June 22nd, 2016 – Albuquerque, New Mexico to Pueblo, Colorado: ~400 miles.
Despite a great day with Gary and Kathy, we had to continue on. Vy realized we never got a photo with our wonderful hosts, so before we took off we grabbed this photo. Thanks again, Gary and Kathy!
Nearby is Walter White’s house from the show Breaking Bad. It’s one of those things that I wouldn’t go out of my way to check out, but seeing as we were only half a mile away, I figured we should give it a shot. If you look up the spot online, you’ll find plenty of people saying that there’s a couple who lives there and that the husband is friendly while the wife isn’t. They were both outside when we rode by and the reviews were right – he waved at us but she gave us a huge stink eye so it seemed best to just leave them be and continue on. Can’t say I blame her, as I’m guessing she probably has to deal with a lot of people who may invade her privacy as a downside of fame/renting out her house to one of the best TV shows in history:
Vy was entranced by the lovely shade of turqoise that New Mexico has embraced:
In Albuquerque is a bakery called Golden Crown Panaderia, and they’re famous for their “New Mexico Green Chile Bread”. Some days it sells out very early, so they recommend that you call in your order 24 hours in advance so they’ll hold a loaf for you. Well, that’s what Vy did yesterday, so we knew we’d have some bread waiting for us!
The cashier was very sweet, and gave us both a bizcochito, which is apparently the state cookie of New Mexico. I didn’t think the cookie was very good, but over the next few days Vy and I would enjoy the bread tremendously.
To get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, you can either take the 25 Freeway (boring) or take Route 14, known as the Turqouise Trail National Scenic Byway. You could easily spend half a day on the road (especially in the town of Madrid), but we chugged along with the hopes that we could get to Capulin before it closed at 5pm…more on that later.
Vy is always on the prowl for new wildlife signs. She already had plenty of cow photos, but no cow-abducted-by-ufo photos…until now:
You guys have followed me on a variety of trips over the years, so I thought I’d do something differently this time around to mix things up. Before the trip started, Vy and I grabbed 3 of these little dirtbike toys. During the trip we hid them all in spots that we found interesting for one reason or another. At the bottom of this “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” sign on the Turqouise Trail, I’ve placed one of these bikes. If you find it first and take a photo of yourself with the toy, I’ll send you a Bike-urious t-shirt. If you find it first and take a photo of yourself while you’re already wearing a Bike-urious t-shirt, I’ll send you something much nicer!
It’s my excuse to get you on the Turqoise Trail, which is well worth the ride. Here’s another angle to help your search:
August 4th Update:: Wow, that was quick! he toy has been found by reader Gary K, who gets bonus points for wearing his Bike-urious t-shirt with his treasure. I’ll have an update coming soon with his reward…
2nd Update:: I got a chance to visit Gary a few months later to present his gift in person! His reward is two free rental days at any EagleRider location.
Madrid, New Mexico started as a mining town. After some time as a ghost town, it was revived in the 1970s by artists and craftspeople and now it’s full of interesting sights like Michael Austin Wright’s workshop…
…and this temporary art installation.
For some reason it’s adorned with a Chrysler logo:
We hopped back on the freeway and started eating up the miles. Though the road was boring, the vistas were not:
Even the cars were cool. Can you guess what this is?
Eventually we got into the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. It’s a little less impressive than its sibling in Nevada:
As we pulled into town, I noticed that the front end of my bike felt…sluggish. I decided to take advantage of one of the “27 Modern Stations” to see if something was wrong. By the time I exited the off-ramp, it was clear that my front tire was very low on air. In the first post of this trip, someone asked how my bike did in the comments. I alluded to a couple of issues with dry rot that stem from the fact that I’ve had to keep my GS outside for the last few months. Here was problem 1: my front valve stem had cracked and was letting air out. I called around to find a local shop, filled my tire to the brim, and headed over to a Harley/Carquest Auto Parts shop called San Miguel Supply where we met these fine folks:
They threw a new valve stem up front and we were back on the road within a few minutes – just enough time for us to go to the Dairy Queen next door and get some ice cream. As bike trouble goes, it doesn’t get much better than that:
While the repair was quick, I felt like we weren’t going to be able to get to Capulin in time…until I called and found out that they were open 30 minutes later than it said on the website. We quickly got back on the bike and headed north.
Along the way we encountered cows having some fun:
As well as some humans having some fun…at the expense of a sign.
Around 5:15pm we rolled into Capulin Volcano National Monument.
After you see this sign, you can hop on “Volcano Road” for 2 miles to get to the top, where you’re rewarded with the ability to see out for miles in every direction:
Vy and I first learned about this place the day before from Kathy, who got Vy’s attention by mentioning that if the time was right, you could see hundreds of ladybugs at a time. Click here for some examples, it seems like it would be quite a sight in person. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see anything this impressive – guides at the visitor center suggested it was due to high winds at the time. Still, we got to see a few:
Vy made friends with what I thought was an albino ladybug. Turns out that’s not really a thing, and that there are just a variety of species of ladybugs with different colors – red with seven spots (coccinella septempunctata) is just the most famous. The more you know!
We also saw some tent caterpillars building away – they make violent, 90 degree motions in the process. It looks a lot like a windshield wiper at a fast interval setting:
Capulin is close to the border of Colorado, so we were quickly able to enter a new state.
Gary warned us that it would be cold in the valley, and he wasn’t kidding. The payoff for our troubles was a lovely sunset near Stem Beach just south of Pueblo.
Vy is obsessed with swallows, so she loved that we coincidentally ended up parking across the street from a bridge hosting several of their nests.
The swallows were flying all over the place, so Vy hunkered down with her camera.
She took a whole bunch of photos with her camera and her phone, and apparently she liked this one:
We waited a bit longer to fully enjoy the sunset, and then headed to Pueblo for the night.
Missed Day 4? Carrizozo, New Mexico to Albuquerque, New Mexico ~ 150 miles.