New Mexico’s Finest

Next morning, after a Subway sandwich for breakfast (Colleen you’ve converted me to a green chile lover), we went on a mission to pick up my SPOT.  Fed Ex had it waiting as promised.  I figured they would send me another refurbished one, but nope brand new unit in box with all the stuff.  Way to come through for me SPOT!!

After Fed Ex, we made a stop over at REI so I could pick up a Camelback bladder.  When I pulled my out before I left it had black goo in it so I pitched it…YUCK!!  While I was there Colleen pointed out a small Thermarest pad that an Iron Butt friend of her’s swears by (for good reason, it has helped alot).

After a great meal at a local BBQ place, it was back to Colleen’s house to pack up the bike.  I was sad to leave, it was really nice to have a home for a night!!

West of Albuquerque, I stopped at a small gas station, lured by the promise of Navajo Fry bread (which was not there – bummer).  I saw a group of Harley riders that I had seen when I was having bike troubles in Tucumcari, NM.

Turns out they were riders from Poland making their way across the US.  They all introduced themselves to me, asked about my gear and invited me to ride with them.  “You come to LA with us, no?!?!”

El Mapais was my first National Park Passport stamp of the trip.  Colleen had recommended it, and it did not disappoint.  On one side of the road there are huge sandstone cliffs on the other, lava bed – such a neat contrast.

I closed down the visitor center, talking the poor ranger’s ear off asking questions about New Mexico’s volcanic activity and other dorky science questions.

View from Sandstone Overlook

US Geological Survey Marker

A few miles down the road was La Ventana Arch, New Mexico’s second largest arch.  It was a nice short hike and the arch was stunning!!  The ranger at the visitor center said there is a great trail on top of the arch but unfortunately I didn’t have enough daylight to check it out.

La Ventana Arch

Further down the road was the trail I was really looking forward to, the Lava Beds.  The trail runs up and down the lava beds and through lava tubes.  It’s hard to get photos to do it justice, but it was very cool!!

The Lava Beds

My original goal of central Arizona was definitely not a possibility, so I had to make a decision on where to camp for the night.  Between my AAA Camp Guide and my GPS I decided on Pinon campground, a couple hour ride south on Quemado Lake south of Quemado, NM.

Prairie dogs darted away as I rode by and many of the volcanic cones could be seen from 117, definitely a much better route than the expressway.

Now, anyone that has ridden through the lesser traveled roads of the southwest knows that they are incredible and seeing a few cars an hour is alot of traffic!!  Why do they make the speed limit 55 mph?

Unfortunately, while I was traveling along, possibly (definitely) above the speed limit, I came around a corner to see a New Mexico State Trooper…busted!!

Sure enough, his flashers went on and I pulled off to the side of the road.  The wind was so bad I was having a rough time keeping my bike upright.  The officer told me he clocked me at 71 mph and it was going to be $120 ticket.  He went back to his cruiser to check my info out and write the ticket, when he came back he had bumped me down to a 9 mph over for $70.

Being a little unsure of the safety of the campground I was staying at, I asked what his thoughts were.  He said they were pretty safe and told me the temps were dropping below freezing at night, and sent me on my way.

Just before dark I made it to Pinon, setup my tent and made sure everybody knew where I was staying for the night.  On the way back to my site from registering (only $6 to stay for the night due to no water) I met the campground hostess, a very nice lady named Francis.

As we were walking and talking about my speeding experience, a State Police car pulled up beside us…yup, the trooper that pulled me over.  Turns out he was concerned about my safety and wanted to make sure I got to camp OK.

We chatted for a few minutes when he said “Go get your ticket.”  Hmmm…I went and grabbed my ticket, brought it back to the car.  He continued on, “So many people tell me stories, you were honest.  I’m gonna change this from a ticket to a written warning.”  What?!?!

Not only did the trooper driver 40 miles from where he stopped me to make sure I was safe, but then he wiped out my ticket!?!?!  Officer Hammond, you sir are a class act!!  Anyone who says kindness is dead…needs to go on a road trip and experience the kindness of strangers!!

All three of us chatted for a little bit longer, I found out both the trooper and his brother had motorcycles (him a dual sport, his brother a Kawasaki 600cc).  Soon he was on his way, what a great experience, nice to have folks looking out for me on the road!!

After having some grub and hanging all my smelly stuff in a tree, it was off to bed to try and get some sleep.


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