Sunday, October 23, 2016

184: Up and over we go!

The high point of our trip
Today was a big day! We hit several milestones:
1.  We crossed the Continental Divide again - returning to the Pacific Ocean watershed
2.  We hit the highest elevation of our trip - 7882 feet - which will probably stand.
3.  We began our seventh month on our journey - having begun on April 23.

It was another stupendously beautiful desert riding day. The temps are perfect, the air dry (maybe just a bit TOO dry!) and the sky brilliantly blue. Our only issue, once again - and we hate to be picky about it - the darn headwinds!
No business anymore, just the sign

The burger join is still there

This one really needed the arrow

An arrow, just to have one

We went through Grants, New Mexico, which is one of the communities where the loss of Route 66 dealt a hard blow. There are quite a few of the old signs still standing, but many of the inns and businesses are either decrepit or have been demolished. There is a tremendous need to make major investments if these historic properties are to be saved. But can they be economically viable if the only traffic they get is from the Route 66 tourists who come through?
A serene and sere landscape. It's real "John Wayne" country - keep expecting to see a stagecoach rumble by!

Our climb up to the divide began with a good long stretch that was basically flat. At least, it's flat when you look at the route profile before you head out. In reality, nothing is flat, and we are always rising and falling at least gently. Then we had a "for real" climb - probably the first in months and months, where we climbed gradually up for about a dozen miles, and then hit some 8% and such for the last few miles. With the elevation, I was feeling it - not quite as much oxygen up here as I like - but we got up to the divide in pretty good shape.
Not a lot of traffic on the road today!

The problem was that our descent, where we had expected to descend about 600 feet over ten miles, was straight into the wind. From time to time, we were just going about nine mph. That's crazy, on a tandem!  Anyway, it took more work to come down that we had expected, but still - what a gorgeous day and all we have to do is ride, anyway.
Outcropping just above our cabin

We were riding through the Malpais National Monument. I had expected more lava, but mostly it was a climb up to a nice pine forest. Haven't seen the Ponderosas in some time, either. They were a sight for delight.

We're staying tonight at a cute cabin at the Ancient Ways RV park just outside El Morro National Monument. Given that we have 80 miles to ride tomorrow, I am resigned to just seeing the rock from the road.  We'll have to come another time to see the inscription rock.

The day's report:  San Fidel to El Morro, 61.9 miles/8733 to date

Here's the route for today

There's a cool, artsy vibe to this little enclave. Look at the great art by the roadside!

How about this sculpture for your yard?

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