Thursday, September 5, 2013

Colorado bound

"I was standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona....." lyrics from the song by the Eagles kept running through my mind today. Our first stop on a 2-day trip to Colorado Springs was Winslow and as we rode northeast from Prescott I kept humming the classic Eagles' song.

We're headed to Colorado Springs to watch our son, Nate, race in the Pike's Peak Downhill longboard race this weekend. It's our first opportunity to ride the BMW on a multiday trip since we moved to Arizona one month ago. I'm amazed at the varied scenery on today's 415 mile trip:  up and down steep mountains, long sweepers through pine forests, brilliant green valleys bookended by high, dry mesas; mile after mile of sagebrush, deep and dry washes and creek beds, irrigated farmland, and terrain that we can best describe as 'moonscapes'.

After lunch in Winslow, we traveled on Route 87 north and Route 264 east first through the Hopi Reservation and then into the larger Navajo Nation, 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The road stretched out in front of us, and at one point Mike figured he could see 14 miles into the distance.

We saw preparations for the Navajo Nation Fair as we rode through Window Rock, and talked with a couple of people at the gas station about the hundreds who come into town for the fair, pow-wow, and rodeo competition.

Just east of Window Rock we crossed into New Mexico, the first time we've been in this state. We turned north onto Route 491, one of the Navajo Nation scenic roads known as the Trail of the Ancients because it winds through countryside first settled over 10,000 years ago.

We were surprised to cross canals filled with water and bright green fields of corn and hay as we rode closer to Farmington, NM our destination for the evening. The Navajo Agricultural Products Industry operates one of the largest farming operations in the country.

It felt jarring to ride down the 9% grade into the busy city of Farmington after spending the past 7 hours riding through countryside where we often didn't see a house for miles. At one point this morning a sign announced "no services for the next 51 miles" and at the end of the day we're in a city of 45,000.

Tomorrow we head north into Colorado and the Rockies, and I already have another song in my head:  Rocky Mountain High by John Denver.

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