A Day Late…
… and a dollar short, is how the saying goes. I think I’m okay on the money end, but this post is for yesterday’s (July 12) travels because I was simply too tired to do anything when I got to the motel in Gallup. I’ll ‘splain as I go along.
I started the day at 6 AM, figuring that I wouldn’t have to hurry to get my camp stuff loaded and everything else done that needed to be done before I left. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep well the night before. There was the usual first-day-out-and-get-used-to-it roughness, and there was the noise from I-40 just a few hundred yards away, and then there was the cold. It wasn’t really *cold* cold, but it got chillier than I had anticipated. I didn’t get out my warmer sleeping bag when I turned in, so all I had was my lightweight fleece to keep me warm – and it failed. So I was awake some of the night because of that (and my stubbornness / stupidity in not getting up and digging out the warmer bag). [Note to self: Get out all your sleeping gear. If you don’t need it you can sleep on top of it. If you *do* need it, it’s available at no extra cost.]
I left Holbrook and wandered east on I-40, looking for remnants of 66 that might be accessible. I found a couple before I got to the Painted Desert / Petrified Forest national Park, so I detoured to ride them – and took pictures:
I spent most of the day in the Park, first riding all the way to the south entrance so I could get an idea of what there was to see, and then riding back north to see it all. Although the weather did its best to foil my plans, I actually got to see everything I wanted to see. There’s a museum / visitor center near the south entrance, and I stopped there to take one of their self-guided tours. The tour explained about the petrification process, the layers of rock, and the overall environment, and also showed how some of the earlier attempts at “stabilization” (i.e., pouring concrete under a log to keep it from rolling and breaking) would not be undertaken today.
The next stop north is called the Crystal Forest, because of all the various mineral crystals in the fossilized trees. One piece actually looked like a regular tree trunk from one angle – but then when you moved around and saw the end of it, you could see the whole thing was rock:
While I was at the crystal forest, the weather moved in – FAST! I had watched the storm cells as I rode south, and then back north, but there were only two of them and I thought they would stay south of me. WRONG. They suddenly merged, grew, and took over the sky – in fact, it got so bad that a Park Ranger came through the parking lot and announced over his loudspeaker that everyone had to get off the crystal Forest path IMMEDIATELY (it’s very exposed!) and get back to their vehicles. Oviously, I complied and rode north – again. It was raining some, but I thought I could outrun it, even with the twists and turns in the road.
And I did, for a while. But the storm caught up with me, so I pulled into the Newspaper Rock parking area and put my rainsuit jacket on, and put the protective raincovers on the saddlebags and the trunk bag. And learned two lessons: One is that the exhaust system gets blisteringly hot – literally. I bumped my right pinky against it and now have a nice burn on my finger. The other is that, if you’re going to get out *any* of your rain suit, you might as well get it *all* out. As I said, I only put my rain jacket on, still thinking the showers would be relatively brief and then the sun would come out and dry my legs. Nope. Nope nope nope. Hard rain, longer than expected, and my legs got soaked. I finally got out my rain suit pants and put them on, not because they would keep me dry (WAY too late for that!) but because they would keep the wind off the wet denim. I never did put the booties on, but eventually I got out the new gloves and put them on. It all kept me sorta warm for the rest of the day, but I really should have put the whole rainsuit on in the first place.
But back to the travelogue. After the rain stopped (sort of), I decided to go back south to catch the sights I had missed earlier while trying to outrun the rain. In addition to the Crystal Forest, there’s an area called the Jasper Forest. There’s an “Agate Bridge” (a petrified tree made of agate, I guess, spanning a gully). There’s Newspaper Rock, where petroglyphs abound. There’s Blue Mesa, which didn’t look blue to me.
There’s a display about Route 66, located right at the point where the old road entered what is now part of the Park. Back a bit, I mentioned that you can see this alignment from another part of the old road; from here you can see that part of the road. There’s also a 1932 Studebaker (or what’s left of one) as a monument to all those who traveled “The Mother Road.”
And then there’s the Painted Desert. Photos can never do it justice; it’s just too intense. But here are a couple to whet your appetite.
After leaving the Park, I headed east again on I-40 (Old 66 isn’t always there) and found some more bits and pieces to cruise / peruse. I finally made it into New Mexico:
By this time the day had turned into a regular, miserable, rainy day and there was no more fun to be had. I was wet, cold, tired and hungry, so I decided to get to Gallup and find a place to stay. I had originally intended to stay the night in/near Albuquerque, but at this point I knew that wasn’t going to happen. When I found a place in Gallup, I pulled in under the motel’s portico – and promptly laid the Honda on its side. *sigh* Thank goodness there were some people around to help me get it back up! [Note to self: top-heavy motorcycles can be a BITCH to get back upright. Be careful!]
But I slept extremely well last night (and turned off my alarm so I could sleep past 6 AM), so I’m more rested tonight. Not enough to post today’s adventures, but much better than I felt 24 hours ago. YAY!