Day 10

Lessons learned:

  • When you have the option of a long sleeve with thumb holes and one without, have a well thought out reason to buy the one without.  Something better than “I already have so much orange in my closet.”
  • Have two pairs of gloves for long rides in the cold.  Out one inside the heated jacket liner and wear the other.  Alternate as needed.  Or better yet, buy the damned heated gloves.

So I woke up in Kayenta, AZ.  There isn’t a lot going on there.  So I ate breakfast at the hotel.  I went to the Ace Hardware across the street to see if they long johns or something similar.  They didn’t.  I went across the street and took a picture of the old 7-11 sign.  When I was getting ready to go back to the hotel I saw an Indian gift shop with Ariat and Wrangler signs out front.  So I went in there to see if they had any long underwear.  They didn’t, but they had some long sleeve quarter zips, so at least my upper body could be a little warmer.

I went back to the hotel, got loaded up, geared up and took off for Monument Valley.  It wasn’t quite in the opposite direction of Albuquerque, but it wasn’t in the same direction either, so it was going to be an out-and-back trip, then I’d be able to get on the road to Albq.  I stopped a couple of times on the way to Monument Valley to snap photos, then went in.  It was kind of disappointing because they still charged me full price to get into the park but wouldn’t let me take a motorcycle on the vehicle loop.  So I could only walk around the visitor center taking photos.

I offered to take pics of people when I saw them struggling to get a selfie, or to let couples/familes get photos all together.  I talked another stranger into letting me take a photo of them with the water bottle.  She wouldn’t let me take a picture of her with her face showing if I was going to post it on social media sites.  She does investigations for security clearances so we ended up having a pretty good talk.

After that I back-tracked to Kayenta, filled up and then headed off to Albuquerque on 160.  At Teec Nos Pos I veered off to go check out 4 corners.  The scenery was gorgeous, but the actual 4 corners was kind of anti-climactic.  I went back to Teec Nos Pos and got back onto 160/64 to Shiprock and then Farmington, NM.

The weather was pretty decent up til this point, just cold as hell.  In Farmington, when I jumped onto 550 to Bernalillo that changed pretty quickly.  More hail, rain and snow.  I ended up stopping in the middle of nowhere at some Indian casino/truck stop combo.  My toes and fingers were hurting to bad to go any further, so I got a sandwich at the Subway in the truckstop and thawed out.

I got back on the road but it finally dawned on me that I had two pairs of winter gloves with me.  The pair that got soaked on day one, and the pair I bought to change into.  I put one inside of my heated jacket liner and wore the other pair.  Every 30-45 minutes I swapped out.  Kind of goofy, but it got me through.  I finally found the hotel in Albuquerque that I had reservations at.  This is what I look like after riding for 7-8 hours in crazy winter:

IMG_20170429_222146~2

There was a Target across the interstate from the hotel so I rode over quick and looked for pretty much anything to make Day 11’s ride better than Day’s 9 and 10.  They didn’t have anything, but a couple blocks away there was a Kohl’s.  They had a base layer long underwear type thing.  So I got that and went back to the hotel, where there was a restaurant and ordered a steak and my favorite drink, Blue Moon with a shot of Amaretto and a splash of OJ.  After dinner I went up to the room, showered and climbed into bed in my t-shirt and boxers.  And then this happened:

After a few minutes out in the cold, they told us it was a false alarm and we went back inside.  But the bar had conveniently had last call during the fire alarm, so I just went upstairs and crashed.

 

Day 1

I’m writing this from the Fairfield Inn in the Albuquerque University district.  I packed and filled the motorcycle with gas and am just waiting for two conference calls to get back on the road.

I rode from home to here yesterday, about a 458 mile ride.  It should take about 6.5 hours, but ended up being closer to 9 hours.  That’s largely because of the 100 miles I rode in the rain and the 3 hail encounters.  Those might’ve sucked a bit.  I got to Trinidad just as I was getting to the edge of the rain.  I stopped at the Big R there and got new glove and wool socks.  The heated jacket liner did a great job keeping my core warm but my hands and feet had had enough.  After I got the new socks on and got back on the bike, the storm caught back up to me, with big hail.  Fortunately I was still in the Trinidad city limits so I was able to pull off at a truck stop and wait the hail out.

I had wanted to take I-70 to Glenwood Springs, spend the night there, then head out again today, going through Moab.  But because of me trying to beat the rain, I took I-25 all the way down.  Stupid weather man.  According to all the weather outlets (accuweather, weather.com, weather underground, local news websites) as long as I got past it in Colorado Springs, I was fine.  It was just supposed to be windy from there out.  They lied.  Just south of Fountain it opened up and dumped on me.  I was feeling confident and fine until I came up on a sign that said “Heavy rains, beware of standing water”  WTF?  Standing water?  That’s the last thing I needed to hit at 70.  That ended up not being a problem but the weirdest thing was the mag chloride.  They use it to de-ice the roads here instead of salt.  The rain pulled it up out of the pavement, so in some spots the road was solid white instead of black.  For a second I thought I was driving through snow.

Once I got past Raton, NM, the rain/hail finally stopped.  I went a little further to stay ahead of it and got to a rest stop and was treated to a gorgeous sunset.  Those last couple miles of daylight I kept thinking that there was a life lesson there.  Keep pushing yourself to go far enough/long enough and eventually you’ll hit blue skies again.  Lame, I know.

The ride into Albuquerque was pretty decent.  Dark, so I couldn’t see anything, cold and windy as hell, but ok.  And the best part was that I got to meet up with an old friend, my boss from my first trip to Afghanistan.  He came by the hotel to pick me up and we went out and had a couple of beers.

All in all, a great ride, although after 9 hours I’m a little sore in the shoulders.  Today I’m off to Phoenix.  Taking I-40 out of the city, then jumping off to 60 at some point to go through the Salt Valley.

Lessons learned:  Wool socks.  Better safe than sorry.