09 August 2012

New Mexico into Arizona

Having just spent six days in New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment," I am already looking forward to my next visit to the state.  Here's the run-down on our adventures there:

Portales, NM: This town was, according to its sign, "Home to 17,000 friendly people and 3 or 4 grouches."  Trying to find a place to give us dinner for free that night I think I found all the grouches before finding a Tex-Mex restaurant that gave all 33 all we could eat for free.  Portales is surrounded by peanut farms and home to Eastern New Mexico University, where we stayed. 

The Devil's Inkwell in Roswell, NM
Roswell, NM: The site of our second day off of the trip and the birthplace of Demi Moore, Roswell itself does not have much to offer outside of its trumped up UFO incident and a flying saucer-shaped McDonald's.  However we shuttled out to the nearby Bottomless Lakes State Park, where we swam, paddle boarded, and hiked around the "Devil's Inkwell."  The landscape here was breath-taking, even though a local described the park as "nothing special."

Carrizozo, NM: On our day into Carrizozo we decided to mix up our riding groups by arranging ourselves in order of tan-ness and then riding with people of matching complexion.  I was proud to find out that I am the 8th tannest rider in our group and I happily rode with numbers 7, 9, and 10.  Along our way we rode through the town of Lincoln, famous as the site of Billy the Kid's escape from jail.  As we were passing through, the town was hosting a Billy the Kid Festival, where we got free sarsaparilla and rode a horse-drawn trolley from one end of town to the other (about 200 yards). 

The path through the "Valley of Fire."  Everything in New
Mexico had a cool name.
Socorro, NM: Shortly after leaving Carrizozo, we rode through the Valley of Fire lava flow - a 3 mile wide, 40 mile long stretch of gnarly volcanic rock.  In the afternoon w passed through the White Sands Missile Range and read a historical marker telling us that we were just about as close as you could get to the Trinity Test Site, where the world's first nuclear weapon was detonated in 1944.  The fact that the Manhattan Project folks were willing to detonate a nuclear weapon there is a good indication of how populated that stretch of New Mexico is.  We met some serious descents and I reached my new max speed of 48.8 mph.  Fingers crossed that I'll hit 50 soon.

Pie Town: Riding into Pie Town we climbed from roughly 4500 feet to nearly 8000.  We hit the Continental Divide just outside of town and right after taking a few pictures, two of the riders I was riding with that day (Kegan and Josh) hit each other, damaging Josh's derailleur.  Being team players, we decided to walk the remaining 3 miles into Pie Town, which was a new Bike & Build first for me.  We spent the night at a hostel called the Toaster House and dined with a dozen or so Pie Town locals (meaning that, with a population of 50, we met about 25% of the town).  We enjoyed some of the eponymous treats from the staff at the Pie-O-Neer Cafe and also had our Bike & Build prom in the evening, for which my date Caroline and I dressed up like a totem pole (the theme was Wild West). 

Springerville, AZ: We were all sad to leave New Mexico on the day into our next state, and also very confused about what time it would be in Arizona since they don't observe Daylight Savings Time.  We've got a Build Day tomorrow in Payson and we are just days away from the Grand Canyon, so overall spirits are high. 


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