I believed I had an easy day to Santa Fe. If you want a laugh, tell the gods your plans. In my innocence, I let the sun chase me out of the tent, a first for many, many weeks. I discovered that the mountains had not moved and that sunshine is a good thing. I lazied about my chores and didn't set off until 10am, a truly slacker start.
I screamed down the mountain, a bit of a shock first thing in the morning, and before long I was sliding through sinuous arroyos under brooding hoodoos. I turned towards Chimayo and discovered a true gem, a delight not to be missed by travelers in this region. Set deeply in a red stone canyon, the focus of the town is the ancient church, the Lourdes of New Mexico, with sacred earth that is said to cure the sick. My knee had already recovered, but I was happy for any prophylactic healing to cover the rest of my trip. You can never tell when you'll need some extra insurance.
Twin adobe towers hold wooden crosses aloft, calling out to the faithful. I stepped into the natural light streaming through windows in the thick walls. Red tiles led me into the inner sanctum, a humble place with paintings depicting religious events. To the right of the doorway stood a striking wood carving of the suffering Jesus, a stark, evocative figure that demanded attention, the sad eyes staring out of a dark wooden head. The hands had especially long, bony fingers that spoke of suffering as well as the eyes. All in all, a grim, serious icon. I had walked obliviously past a sign that said no pictures and took two before someone alerted me to the prohibition. My illicit photographs appear below.
After my visit to the town, I enjoyed a long, winding ride through juniper desert lands, more dry washes and intriguing cliffs. Most of the land seemed open to the public. It would be fantastic place to hike. I filed that information in the mental rolodex for future reference. My wild country riding ended when I reached Hwy 25 and picked up a frontage road for my long run south. This was a true Cadillac frontage road, wide, smooth, virtually no traffic. A long series of rolling climbs took longer than I expected, but at last I turned onto Old Bishop Lodge Rd. This led past one beautiful home after another set in a quiet valley separate from the main highway. Of the properties for sale, most seemed to be listed by Sotheby's, so I knew that if I had to ask how much? I couldn't afford it. It was nice to fantasize. The road, however, contained a lot of climbing, and I was starting to work extra hard--no easy day this! But I wasn't to be stopped. By 3pm, I was rolling into the Plaza in downtown Sante Fe.
I'm a big fan of Southwest architecture, so the homes and businesses all appealed to me. The town was crowded with tourists, me included, but the very center of the Plaza had portions off limits to automobiles. I puttered around, had a late second lunch/early dinner, and headed off for Steve Kerr's place on the southern edge of town.
After some struggles with one way streets, I picked up a designated bike route and made good time to Rainbow Vision, the condo community where Steve lives. Steve is the uncle of Ann and her sister, Gay, in Cleveland. When I told them I was traveling through Santa Fe, I immediately had a contact. The community of Rainbow Vision is an upscale development of pueblo-style condos and some apartments with a new point of view: The developers have marketed the homes as a special place for gays and lesbians, though, unlike eHarmony, they are not discriminating. As one fellow said, "We're straight friendly!"
Some of you may raise an eyebrow at this considering my experience in rural Illinois. That bloke was a sad case. As I said, I'm happy to associate with all types and, frankly, I find the different perspectives invigorating. I couldn't have asked for better references than Ann and her sister. Steve, a cyclist himself, is the consumate gentleman and a perfect host, giving me the run of his home and taking me around town for errands, too. Everywhere I've been in the community I've been greeted like an old friend. After meeting the people here, all of whom seem to be accomplished professionals, some retired, some not, I can see why they want to live here. Gay, lesbian or straight, the energy is warm, inviting, and relentlessly friendly. I could see, too, how having a place that is predisposed to accomodate different orientations would be very nice. No one is offended or finds it strange if you give your partner a hug and call him or her "honey." Home should feel safe, and Rainbow Vision goes out of its way to make that possible.
Mostly I've been doing not much. Steve and I went out to Harry's Road House cafe for a fantastic lunch. I was in heaven when presented with a grilled chicken tostada overflowing with fresh greens, avocado, chicken, fresh salsa--a huge, elite-cyclo-tourist-size portion that left me waddling a bit as we made our way back to Steve's car. If you go to Santa Fe, don't miss this restaurant.
Mojo's got a new set of shoes. I've installed new tires shipped by Bent Up Cycles to Steve's--thanks, guys! I couldn't find a slime tube for the smaller front wheel, so I purchased "Tuffy" liners to guard against thorns. We'll see how that goes. Tomorrow, it's back out into the wilds, south by southwest. I'll be in Arizona in less than a week if all goes well. I may be going dark for a few days, so fear not. I'm still out there plugging away, slapping black top into submission on Mojo, the super Street Machine. The Wild West is an unpredictable place--straight, bent, you never know where it will take you.
Biker Scotty signing off from the Frontier of Human Powered Adventure in the Great American Outback.
Photos from the journey:
The ceremonial fire pit:
View from the big climb:
Into the first valley of the High Road:
My typical situation for the day:
Camp below Truchas:
The Sanctuario in Chimayo:
Hoodoo that voodoo?
Low-end real estate near Santa Fe: