Pearl, and ‘moto therapy’

Above: Pearl, a couple of weeks ago in Globe, Arizona

The “Happy Hour” ride. My riding partner and I hadn’t done it in its original form for years, but just before Thanksgiving seemed the right time to reinstate it.

Several years ago, we dreamed up this ride. It was meant to escape work, enjoy Friday night, and just ride. At the end of it, we’d usually stop for coffee. But, as with everything, the “HH” ride evolved, or devolved, into only going for coffee, and driving. For a while, Hal and I were just too tired to plan far enough in advance to take the bikes in the morning, and too tired to ride after work (dangerous).

Lately, though, I found I missed HH, and since my decision to keep Pearl after I had thought I’d sell her, I needed a weekly ride again to keep her happy. It had been a stupid decision to sell her. I had her on consignment at my mechanic’s shop, but no one bought her. I shudder when I think how close I came to losing her. It was when Hal got his K75s that I came to my senses. I realized that I would never be able to replace Pearl because BMW does not make the F800ST anymore, and its replacement, the F800GT, is a completely different bike. I sat on one, and it felt absolutely massive, and not what I would be comfortable riding.

My Pearl is a 2008 F800ST, the beautiful blue one. BMW didn’t make that color very long, and it is the prettiest one. It is a small bike, which is why BMW changed everything to make the GT big (for big people, apparently) but BMW couldn’t have made the F800ST more custom fit to me if they’d tried. I bought the bike in October, 2008, and have ridden it just over 70,000 miles.

It was cool and damp last Wednesday evening as I set out, and the traffic was heavy because it was Thanksgiving Eve. I worked my way through it all, out onto Hwy. 87, toward Fountain Hills, where I met up with Hal at the usual fuel station. The temperature wasn’t that cold, around 60° F., but the dampness in the air made it feel colder. I laughed at myself because it wasn’t too many months ago that I was riding while wearing a mesh jacket and a thin t-shirt in Heber where it was 59°. I was perfectly comfortable then, and happy to be out of the 100°+ heat in the desert.

We rode into the dusk, and I felt great, happy to be riding Pearl, who probably despaired of ever seeing Zahra in front of her as she headed up the 87 toward the Sunflower turns. On the way, I was treated to the sight of Four Peak, spectacular in the light.

Hal and I wound our way through holiday traffic as we made our way north, climbing in elevation as we went. The temperature dropped, and an amazing late autumn sunset painted the darkening sky all shades of pink that reflected everywhere and flooded everything with a pink glow. I felt Pearl purring with happiness, back where she belonged. She was happy underneath me, I could feel it, her engine humming a warm throaty contented sound. If ever there was a bike that has a personality, it is Pearl. I think that about my other “F” series bike, my 2009 F650GS, Katarina Maria. They both have the 800 engine (despite the GS being called a “650”), and perhaps that is the heart and soul of them both.

We turned around in Sunflower after sitting for a few moments in the pullout, looking at the pink sky arcing above us. The moment hung in time, the earth seeming to stand still for a moment on its axis. We exhaled, then twisted the throttles, and headed back through the perfect curves on the way down. Soon we were in Fountain Hills, making the turn into the parking lot where there were restaurants, and warmth. It was dark and cold by then, and I couldn’t seem to shake the chill in the air. Hal and I got a coffee and a snack, and settled into the relaxation process after a stressful three days at work. It was a perfect beginning to the long enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend.

“Is that a streetlight or the moon?” P.S. we didn’t go to Subway …

 

A day of beauty, and technical riding

Above: parked on the street in Silver City, NM

**

I apologize for not posting too much lately. I have been trying to finish this series for a month now, but sometimes I get so busy with “everything” that I can’t seem to get “anything” done! Here is Day 2 of our fall break trip:

I woke up on the morning of October 11th and remembered that it would have been my mother’s 90th birthday, had she lived. Early in the morning, before the dawn, I was awake for a brief time, dragged myself from the warmth of the bed to look out the window at the view of Alpine, Arizona that I always love. The sky was painted an amazing shade of coral/orange, and the mountains with their profile of trees at the top stood out dark against the brilliance of the brightening sky. I drank in the view for a few moments, then skittered back to bed to get warm. I snuggled in the warmth of the nest, but felt sad that Mother was no longer here to enjoy such beauty as I’d just seen at the window.

