Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21...bicycling from Santa Rosa NM to Logan NM

83.3 miles in elevation gain....1804 ft...descent...2612 ft...average speed...11.8....max trip miles...710.89... Total elevation gain....20,937 ft.
I had a great night in my retro motel, and rolled out the door before 9am. I had a stiff climb out of the Pecos River valley, to the edge of town, where I stopped a McDonald's and fueled up on egg mc muffins for 60 miles of desolation on I-40, before making a decision about going further on US 54. The weather was absolutely perfect, starting out at about 50, and topping out at about 80. The wind was an absolute non factor, with a few gusts from the south as I headed northeast. The wind not being a factor around here is a rarity, so I hope I'm not getting into something blindly, but today was nice. I-40 was typical New Mexico scenery, brown prairie grass, long rolling hills, mountains all around in a spread out sort of way. Layers of red dirt are very common around here, but there were some areas of boulders as well as some slick rock type areas. The tops of the mountains were covered with green cedars and some areas of cactus, and the flatter plains were pretty brown.
My excitement for the day started just a few miles out of Santa Rosa, when I passed a body laying on the grass right at the edge of the road. I thought he was a pile of trash, until I saw the boots, then the hands folded on his belly, then his head covered with a cloth, or shirt to keep the sun out of his eyes. He didn't react to me, and I was almost next to him before I noticed him. He was in grass about a foot tall. I now see why people flying by in a car or truck would not even see him, as unlikely as that might seem. I've been told by cross country bikers, including the guy I just met in Lordsburg, that they sleep right on the side of the road. If they go back away from the edge, they are more likely to encounter snakes, curious coyotes, and other such sleep interrupters. That body sighting was a first for me however. It would have been weird, but I should have stopped and taken a picture. Speaking of coyotes, I saw at least four newly dead ones near the road, as well as one very much alive one. I must have spooked him out of a bedded down area, because he wasn't there, then he was.  He ran about fifty feet in the wide open where I got a really good look at him. He stopped and looked right at me, then sprinted off. The whole sighting took about four seconds, but it was cool. At least he didn't follow me. ( see blog post from New Mexico in 2012). There was also a hitchhiker at one of the ramps that asked me if I happened to have a joint as I rode by. Really? I saw some more racing type trucks, and I established that they were Indy car trucks, including Chip Ganassi Racing, who I've heard off, and the Indy Car Fun City truck, which must be something for kids to do at the races. On a sadder note, I saw the remains of a RV accident in the median. The RV was gone, but somebody's life was spread all over the road for about a half mile. 
I also saw many billboards advertising a Stuckey's with a Dairy Queen, and I decided that I was going to stop, since I didn't get my banana split yesterday. When I finally got there, just outside Tucumcari, the place was burned to the ground! Foiled again. That seemed to be a trend, as I pulled off the ramp and into Tucumcari. This town has been advertised on billboards for 100 miles, supposedly with 34 motels, 30 restaurants, all kind of museums, etc.  Well, in my opinion, Tucumcari is the most over advertised, over rated hole in the wall I've ever been through. Every motel that wasn't burned down was shuttered up, and it was really hard to even find a place to eat along  historic rt. 66. This town is a dump, even though I didn't see what was near I-40, because I went into the town itself. I did find one gem though. I found a little burger and ice cream joint, and after finding the entrance ( it was pretty much an unmarked door, and realizing they were open, I went in and ordered the biggest banana split I've ever eaten, including Sarris, for $6. Real  strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, two bananas, pineapple, strawberry syrup, whipped cream, and cherries. I really thought about throwing some out, but I forced myself to finish it. TAKE THAT, DQ! While there, I talked to a lady and man who owned the local towing service, and they asked me why I chose to go up US 54, which is what I was picking up on the other end of town. They told me it was " rough out there" because it will be so desolate and so windy. Uh oh. When a guy from a dying town in the middle of nowhere tells me it's gonna get desolate out there...hmmm.
I decided not to stay in Tucumcari, and headed out for 24 more miles while I had the perfect conditions. This is where I picked up US 54, which I will follow through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, until I come to US 40. It is two lane in this area, with a decent shoulder, even though there is rumble strips in the middle. There is not a lot of traffic, but a lot of trucks, especially Fed Ex trucks, use this as a shortcut to somewhere. There was Great Plains scenery, as well as a railroad track and passing trains. It is desolate. A harbinger of things to come I think. I rolled into Logan, NM, which exists, I think, because of Ute Lake and the associated state park, a fishing area that supports three motels in this little town. I crossed the Canadian River just before I went into town, and it was a pretty scenic gorge. I figure the lake comes from a dam on that river. I went to the local grocery store and bought two Marie Callender TV dinners for supper, since my very nice $35 room had a microwave. 
As the evening went on, severe weather warnings popped up nearby on the Amarillo, Texas TV station I was watching, with more activity predicted nearby for tomorrow evening. Oh boy.

Old school gas station

Typical scenery along I-40

I like having a lane to myself due to construction

A real ghost town right on the interstate!

My DQ was burned out!

They should take down their signs!!

A precarious bolder heading into Tucumcari

This was the nicest thing in the town of Tucumcari!

Random cars left in the desert is a common sight

Trains everywhere along US 54

The Canadian River, just before Logan, NM

Ute Lake is a big fishing area

My really nice motel

Beautiful room in Logan, NM

With 8 pillows!!!!

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