Above: On the Turquoise Trail
September 13, 2015
Sunday morning is always depressing as I leave Taos, NM behind for another year. I am counting down the days until next year’s rally already. The weather today was pleasant, as it has been for the whole time we’ve been on the road for this trip. Hal and I were traveling alone, no one else was with us this time for the trip home, which gave us more freedom to choose a different (unknown) route.
Last night, Hal had painstakingly researched and mapped an alternative route. Today we tried it. It started out the same, with us taking NM68 out of town as we always do. The day was full of promise, and I was feeling great riding my 2009 F650GS. It always amazes me how the BMWs I have had for traveling never seem to feel like they are “fully loaded” even when they are. As long as the suspension is set up correctly, I don’t even feel the extra bags. This bike is no exception, and I think the suspension on this bike is the best I’ve ever experienced after all the bikes and years of riding that I’ve had.
When we got to I-25, we went under it instead of onto it, and picked up NM14. As we rode on 14, we were looking for NM42, but missed it the first time through because the sign was obscured by a tree! This was fortunate because we rode on part of the “Turquoise Trail,” a route we hope to explore more thoroughly in the future. We stopped at a pullout to shed some layers, and turn around. On the way back, we found the sign for NM42. The turn was sharp and full of gravel, and I had to be careful.
NM42 was a fun road, through rolling farmland, and filled with sharp, narrow turns. I had to pay attention, and it was slow going for us as we were not familiar with the road. Our next road to pick up was NM41, which we took through Moriarty, Mountainair, and then we hooked up with the 60, which we knew would eventually lead us back to home turf.
Hwy. 60 was great, wide open and with interesting scenery. Our avoidance of the interstate was nearly complete, but we had to jump onto I-25 where 60 combines with I-25 for a short distance, then get off at Socorro. I vaguely remembered being on part of this route years ago, during one of the first times we’d traveled to Taos.
It was hot when we got to Socorro. All day it had been pleasant until we reached Socorro. Quite honestly, the town was ugly, and hot, and seemed dirty. We stopped to fuel up at a Chevron, and I re-named the town “Suck-orro.” I looked to the northwest and saw dark clouds gathering and looked hopefully at them because I knew we were going that way.
“I hope we get into some rain and cold!” I exclaimed over the intercom. “I am tired of being hot already!”
“Me too,” Hal answered. Ever adventurous, we are always looking for an exciting experience, especially one involving weather drama.
The road out of town was not what I thought it would be. It corkscrewed through neighborhoods, and crappy parts of town. Turns anyone might have missed if they hadn’t been paying attention. Finally, we were free of it and came out onto open road that began to climb toward the mountains, and the rain clouds.
Soon, my wish for rain and cool was granted as we rode right into a rain squall. Rain spattered the windscreen of my bike, the temperature dropped significantly, and a strong wind sprang up.
“Do you want to stop to put on rain gear?” Hal asked.
“No!” I said emphatically. “I want to feel cold. Besides, we’ll probably be out of this in a few minutes.”
“Good,” Hal agreed, “I don’t really want to stop either. I was just checking.” Same page, as always.
From then on, we battled the strong wind the rest of the day. The rain came and went, but the thunderstorms made the wind swirl, and it was difficult to always anticipate which way it wanted to push my bike. The GS performed flawlessly, and I was comfortable all day.
At last, we reached Pie Town, an oasis on the horizon in both of our minds. When we pulled into town (all five or so buildings of it), we saw that the Pie-o-Neer (where we stopped last summer) was out of pie! We were tired and hungry, having not eaten since breakfast, so we went to the next place, called The Gettin’ Place.
It was a small, rectangular, unassuming building with a metal screen door, but when we went inside, it was filled with all kinds of old and/or interesting clothing and unique objects for sale. The woman there, Jeannine, was very nice. However, she was out of pie as well. It turned out that the weekend before our visit, Labor Day weekend, was a big pie festival, and thousands of people had turned up. I couldn’t even imagine that many people in this small place. But it wasn’t over for us yet – Jeannine called to the next store down the road, and even though it was closed, the owner said he had a couple of pieces of chocolate cream pie left! Even more surprising, Jeannine got in her truck, drove down to his store, and brought us the two pieces of pie!
Before she left, Jeannine made us coffee, and we sat there in the quiet store, regaining our energy, and relaxing. “If anyone comes in,” Jeannine said, “sell them everything I’ve got!” No one else did, and Jeannine was back in a few minutes with the pie. Hal and I sat companionably with Jeannine for a half an hour or so, talking as if we were old friends. Presently, another resident came in, and then another car of travelers turned up. It was time to move on, but we will never forget our afternoon of pie and conversation at The Gettin’ Place.
The clouds were thick at this point, and it was rainy and cold all the way to Springerville, our last fuel stop of the day. I finally had to put on another layer because by then I was deeply cold. After we left Springerville, we got into more rain, and in Show Low the pavement was very wet. I had to be careful where I put my feet when we stopped at the stoplights. The darkness seemed to close down early, and by the time we reached Heber and our hotel for the evening, we were glad we didn’t have to ride all the way home. We unpacked, covered our bikes, and settled in. It was a good day’s riding on a new route that we both enjoyed, and will probably do again.
We walked to the Red Onion for dinner. It seemed as if it was only the blink of an eye since we’d began our trip here only a few days before. The trip was way too short, as always.
We sat and watched Sunday night football, I didn’t even care who was playing. We laughed and had fun for one more evening before we had to return to our “real” lives. I am so sad this trip is over, it’s been one of the best LOEBMWR rallies, and the best ever riding to and from Taos.
On Monday morning, we got up early, and rode home quickly. Hal had to be back at work, and he was already in full stress mode. I’d taken the day off of work, and was lucky to have the extra day to unpack and do laundry. Our next trip will be in October, and I am anticipating that already!
Next: an October trip to the White Mountains – “the same thing, only different.”