I fell asleep again as I’d had a restless night, but got up at a reasonable enough time for a leisurely walk to breakfast with Hal, my riding partner. I was anticipating a day of amazing riding, and soon I was on the bike.

Hal and I left Alpine and took Hwy. 180 though Luna, Reserve, Glenwood (remember when I used to love it there and write so much about it?), Alma, riding the curves on the way toward Silver City. We passed Hwy. 78, and Moon Ranch, the place with the most “dreamy” name on Earth. The bike felt great, flying through the turns. I was glad for the new tires, and knew my day was going to be wonderful, filled with curving roads as I knew it would be!

We rode to Silver City first, parked, and walked around the town.

On the street; I love this town!:

I thought Hal wanted to shoot some photos there, but we only visited some of the antique and knick-knack shops.

The resale shop, Hidden Treasure, was a real find. I wish I’d had more room on the bike because I saw many lovely things that I wanted. The place was huge, interesting things everywhere! Not like the hole-in-the-wall local places at home with ordinary junk.

The buildings in town have the particular charm and southwest beauty that I enjoy, and in Silver City, they keep and respect the older architecture:

As we walked around downtown, we ran into a couple from the car club, talked for a few minutes, but soon Hal and I were both ready to move on. Time to get on the bikes. It’s good that our internal “timers” are on the same page. We had more riding to do, and we were done with walking around. We fueled up in Silver City, and then rode back to Hwy. 78, which we would take up and over the mountains to Clifton-Morenci, Arizona.

Hwy 78 rises up into the Apache National Forest, and curves and twists, sometimes sharply, through its elevation changes. It could be a frightening road, more so than Hwy. 191 because parts of it look like it drops into nothingness. It was a lot of fun, and then we reached the conjoined towns of Clifton and Morenci. It is a strange place, both old mining towns, and nothing but the mine, which is huge, to sustain them. Clifton is a deep canyon through which the railroad runs. There are old homes that line the railroad tracks and are literally feet from the rails. The road snakes through the town, crossing and re-crossing the tracks. Then we began to climb up the grade into Morenci.

(No photos for this part of the trip – too busy riding!)

It is a steep grade, and when we stopped for fuel for both us and the bikes, it felt like we were balanced, teetering uncertainly on the mountainside. Earlier in the day, as we left Silver City, I had started feeling tired, due to the stress from work, I supposed. I’d never felt this way during our summer trip. At least I was starting to relax, but I had a lot of technical riding ahead of me. I changed to the clear visor on my helmet because daylight was starting to drain down toward evening, and we left Morenci behind.

The turns as we continued to climb out of town are tight, and it seemed to take forever to get clear of that big, ugly mine. It has absolutely ruined the beauty of those mountains on the Morenci side. Ugh. Soon we left it behind, though, and I realized we had about 90 miles to ride before we reached Alpine.

It was breathtaking to ride in the beautiful forest as we rode through a deep canyon, then began to climb. The sun was slanting low, so in some of the turns it was difficult to see with sunlight directly in my face. Hal, who was in front, helped me by saying, “Careful! Hard to the right,” or “Decreasing radius!” and even, “Deer!” We saw three sets of deer on the road!

I’ve never enjoyed this road so much as I did this time while riding Kat. The suspension on this bike is superior to any of the bikes I’ve had, and with the brand new tires it was probably the best experience I’ve ever had while riding technical turns.

I kept watching the mile markers to gauge how close I was getting to Hannagan Meadow Lodge. I know which one it is near, and when we arrived there, I would know I had 22 more miles to Alpine. We twisted and turned, then broke out onto the high grassy flat where we allowed the bikes to stretch their legs and fly across. Then, there were more turns, these less technical. Finally, we got to “home turf,” the part of 191 that we know well from our many trips there.

