Leaving Taos


(No WiFi Sunday night, so please forgive the lateness of this post!)

Beautiful night sky at the end of the day

9-11-11

I cried this morning when I left Taos.

I woke up to a partly sunny sky, and where we were, the sun was shining. Off in the distance, the clouds hovered, silver-lined over the purple-gray mountains. No wonder it is called “the land of enchantment,” and Georgia O’Keeffe found so much inspiration here. It is a magical place.

As Hal and I left town, we climbed briefly onto a high open plateau and could see dark blue clouds obscuring the mountaintops. It was “snow-sky,” and as we traveled farther, we could see snow up on the highest peaks. It was heartbreakingly beautiful, heartbreaking because we were leaving and I never want to leave Taos behind. Maybe someday I won’t have to.

"A river runs through it," the Rio Pueblo as it runs through the ski area

On the 68 out of town, it was in the 60s, though, and reasonably warm compared to what we’d ridden “home” in the night before. We left later this morning than we have in years past, and as we wound our way along the Rio Grande toward Española, we followed a long train-like procession of traffic. There is no place to pass on this 30-mile stretch and we had to make the best of it. I felt happy, despite behind officially “on our way home,” because I was still on the road. I had a reasonably full riding day in front of me, although I knew I would not be thinking good thoughts when I reached I-40. The mountains and the beautiful clouds stayed in the background all the way to Albuquerque. At least I could see them for a while and be reminded of Taos, receding in the distance, but somehow seeing those mountains for as long as possible was reassuring.

You know you’ve become familiar with a place when, at every intersection, you know where the intersecting road leads. It was that way with me and northern New Mexico when we reached Española. NM 84, which leads to Abiquiu, where we’d stayed in June, crosses and then becomes part of the 285 as 68 ends. I know 285 goes through Tres Piedras, which is where we come out after riding 64 from Tierra Amarilla, and 285 eventually goes north through Antonito, CO, another place we’d been to last June and July. I thought fondly of those winding roads and smiled at the memory. I also knew NM 17 out of Chama and over Cumbres Pass was probably covered in snow at Cumbres Pass. What a difference two months makes.

We took 599 at Santa Fe to I-25, and then I saw the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque in the distance. Soon, we were going around the far end of those mountains and stopping at Bernalillo for fuel, a usual stop, and then we went through Albuquerque, picking up the dreaded I-40, headed for Gallup, and eventually, Holbrook. On I-40 the wind battered my helmet, the trucks nearly ran us off the road, other trucks battered us with their wakes as they pulled out in front of us and tried to pass each other (so stupid, in my opinion), and we put up with the usual antics of “cagers” (people who drive cars) who drive while talking on their cell phones. It is absolutely never pleasant to be on I-40 and there are no alternative routes.

Finally, near Holbrook and off the I-40, the sky was dark with more rain clouds and it was beautiful again. We didn’t run into any more rain, but I was wishing for it. At least it wasn’t hot – yet.

I am so sad this trip is coming to an end. I look forward to it all year and it goes by way too quickly. It also seems to mark the end of the summer riding season, and the temporary end to the wonderful long trips on my F800ST that I love. I love those days of mile after mile, day after day, of being out on the road doing nothing but riding. I am hoping for a few short trips soon, though, maybe San Diego in a couple of weeks, and then somewhere in NM again in October.

Today, however, the countdown to next year in Taos begins. 361 more days to go.

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