Day 4
June 7th, 2003
Bottomless Lakes State Park
Near Roswell, New Mexico

It was a bright, cool, sunny morning.  I slept ok, but the desert wind blew ALL night long, rattling my tent flaps and waking me.  I managed to make it through the night without being abducted by little green men.
I stirred out of my tent around 6:15am and was packed and loaded by 7, beating the rangers to work, and saving 8 bucks, again.

The local road quickly took me to US 380 west and I was soon looking at UFO billboards announcing Roswell's approach.  The city was slow to wake up on this Saturday morning, and Main Street was mostly shut down.
I saw the UFO museum where the faithful can visit and get their fix.  A sign nearby gave the news the annual UFO convention will be July 4th weekend.  A big name music act is scheduled to play, but I can't remember the name.
​UFO Museum, Roswell New Mexico
US 380 carries me west out of Roswell, and not even the drab landscape of the New Mexico Badlands can dull my mood.  The sky is a rich blue, the roads are good, and the sunlight so bright it appears to be luminous. I have no worries.  My son reported his interview went well, and he is scheduled for a follow up Monday.  A good sign.
The highway rose in elevation as I neared the Capitan Mountains.  The surrounding area is greener than I thought it would be.

I stopped at a shiny new gas mart in Capitan for gas and a snack.  When I finished pumping gas I moved the ST to the side, and enjoyed a concrete picnic table under the trees by the roadway.  It should be a law for ALL gas marts to have a bench, chair, or table, for Long Riders to enjoy their Mountain Dew, chips, and Moonpies on.
​A tree lined US 380, quietly passes through Capitan, NM
Continuing on 380 I dropped out of the mountains, and the temp began to rise.  The Oaklyes are doing a good job filtering out the intense UV rays.

Past the Valley of Fires the ST and I went. The black volcanic rock standing witness to the violent geological events of so long ago.

US 380 out of the Valley of Fires is fast and straight.  I crested a hill and before me lay a long valley stretch that proved to be just too tempting.  I crouched down and quickly put the ST on 115, and took off.  The long run out is much longer then it looks, it took almost 15 minutes, at over 100 mph, to reach the distant mountains in the picture below.
​The long road to the mountains.  Only in the American West
I stayed on US 380 till I reached I-25 north, then took a short jog to Socorro, where I exited for US 60 west.
US 60 west proves to be a good ride with mountains on either side of me.  I also saw big radio telescopes to my left when I came by.

In Datil I pulled into a old cafe with a screened wooden door.  I took a seat at a wood table, and a young Mexican girl brought a glass of water.  She looked about 6 yrs old, and displayed captivating eyes, and wore a yellow sun dress that contrasted sharply with her long dark hair.  She poured my water with 2 hands, because the pitcher was heavy. 

I looked around for an outlet to charge my phone, and found one near the jukebox, a short distance away.
An RV pulled in across the road, and a middle age couple strolled in.  They were from Baton Rouge.
I ordered a ham sandwich plain, so I was dismayed when it came with Mayo.  I was reluctant to send it back having watched hidden videos of what cooks do to food when it returns.  I took a chance because I HATE mayo.
I was dabbing my lips, when I asked the lady behind the cash register-

"m'am send the muchacha over please."

The little girl timidly came over, but she smiled broadly when I slipped her 2 dollars for keeping my water glass filled.

The parking lot was beginning to fill when I went back out to mount the ST.  Nothing like a Long Rider's bike in your parking lot to stimulate business.  I think its because motorists are sure your loaded bike comes from out of town, and it signals they won't be the only stranger in a place full of locals.

From Datil, US 60 is a lonely road.  It gave me time to think about things.  There are periods of the day, when on a long ride, I don't really think about anything.  For instance, I saw a road crew with a backhoe in operation, and wondered if the guys on the shovels, ever get pissed off at the joker sitting high in the shade on the tractor.  Do they take turns or does the most senior guy keep the most coveted job?

I was between Omega and Pie Town when I saw a guy pushing a bicycle.  I could see it was a touring bike because of his "panniers".  I slowed and came over to him.-

"so where ya goin?"

"Dunno, ain't thought about it yet, but I started from Snowflake, Az."