Just north of Blue Point Vista, in the barren remains of the forest left behind by the Wallow fire in 2011, I saw a trio of deer. There, the light painted the clouds with gold as the sun went down. The forest in the autumn light is indescribably beautiful and beyond capturing with any camera.

Hal and I were both getting cold, so we pulled over, ironically at the same pullout we stopped at six years ago when first rode 191 from the south. I had been on my F800ST that day, and it was before the Wallow fire happened. Little did I know how well I would come to know the area from Blue Point Vista to Alpine.

In our favorite pullout, a stop to put on warmer clothing:

We passed HML – no one seemed to be there. We remained on full deer alert as it grew darker, and then near FR 37, one of our favorites, we saw a huge bull elk with a giant rack, about 100 feet off the road! He just stood there, surveying his kingdom, glancing at us as we rode by. I hoped he would survive hunting season, he was so beautiful and he belonged there in the wild.

It was almost complete darkness by the time we made it back to Alpine. The lodge was almost empty, too. We got the bikes put up for the night, and cleaned up for dinner. We had made reservations for dinner at Foxfire, but we needn’t have worried; Alpine had emptied out as well. Long gone were the summer people, and now the weekend people, except for us. The hunters were moving in.

The main part of the restaurant was closed, a sign on the door said to go around back to what looks like an old garage. Outside, a fire was going in a fire pit. Inside, the warm golden glow from the wood paneling on the walls made it seem cozy. Football was on TV, and there were few people having dinner. It was a nice change from the hordes of people that seem to be everywhere these days. We had a wonderful, flavorful dinner accompanied by a perfect glass of wine. After the perfect riding day, and a perfect dinner, I knew I would sleep well. However, tomorrow we would have to go home again, back to reality.

It’s too bad “traveling” days are over much too fast.

Escape, at last!

October 10, 2015

After a hard week at work, the anticipation of fall break, and then trying to figure out what kind (dirt or street) of ride we wanted to do, Hal and I finally settled on a road ride. With the presence of “work” in our lives, we both find that we can barely think since we are on overload all the time, hence the difficulty with settling on one type of ride. Our time is so limited that we want it all, and want to squeeze everything into an impossibly short time period.

So, a road ride it was. Hal wanted to bring his recently acquired (the week before!) 1993 K75s.

His ’97 R1100RS was in the shop, and even though he’d ridden the K75 only a few miles, he opted to take it on the trip. It is a very clean, beautiful bike, deep periwinkle blue in color.

I am always happy on my 2009 F650GS, “Katarina Maria,” the most comfortable – and competent – bike I have ever owned.

It was easy for me to pack once I knew it was a road trip. I didn’t bring a lot, but brought enough clothing and gear to keep warm if necessary. You never know what the weather has in store for you in the White Mountains.

We left Saturday morning at 8:50. Hal rode to my house to meet up because my husband, Desmond, wanted to see Hal’s new bike.

Our first fuel stop was in Fountain Hills, then we rode to breakfast at Tiny’s in Payson. The waffles and bacon that we had were great!

Before we left the restaurant, I put on another layer. I was feeling cool already, and we weren’t up on the Rim yet. Later, I was glad I had because I had started out wearing only a perforated leather jacket with a thin shirt under it on top, and mesh riding pants over shorts on the bottom.

The day was beautiful when we got up onto the Mogollon Rim – high clouds, temperatures in the mid-60s F., and leaves starting to turn golden. They became more evident the farther we rode, and the higher in elevation we were. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and we could tell the summer traveling season was over. I look forward to the future when I can travel whenever I want, and will be able to avoid the crowds of vacationers and tourists.

Our second fuel stop was in Show Low. The gas station/quick mart that we usually go to is always so crowded and dirty, and we got some horrible coffee there as well. We were feeling a little sleepy and needed a boost, but the coffee was nasty and I could hardly drink it. Soon, we gladly left Show Low behind, and vowed never to return again to that particular place for a fuel stop.

