Reaching Santa Fe on Day 5
Day 5: Page, Arizona to Santa Fe, New Mexico
On the morning of Day 5 of my solo-ride around the Southwest, I awoke in the Motel 6 in Page, Arizona. It was a clean, recently redecorated room; a nice nice place to crash in secure comfort and perfectly suited to my minimal needs on the road.
As rule, Motel 6 didn’t offer a microwave or a coffeemaker and the free coffee offered in the lobby looked and tasted like dishwater. At the very least some way of heating water for instant coffee or tea would have been nice.
I usually carry both on the road in the form of Starbucks Via packets and my favorite tea, Tetley’s British Blend. On this particular morning I was forced to use hot water from the faucet…not even close to a good result.
As a solution, I hit Starbucks on my way out of town.
The ride was a scenic one with large red-rock cliffs rising out of the flatter environment and plenty of desert heat. I think I consumed 5 bottles of water during this segment of the ride. With fuel, caffeine, and food breaks, I made it to Santa Fe in just under 9 hours.
My average speed was 75 m.p.h. and the bike performed without a single hiccup. At one point a long van kept passing me and then slowing down. I finally boosted passed it once and for all and took off doing 90 for about two miles to get well ahead it.
You never know when someone is going do something weird and I was taking any undue chances...other than riding 90 m.ph., which isn't my habit at all.
It was somewhere in the middle of this beautifully barren New Mexico desert that I had an experience that let me know I was in the right place at the right time.
Faces in the Desert
I pulled into a Chevron station to fuel up and use the bathroom. As I dismounted my bike I noticed a mini-van on the opposite side of the island with a family inside. I didn’t give it though and went inside to use the restroom.
When I returned, the woman was standing by my bike and I said “Um, hello?…are you Ok?” She appeared to be of Southern Asian decent, possible from India or Pakistan, but I wasn’t exactly certain. In broken English she managed to communicate her family’s need for fuel and it became clear that she was either ordered by her husband to inquire or, perhaps, being a woman they thought she’d convert more listeners into donor.
I looked over at the man in the driver’s seat. He didn’t return my gaze nor did he get out of the car. I looked at the two kids and immediately thought of my own when they were small. It didn’t take long for me to decide that they, above all, deserved my help.
I checked my wallet and only had a twenty on me. I handed it over to her she gushed gratitude with teary eyes. Regardless of her silent partner, she and her kids deserved the assistance.
It seemed a no-win situation because I wasn’t sure how far $20 would get them, and I wasn’t prepared to fill up their tank. But I felt like I did what I needed to. I returned to filling my bike up with fuel and saddled up to leave.
As I pulled out I saw the kids waving and the man just looking at me. I hoped they’d find further help but never knew if they did or even if they truly needed it. I waved back and hoped they make it to their destination. I still think about those faces in the desert.
When I'm situations where I can alleviate the suffering of another, I will do what I can with what I have. That to me is being compassionate without taking responsibility for the need expressed.
I didn’t take many photos on this segment of the journey, mainly because of the day being such a long ride. I did take one photo in the bathroom of a curio shop where I fuel up outside of Teec Nos Pos in northeast Arizona.
“A bathroom photo? You sick bastard, yuk!”
Well, maybe. I cracked up when I saw this vending machine in the Gents…and had to send it to my co-worker, Catherine who I thought would appreciate the humor.
Yeah, she wasn’t impressed. As my right hand on the office team, I was in contact with here most every day. My office team checked in with her daily to see where I was and how I was doing. A map outside of her work area was the place where they could pinpoint my progress.
Although she might have appreciated photos of Shiprock (see below) or Lake Powell more, I think she kind of enjoyed -just a bit- retelling the story of how I sent her photos of a condom machine. 😉
I got into Albuquerque via I-25 around 3 pm. I didn’t dismount but took SR-285 north straight into into Santa Fe. It was an additional 60 miles or so. I’d booked a room in a family home via AirBnB for three days. I wanted to explore Santa Fe, rest both my leg and the bike, as well as have a few days of down time before heading west again.
I phoned Alicia, my host, from a Starbucks on Santa Fe (where else?) and she gave me more specific directions to the home she shared with her 17 year-old son. It was a very comfortable three days and I loved being in this city with such history.
My room was on the ground floor next to her son’s room. I wasn’t there much as I used it mainly as a base of operations for the three days I stayed in Santa Fe. Alicia was kind and generous giving me free use of the laundry (needed by then), television room (not needed), and the lovely backyard.
Days 6 & 7 – Sightseeing in Historic Downtown
I ventured into the historic downtown area the next day, which is dominated by the elegant Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s a New Mexico cultural landmark and even has a prayer labyrinth on the grounds.
I fell in deep like with the area and its architecture. At one point I’d planned to retire here until I found out that the area gets about a foot of snow in winter and it lasts weeks at a time. Since I view my retirement as largely mobile, this could de a destination in Spring, but not year round.
I’d originally planned a day ride out to Taos about 60 miles north but on the third day I was too tired and needed to rest for the following day’s ride to the Flagstaff, Arizona.
I had a great time in Santa Fe. On my last evening there, Alicia invited me to join her and her parents for dinner downtown. I did and we had a lovely time. If I’m ever in Santa Fe again and need accommodations, I’ll definitely see if Alicia has room.
I left early the next morning under cloudy skies that rapidly dissipated giving way to more desert sunshine.
Part 4 of this series includes my interesting ride to the Grand Canyon, my lunch in Bedrock City -the only place where coffee is really just five cents- an unexpected riding partner,and getting pulled over by the Arizona Highway Patrol.