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Day 4
October 13, 2016
Motel 6
Santa Fe, New Mexico
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I woke up this morning with a stiff back.  Not sore, just stiff.  I walked around and did a few trunk twists to loosen up.  I'm not in shape currently, and no longer light in the saddle.  It bothers me.  It is the price I've paid since taking this part time job.  My 5 year commmitment runs out in 16 months, and I'm pretty sure I'm going back to where I was.  The job has allowed me to do things that before, were not possible.

The TV was on dolling out the latest election news.  Weather app read no rain anywhere, the day would once again be mild and sunny.  "It will be a great day today; great bike, great roads, great weather and good company-myself."  I only have a 300 mile ride today so slept in a little and took my time getting on the road.

With trip meters reset, I left the parking lot about 7:30am and double backed through the Plaza to U.S. 84.  I had on leather gloves, and Klim jersey under my coat.  "It will be cool this morning going through the hills," so took precautions.  Getting through the center of Santa Fe took time, but once cleared the riding was good.  U.S. 84 is freeway north.  Once out in the open I gassed at a Valero in Camal Back.

It was a quick ride to SR 86 where I turned left and went due West.   The mesas and surrounding hills became less dense.  A bright blue sky lured me into long, deep thought about things no one cares about but me.  The best thing about riding the Western U.S. after the scenery is the absence of traffic.  I moved the ESA on the Yamaha to a more firm Standard +3, in anticipation of a few curves as I neared the Continental Divide. Windscreen was trimmed low.  "Get your kicks on 96,"  was my thought as the quiet running FJR put down the miles at 75 mph.   Dusty hamlets, with half finished abodes came and went.  There was not much to see as I went past them.  Nothing but a few raggley cars in a front yard of dust and rocks, with tarps for doors.  Capulin Peak Mountain was in the backdrop at 9,000+ feet.



























      The FJR relaxes in the Fall beauty of the Southern Rockies                                                    Aspens turning colors on SR 96


The highway twisted and turned through the village of Canones, and I had to stay sharp in case someone decided to enter the highway from one of the many blind driveways.































                                                       The long and winding road....SR 96 near Coyote, New Mexico.


After a great ride 96 depoisted me on the edge of U.S. 550 on the Jicarrilo Indian Reservation.  I turned and went north and a few miles later took a morning break at the Apache Nugget truck stop next to the casino.  I was taking my gear off when I noticed a Concours rider about to ride out.  We spoke a few minutes.  He told me he was from ABQ and on a weekend trip.  He left Monument Valley early that morning and advised it was great.

























          I found this old stable somewhere on SR 96.  It was a another                                               Concours Rider about to ride out
​          perfect day to ride.


A Subway was attached to the truck stop, "I didn't eat supper last night, and it's close enough to lunch time," so ordered a meatball sandwich and relaxed.  That was short lived when a couple at the next table began to get loud, well she got loud, he kind of just sat there.

In a raised voice she said, "well what would YOU know about being a good man?"

"please sit down,"

"no I'm NOT, you said you knew, so tell me."

She was in her 30s, with colored streaked hair, hip hugger jeans with a WIDE belt.  She looked over to me, and asked,

"now look at me, you think he could do better than THIS?" As she ran her hands down from under her arms to her legs.  I tried to put a serious look on my face, but it was hard.

"m'am you're the ticket to his dreams if ya ask me"

"see, I know I'm a good thing, right?"  As she looked to me for back up.

"look here m'am, I'm just a long rider passing through. I gotta get back on the road."  I did not want to be a referee in a domestic quarrel.  I gathered my stuff and eased back outside.  How do they find me?   I needed to call D but sent her a text.

"Couldn't call, explain later"

"everything alright?"

"yeah LOL"

I left all that excitment in the mirrors as I took off north on 550, a 4 lane highway to Colorado.  Before leaving I went back to T shirt under and summer gloves, coat vented out.  The sun was hot.  U.S. 550 makes a unambiquous crossing of the Continental Divide, I didn't even notice it when I came through.

It was here I noticed the seat on the FJR was no longer working.  My butt was hurting.  Up untill now not had any problems with the seat.  But now I was squirming trying to find a good spot.  "Dam I'm gonna hafta to stop soon."  It hadn't even bothered me the first few days on this trip, and all of sudden it feels like a torture rack?  I was perplexed, but rode on.

The ride into Farmingham was uneventfull, just desert and mesas.  I made copious use of the cruise control.  Again I passed the time playing with the Garmin, and the electronics on the bike.  All the numbers were good including the tire PSI.  My mpg had stablized to somewhere in the 40s.  I also sang a lot of 70 songs in my head.

In Farmingham I gassed at a Shell station, and took a butt break in a nearby Mcdonalds.  I called Debbie and reported in and relayed the situation about the truck stop incident.  She thought it was funny.  I read the news, checked my Facebook, but mostly relaxed in the the booth.  The people watching here was good, and I rode out without being called in to curry a few locals.  Long Riders are often called upon to be cousenlors, I guess  we're strangers so people open up because who are we going to tell?