It seems as if I always take this same photo. But, when we’re traveling, this is life on the road:

When we got to the Springerville volcanic field, the glorious feeling of being on the road finally came over me in waves of elation. Sometimes it takes putting some miles between me and work before I start feeling the freedom and joy of being on my bike, wherever I am. It’s October! I thought, fall! colder temperatures! I marveled at the muted colors of dried grass and weeds contrasting with the dark gray clouds that you only see in fall, the natural artwork that creates the look and feel of my favorite season.

We got to Alpine, checked in at our motel, and right after we arrived, a British car club pulled in. We admired the cars for a little while, but then we unpacked and got back on the bikes. We took FR249, formerly unpaved, to Big Lake. When we arrived, the lake was silver, mirror-like, and still. I quickly got my camera out to capture the reflection of the trees and the clouds on the glassy water. Then, I walked around and took more photos of golden and green trees.

I was also delighted to find that most of the boats had been pulled out of the water. They make interesting subjects for both color and IR photography, and I had been hoping to capture some unique images. The sun was sinking fast, and so the day grew colder and darker as it does so quickly in the autumn forest. It was time to head back because we were anticipating a lovely dinner at Foxfire, our favorite dinner restaurant in Alpine.

When we got back to the motel, the car club members invited us over for cheese and wine, and we got to know some of them. They were a fun group. It turned out that we all walked over to Foxfire for dinner, but they had their own room in which to eat, and we didn’t want to intrude on their club get-together. As for us, our dinner didn’t disappoint – it was excellent as usual.

At the end of the day, Hal’s bike had run well on our first day of the trip, and we both agreed it was a good decision to make this a road trip. We had been longing for days on the road like we’d had last July during our vacation, and it felt like the continuation of that adventure. We went to sleep anticipating an epic day of riding the next day.

A different route home

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.”

A day of rallying

Adventure bikes at the rally

**

Saturday is the best day at the LOEBMWR rally at Sipapu Ski area near Taos, NM! It’s also our last full day here. How can it be the last day already? I wondered. Because it’s heavenly, and the time goes way too fast, I answered myself.

Hal and I got up late, had breakfast late, and finally rode out to the rally site around 10. We grabbed more coffee, walked around a bit, talked to people we don’t see all year except at this rally, and generally had a great time. After a while, we were tired of socializing, and rode to Mora to take some photos. I mainly wanted to get photos of the old mill, and while shooting photos, I found out that its supporters had had a festival/fund-raiser the weekend before.

That’s good, because the whole north end of the building looks like it’s going to fall off at any moment. The crack on the side grows wider every year, and I hope they can save the old mill. We shot more photos, then rode a couple of miles down the road to get more images of old buildings.

While I was there on the side of the road, the flashers on my motorcycle on, a man with an old beat up car pulled over. “Are you okay?” he asked in a friendly, helpful way. “Do you need help?” I said “no, but thank you for checking.”

“Okay,” he said, and smiled. He waved, and drove on. Wow, I thought, that would never happen in Phoenix. In contrast to everyone in Mora, the people in Phoenix are just plain mean, and would rather shoot someone than help them. Witness the latest “trend” in Phoenix: random freeway shootings that continue even after the “suspect” or “suspects” is/are caught. What do we expect? The “meanness” starts with the leaders of the not-so-wonderful state of Arizona, and the people are just following their bad examples.

Anyway, we returned to the rally site, walked around and talked to more people. What do you do at a rally? you might ask. Well, here’s what: we look at other cool bikes, visit the vendors, and “hang out,” if that’s still a current phrase!

A pretty custom paint job:

The main rally area:

Then, it was time for dinner! This year, the rally organizers served German food, and it was a wonderful surprise. The food was really good! There was salad, schnitzel, pretzels (BIG ones) yummy potato slices, cooked red cabbage, fruit and whipped cream dessert, AND cream puffs! There was iced tea to drink. I thought the whole meal was a great choice for this rally, and a welcome departure from the usual “fajitas” meal of years past.

We sat with a friend, Bill, and some of his friends from Seattle. It was a great conversation – a nice dinner with good company. Soon, the band started warming up, which ended the opportunity for any meaningful conversation, and that was our cue to leave. We said good-bye to the rally site for this year and headed back to Taos. On our way back, we were enchanted by another beautiful New Mexico sunset.

