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New Mexico, 2010
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Views of the northern New Mexico rural scene
Monday, July 12, 2010: Today was our first day at Heron Lake State Park and my first chance to see the area while riding my road bike. I am more impressed with northern New Mexico's rural areas, much more indication of ample water supply. The field above is typical of what I saw today while riding. This lush green comes from the afternoon thunderstorms rather than irrigation although Downtown Los Ojos, New Mexico
we have not experienced any thunderstorms here yet. We could sure use some, even though we are at 7,244 feet, it's darn hot in the sun. I was hoping for a nice restaurant in Los Ojos but I found only the Tierra Wools store open other than the post office. The above photo is the main street of Los Ojos, yes, other than the post office and a very large Catholic Church, this is all there is. The Tierra Wools store is the furthest in the photo. Tomorrow I'll take a look at Tierra Amarilla.

County offices in Teirra Amarilla, my road bike leaning against the parking sign in front
Tuesday, July 13, 2010: I found another tour to Tierra Amarilla, NM which appears to be the county seat for this small New Mexico county. Try checking my riding route by clicking here. The weather is much of the story today, a bit on the warm side. We also drove to Chama, NM about 15 miles to the north. There's a little more to Chama than the two little towns we're camped closest to. It's most famous for the Cumbres & Toltec scenic steam train. Unfortunately, there was a trestle fire so the train doesn't make it all the way to Chama until the trestle is repaired. So we didn't get to see the steam train. We did find a great little cafe, the Elk Horn Cafe. You can see my review on Yelp.
Dale and Robin a cycle tourist start a morning bike ride together Wednesday, July 14, 2010: Yesterday turned out to be a strange afternoon. Gwen and I were in Chama looking at the town so we visited the visitor center for brochures, maps and coupons. I noticed a high-end touring bicycle parked outside so when I entered and overheard the conversation the cyclist was having with the receptionist, I asked if she was planning to camp at the state park about 20 miles distant. She said she didn't have enough energy left to make it 20 miles. I suggested we throw her bike in the back and give her a ride to the park if that's where she wanted to spend the night. Gwen also made the suggestion. The cyclist introduced herself as Robin from Durango and took us up on our offer. Robin is
from Durango, riding to a conference in Albuquerque. Robin camped at our site in the park. The next morning, the photo above, Robin and I left the campsite after breakfast together. Once we got to the main road, Robin turned toward Tierra Amarilla while I turned toward the Heron Dam, photo to the right. There were lots of fishing boats around the dam. From the height of the dam, the water at this point must be pretty deep. This was a light riding day since I plan a longer ride for tomorrow. Click the photo to see a wider view. Heron Lake from Heron Lake dam
The Marina on Heron Lake at Heron Lake State Park Thursday, July 15, 2010: The New Mexico Sailing Club maintains a marina at Heron Lake. The marina has a small clubhouse and covered meeting area before setting sail. The reminds me of the marina at Howard Prairie where we spent 5 summers before retirement. I have owned 2 sailboats, both on Lake Tahoe in California. Some of the sailboats stored here seem very LARGE for this small lake but it
was the same at Howard Prairie. If you follow the NMSC link above you'll see several of the members sailed to Alaska last year. Does the Chama River come out at the Pacific Ocean? You can click the photo to see the entire marina.
Friday, July 16, 2010: Today was hiking day on the Rio Chama Trail. The trail connects Heron Lake with La Vada Lake and is about 5 miles long. We hiked only 2 miles of the trail before turning around for the trailhead. The trail begins at the edge of a cliff overlooking the river and the suspension bridge to lead the trail over Rio Chama toward La Vada Lake and state park. We tried to start early, about 10 am to beat the heat but it was still hot. We were glad of the trees over the trail along the way. Morgan was able to start the trail with a swim in the river and then end the the hike with another swim. We turned around at 2 miles because Morgan would not drink from our hands and we forgot her folding bowl. From the top of the trail you can get a glimpse of Heron Lake. The Rio Chama trail begins at a set of stairs off a short cliff from the top.
The trailhead stairs at the top of the plateau At the lowest point of the trail is the suspension bridge over Rio Chama
The stairway can be seen at the top of the cliff The trail was very rough at first with a rocky pathway
Heron Lake can be seen in the distance. Click this photo for a wider view. Morgan cools off in the river at the beginning and end of the hike
The climb back to the trailhead at the end of the hike was gruesome in the mid-day sun After hiking nearly four miles, this last quarter mile was the toughest. It was like walking up a 50 story building on the staircase. Some folks from our campground joined us on the return trip. Gwen and Morgan are slowing returning to the staircase at the beginning of the trailhead.
Saturday, July 17, 2010: There is a road leading from Tierra Amarilla east to Taos. The highest pass is only 20 miles so we drove the road to the top of the pass to get a view of the valley. When you click the photo, you'll see the view from 10,000 feet of the Tierra Amarilla valley. I discovered this route while looking for a good road ride. The climb is from 7000 to 10,000 feet in 20 miles so a relatively gradual climb but I decided to save this ride until I was in better condition. This is a good road and would make a great bike ride. A mountain road leads to a 10,000 ft pass on it's way to Taos
Our new campsite at Hyde Memorial State Park Sunday, July 18, 2010: This was a travel day from Heron Lake in the north back south to Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. Just above Santa Fe toward the ski area is Hyde Memorial State Park where we are camped in a unique site. I reserved this site about 4 months ago. We will be here for 20 days. This site is set aside by itself and even has its own gate. Click the
photo to see a view with the gate closed. We are expecting afternoon and evening thunder storms so we will likely make use of the little three sided hut provided by the park. We are surrounded by tall Douglas Fir trees so the solar power won't likely bring our batteries to a full charge each day especially since we are recording and watching the Tour de France bicycle race each day through July 25. We'll likely be using our generator to keep the batteries fully charged. Santa Fe is only 7.5 miles from the park but it's a very steep climb to the park, it's going to be tough road riding for the time we are here. I have found a cycling club called the Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes to ride with. I'll have my first chance on Tuesday so we'll see how that goes. The driving today was hot, we saw 99 degrees on our truck temperature gauge. But the drive went well except for missing our turn-off in Santa Fe but our GPS brought us back to the Hyde Park road.
Monday, July 19, 2010: We drove to the top of our road to visit the Ski Santa Fe area. It is an impressive ski area with some very impressive runs. This obviously seems like a very popular area with very modern buildings and ski lift equipment. This base area is at an elevation of 10,350 ft. with a top elevation of 12,075 feet. Click the photo to see a wider view including the lifts and ski runs. Santa Fe Ski Area

