Tuesday, July 22, 2008

April 08 Trip - Day 11

Day 11
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Alpine, TX - Houston, TX
578 miles

I'm used to being the last person out of the parking lot at these events, so I was surprised to find that there were still a few riders hanging around when I opened the door to my motel room. I packed the bike, said my goodbyes, and headed out for the now-familiar grind on I10.

The ride was uneventful. Warm temperatures and humidity welcomed me home.

My day was not over when I pulled into the garage and stripped out of my riding clothing. I took a shower and got into the truck for a 70 mile round-trip drive to my parents house to retrieve the grand-pets.

Finally in for the night, I relaxed on my couch, perused my pictures, and petted my cat.

Trip Costs:

Gas: $385.93
Lodging: $224.25
Food: $98.09
Petty Cash: $125.23 (includes ATM withdrawals and misc purchases)

Total Cost of 11 days on the road: $833.50

Not bad.

April 08 Trip - Day 10

Day 10
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Alpine, TX
319 miles

We had a big group for breakfast this morning at a diner just down the street from the meet motel. Afterwards, many of the riders split up for day rides on their own.

I found myself roped into leading a small group up through the Davis Mountains to McDonald Observatory. From there, Rich (a fellow Texan who I've gotten familiar with over several pie runs and past STN events) led us down to Presidio for lunch at El Patio and then east on 170 for a roller coaster ride along the Rio Grande.

The funny thing is that many of these photos are duplicates of shots I took in December 2006. I guess I need to ride this route the other direction...

We got back to the hotel with plenty of time to relax before supper. For the "official* meet dinner, I had booked a group room at the Edelweiss Brewery & Restaurant in the historic Holland Hotel. I'd been looking forward to schnitzel all day... and the food did not disappoint.

April 08 Trip - Day 9

Day 09
Friday, April 11, 2008
Socorro, NM to Alpine, TX
411 miles

"Screw that!" was my immediate thought this morning when the GPS presented me with an ETA of ~9 PM.

I threw out my original highly optimistic route that was going to take me over some scenic NM backroads and past Carlsbad Caverns NP for a quick stop.

Instead, I punched in a direct route to Alpine for a much more comfortable ~4ish arrival time. I spent the day racing along I-25 and I-10. The last hundred miles was on US-90, but the speed limit was still at interstate speeds.

The only bright spot worthy of mention flashed by with a double take. I didn't turn around for pictures, but I looked up the Prada Boutique in the middle of nowhere that night in my motel room. (It's "art")

I had made excellent time and really hoped to arrive at the motel in time to nap for an hour or two before having to put effort into being social. Instead, I found half the parking lot already filled with sport-touring bikes. Fortunately, the smiles came easily to my face and I happily greeted old and new friends.

At the appointed time, we strolled across the street to a steakhouse. My black and blue steak was excellent, although I think some of the other attendees were a bit put off by the idea of meat with a cool center (yum!). The accompanying (and also yummy) portobello mushrooms got a few sidelong glances: "Those look like cow ****!"

No photos today. I was insufficiently inspired and reluctant to stop on the side of the interstate.

April 08 Trip - Day 8

Day 08
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Flagstaff, AZ to Socorro, NM
432 miles

In a way, the snow encounter in Utah, while unwelcome at the time, actually simplified and removed some potential stress from my trip.

From the first days of planning, I'd looked skeptically at the road options between Moab, UT and the Texas border. The good roads were in the mountains and it was still very early in the season. The safer roads, on the plains of NM, were likely to be fraught with hair-raising gusts of wind. These worries were now moot.

I had two days to get to the STN Region 2 Meet. The base (interstate) route between Flagstaff, AZ and Alpine, TX is about 800 miles. I always figure that adding interesting roads will add at least another 100 miles. My days are further lengthened by stops for attractions along the way.

Sitting in my motel room with Mapsource running on my laptop, I decided that the only thing to do was shortcut Arizona on I40 (after all, I had just ridden in the region a year ago) and try to make it to some new (to me) roads in NM.

Just cuz, I stopped for gas (and breakfast) in Winslow, AZ. It wasn't much of a corner.

To break up the interstate dash, I took some time to ride through Petrified Forest National Park.

The ranger at the entrance station swiped my parks pass, and then told me to be sure and have my camera out for the first six miles. Riding away, I looked at my gloved hands and shrugged internally. Riiiiiiiight.

Instead of attempting to take pictures while moving (yeah, I know some riders do it) I stopped at several of the Painted Desert vista points to take in the view.

The park road commemorates it's crossing of Rt 66 with a nice informational plaque and blatant photo op.

Having seen some geology and history, I was ready for the main attraction: petrified wood (yeah, I know it's stone).

Jasper Forest was once filled with logs fallen away from the eroding cliffs that once encased them. Around the turn of the century (the 19th/20th one, that is) the valley was plundered and many of the logs were dragged away to be ground down for minerals or sold to tourists.

The park was created to protect the remaining logs, but in it's early years, tourists often didn't follow the rules against collecting rocks. I couldn't help but think of all the times my parents hammered into us the rules against picking things up in National Parks.

Reaching Gallup, NM, I headed south on fairly straight state highways through a large indian reservation. The area appeared to be fairly depressed, so when I saw what appeared to be a bunch of junked trucks spread out in the valley ahead of me, I didn't give them much scrutiny...

...until ten miles later when I hadn't yet passed them and they had slowly resolved into satellite dishes. The gravel paving in the turnout couldn't stop me from pulling over to read about the VLA (Very Large Array).

About an hour later I reached I25 and decided that I'd had it for the day. I found an inexpensive motel on the strip in Socorro, NM.

Monday, July 07, 2008