August, 2013

New Mexico is a really enjoyable place to ride.  You've got wide open spaces, terrific roads, stunning mountains; all without the crowds and RVs of Colorado.  Plus, the food is great.

My only real goal was to ride the bit of highway between Logan and Roy, passing through Mosquero, New Mexico.  It's a road I've  wanted to ride for years, but I never seemed to be in the right place.


This is the Texas panhandle.  You've got to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy US-54 as it arcs towards the southwest running parallel to the Union Pacific tracks.

New Mexico

Just outside Logan, I turned northwest on NM-39 towards Mosquero.

Carpenter Mesa rises abruptly from the great central plains that stretch out eastward.  It's just as flat on top, and I'd imagine more than one nighttime eastbound traveling car has been surprised when the road vanished over the edge.

Looking east.

Mosquero, New Mexico.

How many county seats in the United States have neither a cafe nor a gas station?  The small general store had a few cans of gasoline out on the sidewalk, so I suppose if you were desperately low, you'd be able to buy something.

In the short time I was talking to the painter (Doug, I believe), he completed the front half of a black bear.  After walking around the town, and returning, the bear was done (complete with all the finishing details) and he was moving on to the next part of the mural.  Most every building along Main Street has a mural.



Roy, New Mexico.

Roy does have a gas station, which must be a joy to see for many people coming from the east.  It's a nice feature of the Guzzi Stelvio that I can count on a range of at least 350 miles, so I wasn't too concerned.

You're in New Mexico, so pretty much everything on the menu is prefaced with "green chili."  This is the green chili cheese burger.  Excellent.


The Canadian River has carved quite a deep and wide canyon through the mesa.

Ocate, New Mexico is right on the edge of the Rocky Mountains.  My map was not clear as to what sort of road I could expect.  Certainly, it looked viable enough in the beginning.

After a few miles, the pavement ended.  There were a few places where water flowed over the road, so I had a bit of mud to contend with; but overall, it was a good enough road.

Even for something as heavy as the Stelvio this road is easy.  At times the rocks were fairly large, but nothing too bothersome.

Angel Fire, New Mexico isn't so much a town as it is a collection of condominiums and vacation homes.  I saw some dormitories away from the center where very likely the workers live (somebody has to deliver your food at the restaurant).

Red River, New Mexico.

There are not too many places where you can cross the Rio Grande.  The reason might be obvious.

Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico is another county seat that doesn't seem to have much else going for it except a really nice courthouse.

Chama, New Mexico.

Chama has some of the remains of the old Denver & Rio Grande narrow gauge system (Silverton is another).  You can ride the steam train to Antonito, Colorado (64 miles).  I had one of the best lunches of the entire trip.


Riding south on NM-509.

I'm generally on the alert for cars when I'm standing in the middle of the road taking a shot (a small risk on this road).  But, I wasn't expecting a coyote.

Torreon Wash along NM-117.

Torreon Mission School.

I don't believe I saw another car for over an hour.

There are a number of large open-pit mines in New Mexico.  I'd guess this one is after coal.

El Malpais.  We're looking over a vast area of lava flows.

This is the second largest natural arch in New Mexico.

I'm not sure why I even bothered to pull over to the side of the road when stopping.  There was no traffic.  This is NM-32.

There had been an unusual amount of rain this summer, so it was much greener than normal, and there were lots and lots of flowers.



Quemado, New Mexico.

Yes; it's another green chili cheese burger.  There isn't much else to choose from on the menu, and besides, they do this so well.


Reserve, New Mexico.

Evidence of extensive forest fires in recent years.

The "catwalk" is a series of hanging walkways that extends up a narrow creek canyon.  Unfortunately, the area was closed due to recent flash flooding.


Silver City, New Mexico.  Off and on, I rode through some heavy rain.

I pulled into a Dairy Queen to wait out what looked to be a fierce thunderstorm.  It was.  The rain poured down, but mostly was blowing sideways.  After the rain stopped, I went to start the bike.  Nothing.  The electrics worked (the dash worked), but pushing the starter button gave me nothing.


You can push a button all you want; but, if it doesn't do anything the first time, it's not going to do anything the tenth time.  I called Guzzi roadside assistance, and waited for the trailer...


El Paso, Texas has the nearest Guzzi dealership.

Viva Powersports is also a dealer for pretty much every other brand out there.  What I thought would be fairly straightforward, turned out to be anything but that.  I'd be in El Paso for several days.  It's a sign of the times that the first thing done is to plug your motorcycle into the computer.  But, about the only help it would give is that there was a ground fault in the system--well, we already knew that. 

Through elimination, Marc figured that the problem was almost certainly the ECU.  Water had gotten into places where water shouldn't ever be.


