On to Taos (2 of 4)

Good morning, Desert! Blue corn mush for breakfast, a local delicacy with brown sugar and milk. Finer texture than grits. Actually, when I tried to use up the brown sugar in my coffee, I learned it was sugar and salt. I didn’t really need the second cup. I was stoked and ready for the day to begin. The only intention for the day is to sleep in Taos, and even that intention is pretty loosely held. Anything could happen!

Hugging the north rim of the canyon was beautiful, with lots of gentle, gliding turns. Highway 64 T’s into Indian Road 12. Can’t miss that turn. But 1.3 miles later Indian Road 13 goes off to the right. Huh, nothin’ there. Google must have been off a bit here on the rez. I’ll keep going a bit further, just to see what’s around the next curve. And the next. And the next. It’s been 5 miles now. Much as I’d like to follow this road all the way to the end, just to see… I’d like to be in Taos tonight. I’ll find somewhere to turn around – oh! A gas station! At least I can stop to take some pictures. Look, it’s an intersection. I wonder if… yup. Looking up the road going east, I can just see on the horizon a barn with “13” painted on the side. That must mean it’s Indian Road 13. (How I wish I’d taken a picture of that barn!) Getting back on the Tiger, I look at the directions for the next leg. Wry smile in my helmet. It doesn’t say 1.3 miles. It says 7.3 miles. Right on. I swing back through the gas station lot and come around again. Really, there is absolutely NO sign for this road – no number, no towns. The only clue is that it’s paved. Knowing when to get off one road and onto another. Journeying by emotional Braille.

I passed scattered homesteads, then back into another ridge of cliffs.

And then came the most delightful 30 minutes of tight twisties! Unfortunately the video didn’t come out well (but I fixed that for the next day’s ride).  Set after set of linked 10 to 15 mph switchbacks, and the Tiger just ate it up! The low end torque and tall gearing let me really lean in and play with line up the steep inclines. Transition after transition. And no traffic at all – nobody knows it’s here! Whole body suffused with sheer glee.

Coming down the other side, the hills open away and a vast plain opens in its morning mist. A castle of spires soars in the middle. A mystic land beyond the portal of that twisted pilgrimage. Or perhaps sails of a ship far from harbor. Yes, that must be Shiprock, NM.

Fuel in Farmington, but it’s way too early to stop for lunch. Then it’s south and east across a scrub plain of nothing in the middle of nowhere. Traffic is light. There are no destinations here. No towns, no homes, no humans, no cell towers. Only a slight wind to indicate any boundary between the one looking out through the eyes, and the road unfolding to the next horizon. Ease. Relaxing into the subtle rhythm of the pavement. Occasional birds and sporadic thoughts pass through the space. Then they, too, are gone. Attention opens wider, deeper. The opposite of tunnel vision, awareness expands, including everything. Fragment of a childhood prayer, “all that is, seen and unseen.” At rest, wheels in motion.

The landscape begins to change and I bring attention back to navigation. My directions say the next turn is NM96 East. The road sign says NM96 NORTH. Well, sometimes ya gotta take a calculated chance. I give this one a 96. And the road goes north. And north. A few miles in, I spy a tiny old-fashioned gas station. Farmington was a long ways back. I’m hungry and so is the Tiger. I select my gourmet meal and get reassurance from the clerk that this 96 does indeed turn east “just up the road a bit.”

The view from my table is beautiful.

The old-fashioned pump only offers regular gas. I fill the Tiger’s tank and go inside to pay. A local rancher has stopped in. The texture of his beauty takes my breath away.

Leathered weathered face
Darkened by sun and wind
Lined with hope and love and worry and loss,
Shaded by a battered hat
As dust-caked as the faded jeans
and scuffed boots, worn at the heels.
He smiles and his tooth is broken
and my heart melts.

His wife treats herself to an orange pushup popsicle. They talk with the clerk for over 10 minutes, completely absorbed in their social connection and oblivious to me standing at the counter, gorging on their reality in silence. Which is more than fine. I don’t want to answer why my eyes are filled with tears.

Eventually their conversation ends and it is my turn to pay and continue my journey. Refueled.

Thoroughly enjoying the curves through the changing landscape. The Abiqu reservoir:

Highway 68 follows along the river and into Taos. I cruise up and back, getting the layout of the town and choosing a place to stay. The manager tells me the place is biker friendly, so I should ride on the sidewalk into the courtyard. Kewl! My first hooligan adventure – I’ve never ridden on the sidewalk before!

The parking space in front of my door.

Galleries and shops should be open for another hour or so, so I set out to see Taos.

Unfortunately this knitting shop was closed already. But I sure loved their display. I guess this woman knit herself to death!

Just in front of the knitting shop, a sparrow was making such a racket I had to look to see what was going on. One of her chicks seems to have left the nest a little early.

I looked around for the nest, thinking I could make a sling of branches to return the baby, but I didn’t find it. I thought of my “baby” who is having trouble with schoolwork. Unlike the mother sparrow, I know that no matter how much I chatter at him, he just doesn’t have the ability yet to take flight. So I love him where he is, like the baby bird.

More wanders through the old part of Taos…

I liked this sign. Good thing they’re very clear that you must leave ALL your pets at home. Otherwise, I might have mistakenly brought my bear along.

Some places just make it easy to be artsy-fartsy.

I managed to find a brew pub that had one (1) menu item with no chiles on it (I’m allergic). Plain, but filling. That night I slept well.

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