Albuqurque, New Mexicao, Land of the Enchanted
Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
26Trip End Oct 05, 2010
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Rain gone, clear skies, Bonnie and I rolled out at dawn. The air temperature registering on the Goldwing's system declared 56 degrees. The GPS built into the Goldwing is named Navi. We are still developing a relationship. Bless her heart, she sometimes cannot keep pace when she must recalculate in a city with short blocks. Her rant of "Recalculating!" repeats until her satellite feeds catch her. She is patient and simply keeps me informed that she is trying.
We began heading west on Interstate 40. My old friend I-40 is still presenting high cross winds. Sans rain this should be manageable. The route continues across Oklahoma then traverses a bit of Texas. We are now in the open plains of America. The vastness is incredible
Miles and Piles
My motorcycle instructor, in 2004, described the joy of riding as being able to sense everything about you. You will witness the sights, the sounds and the smells. The openness experienced makes riding in a car seem like a cage. The sounds of the dogs barking, trees capturing wind impact your mood. The smell of fresh cut grass and flowers blooming bring you into being with the surroundings.
Oklahoma and Texas still have stockyards. Despite or because of the cross winds, the smell of cattle invades my nostrils without respite. I have smelled cows in Georgia, but there is nothing like a stockyard smell. This goes into my brain. I became one with cattle for a couple of hundred miles. There were miles and piles of shit to ride through. This is America, this is how America smells, and this is what we do not smell at your grocer’s freezer.
New Mexico, Land of the Enchanted
Enter New Mexico, state slogan, the “Land of the Enchanted.” Signs advertising Route 66 are everywhere
In the sixties, Madd magazine reviewed the TV Show, “Then Came Bronson.” It compared the two-wheeled adventures of Route 66 to the singular wheeled escapades of Bronson. It simplified the story lines with disillusionment. I differ with the editors of Madd magazine. Bronson was independently cool. He was Steve McQueen cool. Bronson gave heart and himself to those needing justice or comfort. The two guys of Route 666 and their adventures were detective-right-the-wrong stories.
I pressed onward in my 7 and one-half hour plains ride. Mountains curves signs began to appear. Oh no, not another day of wind dodging! The cross winds were from the south or my left. It was somewhat predictable. However they got worse. I found myself holding against the invisible breath of the plains. It got to be very tiresome.
I grew weary. I began to anticipate the gusts by taking note of the topography. Whenever there was an opening in the land from the south I could brace against the giant breaths. This went on for two hours. Suddenly a hard breath hit me from the right or north. What the hell? I was looking for a right-handed cross and I got a left cross.
This sudden change in cross wind direction was not fun. Now I looked over both shoulders wondering when the knock-out punch would come. I braced and ducked. I throttled up to pass the ever present trucks. This maneuver makes me more susceptible to the cross winds. I settled for the right lane and chanced to pass when all conditions appeared right. After a couple hundred miles I needed to rest from the bracing. I found a “rest stop” and landed.
At the rest stop a gentle old man was puttering about. I dismounted and noticed the trees at the stop were bending over. They too, were bending to the breaths of the desert. As the codger walked past his truck reading Rest Stop Maintenance Division, I asked, “Is this wind normal?” He said it was not this high yesterday. He also offered sympathy by saying there were 60 bikes on the other side at the east bound rest stop. They too were waiting, my guess, resting from the fight. A woman and her husband pulled in after me. She queried, “How can you ride in this wind?” I said it was a challenge.
The Rest Stop maintenance man sat down on a small wall while I tried to light a cigarette in the wind. He pulled pieces of his lunch out and sprinkled the crumbs for the birds. This routine was his, despite the goings on of the travelers. I envied him for landing a job that allowed him to ride out his life outdoors quietly, meeting travelers briefly without encounters.
I gathered my will, mounted Bonnie and we “Got in the Wind.” I stopped for gas and met a small group of bikers at the pump. I asked the guy near my island of fuel if he was experiencing cross winds. He said, “Yeah, I hate it. It comes from nowhere.”
I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with my butt hurting, deaf from the wind, but happy for a shower and visit from a motorcycle club friend. She is called Sugar Soldier. She is a lone African-American woman rider, settled in New Mexico. She also confirmed that cross winds were a part of this country. It was a good feeling to see a familiar face attesting to the challenge of open plains riding.