El Paso, Texas.  While waiting for the ECU to be shipped, I'll have a chance to explore El Paso.




El Paso Museum of Art







El Paso Museum of History


That device (below) is a knob, which if you turn, the map on the television screen will show the changes to the El Paso area over many centuries.



El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center.  A longtime resident of the city was a survivor of one of the death camps.  It was through his efforts that this museum in El Paso was created.  It wasn't large, but I thought it was very well done.





You can see just a bit of the pedestrian traffic coming from over the border.  What was once a freely crossed international border (people would walk to lunch on the other side), is now a tedious process.  I didn't have my passport with me, so I didn't make the trip.


Magoffin Home State Historic Site.  This house was built in 1877 and is a terrific example of the early development of El Paso.  The fact that it even exists today, in quite original condition including the furnishings is remarkable (and entirely due to the foresight of just a few people).






Quite a few champion boxers have come through El Paso.


St. Patrick Cathedral was dedicated in 1917.


The University of Texas at El Paso








El Paso Union Depot still is used by Amtrak.


Not your ordinary hotrod.



The Anson Mills building was one of the first all-concrete buildings in the United States.


Fray Garcia de San Francisco founded El Paso del Norte in 1659.

  Chamizal National Memorial

The memorial commemorates the resolution of a long-standing boundary dispute between the U.S. and Mexico.  That fact that it was settled without a war or anybody being killed is good enough reason for the park.  The problem was that the Rio Grande River continuously changed course over years of flooding, creating little pockets of land that are neither here nor there.  Part of the settlement included encasing the river in concrete as it flows through El Paso.  It cannot wander now.





The El Paso Public Library has a nice collection of early El Paso photographs.


I walked a lot. Many miles.  And, when that was too much, I used the bus.


Concordia Cemetery is on (or near) the site of the old El Paso fort.


One of the more famous persons buried here is John Wesley Hardin, who was shot and killed (in an El Paso saloon) in 1895.  Note: the burial plot of Billy-the-Kid, which I would ride by later in this trip, is also contained in a similar steel cage.


During the building of the railroads, there were thousands of Chinese living in El Paso.


I had heard from a number of folks that the L&J cafe was the best Mexican restaurant in town.  Maybe yes; maybe no.  In any event, I had the green chili chicken enchilada.


When it rains hard in El Paso, the streets turn into streams.


Let's start looking into some of these old buildings...


The Hotel Gardner is not some boutique hotel that's dressed up in 1920 clothing.  It is a 1920's hotel that never seems to have moved on.  I believe it's the oldest continuously operated hotel in El Paso.


Many thanks to Marc and Patrick of Viva Powersports for persevering.  And, many more thanks to Todd Haven and Mike Haven of MPH Cycles in Houston for removing an ECU from one of their showroom bikes and sending it to me.  Guzzi people really are the best.

Adiós, El Paso; I'm on my way (let's hope I can avoid rain until I can make sure my ECU is waterproof).

New Mexico

McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch (near Alamogordo) says their pistachio sculpture is the world's largest.  I believe them.  I stopped for a cup of pistachio ice-cream.


It's rain; but, it's over there.

Carrizozo, New Mexico.  This is the view that most travelers have: a couple of gas stations, and that's it.

But, there's more to see if you walk around.

A door for "drink" and a door for "eat."


Once the highway (even as little traveled as it is) was routed away from the center of town, these little restaurants and hotels lost out.



Staying on US-54.

Corona, New Mexico.  Time for breakfast.


Encino, New Mexico.

Vaughn, New Mexico.


Yeso, New Mexico.  People once thought this might be good farming land.  It wasn't.  It isn't.

Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The Bosque Redondo Memorial commemorates a sorry chapter in our history when virtually all Navaho and Mescalero were forcibly marched to this location.  After years of misery, the Navajo were allowed to return (the Mescalero having largely escaped earlier).




I'm back to the edge of the mesa.

House, New Mexico.

McAlister, New Mexico.

That's Tucumcari well off in the distance.  I'll stay up here just a few miles longer.

Ragland, New Mexico.

Grady, New Mexico.

Wheatland, New Mexico.  This unexpectedly large school was built by the WPA in the 1930s.  It lasted as a school until the 1950s.  Now there's nothing.

Time to descend.

San Jon, New Mexico.  Years ago, Route 66 came through here, which explains the wide street that will never see traffic, again.


Nara Visa, New Mexico.


Dalhart, Texas.

Stratford, Texas.


I expected to take just a few days to ride around New Mexico.  But, that little ride turned into two weeks--much of it exploring El Paso.  Accept things as they come, and it all works out.


last edit: 8/24/2013