I left Junction, Texas early and decided to take I-10 West vs. backroads in order to book as many miles as possible. The weather was perfect for riding, clear and cool. The speed limit in west Texas is 80MPH, which isn’t a problem…its flat and straight and you’re virtually by yourself, except for your thoughts. The terrain, although flat where I-10 is located, has spectacular bluffs off in the distance (see attached photo). So, although the driving isn’t interesting, the vistas keep your attention, at least for the first 150-200 miles. After you’ve seen one majestic vista though, you pretty much seen them all. Around mid day the heat kicked in, and with the heat comes pop up rain storms. Normally, I prefer that it doesn’t rain on me, but with the temps approaching 95+ degrees I welcomed the 5 minute showers. I didn’t even change into rain gear.
I was told not to stay in El Paso, which is a border town, even though it was the ideal one day riding distance from Junction, TX. I arrived in El Paso at 5PM and experienced their rush hour. Although nothing like Chicago, there was a significant amount of traffic. While on I-10 in El Paso I was able to see a tall fence on the south side of the highway, which I can only assume was the demarcation of the border. It is strange to think that only a few yards can make all the difference in a person’s opportunities. I pushed onto Las Cruces which is approximately 40 miles
north of El Paso.
When I awoke today I realized that my pill container was missing. I searched the bike and my room 3-4 times, but it was not to be found. After some consultation with the Target pharmacist, we decided I can wait until I get to Phoenix for refills. Gotta be flexible when you’re on the road.
On my way out of town toward my evening destination to Show Low, AZ., the border police forced all traffic thru a immigration check point. As I pulled up, the young officer asked only one simple question: “Are you a US citizen?” My answer was equally short, yes. With that answer I was waived through. That nondescript interaction forced me to think about all the past historical check points that weren’t so easy for our families to pass through. It again made me realize how lucky we are to live in a society that allows us to move freely, such as I am doing on this trip.
Show Low is NE of Phoenix in the Mogollon Plateau mountain range. In order to get to Show Low I needed to go through Gila National Forest. I knew I had plenty of time based upon the distance. What I didn’t realize is that there a forest fire blocking Rt. 152, which was the main route that I needed to take. This road closure caused me to divert 80+ miles. What I have come to realize is that there are no short detours in the West.
Once I got into the Gila National Forest the scenery turned spectacular. The weather was clear, comfortable and the roads were all mine. Pine trees lined both sides of the road with long sweepers (motorcycle jargon). The ideal road for motorcycling. I turned on Debbie Friedman’s music and cruised through one of the best kept visual secrets in our country, the Gila National Forest. I can virtually guarantee that I was the only Jewish biker in all of New Mexico listening to Israeli music this afternoon, just a wild ass guess! When one of Debbie’s song came on, it reminded me of my parents and how much they enjoyed hearing about my motorcycle adventures, although I am sure they were worried while I was on the bike. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that at the end of the day I couldn’t pick up the phone, which I would do on every trip, and share my experiences with my Mom and Dad.
As I made my way to Show Low I noticed a yellow highway caution sign that indicated “Dangerous Cross Winds Ahead”. Because I have ridden in strong crosswinds, the sign got my attention. The challenge of riding in strong crosswinds is intense, but manageable. However, the next sign really piqued my attention, which read “Fresh Oil”. Now I was really wondering what I was in for. I am sure the highway workers got together for the last sign just to make things interesting. About 30 yards down the road the final sign read, “Loose Gravel”. Now you are probably wondering how an experienced motorcyclist deals with all of this, well the answer is…. how long can you hold your breath and not make any fast moves!
To date I have ridden just over 5,000 miles and encountered tropical storms and forest fires. I am wondering what is in store for the next 10,000 miles. I guess I’ll just have to keep getting on the bike to find out.
West Texas Bluffs
Larry/Dale – This photo is for you
In Hatch, NM, gotta love these small towns!!
The following are my views from the road.