Back on the road, I wen to to Shiprock on U.S. 64.  I could see the rock formation in the distance but rode by the highway that takes you there for a close look.  "I have that pic already," so kept going.  If you've never seen it, worth the diversion.

Crossing into Arizona I went to U.S. 160, followed it to U.S. 191 and turned north to come into Monument Valley from a different direction than years past.  It would add a few miles to the ride but I didn't care.  I've been drawn to the Valley from the time I was a boy watching westerns at the movies and on TV.  In my eye, the valley defines America with its majesty.

The afternoon was gliding by as I rode across the desert to my final destination for the day.  The red rocks the area is famous for were now all around me.  The route split the large table top mesas, that stood quietly as if on guard.  I left 191 for final approach on U.S. 163, that I call "Monument Valley Road. "  The highway dipped and curved among the rocks of the Garden of the Gods.  This land is so inspiring, that it reminds me why I long ride.  Hollywood knew the area set the mood for what it needed to frame the lone figure that roamed the West, who am I to question it?



















                  U.S. 163 twisted its way among the canyons                                      Mind bending beauty was everywhere.  I felt honored.                                                                                                                                                  




















                 The Rock Formation known as Mexican Hat.                                               Approaching Monument Valley from the North.

Mexican Hat was just like I remembered it; an old fashion watering hole and stopover.  I eased through and crossed the narrow bridge over the San Juan River, where I ran into annoying road construction.  It was down to 1 lane in a resurfacing project.  I was stuck behind a slow moving truck as I entered some of the best riding.   I cleared the zone, passed a few cars and saw the monuments of the valley and forgot all the previous aggrevation.

There is nothing like riding the approach to Monument Valley, you see it in the distance and forgot it is 2016.  I didn't stop for many pictures.  I have all that already, this time I just wanted to ride.

My last visit here was June 2007.  Now in October 2016, the traffic was markedly more pronounced.  I'd never seen the area like this, and in October no less.  The Navajo control the park and in the years since my last visit, have built a new visitor center and motel.  I peeled off the highway and rode the 3 miles to the gate entrance where I paid my entrance fees and went to the parking lot.

I was advised by the attendant I could ride my bike down into the valley, that was different than years past.  Back then they only allowed the guided tours down close.  When I arrived, the place was busy.  Guide trucks and buses were everywhere.  A cloud of dust drifted from below as traffic moved through rocks.  I skipped going down that way.  "I'll leave that for the ADV guys, besides I don't wanna eat dust for 10 miles behind some RV."

All that did not take away from the grandeur of the valley, but I feel the place has lost something.  Back in the day I'd come here and only a handful of folks were on the scene.  Now with the new motel and visitor center, the valley is swamped.  I can only guess what it must be like in June.  How long before they build a casino?  :(

Still I was glad to be here, and to once again see the greatness of Monument Valley.   I left the park and went across the highway to the Goulding Campground.  I camped here last time and remembered it as a good place.

I went in to register and unlike 2007 the campground was near full.  Tent sites were ok, and the young lady picked me out a nice spot.  Price to camp?  32 dollars.  My how times have changed.

My site was in a good spot and I parked the FJR after a 363 mile day.  It was about 5 in the aftenoon on what became a partly cloudy day.  I unloaded the FJR and set up my tent minus the rain fly.  "Not gonna rain tonight.  I want to feel the gentle breeze blowing through."  My plan was to ride back out for pictures of the Valley along with some video.  But I really didn't want to get my bike back out.  It was a nice afternoon, and I was thinking of just breaking out my little stove and take it easy and eat supper.  "You know I took excellent pics back in 2007, I couldn't possibly do it any better today in these light conditions, I'm just gonna relax."




















                     My home away from home                                                          Looks like supper.



I caught up on my journaling and reviewed the pictures I had on the Canon Powershot.  I returned a few texts including one from my brother who was back in North Carolina working his way home.  It was supper time but I didn't have a can opener for my corned beef hash.  I went down to a couple from from New Jersey with can in hand and asked if I could borrow one.  She said, "You have corned beef hash?"  "Yeah,"  "My husband loves that stuff."  "Tell him to bring his plate down, I'll share."  But he never came.

A minvan from California pulled in with 4 German tourists.  That ride was packed down.  They had more stuff in there than a Dollar General. It sat really low in the rear.  I'd never seen anything like it.  They unloaded stuff for 1 hour.   "Man and they gotta repack all that stuff in the morning LOL."  To each his own, I was just glad I wasn't on THAT trip.

With the sun going down I sat at my little table and warmed my can of hash, complete with chips and a drink I bought from the store while checking in.  I also had a PayDay bar for something sweet.  It was nice, and a fine way to end a great day on the road.

It was dark when I made my way up to the excellent shower facilities.  The moon was rising over the bluffs casting my tent site in a blue hue.  What a fitting end to a fine day.  There is nothing like sleeping in the desert.   I went in my tent, put my headphones on for some music, but the comfort of my exped and pillow was too much and I quickly drifted off to sleep.
































                        ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

















Coming next -Day 5 and the Colorado Rockies.   Great ride!