August 15 – CO – NM – CO – Four Corners – AZ
I hate it when reality rears its ugly head. After a day of bliss on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS), I had to put some serious miles on the Honda in order to get home by the 16th. In spite of that, I still managed a couple of scenic stops between Antonito, CO, and Chinle, AZ.
First, we have two passes on CO 17 before riding into New Mexico. Unlike the C&TS, the road doesn’t swing between states before finally becoming NM 17 somewhere north of Chama. Most of the road is one valley north of the C&TS, so I had to cross over La Manga Pass before I even saw the C&TS tracks:
And then I followed the C&TS up over Cumbres Pass:
The Honda and I were both breathing hard at 10,000 feet! 😉
I got lucky with my timing, too – I left Antonito at 10 AM, just as the westbound train was pulling out, and I was headed downhill on 17 around 11 AM, just as the eastbound train was approaching its third crossing of the road. Naturally, I had to stop and get the “outsider’s” perspective (as opposed to the “insider’s” view I had had all day yesterday) as it pulled the grade and crossed the road. You can see the video here.
After I was done with the trains, I motored down into Chama and visited the C&TS yard. It was very quiet, with nobody around, so I just wandered
to my heart’s content for a while. There is a museum car on a siding, which has a couple of exhibits; there are other cars on other sidings (including a U. S. Mail car), in all stages of (dis)repair; there is the stationhouse, where you can buy tickets for the train; and of course there is the souvenir store. One of the items for sale was a beautiful marble mosaic wall piece (with a matching table if you wanted it). I was tempted, but couldn’t figure out how I was going to load it on the Honda. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
I could have hung around the railyard all day, just to see the westbound train arrive, but I didn’t have time. So, reluctantly, I got back on the Honda and motored westward. I followed a northern option, which put me back into Colorado and through Durango, before finally heading southwest to Four Corners. As I rode westward, the world visibly dried out and became more like the Southwest Desert I know and love:
The Four Corners Monument is on Native American land and therefore is subject to their rules. They don’t accept any of the National Park or multi-agency passes, so I actually had to *pay* (gasp!) to get in. The Monument’s plaza is quite nicely done, but the surrounding grounds are totally bare. There’s a dirt parking lot and that’s pretty much it, which is kinda disappointing. Nonetheless, I went in and snapped the requisite photos:
Just shortly after leaving the Monument, I rode back into Arizona. Although I had several more hours of riding, and another whole day of riding tomorrow, it was good to be “home”!
I followed US 160 west to US 191, and then turned south to get as far as I could before I ran out of steam or daylight. I had to stop once for fuel, and once to suit up against a HUGE thunderstorm (that I managed to avoid because of the various turns in the road), but other than that it was just mile after mile of … mile after mile. I knew there were places to stay in Chinle (’cause that’s where Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located), so that was my first goal. If things were going well, I considered continuing to St. Johns – but by the time I got to Chinle I knew I was done for the day. I found a Best Western for the night, had a Subway sub for dinner, and ended the day.