turn and STOP!!! O my. god.... construction, stopped behind this behemouth on a steep incline. When the pilot truck came to lead us, the driver couldn't get a start for a good 10 minutes without going backwards.

My heart was in my throat: back up? No, there were five or more vehicles behind me and we were on a very steep incline, in the middle of a hairpin curve. Going over the edge of the cliff to the right of me was not an option. Sweat, heart pounding.......

Cars started passing both of us while he still tried to get momentum forward. Finally he got it going, literally inching through the corkscrew and hairpin turns ahead. I waved the cars behind me to pass; I wanted to give Big Boy a good lead in front of me. Judging his distance from me, I rode forward all the way in 1st and 2nd gear, noticing that nearly all of the orange traffic cones were laying sideways in the road. Big Boy had a hard time navigating those turns.

At the bottom, he was pulled off to the side, a construction worker pulling a cone from his radiator. I passed and waved an "It's okay!".

I think I emptied my adrenal glands of adrenaline and cortisol during that half hour.

My riding buddies in Utah made fun of my obsessive methodical packing, so I timed my unloading and setting up camp gear: 35 minutes from dismounting the saddle. That includes: ground cloth, 2-person tent, fly, Thermarest pad, inflating the damn Big Agnes insulated pad, inserting it into the bottom of the Big Agnes sleeping bag, adding the down mummy bag on top of that, and putting away all the various pouches that everything fits in. Inflating the pad took the longest. I took pics to document the feat.

posted by Macrobe
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