Monday, July 30, 2018

Twisties and an unexpected trip through Colorado

Day 2 of our cross-country motorcycle trip started in Farmington, NM. We left at 6:45am to beat the heat and the potential rain/hail - and neither one happened. We stopped to put on the warmer jacket liners as the temperature dropped down from 68 to 65 degrees, and then it kept on dropping to a low of 51 at one point.

We rode east from Farmington on U.S. 64 east, climbing a high plateau. There was very little traffic, but we saw plenty of cattle - some right next to or even in the middle of the highway - and deer.

When we started in the morning Mike reminded me that U.S. 64 twists and turns quite a bit, and it would be easy to miss a turn. In Chama, we missed our turn and instead of continuing east on U.S. 64 we headed northeast on what turned out to be Colorado 17. It was an absolutely beautiful ride, climbing through two passes in the San Juan Mountains that topped out at over 10,000':  Cumbres Pass and La Manga Pass.

When we saw the sign that we were entering Colorado, we knew we had missed a turn. The scenery was so gorgeous and the twisties and hairpin turns so much fun that we kept heading east until we reached the intersection of U.S. 285 South where we stopped to double check the map and a photo opp with the engine of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, a narrow gauge RR line constructed in 1881 to support mining.

After a quick ride on U.S. 285 South we turned east again on U.S. 64 toward Taos, riding through wide-open valleys with distant views of the mountains.

U.S. 64 winds directly through Taos, colonized in 1615 by the Spanish and today a quirky tourist town in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

We continued east on U.S. 64, part of the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway roads that are made for a BMW motorcycle.

We saw numerous signs for the Philmont Scout Ranch, 214 square miles of high adventure training for Boy Scouts that started operating in 1938. Unfortunately, the Morris Creek Fire started in this area the end of June, destroying over 1600 acres and leaving the danger of flooding and mudslides in its path.

We also rode by signs for the EX UU Ranch, established in 1848 and today the largest private ranch in the country with over 180,000 acres.

The scope and expanse of the wild countryside in this part of northern New Mexico is hard to wrap my mind around. We rode for miles without seeing any signs of humans except for the paved road we followed, reveling in the quiet landscape.

We turned onto NM 21 in Cimarron, then east onto U.S. 56 in Springer, riding the final 85 miles through wide open prairies.

We're spending the night in Clayton, NM, a town of about 3000 people established as a water stop for the railroad in the 1880's and today the county seat. President Teddy Roosevelt passed through Clayton in 1905, thanking the local men who volunteered in his regiment. The Hotel Eklund was built in 1898, and our third story was added in 1905.

We ended our day with a walk for Mike and run for me through the town followed by dinner in the historic saloon of the Hotel Eklund, where we saw the bullet holes in the ceiling above the bar that were fired by an enthusiastic customer when the telegraph operator brought news that Warren Harding was elected president.

We rode 397 miles today, and the odometer on the BMW that we purchased the end of March rolled over to 3000 miles. Stay tuned for where we'll be when the odometer rolls over to 4000 miles! Tomorrow we continue east, riding through 3 new states:  Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  Here is the route we have taken so far


  1. Looks like you had a great adventure!

  2. Great commentary and pics. I am along on the ride vicariously. Enjoy and be safe