The open road: 2010 summer trip day 5

Day 5: Pagosa Springs, CO to Plano, TX — 824 Miles

Today was all about miles. If I’d planned it smarter, it wouldn’t have been too much more to have made a Saddlesore 1000 out of the day.



[click to go to an interactive map]

Small fortune on fencing — the long vanity fence baffles me.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 34mm focal L. @67 MPH, map

Heading south on US 64 out of Pagosa Springs, it wasn’t long to get to New Mexico. I’m sure I’ve been to the state before but, I don’t have any memorable recollection of doing so. For some reason, I half expected it to quickly transition into barren desert, which of course, is all rather silly since I’d chosen to follow the mountains as far south as I could before turning east toward Dallas.

US 64

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1250sec, 70mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~15mi from prev photo, map

US 64

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/500sec, 60mm focal L. @75 MPH, ~6.4mi from prev photo, map

And, it didn’t take long to arrive at the desert.

Taos was unbelievably hippy. The stench of patchouli oil assaulted the nose just rolling through town. There are more artists studios/shops than a town of such size could possibly support. I wasn’t shopping today, so, I just kept on moving as fast as traffic would let me.

Bizarro house nearing Taos — Note the usage of old tires.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/800sec, 60mm focal L. @62 MPH, ~30mi from prev photo, map

Crossing the Rio Grande — one last time on this trip

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/800sec, 29mm focal L. @42 MPH, ~1.6mi from prev photo, map

I stopped for breakfast at a cafe in Angel Fire. Geek that I am, the thing that comes to mind when I think of “Angle Fire” are all those (lousy) first generation web pages/sites hosted for free on anglefire.com. Ohh, how times have changed….

US 64 — almost into Angel Fire. Just couldn’t pull the trigger on getting around this one.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @25 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map

Looking at Google maps, NM 120 takes a nice direct line in the direction I needed to go. But, the first sign of trouble was that Mr. Garmin refused to take me that way. 3 miles into it, the “Pavement Ends” sign explained why Mr. Garmin was so insistent upon making a U-turn, “when possible”. As you’ve seen, I’m not adverse to riding off pavement, but, I was potentially looking at 70 miles of dirt road to follow my intended route. It likely would have been less (depending on when pavement stared on the other side), but, I didn’t figure it was worth the risk. With only 3 miles invested, I decided that a longer route on tarmac would certainly be faster.

NM 120 — Looked like a very promising road.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 34mm focal L. @55 MPH, ~10mi from prev photo, map

Back on NM 434

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 38mm focal L. @64 MPH, ~1.0mi from prev photo, map

And, it turns out that NM 434 proved to be a very interesting road to have been “stuck” on. It meandered through the hills and offered plenty of distraction to take my mind off not following the planned route. The most striking feature of the road was the sheer variation from narrow goat trail to a manicured 2-laner.

NM 434 — A bit longer route, but, turned out to be fun all the same.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/400sec, 18mm focal L. @47 MPH, ~4.0mi from prev photo, map

NM 434

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~4.6mi from prev photo, map

In my head, I was hearing dueling banjos from one of the porches in the sparse community at the junction of NM 518 and NM 434.

I wonder what sort of building used to be

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @35 MPH, ~14mi from prev photo, map

NM 518 — back to making time…

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/4.5, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~1.8mi from prev photo, map

Rolling into Las Vegas, NM, (didn’t even know there was another), I said goodbye to fun roads and gassed up in preparation for the start of a long burn through the mostly flat lands.

NM 104 — Leaving Las Vegas — not that one, the one in New Mexico.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250sec, 48mm focal L. @72 MPH, ~27mi from prev photo, map

Little house on a prairie

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250sec, 46mm focal L. @71 MPH, ~1.9mi from prev photo, map

NM 104 heading east of Las Vegas was interminably straight and devoid of any other cars. There was the very occasional ranch house, but, mostly it was nothing but prairie on either side as far as the eye could see. I wondered how old the abandoned house and windmill pictured above were.