Santa Fe Farmer's Market on Tuesday and Saturday
Tuesday, July 20, 2010: Today was a visit to the Santa Fe Farmer's Market after a nice morning ride with the Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes bicycle club. The farmer's market happens on Tuesday and Saturday at the Railyard in downtown Santa Fe. It's very near the Rail Runner Train Depot and the Rail Runner actually advertises the Santa Fe Farmer's Market in Albuquerque encouraging riders to board the train to visit the Santa Fe Farmer's Market more than 60 miles away. The train tickets are actually quit cheap at about $7 for a "day pass". I was able to purchase squash, cucumbers, and peaches. The bicycle ride was a nice tour around Santa Fe then returning through the center of the old city. Santa Fe is celebrating it's 400th anniversary. It's an interesting town with lots of narrow streets and lots of unpaved streets in the residential areas. Today's riding group was very relaxed so it was an easy riding day. When I got back to the trailer and logged in to the Internet, I learned that I had won another prize on the virtual Tour de France which I'm participating by riding my bicycle each day. I had already won 12 packages of Perky Jerky which will be usefully on some of the long riding I do. Today I won a wonder Polar heart rate monitor cycling computer. That is something I can really use. I road with a heart rate monitor for about 20 years of my cycling and know how much it helps to know exactly what my body is doing to maximize my riding effort.
The SOBs are grouping into three ride groups for today's ride
Some "A" and "B" riders covering the same route for the first few miles Thursday, July 22, 2010: This was a marvelous riding day with the Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes bicycle club (SOB). It was a humbling day for me. The SOBs split into 3 groups, "A", "B" and "C" with the "A" group riding the most difficult route. I chose to ride with the "A" group and they taught me a lesson of how much work I still need to do to get into shape. I was the youngest member of the "A"
group and was essentially last, especially on the gruesome 5 mile mountain climb. Notice I'm the only one with my helmet off and soaked in sweat at the top of the climb to 9,170 feet. Click the photo at right and below to see a larger view. The view below is from the mountain looking east toward Los Alamos and Santa Fe in the distance. We are camped in the mountains in the far distance. Those mountains are just above Santa Fe. What a great ride. Click here to see the route, be sure to look at the elevation profile. The "A" group reaches 9,170 feet after a very steep 5 mile climb
The view onto the Los Alamos mesa. We are camped in the mountains at the distance
Santa Fe Outlet Mall Saturday, July 24, 2010: After my morning ride, and three loads of laundry, we chose to visit two malls in Santa Fe. This first one is the outlet mall. Mostly apparel stores. I found nothing of interest while Gwen found a $5 shirt.
Next we went to the Santa Fe Place. It is probably the largest mall in Santa Fe. I found a couple of shirts on sale at JC Penney. Gwen found nothing. Both malls seemed to be hurting for customers. I would certainly hate to be making a living selling what we found in these malls. Santa Fe Place Mall
Railrunner leaving Santa Fe for Albuquerque One the way back to camp the Rail Runner crossed just in front of us on it's way to Albuquerque. This is an impressive commuter train passing between Santa Fe and a few towns south of Albuquerque. Pass your pointer through the photo to the left to see the train move.
Sunday, July 25, 2010: One of our day and night blackout shades must have the cord replaced. That was a scary project since the cord winds it's way through the internal workings of the shade. The repair shop which supplied us with the new cord suggested we melt the ends of the old and new cords together and pull the new cord through. That worked about half way, then we had to give up and thread the new cord a couple pleats at a time. One of our shades needs repair
The cord must be replaced