We managed to get back to town in time to get some photos of the bikes with the spectacular sky behind them. I remember doing this last year, too, as a storm moved into Taos. This Saturday evening “photo op” seems to be becoming a tradition!

As we prepared for our departure the next morning, Hal searched for alternative routes home. We are both sick of “slabbing it” (riding the interstate), and since we have the time, Hal found a back roads route that we will try tomorrow. If we must leave, we might as well make the best of the ride home.

Next: Last days

First full day in Taos for 2015

Our first full day in Taos! And it was lovely.

Hal and I went to breakfast. It wasn’t great, but who cared? It was here, in Taos. Then, we geared up and rode out to the rally. On the way, I noticed the more obvious signs of autumn, different from other years because we were a week later than we usually are. With Labor Day late this year, it pushed the rally a week later as well. It was nice to see more leaves beginning to change. It made New Mexico even prettier than it usually is, and even more deserving of the name “The Land of Enchantment.”

We checked in at the rally, talked to the people there, and just by chance, I saw a perforated leather jacket that one of the club members had for sale. It fit me perfectly, so I bought it for $25. I have been looking for a perforated leather jacket. I am sick of the floppy textile mesh jackets that I have, and I have to wonder how much protection they would actually be in a wreck. It was funny, before I left for the rally, I had been thinking maybe someone will have the perfect used jacket for sale. And there it was. As a bonus, it belonged to Jan, who is a friend, so it worked out great for both of us.

Hal and I checked in, I got a couple of t-shirts, then we walked around the vendor area. We ran into another friend, Voni, and we started the usual multi-day conversation that takes place at this rally.

Before we left, Hal and I had been trying to figure out how I was going to get back to Duran, NM to take the images from there that I wanted, but logistically, it wasn’t a practical plan (too far from Taos for a day trip). I was disappointed, but agreed to go back to Talpa instead and shoot some IR images. I have wanted to shoot the Talpa Tavern for the last eight years, so we rode two-up on my bike so I could. The tavern is slowly disintegrating, and I wanted to try to portray it before it is gone.

Later, I still wasn’t satisfied that I had captured the “feeling” that I’d wanted, but that is another story.

After shooting old adobe buildings for a while, we went back to the rally site and listened to Voni’s presentation about the year (1999) that she rode 73,000 miles in six months. “And the rest is history,” as they say. Now she has logged over a million miles on BMW motorcycles, and is going for her second million! She is amazing.

Paul, her husband, then followed her presentation with a discussion about mechanical difficulties of different models of BMW motorcycles. It was an interesting and informative discussion. I love gear-head stuff.

“Does this motorcycle make my a$$ look fast?” (seriously, I am not this fat!) The front of the lodge is in front of me:

As the afternoon got later, we rode our bikes back to town in order to get ready for dinner with a group of friends. We again rode two-up to dinner (I don’t like riding through town in Taos, it’s always so busy), and met the seven other people at the Love Apple, an organic food restaurant. It was weird food in weird combinations, in my opinion, but we went for the conversation and for the chance to hang out with people we rarely get to socialize with. One nice thing was the French press coffee we had after the meal. I could have done with just that and dessert. After three hours, we finished, and rode back to our hotel for the evening.

We talked to many people today, listened to many stories. I continue to be intrigued by the personalities of people in general. As my sage riding partner said, “Some people don’t care about anything, they see objects, and other people, as tools. It’s all about them. Nothing really matters to them except themselves. Those people are the ones who make millions of dollars.”

And that’s why we will never be rich. If we ever get to ride around the world, it will be on a shoestring budget. That’s if we get to. Sadly, I see that opportunity slipping further away every day.

Next: the best rally day

Fun weekend’s riding

Above: “Super moon” in the background!

**

9-25 and 9-26, 2015

I know I am supposed to be finishing my Taos story, but I had to interrupt it with the short, but fun, rides from the past weekend. I ride every weekend, and though most of those rides are local and somewhat uneventful, at least I am on the bike. I don’t necessarily write about every single ride because some are repetitive. I just like riding, doesn’t matter where. So, here is the short story of my latest rides, and I will get back to the Taos story soon.