I had settled into a grove of about 80′sh with the throttle lock on and generally kept half an eye out for any errant 4-legged creatures. I really wasn’t overly worried about any LEO’s, but, I wasn’t in such a hurry as to go stupid fast. After a half an hour of this, I was at the point where boredom sneaks up and attaches tiny lead weights to the eyelids at every blink.

Suddenly, I was very literally startled when a lady in dark blue POS blew by me going well over 100 MPH. Awww, what the heck, might as well make this a little more interesting and poured the juice to it. She kept up that speed for a while and then slowed it down some after drifting precariously from one edge of the road to the other. I was far enough behind her not be in danger if she went for an extracurricular adventure, but, she managed to keep it mostly centered between the two lanes after that.

My rabbit — a little of your lane, a little of my lane.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 62mm focal L. @96 MPH, ~18mi from prev photo, map

Down it goes…

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @59 MPH, ~6.7mi from prev photo, map

Just prior to stepping down off the plateau, my rabbit blazed through the “reduced speed zone” for the small community and tore into the parking lot of a convenience store. Shucks, fun’s over…

A brief respite from straight and boring

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~1.8mi from prev photo, map

And, back to straight and boring

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250sec, 70mm focal L. @91 MPH, ~18mi from prev photo, map

After dropping down from the plateau, the shoulders of the road had been very freshly mowed and, little did I know, the mower had kicked up gravel and dirt all over the road. It sure got my attention when the bike got all squirrelly on me in the middle of a corner. One can never be too relaxed…

As I was approaching the mower tractor, the radar detector started chirping with a weak signal that faded, coincidently enough, shortly after passing by the mower. Now, there are some agriculture applications that utilize radar for precise speed control (think: pesticide application), but, a mowing tractor really has no such need. Hhhmmmmmmmmm.

As I pondered this, the radar detector started chirping yet again, and just then, my friendly rabbit blew past me a second time with a renewed fire in her britches to get someplace.

Uhhhh Ohhh, this is not good. I slowed it down and watched the train wreck happen in front of me. I wished I could have warned her somehow that it wasn’t the best of times to be drunkenly speeding.

And, not 30 seconds later, a dark SUV emerged over a distant crest causing the radar detector to go berserk. The LEO hit his lights just before passing the rabbit and she just jammed on the brakes and pulled it off the road such that the LEO only had to make a U-turn to pull in behind her. BUSTED!

I just casually rolled by at a legal, yet, abysmally slow pace. Show’s over, nothing to see here…

Welcome to Texas — Mmmmmm, beef

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~128mi from prev photo, map

I eventually made my way to the superslab that is I40 and then US287. It didn’t really seem like I was missing all that much through these parts.

Although, I’m fairly certain they didn’t have these massive rest stops along the 2-lane roads.

Everything’s bigger in TX — The rest stop was a complex of 4 buildings on each side of the freeway.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1000sec, 70mm focal L. @76 MPH, ~93mi from prev photo, map


Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.2, 1/1000sec, 34mm focal L. @79 MPH, ~16mi from prev photo, map

Terrible picture, but, I was completely surprised to see camels roaming through the fields. Apparently, they have a long history in Texas.

Camels, in Texas?!? — Who’d have thunk?

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/160sec, 70mm focal L. @73 MPH, ~108mi from prev photo, map

Almost 14:45 hours after departing Pagosa Springs, I pulled up to my buddies house — by far the longest day I’ve ever done in both miles and hours. Considering I had a relaxing breakfast, stopped to enjoy a root beer float with lunch, and tooling through some cool back roads — an average of ~56 MPH from start to finish wasn’t too shabby at all. I can certainly see how a Saddlesore 1000 is readily doable.

Even though it was after 11 PM, my buddy was all to happy to share a beer and shoot the breeze to catch up on lost time. But, we had plans for the next day, so, it wasn’t too long before we called it a night so we could be rested for, more adventures.

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