"yeah, I know how it is, good luck, I thought ya might hada flat or sumptin"

"nah, I was just takin a break"

Long Riders can be found using a variety of vehicles.  We understood the other.
Long Riders come in all varieties.
Near the state line I grew sleepy, so pulled off for a short nap in a state sponsored rest area, which was nothing more then a old picnic table and a few shrubs, which I guess came in handy if you had to do something else.
I noted I was due for a route change in Edgar, but I missed my turn.  There were no signs for SR 260 when I entered the town.  I wanted to take 260 to hook up with the more scenic SR 73, and arrive in Phoenix from the south side.  Instead I ran 60 into Show Low, thinking any minute I was going to find the 260 cut off.

Low on I gas, I wheeled into a busy Chevron gas mart and got out my atlas.  Damn, I messed up.  Guess I will just have to stay on 60 toward Payson, and come into Phoenix from the east.  

I celebrated the new plan with a Mountain Dew and Payday bar.  I bought a USA Today to catch up on the news, and took a seat at the Laundromat next door.  As far as anyone knew, I was just a guy washing his underwear.

I called my son, wife and PJ.  My cousin gave me the directions 1 last time.  I said I didn't need them because I remembered it was the Greenway exit, and all I needed was for her to leave the garage door open so I could tell what condo was hers by the red mustang inside.

When I was rested I got moving towards Phoenix.

The ride into Payson was terrible.  Bottle necked traffic snaked its way south.  Everyone from the valley was in the mountains this weekend, and who could blame them, it was 108 in Phoenix yesterday. 

I was stuck behind lines and lines of cars.  I gave up thinking about passing.  Cages dominated both lanes of travel.  Noway was I going anywhere.

The scenery was good, but I didn't enjoy it because of the traffic.  I now realized how big a mistake that was back in Edgar.

An RV turned left in front of me a few miles north of Payson.  He was entering a campground driveway.
In what seemed like hours, I finally entered Payson,and was able to break free on the 4 lane highway into Phoenix.  U.S. 60 morphs into a freedom chariot out of the mountains.  The highway bends and the curves are good.  I motor down long  hills, keeping my cool.  I see 2 riders ahead and close down on them.  I pass the 2 Harleys and continue on.  To my surprise the riders stay with me, and together we take turns at the point.  I find myself mixed in with a Road King, and a Softail.  All I can say is they accounted themselves very well on the twisty downhill ride into the HOT valley.  Floorboards and all.

I entered Phoenix from Mesa.  It was 109 degrees.  Hot even for a boy from Alabama.  I was cooking in the Roadcrafter.  I knew there had to be a short cut to I-17, but it did me little good, I didn't know where it was, and I'm terrible at taking directions, so stayed with what I knew.

The urban sprawl of Mesa was an oven, but I knew SR 87 would take me to US 60 and from there, I could find I-17. Where I should have been in the first place.

I was dying of thirst but did not want to stop long enough to get a drink.

At last I made it to US 60, and followed it to I-17, but when I reached the ramps I did not know whether to go north or south.  I took a guess and went south.  Wrong way.  I realized it a few exits later, when I exited near a bus station.  I corrected myself and went north and found the Greenway exit right where its suppose to be, a few miles later.

The exit still was under construction just like it was in 2001.  I followed the service road as instructed till I came to the complex, and went around to the back and saw the unit with the red mustang.  I coasted in and dropped the stand.  I covered 560 miles today.

PJ came out to greet me, and popped a cold Mountain Dew.  Best of the trip.  We spoke about things since my last trip here. (click here for that story).

I put my stuff down in the guest room and took a hot shower.  It felt good to have a regular bed and shower after tenting the last several days.

I will have a 1 day lay over here.  I will use the time to wash clothes, eat a few good meals, sleep late, and pick up any equipment I might need.  I was looking forward to the rest day.

After my shower I checked my cash stash.  This year I keep a neck wallet with my gas cards, and walking around money, leaving my main wallet with my cash balance and important cards secured.  This way I never have to worry about leaving it somewhere.  I left Alabama with 250 bucks cash, and here I am in Phx with about 200 dollars.  I'd been charging my gas, even though I had the cash to pay, just to avoid standing in line behind jokers buying beer and cigs.  I will come home with enough cash to pay the bills when they came in.  I estimate the final gas costs for this trip to run about 200 dollars.

I looked at my stash and realized I had a good chance to make San Francisco for less then 250 dollars, gas included.

I put a big damper on that scenario when I took my cousin out to eat at Outback.  Oh well, we only see each other every couple of years.

Back at the condo I called Debbie and my son.  I went to bed early, looking forward to sleeping in Sunday.