In Which Chris Seeks Enlightenment in the Desert

Alamogordo, NM
Editors note: This is a postdated entry from April 8th. I’m working backwards from Santa Fe to Guadalupe.
Blogging was easier a month ago when water was plentiful and the terrain was flat. Now I feel like I’m ten miles short of hanging in the towel. I keep toeing 100 mile days out of necessity or stupidity. A few days ago I left my phone at a park and had to backtrack 20 miles to get it plus another 10 to water. It was supposed to be an easy day to help me recuperate from a sore throat that has been nagging me for almost a week. I’m mostly healthy, but there were a few bad days of sucking dry desert air across a raw throat. I have a deadline and I can’t stop to recover. It’s been stressful but I’m a day ahead of schedule which means I’m taking a day off.

As I sit here drawing from bottles of Fat Tire the scream of jet engines fills the air as two pilots return from a sortie. Welcome to the Tularosa Basin: Home of White Sands National Monument and the birthplace of nuclear weapons.
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In Which Chris Stokes the Fire in Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM
Editors note: This is a postdated entry. I’m working backwards from Santa Fe to Guadalupe.

I arose early this morning behind a church of Christ the Scientist. That’s a new flavor of monotheism for me, typically I sign up with the Baptists. My sleeping mat is still on the fritz and when the night air is cold the morning ground is colder. I’m working on getting this sorted, but it’s 5 years old and there’s a store in town so I can get another. A little shivering is nothing new, but last night I was testing a reflective ground sheet. Still have some bugs to work out.
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Chama, NM
A fine day of riding up and over a 10,400′ pass in the San Juan mountains.

About half way through I learned that a close friend of mine was struck as she was riding late last night. The details are horrific. She has since stabilised in the ICU. The rest of the day I cried and fought nausea. There’s nothing we can do but wait.

Another Day Of Rumspringa: Exit Strategy

Taos, NM
Today I sat. I wanted to be excited about Taos but I wasn’t. I’ve diagnosed myself with pueblo overload. I contacted a similar condition in Kyoto: temple-itis. I complained to various friends and sat at a food coop (so much unwashed hair) all day, but it wasn’t until just now that I realised: I can just move on. The Taos Pueblo isn’t going anywhere. Taos as a whole is deliberately frozen in time. I’m young, I’ll come back later when I’m more engaged. For now I need to create stories.

I’ve been passive for a few weeks. Now is the time risk life and limb on gnarly mountain biking and class V rapids. Those are things I’ll remember when I’m old. And so I’m heading to Moab. It makes me feel like a bit of a dumb jock but I promise I experienced my fair share of culture in Santa Fe (write up forthcoming) and so consider this a palate cleanser. First though, there is at least one 10,000′ pass between here and moab. Yikes!

Another Day Of Rumspringa: The High Road To Taos

Taos, NM
Today’s forecast and reality: wintery mix. I slept as well, or even better, than one can hope on a slab of concrete swaddled in a light sleeping bag and space blanket. But the rising sun brought with it the storm. I was in Truchas this morning, a mountain top hamlet without any public shelter, so I ate breakfast and reluctantly started North towards Taos.
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Another Day Of Rumspringa: Adventure Fatigue

Santa Fe, NM
My time in Santa Fe has been fun and I’ll write all about it soon enough, but at the moment I’m contemplating next steps. If every day is a party is it actually? I’m feeling a distinct lack of purpose that I’m not sure pedaling or hiking will solve. I helped out at a community shop this past weekend and I met some folks on a group ride last night. It’s helped but like everything else it’s temporary.

I’m feeling a bit worn because I haven’t slept well in a long time. I’ve been on a plateau for a while now and the nights have been too cold for my gear. I replaced my ancient, punctured, sleeping pad in hopes that improved insulation from the ground will help. Perhaps with improved sleep I’ll feel more in the mood for adventure.

Regardless, at the moment I’m waiting on some replacement parts to arrive. I’ll be in the general Santa Fe area until the weekend and then it’ll be time to head North. I’m tempted to skip some things in the mountains if it means I can drop to a lower elevation sooner. I think some extra warmth would help my mood.

Another Day Of Rumspringa: Tail of the Camino Real

Santa Fe, NM
Megans flight lands soon and then it’s a week of R&R for both of us. The mountains here are all covered in snow and the forecast calls for a lot more. We’ll make it work. As for Santa Fe, there are a LOT of people here. Most towns I’ve passed through since Austin have numbered in the hundreds, but Santa Fe has nearly 70,000. Alamogordo and Carlsbad each seemed a Metropolis at the time but they are both half the size. I’m at the supermarket trying to cope with the crush of people. I’m not joking. It’s weird being around so many strangers, and this is coming from a guy who has spent the last 14 years in Boston or Pittsburgh.
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Another Day Of Rumspringa: Mañana

Edgewood, NM
I seem to have found the part of the state where AT&T has yet to sell all their infrastructure to century link and verizon. Today was a mellow day of getting pushed by the wind. Originally I had aspirations of climbing mountains and staring down Spanish ranchers on land grants but… mañana. I rolled 50 miles and took a left and now I’m done. I stopped in at the Quarai mission ruins, which look like ruins, and did a quick hike. I paid way too much for ravioli but I’ve been so far removed from civilization that even Italian food is a novelty.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to report is that I think I can see the Southern edge of the rocky mountains! Santa Fe is nestled in between all these mountains and sadly for there’s no good way out. But, I’ll crack that egg next week. Tomorrow I’m anticipating more good wind and a town named Madrid (Mad-rid) which is full of hippies and outhouses.

Another Day Of Rumspringa: Fatigue

Mountainair, NM
A dull afternoon pedaling into the wind and feeling exhausted. I wasn’t having too much fun so I tried one of these new podcast things the kids tell me about. Listening to Ira Glass tell me stories helped me forget my cares and ignore the low numbers on my cyclometer. Don’t worry I was on a backroad and used the speaker on my phone. It’s the first distraction I’ve used since the poppiteal fossa of Florida which is not a ringing endorsement of the area.

I think what’s missing is more internal then external and I’ve been struggling with direction and pacing a lot lately. I haven’t had a chance to reflect much and there are four national parks/monuments (Big Bend,Guadalupe, Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands) crammed within a weeks ride of each other. The last national park I saw was the Everglades and that was in late January. There’s also a lot of great people in this region. It’s so good I’m becoming numb to it. Also I may be sick again.
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