Saturday, June 17, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 7

Our preferred plan was to loop southwest from Springer to Taos and than angle north for the Colorado mountains. However, the weather forecast was for 4” of snow in Ouray where we had planned to stay. The alternate route I had selected a little farther west was almost as bad. There was no way to make either route by motorcycle. So we decided to travel as planned as far as Chama, NM, and they head west to Farmington, NM.

The next morning dawned clear and cool with no hint of bad weather. We had a beautiful mountain ride down to Taos where we went into town and found a Walmart with the help of Sam’s new GPS. In spite of the present good weather we knew it would not hold and I needed some rain gear to replace my lost jacket liner. I got a $10 rain suit and we were on our way again.

From where Hwy 64 crossed Hwy 285 about 30 miles northwest of Taos we had some of the most fantastic riding of the whole trip. This was beautiful National Forest with twisting roads going over a high mountain pass. This great stretch extended for almost 50 miles to Tierra Amanilla. We picked up caches along the way for Taos and Rio Arriba counties.

Lonesome Sam
Where's the key?
Probably the funniest incident of the trip occurred near the end of this stretch of road. We were going through a town and I was ahead of Sam with some traffic in between us. After making a left turn on the highway I didn’t see Sam anymore. I didn’t think much of it because I knew I’d be stopping soon for a cache. So I stopped for the cache which was on a fence to a gated field. Afterwords I just waited there as it was usually only a minute or two until Sam would arrive. After about fifteen minutes when I was unable to reach him by phone I was just about to head back to look for him. Then I saw this motorcycle coming across the field on the dirt road. I thought, “Boy, that looks like Sam’s bike”. Well, it seems Sam’s GPS had indeed taken him on the shortest route to the cache. He was gracious enough to laugh along with me. Of course, he had to go all the way back because there was no way to get by the gate and fence.

We got into Farmington earlier than anticipated so after gassing up we decided to go on to Blanding, UT. We chose a bock roads route which was Hwy 41 in NM and Hwy 262 in UT. We soon got into high winds and threatening skys. I put my raincoat on and Sam 
 put on his heated vest as it was getting colder. Not long after we got into Utah we encountered about the most miserable motorcycling weather I’ve ever encountered. The high wind turned to blowing rain and then blowing snow. By the time we approached Blanding it was almost impossible to keep my helmet visor free of ice. We finally made the Quality Inn in Blanding and we were so frozen the motel employees felt sorry for us and helped us carry in our gear. The wind had torn the back completely out of my rain coat. The motel had a hot tub that was extremely welcome. Thus ended a 428 mile day with 7 geocache finds.

Quality Inn - ice on windshield
Back Blown Out

Our way north was still blocked by snow so we decided to swing south into AZ through Monument Valley and then head west over to Ivins, UT, just west of St. George, where my brother-in-law lives. For this trip I had purchased a tablet sized laptop computer so that I could upload my caches to the geocaching website each day. That also allowed me to download new caches to my GPS which came in handy in this situation where we were taking an unplanned route.

About three days before a tooth had begun hurting. I had had this same problem a few weeks before and the dentist had not been able to find the problem. He prescribed an antibiotic and after a few days the problem dissipated. At this point it was absolutely killing me. Sam said one hurt should cancel out the other which I thought as well but that wasn’t the case. At least my tendon only hurt when I walked. I contacted Kathy who in turn arranged for a prescription to be sent to my brother-in-law’s pharmacy of choice in Ivins. Meanwhile it was Motrin to keep the throb somewhat under control.

Sam had described Monument Valley as similar to the ship shaped rock near Shiprock, NM, except there was a whole fleet. It was a good description. Had my tooth not been hurting so much I would have enjoyed it much more. It is quite a sight.

We arrived in Ivins late afternoon having logged 357 miles, 6 caches and 1 DNF. My brother-in-law, Chuck, took us to an Arctic Circle for dinner as his wife, Joann was out. We had a good dinner topped off with ice cream.  To be continued.

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