2 Weeks In The West – Day 4

In Travel by AbhiLeave a Comment

June 21st, 2016 – Carrizozo, New Mexico to Albuquerque, New Mexico ~ 150 miles.

The entire idea of this trip was for Vy to see the Carlsbad Caverns – so now that we had seen them, we could head back home, right? Or…we could take the long way home through Idaho and see what happens.

Carrizozo is named after “carrizo”, or “red grass” in Spanish. The town was initially created around a depot for the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, which is obviously long gone. Nowadays it’s a cute artist community that really likes donkeys. There are several (I have no idea what the official number is but I’ve seen claims of at least 25 by tourists online) of these statues all around town in/on top of/around buildings. For more examples of the said donkeys, head on over to this travel blog called Pullin’ Chocks.

Vy wanted breakfast before we hit the road, so we found ourselves at 12th Street Coffee. We we were greeted by the incredibly sweet proprietor, whose name is Shelby.

I don’t drink coffee, so I enjoyed a bagel while Vy and I made small talk with the locals – apparently everyone here has at least one dog:

Turns out 12th Street Coffee is actually on the New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR), and I’ll just say that the route planners made an excellent choice:

Did you just think, “what’s a BDR?” Check out this trailer of New Mexico’s BDR, but the short description is that it’s heaven for off-road riding enthusiasts:

Normally when I do solo bike trips, I end up doing 400-500 miles a day as I rush between national parks or quirky landmarks. I would never stop at a coffee shop, let alone spend an hour in it. Then again, Vy would probably counter with the fact that she wouldn’t take a motorcycle on a road trip in the first place, so I’m happy to make a compromise! While I was at first antsy about spending this much time at an unplanned stop, I found that I really enjoyed the experience. For a moment I had a crisis of faith – should we cut the planned mileage of this trip in half and just soak up as much local culture as possible? I pondered that for a bit as we got back on the road to Albuquerque.

I can’t really tell you why, I just find this sign amusing. It’s a rest area but something about this wording is so simple. Apparently New Mexico, Missouri, and a couple of other states use this phrase instead of ‘rest area’?

Road trips usually mean you’ll encounter roadkill, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a dead animal on the side of the road that was so rigid that it looked like it had been stuffed:

Speaking of roadkill, I feel like I have to go on a tangent and share the most recent episode of Roadkill, one of my favorite YouTube shows. This has got to be their greatest episode of all time:

Back to reality – and a harsh one, at that. We rode near the Trinity Site, the location of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. It was a US Army test on July 16, 1945 as part of the Manhattan Project.

As we pulled into ABQ, Vy noticed a pitbike memorial dedicated to someone presumably nicknamed Irish:

Recently, Vy has made a point of investing in Lonely Planet books for the trips we take. At first I thought it was unnecessary. I still do, but I can’t deny that it’s been helpful as a quick reference instead of pulling out a phone (or god forbid, talking to human beings with opinions of the local area!) Her book pointed us towards Frontier Restaurant, which is known for cheap, delicious Mexican food. I gorged myself on a burrito (keeping true to my promise to have some green chiles in every meal I consumed in New Mexico) and then busted out my laptop so I could keep you entertained with more motorcycles for sale on the site:

The parking lot had a 45 minute limit, which isn’t weird. What is weird is that there’s a $5/hour fee for going beyond the limit, and you’re supposed to go inside the restaurant to pay:

West of Albuquerque is Petroglyph National Monument, which is fairly self-explanatory. There are several trails but only one is open after 5pm – so that’s where we went. It’s called Piedras Marcadas Canyon and the trailhead is right behind a Jiffy Lube-type oil change station. The trail isn’t marked very well so we got lost quickly, but a local got us on the right route and we eventually found a series of petroglyphs like this one:

More petroglyphs:

I try my best petroglyph impression:

Right before I left on this trip, I put up a post with my planned route, asking if anyone wanted to meet up for a drink. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet with everyone who reached out, but reader Gary C. sent me an email with plenty of advance notice and we were able to arrange a stop at his place.

He and his wife were excellent hosts, and my GS felt right at home in their garage full of varying-displacement dual-sports and plenty of tools. It was a fantastic garage and collection of vehicles for the local area:

Despite the fact that we had just met, Gary and Kathy apparently knew me quite well, as they suggested we check out one of Albuquerque’s many brewpubs. We decided on Alien Brew Pub:

We talked about bikes, bike trips, and the meaning of life (probably). I didn’t take many pictures inside, but you get the idea of the decor. I also enjoyed one of the most delicious beers I’ve had in recent memory: Milky Way Stout, described as “a milk stout with chocolate, vanilla and mild hops producing a smooth flavor.”

The bike discussions continued on back at Gary’s place, where I also shared this video of Leno on Top Gear with them. It was a great time but I had to get some rest and write up some more posts for the site, so we called it a night.

Missed Day 3? Vy and I explore the Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument.
Continue on to Day 5June 21st, 2016 – Carrizozo, New Mexico to Albuquerque, New Mexico ~ 150 miles.