Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chris and Don are okay

I just got off the phone with my sister in Tularosa, NM. They are fine. They say if wasn't a tornado that hit the village, it was darn close. Her fruit trees are ruined, the new fiberglass roof on the greenhouse got demolished by golf ball size hail. She says every mobile home in the area suffered some damage - windows blown out, skirting ripped away, etc. Numerous trees are down and they were without electrical power until 5 this morning. If I was a nice guy I'd go help them clean up, but Chris let me off the hook and told me to go enjoy my trip north.
Don says he's selling the house and moving to Seattle. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Storms and snakes

Not much to say. It was a warm and blustery day. There was a tornado warning this evening, but it was centered around Tucumcari to the southeast of me. I hope Don and Chris were out of the path of the storm. I took a picture of the storm clouds as they passed the Sandia Mountains.
While I was out taking this picture I noticed my neighbor slithering across the rocks. I think he's a gopher snake - I didn't stick around to ask him.
It's hard to believe that I've been here almost a month. I leave for the Four Corners, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Bryce, Arches and Yellowstone on Monday. I don't know how often I'll have internet access or cell phone coverage, but I promise to stay in touch.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

O'Keefe and Tecolote

Hey! This time both the O'Keefe Museum and Tecolote restaurant were open.

My breakfast burrito with chorizo and red chili sauce was excellent and it came with their own version of fried potatoes (cut the same as au grautin, but prepared like O'Brien) and a basket of biscuits and muffins. Washed down with a bottomless cup of good coffee, I haven't eaten anything else since breakfast.

The O'Keefe Museum is small. The size of the exhibit is overcome by the number of pieces on display and the ability to get right up close to the paintings. I have seen many prints and books of her work, but the originals are so much more crisp and vibrant. The lines in her oil paintings are very sharp and the colors are not muddled, yet the shading is amazing. The pastel works are understandably less sharp, but no less striking. My impression of her work (like that of many others) has always been that of sensuality. Her work was first described thus by her husband/agent, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. She did not agree and worked hard to change this perception by moving away from impressionistic works. The current exhibit includes photographs by Ansel Adams. The two artists became friends in 1929 when she was 42 and he was 27. In 1937 they travelled around the southwest by car visiting archaeological sites.

I rode back to the park wearing considerably fewer layers of clothes than I had on when I started out this morning. It's a beautiful day and I understand why Georgia O'Keefe felt drawn to this area.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Three days

Three days of cold, wet, windy weather caused by a low pressure front from the Great Northwest has left my cupboard bereft of snack foods. I've read three books, watched a few movies and played innumerable games of solitaire on my laptop.

The promised improvement in the weather for the upcoming weekend has my hopes high. I am a few miles from the local race track. I plan to go watch the late model modifieds run a 75 lap main event on Sunday evening. Temperatures should be in the 80s again.

The Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Sante Fe is running an exhibit that features works by O'Keefe and Ansel Adams. They met in 1929 and become very close friends. The exhibit is said to compare works by both of the same subject. I intend to go to the museum next week.

My son Thom has decided to take his vacation the last week of June and ride his V-Strom to Yellowstone and meet me at the north entrance. He seems excited and I am anxious to see him. Of course his father is nervous about him making this trip.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Papa's got a brand new bag!

Received my new saddlebag today. It only took about an hour to replace the broken one. Now I just have to wait for the check from her insurance company. They assure me that it's in the mail.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The homoginization of America

If I have learned anything from my travels so far, it is that corporate America has a plan to make every city the same. Every major city has every major restaurant chain and retail shop. From the highways, they look and feel the same. Take the roads less travelled.
When you travel across this wonderful country, avoid the restaurants and shops that you can find at home and in every other major city. Find the local businesses and support them. When you buy souvenirs, don't buy the crap made in China or Taiwan, look for the locally made items.
Not every meal you eat in the local dive is going to be a gem, but you'll never know until you try. Find out what the local specialty is. Here it is green chili. Green chili on hamburgers, green chili on pizza, green chili stew. It isn't spicy hot, just a different flavor. This advice is from a picky eater, but I'm trying. I just don't plan on visiting the tomato capitol of the world.
One exception is when you feel a touch of homesickness, then a comfort meal in a restaurant chain that you enjoy can be just the ticket to remind you that you are never far from home.
The next couple days will be in the 90s and I think they are going to open the pool, so that's where I'll be.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Latha maith dhuibh

Good day to you! I spent the day at the Balloon Fiesta Park observing the Albuquerque Highland games and Pipe and Drum competition. Great fun!

