Friday, February 4, 2011
New Mexico has been an interesting experience. We didn't think it'd be so very different from Arizona, but we're not really sure what to do with it just yet. Our route took us through cool towns in Arizona, but put us on the big interstate here in New Mexico with really no other option to get to Albuquerque. We were thinking the interstate towns, all on Old Highway 66, would be full of tourist attractions and old school restaurants and motels, but this is not necessarily what we got.
Since we had to stay in hotels a few nights in AZ, we were under pressure to find places to camp even though temps were dropping into the teens at night. Gallup was the first town in New Mexico and we were excited to find a camp and maybe an old Route 66 diner for food. But as we got into Gallup, we realized we were finding nothing of the sort. It was the hardest I'd seen Adam pedal in three days to get out as quickly as possible. What we found on the other side of town could be described as a little bit of heaven... Cold heaven, if you will. Red Rock State Park had some camp sites available... Let me rephrase that. Every single campsite they had was available... Seems to be a theme these days. The park was in some sort of frozen pocket, but it was pretty there and the men's bathroom was so hot that it made up for freezing our bums off on the sprint from the tent.
We managed to get warm in our sleeping bags and woke up to a frost-covered tent and bikes!
Once it warmed up, we were on our way to the next town of Grants. It's funny that no matter how many times you get disappointed in what comes up, you always have high hopes for the next place. Well, as you can imagine, we didn't fair any better in Grants. The KOA was closed for January and so it looked like another hotel for us.
When we're searching for a place to stay, I laugh thinking of one of my aunts offering to put us up at a Marriott with the Marriott Points she has if we ever need it, but I don't think these towns have ever heard of a Marriott!! We tried every hotel to get the cheapest price and though we didn't find a place to stay, we did find that the first price a hotel gives you is never their best price and every hotel gave us at least $10- $20 off just for asking for a discount. We didn't even have to give them the, "Do you carry the Stupid-Couple-Biking-Cross-Country-in-the-Middle-of-the-Winter-for-Charity Discount?" Even with the discounts, we opted for the $10 camp site up the road, Lavaland RV park. At least it had a nice sign.
We pushed it on Sunday to get to Albuquerque before the big storm made it's way, but didn't want to call our hosts up at 5:00 at night a day early saying we were there! Instead, we used the Warm-Showers app and were psyched to be able to find a host last-minute, willing to ride out and meet us on the road. With that, we rode away from the sunset, and into Albuquerque.
We hunkered down in Albuquerque for a few days as the storm made it's way through. It's not just the snow, not just the bitter cold, and not just the wind that would make any riding utterly miserable, but a combination of the three. We needed a little bit of rejuvenation this week and that's exactly what we got. After a few weeks of riding from place to place, it felt so nice to have a warm, comfortable place to stay with great hosts, a two year old, and a dog. We were so fortunate to hang out with Bryan and Sara those few days, get some errands done, and play with their son, Sean. They cooked for us, played the guitar, and even let us stay for an extra day as we waited for the warmer weather to come.
One of the errands was getting new chains for our bikes. When we brought our bikes into the Bike Coop, we noticed it wasn't your big, clean bike shop. Instead, it had a garage-type feel, but that's what Adam and I prefer. They immediately saw we needed help and took us to the back to help us with how to clean and lube our bikes. They even hooked us up with the price of the chains. Greg, Jim and the rest of the crew were so willing to help us it was definitely one of our favorite stops!
On Tuesday night we attended an event put on for us by Julian at Bike ABQ. Unfortunately, the negative temps kept us from going on the bike ride around town that was organized by Bike Cult, but we still managed to make it to Marble Brewery and share a really good beer with new friends. Bike ABQ was able to get some raffle items for the event, and we raised $116 from the raffle, but that's not all Albuquerque had to offer! Local artist, Claudia Goodell, donated a painting for silent auction. The winning bidder won the painting for $215 and our Albuquerque total rose to $331. Pretty awesome for our charities.
Our plan to leave Albuquerque on Wednesday was thwarted by the storm of the decade... er... two decades. I guess they hadn't seem temps like this in over twenty years. And I'm talking cold. All you New Englanders were toasty warm compared to the negative 30 deg temps we were getting out here. But on Thursday, after three days of setting our spirits straight with the fam, the sun toasted us up a bit and we left around 10:00am into a whopping 2 deg day.
Misery. That about describes the day. Three flats, temps not even reaching 20, and a slight uphill all day long. We were lucky when we heard about a B&B across the road from the supermarket we had ridden in to get warm. Alta Mae was the name of the closed B&B, but the owner, Dr. Julian Rowe, took pity on us and let us stay in one of the rooms anyway. The room was heated, had a fire, a comfy bed, and High Fidelity was in the VCR! Who cares that it cost $55 and had no hot water! That was all we needed to heighten our spirits and prepare us to take on the 85 mile journey to Santa Rosa, NM today.
Well, mother nature again wasn't on our side. The temps remained pretty cold and the wind, though not completely against us, was certainly not with us. If we decided to try for Santa Rosa, we would have been pedaling in way after dark on the interstate. So we settled on the only other town from here to there and rode a whopping 13 miles today (3 of which were from riding back and forth across town trying to negotiate the best hotel price.)
And here we are, in yet another hotel because camping on snow in freezing weather on the side of the interstate doesn't seem like it's in our best interest. But our spirits are high again. All it takes, really, is a room with four walls to make us happy.... I guess our tee-pee didn't even have that. Come to think of it, our tent doesn't really have any walls and that usually makes us happy, too.
When we make it to Santa Rosa tomorrow, temps should be in the 40's with lows in the 20's... totally do-able camping weather. We'll get to save some money, get some good camping in, then head off to experience another day- maybe even go out to watch the Superbowl. Who's better than us?
Well, while writing this, Adam's mom just informed us that New Mexico is in a State of Emergency. I guess there are over 100,000 people with gas outages. On second thought... Bryan, Sarah, and Sean... can you move out to Moriarty? We could use another rejuvenation station!!! On third thought... are there really more than 100,000 people in New Mexico?