It was raining all day today so this was a good day for shade repair. It's working perfectly now.

Another project was to create a video of our misbehaving Yamaha generator. The Albuquerque dealer could not find any problem so I promised to create a video of the problem and send to him. It's frustrating when you buy a product you think is high quality then it has a problem from the first day. I've struggled with it for a few months thinking it was the gas, or altitude, now I believe there is something wrong. Here is the video I created today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010: Today was a day to get the truck serviced with a oil change, automatic transmission service, both differentials, the transfer case and just to be sure, changing the serpentine engine belt. We had the service completed at Lithia Dodge in Santa Fe. What's interesting about this is that the home office for Lithia motors is in Medford, Oregon. My office at the college was only four blocks from Lithia headquarters. Oh well, I hope they did a good job. It was EXPENSIVE. I made it a fun day by taking my bike in the pickup to Lithia, then riding to the Seniors on Bikes meeting site for the Tuesday ride. It was a great ride!

Yesterday, we took a drive into the Pecos wilderness looking for a potential

Single lane road toward Holy Ghost campground
Tererro, NM post office in the middle of the Pecos Wilderness camping location for a week before our next state park. We wanted to try Holy Ghost campground but it has a 3 mile single lane road to the campground which would be impossible if we met another vehicle. We did find a nice location near the Tererro, NM post office which is located in the one store town of Tererro. Tererro is basically in the middle of a wilderness area. Along the roof line are several humming bird feeders and whatever is in them has drawn at least 100 hummingbirds. They were buzzing and whistling everywhere. Click the photo to see them.
The SOB riders today to Villanueva and beyond, then return
Thursday, July 29, 2010: While Gwen visited downtown Santa Fe, I went on a bike ride with the Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes bicycle club to the town of Villanueva and the Villanueva State Park. The route follows the Pecos River south from Interstate 25. I'm in the photo above, just look for the yellow and red jersey (that's a joke since nearly everyone has a yellow and red jersey). You can click the above photo to enlarge. The ladies you see in the photo are very strong riders making me work to keep up with them. I was lucky to catch a ride with my new friend Bill. OK, I've got a blue helmet, that might help.
Riders are fresh at the beginning of the ride following the Pecos river south. A downhill run is most fun
We've reached the halfway point Some riders did a very steep climb for about two miles
We followed the Pecos River south to Villanueva. I believe it is normally a muddy river but today it was extra muddy due to the rains over the last few days. The weather was perfect, the riding conditions were also perfect with mostly level riding except for one very steep two mile climb and a short climb out of Villanueva State Park. I made a video of the riders descending the steep grade, one of the most fun parts of the ride. You can see the video by clicking here. The muddy Pecos river runs through Villanueva State Park
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