After an active (heavy-duty gardening), and productive (finished a sewing project) day on Saturday, Hal and I chose to do something a little different – instead of going to breakfast, we would ride to Payson for dinner! It meant leaving town in the heat (still 104° F. here), and returning in the dark! I love riding in the dark, and hardly ever get to do it. In summer, it seems like the sun just won’t get the heck down. I am so tired of it (like you can’t tell).

The ride north was fun, especially since the temperature dropped more the farther north we got. We discussed dinner, only with us, it was no discussion – we’d both been thinking of pasta all day. We’re always on the same page, which is why we are great riding buddies. It was in the 80’s F. when we pulled into the restaurant, Gerardo’s Fireside, for dinner. We parked the bikes, shed our gear like shedding a skin, and went inside.

We’d never been to Geraldo’s before. The lighting was low and golden, glasses and silverware clinked softly, and the whole atmosphere was calm and relaxed. It was a nice change from the frenetic pace of a breakfast restaurant, and we slid into our seats at the table in the corner of the room.

Hal ordered salmon and pasta, and I got eggplant parmesan. When the food came, I wished I’d ordered the fettucine alfredo, just because I forgot that the eggplant was breaded. Also, I’d wanted pasta, and there wasn’t any with it. I should have remembered that. No matter, though, everything was great. There was a lot of food, too, so I got to take leftovers home. It wasn’t hot enough now that the sun went down for the food to spoil.

The ride home was the best part of the evening. We were careful to look for deer until we got past Rye, then we were able to fly down the mountain as fast as if we were in the daylight. The full moon contributed to making that possible. Off to my left, I saw the silvery moonlight lighting up the mist that hung around the mountains, making it look fairytale-like and enchanted.

Too soon, we were nearing town, and as we came over top of the part of the road that I call “rock garden,” we got the first sight of town. The city of Phoenix almost looked pretty from that vantage point. Almost.

In the dark.

From a distance.

If I squinted.

Soon I was back home, settling down, and nodding off from my full day of various activities

**.

The next day, Sunday, we went for a quick breakfast at the Waffle House. It was enough of a distance for a good ride, but not too far. The breakfast waffles themselves were worth traveling for, but the entertainment by the crew made it even more worthwhile.

It started with the elderly waitress, whom we would later come to know as “Grandma,” greeting us as we walked in. “Good mornin’ y’all!” she crowed. We smiled, not quite awake despite our 20-minute ride.

Next, we put our name on the list and waited for a booth. We could have sat at the low counter, but we had some of our riding gear and there was no place for it. As we waited, we were entertained by another lady, who was looking at some photos of RVs with her friends. “Wow!” she exclaimed as the other couple pointed out a model they were considering. “That has room for two people, three dogs – and me!” ‘Cuz I’m goin’ with ya!” She said this loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear. That was just the beginning.

Finally, we were seated, and Grandma dropped off some menus. We were enjoying the floor show already, seated as we were near the griddle, watching the cooks, and hearing the banter between the servers, the manager, and the cooks.

Despite the entertainment, they worked together as well as a finely-tuned machine. We placed our order, then sat back, drank our coffee and watched and listened.

“Where’s Grandma? Did I miss her ‘cuz she’s short?”

“Are you insulting me?” responded Grandma. “Because I’m old and delicate!”

Another server whooshed by, carrying someone’s order. “Hmmmph,” she muttered, “about as delicate as a brick.”

Hal and I laughed as we ate our waffles, enjoyed the bacon, sat for a moment drinking coffee as the restaurant emptied and calmed down.

The manager let everyone “take five.” Soon, more people trickled in, and then the employees ramped up for the next wave of breakfasters.

Hal and I left, killed some time by stopping at one of my favorite stores, and then I left my bike, Katarina, at my mechanic’s shop to get new tires! I already burned through the old ones after I got back from New Mexico three weeks ago.

I can’t wait to get started on the next set.