Well now that I have been back home for a few days, its time for a new post! The rest and relaxation has been wonderful but I already getting the itch to get back on another adventure. Its addictive!
So upon reaching Grants, we called around looking for a cheap place to stay. Cities haven't been to friendly to us camping wise as they usually only contain overpriced KOA's and RV-parks (that usually look more like trailer parks). We called around and luckily a small RV-park had a small patch of grass they said we could camp on for $12. We headed over there as the thunder clouds rolled in and get the camp all setup. It was weird as this was one of the first nights where it thundered like crazy but didn't rain. It almost doesn't seem as scary that way. After the storm passed we were able to take showers and call home for one of the last times (getting a signal is like finding a gold nugget in New Mexico). We then both did a shot and headed in for the night.
The next morning found us rising early again to a hot and humid day. For those that say there is only dry heat in New Mexico, you are wrong. It was very dry and arid in the desert sections but in the northern section, there was a lot of humidity. We got everything packed and realized we needed only a little supplies (Ramen, hot sauce, oatmeal, caffeine) to finish. With all the awesome care packages, everything else had been pretty much taken care of. We headed to Wal-Mart (only the second one we had to go to on the trip, Grants had no grocery stores) and picked up our supplies. As we started down the road (Route 66), we passed a cyclist going the other way. This was a rare thing for us in New Mexico as it seemed that everyone had a truck. He waved to us as he passed and we continued down the road. All of a sudden on the horizon, there was a group of 3 cyclist. They waved as they passed and we felt like we had just seen the 4 cyclist in all of New Mexico! But no, more passed us and we thought maybe there was a race or a group tour. We turned a corner and saw something that excites all cyclist, a checkpoint/food tent! Heading over to check it out, people immediately greeted us and asked us where we were heading. They then offered us fresh fruit and energy gel! We stayed around the tent for a half hour or so. It was great to be able to talk to people that were so excited about cycling and that were on a tour themselves.
After the awesome experience with all the bike tour folks, we continued our adventure. Soon after we hit the entrance to El Malpais National Monument. The surroundings went from the houses and pueblos of grant to beautiful landscape as far as the eye could see. El Malpais means the "bad lands" so we were not sure what to expect. It turns out that it is because this a volcanic area and years ago when it was being explored, it was very hard to pass through here. With a nice paved road some years later, it was not tough at all for us to pass through.
We did the tourist thing and stopped to look at La Ventana ("the window") which was a very cool natural arch. We also went through the narrows which is where the old lava flow comes very close to the road. It was funny to think we had just left Grants 30 or so miles ago and now we were in such a remote and beautiful place.
I realized that we haven't shown any pictures of us eating lunch of the traditional PB&J. There were many variations along the way including granola, granola bars, pepperoni, dried fruit, candy bars, energy gel and so on. Just ways to tweak it a little bit so that it didn't taste like PB&J. With the addition of homemade cookies and granola bars in Grants, we were able to make some pretty delicious sandwiches! And on this occasion we had a picnic table which was even more rare!
We sat in the shade for a bit longer before taking off to the road again. The road wasn't very busy at all so we were able to talk a bit about post-trip all the things we missed and wanted to do. A big one for me was to get back and do some single track around New England. Being able to check the e-mail about once a week, I was able to catch bits and pieces about the riding group back home going to some of my favorite riding areas. I couldn't wait to not have a trailer pulling me around. In Nat's case, he wants to explore the US (in a car this time!) and check out all the cool places that are West of the Mississippi (go west young man!). Before long it was time to pull onto the dirt road towards Pie Town (yep that's the official name of the town). As we hit the dirt, we could see a dust cloud in the distance. As it got closer we saw that it was a brand new Ford Mustang convertible. We couldn't really believe our eyes as these roads were horrible. The car pulled up to us and the driver asked us where the nearest paved road was. We pointed and said about a mile that way. He then reached behind his seat and produced 4 water bottles. "Here you go", he said as he tossed us the water. He drove off and Nat and I just looked at each other. "Did that really just happen?", I asked. It was a weird experience as we continued on down the road to our campsite for the night.
The thing about New Mexico that we found was that the roads were in horrible shape but you were always greeted with a BEAUTIFUL camping site. There is a lot of private land but there is also a fair amount of public land in which to camp. This night was no different and the sky treated us to a color show that would rival the Fourth of July.
The next morning we woke up and something was special about today. Ever since we started we had heard of Pie Town, New Mexico. People had been telling us that we had to go to the Pie-O-Neer Cafe for a slice of pie after lunch. With that on our minds, we ate our oatmeal and a king size Snickers (thanks Toby!) and packed up. The morning light show was just as good as the previous evening so we sat and watched the sun rise as we ate.
Well as we walked over to the bikes, I noticed my front tire was flat. I quickly changed it out and we headed down the road. The skyline was awesome and it seemed like once we reached the mountains and mesas that we saw in the distance, we would be there. The ride was fast and before we could look up, we were at another divide crossing. We took a quick picture and then headed towards the junction that would bring us to Pie Town. We hit the stop sign and had a smile a little bit. The road we were turning on was route 603 which is the NH area code.
We rode down 603 for about 5 miles and we were there, Pie Town.
Well at this time I am going to stop because Pie Town is going to get it's own post. It was such an awesome experience that it deserves it. I didn't have my camera for most of the time but hopefully I will be able to recall all the cool stories. Until next time, take care and keep the rubber side down!
-Keith and Nat