Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’
Posted on June 7, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 3: June 6, 2010
From just past Gladstone, NM to 2 miles west of Cimarron,NM
64 miles, including two backtracking down this canyon.
The Cimarron River of the Oklahoma Panhandle has nothing in common with the Cimarron River of New Mexico except a name. The Oklahoma version seldom carries water above the surface sands, for one thing, which is why it is sometimes called the Dry Cimarron.
The wetter version greeted me with a booming thunderstorm today at the mouth of Cimarron Canyon, the eastern most reaches of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. This marks the transition from the plains to the Rocky Mountains and the start of tourist traffic.
As I wave goodbye to the plains and the relative ease of ticking off the miles, I offer this photo reflection on traffic jams:
I am so dreading the climb up Cimarron Canyon to Bobcat Pass that I wanted to get as close to it as possible for tomorrow’s start. So here I am, camped in a thunderstorm 100 feet below the sign that says No Overnight Parking, Next 6 Miles. I scouted two miles up and talked to a guy staking out the only layby that was at all viable as a camp spot. He didn’t know the score up here any better than I. When I got to the sign it became clear it was going to rain. I scooped up my stuff, did my best to discretely erect a blue tent in a brown landscape and climbed in just as it started to rain in earnest. My bike, trailer and gear bag are stuffed under a tarp behind some trees. They’re better hidden than I. I’m so tired I don’t care that my view is of traffic 50 yards from my tree shrouded spot. I wish it was dark, I’d just conk out. Here’s a recap:
This morning I absolutely flew the first 25 miles to Springer with tailwind and a downhill trend. The last five dragged a bit as I was bonking. I had a slow start despite being up by 6. I packed quickly only to discover two tires punctured by goathead thorns. One was the trailer. I patched that and replaced the front, wheeled to the end of the ranch drive, checked everything for goatheads and removed two new ones. They didn’t seem to have punctured the tube, yet clearly one nicked the front as it has a very slow leak that seemed to get worse as the day went on. Coming into Cimarron I didn’t know that tire was low and it felt like I was pedaling in water. I’ll ride the first 6 miles (and 1500 feet) to the campground then spend my recovery time patching both full size tubes that flatted today.
I dropped into Springer and it was like changing seasons. Suddenly there was moisture in the wind and the scent of honey suckle. Aahh. I made my way to Rebecca’s Café and had an absolutely fantastic breakfast of juevos y chorizo con sopapillo and quantities of iced tea. It was already hot out and the AC was cranking. The waitress was a delight and her four-year-old son followed her around sporting an adhesive handlebar mustache. In the hour I was there he announced he was with the FBI, a policeman and a banker. Very cute.
Posted on June 6, 2010 - by Nadia
Josie’s family arrived in the valley of the Dry Cimarron so long before it was a part of Oklahoma that they could not be called Sooners. They were squatters, migrants who staked a claim to a chunk of land unattached to any state and all but forgotten by the federal government. No Man’s Land was so neglected by formal law that it wasn’t covered under the Homestead Act for years, in fact, it took a Supreme Court ruling and a Department of Interior rule in 1882 to make it clear that the vestigial appendage of the long-gone Republic of Texas was part of the public domain of the United States.
Josie was 15 and had lived in three states – Washington, Colorado and Arizona – before moving with her parents to the Cimarron Valley in 1886. A.J. Sparks, the federal commissioner of the Land Office had approved “Squatters Rights” for the area the year before, granting settlers permission to claim whatever 160-acre tract they could make a go on in the panhandle, but denying the right to apply for title. The Keys family had fallen short in numerous efforts to prove up on land under the Homestead Act. This time, they were gambling the United States would eventually give them a chance to own the land they lived. Eventually, that gamble paid off.
Tonight, I’m the sqatter, making my home for the night between three dilapidated ranch buildings. These shells of buildings and the dead and dying trees around them are the only shade for miles around. The temperature topped out at 108 today, making shade and a wind break necessities.
Traffic flies by on the highway a quarter mile away. My view encompasses a huge swath of green prairie that vies with a deep blue sky for size. My company here consists of swallows obsessed with feeding their noisy babies in the exposed rafters, meadowlarks in a perpetual territorial feud and antelope does come to drink at the stale pond 100 yards off. I hope no one minds that I’m here. I don’t want to own it, just to duck out of the sun and wind that have been relentless all day and get a good night’s sleep.
I rode the highway west toward Springer, NM, today, ditching plans to try a dirt route that looked interesting but that would have been awful in this wind and heat. I stopped several times to snack and stretch before calling a bone fide break at 10:30. I had ridden 35 miles in four hours, including the time it took to explore the old Otto cemetery and make some gear adjustments. A pushy side wind kept me focused, especially on the downhills, when even a stray thought could leave me struggling to keep the trailer riding smoothly. I was quite excited late in the day when I crossed the divide into the Canadian River basin. Suddenly, my ride was downhill and the wind at my back.
I stopped for my 10:30 siesta in the shade of a row of stunning pine trees that lined the drive to an historic adobe ranch house. Trees are the embodiment of love and commitment here. To keep these trees alive to grow to this size meant daily walks from the well to seedlings for decades upon end. I knocked, but got no answer except an excited welcome from a 6-month-old Australian shepherd. Taking that as permission to stay, I set up shop in the shade of the house, outside the main walls. Later, after I had eaten, fixed the bike some, read and napped, I knocked again to a different answer. The owners were deep in the cool of the house – she ironing, he watching the Preakness warm up. The walls of the house were a foot thick, painted a flawless tan. It was built in 1890, and the paint, like the trees, demonstrated a remarkable commitment to place. Without a foundation, the adobe cracks, making replastering a regular chore. The woman said her father had been born in Kenton, about a decade after Josie left, so I caught her up on news of Ina K. and the general well being of the town.
They let me fill my bottles at the well. “That’s special water, there,” he said. “When you drink it, you just know you’re satisfied.” He was right. It was cold and sweet and it’s all I’ve got to see me through to the next stop tomorrow morning.
Afterward: My dilapidated ranch hide out was a little spooky, and it took forever for it to cool down, but I rolled out my sleeping bag on the tarp at dusk and fell instantly asleep. I was awaken around 10:15 by a huge lightening display on the horizon and rising winds. One look at the storm system coming my way and I was scrambling to unpack the tent. I had been so asleep that I kept searching for Emma, almost calling her out loud. I got the tent up and the wind gusts intensified to the point that I sat up, arms overhead to take some of the stress off the poles. I thought the tent would tear apart, but it held just fine and by the time the rain and lightning arrived the wind had moderated and I was sound asleep.
Posted on June 4, 2010 - by Nadia
Cumulative mileage: 56
Thanks to Billy Mock, I was able to end my shakedown ride back at my tent at the KOA in Clayton, NM. The ride itself went well. I found and fixed a couple of kinks – my right crank worked itself so loose it about fell off. I put it on better. I got a flat tire riding around town yesterday. It was just a tiny hole, and I patched it, but those new patches are air seeps, so it was flat again this morning. Loath to jettison a tube so early in the ride, I filled it up and it lasted the entire ride. I’ll do that until it gets old or I get a hole worthy of a new tube. Tomorrow I’ll begin the ride west toward Springer, New Mexico, on I-25. It’s 180 miles away, with a stretch of dirt road, so could take three or four days.