Friday, May 16, 2008


After a hearty breakfast burrito at the Duran Pharmacy lunch counter (voted best red chili in Albuquerque) I headed for the Petroglyph Monument just outside of town. It's not so much a monument as a protected canyon full of volcanic rock that has been carved on over the last 1400 years or so. Here are a small selection of carvings that I located over the mile and a half hike into the canyon. Some are the work of Pueblos, Spanish, early settlers and sadly some modern graffiti. Many of the petroglyphs have been used for target practice over the years and thieves have removed some of the primitive art. You would need someone watching the canyon 24 hours a day to enforce the $5,000 fine for disturbing the petroglyphs. I met some nice folks from North Carolina on the hike. Penny was very interested in the art, Stuart thought they all had something to do with sex.
This was a nice change from the day spent holed up in my coach yesterday. It started raining at 5:30 in the morning and didn't stop until late in the afternoon. Luckily I had gone to WalMart and bought a few books the day before - westerns by Elmer Kelton. You may remember a Tommy Lee Jones movie "Good Old Boys" that was based on his work. They are set in central Texas around 1920.
I think I'll try to take in an Albuquerque Isotopes baseball game tonight.

The Isotopes lost, but I got a free hat. A hot dog, a beer and a ball game - a good night.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Boy, do the people in this area get excited about a little rain. Thunder, lightning and a couple hours of rain last night brought out the flash flood warnings today. There have been some fires around here and there is nothing to hold the water I guess. Temps will be in the 60s for a couple days, then back to 80s on the weekend. The Rio Grande has enough water in it that the city is holding The Great Race for the first time in 12 years. Just like the Charlie Brown cartoon by the same name, it is a race of anything that floats down the river. Entry fee is $5.
I got a call from the insurance company yesterday. The check is in the mail. I even talked them in to renting me a car for a day. I already ordered the new saddlebag. They promised that it will arrive before I leave the park. I found a parts dealer that sold me the bag for $200 less than the Honda dealer. I'll do the work myself and get paid for the inconvenience.
I broke down and cooked a meal on my stove last night. I bought a 10" covered skillet that will allow me to make a lot of easy meals like tuna casserole, spaghetti, etc. I'm still looking for a cast iron Hibachi for grilling.
England and France have the Chunnel, Boston the Big Dig - Albuquerque has the "I". Remember all of the ramps that went nowhere in Seattle? They have even more on and off ramps for the interchanges around the intersection of I-40 and I-25. The overpasses are very decorative and the dryscaping around all of the cement work is very interesting. I'll try to remember to take a picture or two to share.
I came across two very strange houses that are not only in the same neighborhood, they are on the same street and sit next to each other.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sandia Peak

Hiway 536 starts at Sandia Park on Hiway 14 (The Turquoise Trail) and heads in to the Cibola National Forest. It is a fourteen mile long ribbon of twisting, curving asphalt that leads to the top of Sandia Peak. With an elevation of 10,678 ft., it is 5,364 ft. above Albuquerque. Even now, in the middle of May, snow can be found in patches. In the winter, Sandia Park is the local ski area complete with one chair lift. The view from the top to the valley below is spectacular.

For some reason people like to ride their bicycles up this stretch of road. If you make the trip, watch out for them - especially as they come flying down the mountain. As with any stretch of road like this, it is popular with the sport bikers. They race each other to the summit, dragging knees and grinning like mad men.

I continued my search for local diners, drive-ins and dives that haven't been part of the television show. Today I found "Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q". It is in truth a meat market that sells smoked meats pulled from their pit, cut in full view of the customers and served on white butcher paper by the pound. You can serve yourself and eat in or take it home. They provide breads and have sides, desserts and drinks. Don't let the sign fool you, it is not the world's worst B-B-Q.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Not quite a Lazy Boy, but...

It will do.

I've mentioned that I need a recliner in my coach, but there is no room. The ever resourceful David suggested turning my passenger seat around to become extra seating. Well I did it. It isn't quite a recliner, but it gives me a seat with a headrest for tv viewing and reading. I'll run an extension cord to it and get a lap table for the computer and rig a reading lamp over it. When I hit the road I can put it back in the upright and stowed position.

Most of my day was spent getting estimates for the repair of my bike and faxing them to the insurance company. I don't think there will be any problem getting paid, the other driver has admitted fault and they aren't arguing about the cost.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thought(s) for the day

When you go for a ride in the desert of New Mexico, and when you run in to a sand storm in said desert, be sure to wear your leather jacket. The tumbleweeds hitting you at 40 mph won't hurt nearly so bad.

Another thought, if you haven't seen "Ironman" - do. Stay until the end of all of the credits so you can see the secret scene.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Do you know the way to Sante Fe?

The weather prognosticators predicted 80, sunny and breezy. Their job is pretty easy here this time of year. A perfect day for a ride to Sante Fe. Did you sing the title to this post?

I had three reasons for the trip: 1. Go for a ride 2. See the Georgia O'Keefe Museum 3. Go to another of the "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" - The Tecolote Cafe.

I started out early following Route 66 (Central Ave) through town which connects with Hiway 333 and 337 and took me to the village of Tijeras, the start of The Turquoise Trail - Hiway 14 to Sante Fe.

Stopping in Madrid for a quick bite and a cup of coffee at The Java Junction was very enjoyable. It's a friendly, artsy, funky former mining town that died once and was resurrected in 1970 as a commune. That attitude still prevails.

Continuing on to Sante Fe, I found the cafe, but decided to go to the museum first as I had just had a bite to eat in Madrid. Sante Fe is an upscale, yuppy vacation wonderland. It has some wonderful museums, it was just too bad that the O'Keefe Museum was closed to prepare for a new exhibit. Damn. I wandered through town (almost bought a $600 bracelet for myself - I still might) and visited a few galleries and museums. Marvelous stuff.

By now it's 2 o'clock and time for lunch so I head back to Tecolote Cafe only to find that it closes at 2. Damn.

I jump on the bike remembering another dive that I wanted to try - The Doghouse. Foot long hot dogs split, grilled, topped with hot chili (no beans), cheese and onions. What a great dog!

So, I got my ride, have to wait a week to go to the O'Keefe Museum and won't eat before I get to Sante Fe next time. There is one leg of the Turquoise Trail that I didn't ride - to the top of Sandia Crest on 536, elevation 10,678 ft.
Next time.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de Mayo

Hola! Feliz Cinco De Mayo amigos y amigas!

I visited historic old town Albuquerque today. A very pleasant day. It started with a drive down historic Route 66. Sadly, like so many things, the romantic version of it is better than reality. There are a few buildings left from the halcyon days of yore, but most are boarded up and for sale, in various stages of disuse.

The San Felipe church anchors Old Town. It is still an active Catholic church and school.

Old Town is mostly small shops selling the same things. There are some authentic native American run stores and there are local artists/vendors on the sidewalks.

I'm okay, but my bike isn't. I got bumped at a stop light. She had stopped her Lincoln Towncar, I saw that, but her foot slipped or something and she hit me. I didn't get knocked down and the only damage I can find is my right saddlebag and the bent license plate. She has insurance and so do I. The bike is rideable.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Thoughts on being "Homeless"

First, note that homeless is in parenthesis. I am in no way comparing myself to those individuals who are truly homeless. I am so very lucky to be in the position that I now find myself.

I have been asked what it’s like to travel by myself. I’ve glibly replied that I am just another of the homeless masses. Being who I am, I’ve given the subject some thought in the last couple months.

I am, in some ways, homeless. I have no brick and mortar building to call home. That is not to say that I don’t have a (leaky) roof over my head. I have a bed, a kitchen, a bathroom – all of the comforts of home (except a recliner).

In the past I have had abodes - stick built apartments, duplexes, town homes and a single family residence – but not a home. Not since my little family group was taken from me.

Losing my family through separation and divorce was the worst thing that has happened to me in my life. I became a failure overnight. That was years ago and it still affects my daily life.

Separation anxiety. That’s what the psychiatrist called it. She offered drugs and therapy, but was more fixated on whether or not I had thoughts of suicide. I gained 90 pounds, did nothing beyond what was required. Go to work, go home, eat, drink, sleep, get up and do it again. Friends and determination got me through the worst part. Friends that got me out of the house. Friends that got me on the tennis court and the golf course. Friends that helped me rekindle my interests. The determination to not eat when there was nothing better to do. Boredom when you are alone is a killer.

Now I am as alone as I have ever been. My traveling partners have gone their way and I’ve gone mine. Being sick, in a strange city and alone is no fun. Thanks to modern technology I’ll never really be alone again. I can reach out to friends and family anytime I want and I know that they will be there for me. It was that way during the bad times, too. I just didn’t realize it.

On a happier note, Mary reminded me that Monday is Cinco de Mayo and that I should go to Old Town Albuquerque and participate. I think I will.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I know it's Thursday, but...

Gopher: If I was you, I'd think about skedaddlin' out of here.

Gopher: 'Cause it's "Winds-day".

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, 1968

I know yesterday was Winds-day, but today is just a continuation of yesterday in so many ways. Thanks to the wind and this cough that I caught in the Ozarks, I spent the day in the RV, reading, watching "Bruce Almighty" and doing laundry. I hope that the wind will let up for my drive to Albuquerque tomorrow.