Tuesday, July 13, 2010

(By the way, you can click on any image to see it bigger)
June 17, 2010 Thursday – Caballo to Datyl, NM
I left Sue's with just the motorcycle after much winnowing through all the stuff I brought with me on my trip to California with the truck and motorcycle. I wear a full face helmet, leather jacket with padded elbows, shoulders and back, thick padded riding pans, boots and gloves. The saying goes, “Dress for the crash, not the ride.” I feel safer with all that on, but I’m still aware that I am going 60 mph on an asphalt belt sander. My mantra as I travel along is, “Tuck and roll.” I guess it is ingrained in my mind. A couple of weeks ago I inadvertently pushed the bike forward and off the kickstand as I was parking and getting off. Before I could stop it, the bike tipped over toward me and I pushed away, going into a crumple, over onto my back and completed the roll coming up on my feet. I had all my gear on and the maneuver was as comfortable as rolling over in bed. There were only some little scratches on the plastic parts of the bike.
My new phone plan with T-Mobile started last week and my new phone arrived 2 days ago. The T-Mobile Tap is seriously complex. I have a data plan so I can browse on line, do email, post to FaceBook and generally amuse myself learning how to use all the features.
Wow! I’m really on this trip. I started out last January to take the truck and motorcycle, but with just the motorcycle I can actually afford to travel everywhere forever. I rode about 160 miles today for 8 dollars. In the truck that would have been at least $40. Food may be a bit more since I will eat out a little more and can’t carry bigger lots of grocery food. Today’s burger, fries and coke was an indulgence for $9.75. So, here I am at the Datyl Well Campground for $2.50 a night. My tent is set up, ready for the night by 4 pm. My knee and butt had reached their limit with 7 hours on El Burrito. I was getting squirmy that last half hour before reaching the campground. It is amazingly satisfying and comfortable to be here. My REI Hoodoo 3 tent was so easy to set up. It’s great to have a modern tent that clips to the poles instead of the poles slipping through sleeves. As soon as I’m inside with all my bags I can get out of my protective gear and into my swim trunks. With all the mesh for the breeze to flow through and a 360 degree view, I can enjoy the buzzing of flies, the wind making its distinctive sound through the fragrant pines as I hear a distant gust coming to me. Laying on my Thermarest pad and squishy synthetic sleeping bag I can flick off ants that explore the outside of the tent. I want for nothing here in my cocoon… perhaps a nap. I smile and close my eyes as the pen slips from my hand.

June 18 Friday Datyl Well Campground
This is so restful here that I’m staying until Sunday. I keep hearing from people that the wind is fierce in the high desert all the way through Wyoming. I’m about 2 weeks late starting this trip to go through the four corners area and up through Moab. It will be too hot, so I will route through the Rockies instead. My knee, back and head have been miserable since yesterday and so I took a Valium and naproxen this afternoon. Finally some relief! I was able to get a pop in my low back that has eluded me for weeks. Ahh. I’m having second thoughts about the TW. It is slow, small and vibrates a lot. I knew that already, but it seems so much of the experience that it’s hard to enjoy riding. Plus, I am not a dirt rider after all. It looks good when other people do it, but I’m tremendously challenged by anything but pavement. I should be able to get my $3K for my bike whenever I get back to Truth or Consequences and find something more suited for highway riding. 750 cc + seems to be what everyone recommends. Perhaps a Gold Wing is in my future. I’ll continue this trip though and if I’m not broke in to the lifestyle, I’ll change something.

June 19 Saturday Datyl Well
I awoke with worse back pain after a cold night. My mummy bag is just a little small. Hmmm, it fit fine 35 years ago. I took another dose of Valium and naproxen. The one I took last night still had a half life going and when I added to it this morning, I went right back to sleep. Later, I stumbled out, walked around a little and back to lay down until 3 in the afternoon. The weeding I did earlier this week with a pick is still working out of my back. Hopefully all this rest will help. I imagine the 6 hours riding on Thursday made it worse. I’m thinking of returning to Caballo tomorrow or Monday to get some things and leave others. Later… not much on the list I can’t get on the road and I can mail stuff back. Feeling better today, no pain. I think I’ll stay another day and rest my back more. I’ve hardly gotten out of the tent for 2 days now, just laying down relaxing and stretching. This is the first time in 10 years I’ve rested like this.

June 20 Datyl Well Sunday
Still laid out with my back. If I wanted to get off to a slow start, this is it. Back on Valium and naproxen, it helps a little. I’ve been sleeping most of the day. I walked around camp for a while. I’m really groggy from the Valium, but moving around felt better. I’m sitting up in my camp chair. It works even without the sleeping pad inserted. What a relief to not have to hold myself up. I think it is a keeper. Now I just need a TV and remote. 4 pm new neighbors arrived this afternoon. They have a generator they started right away. Even my thick silicone ear plugs don’t shut out the sound. I may be leaving early tomorrow, say around 6 am. I’ll need to run my motorcycle for about an hour before leaving to charge up my phone. I hope they don’t plan on sleeping in. They ran their generator from 4 till 9.

June 21 Datyl to Lobo Canyon Forest Service Camp near Grants, NM
I just couldn’t rouse myself at 5:15. Revenge is hard to do when I’m still in the sack asleep. I shut off the alarm and went back to sleep until 7 when the generator started again. Grrr… With perfect Zen peace I started packing. My back felt so much better. All packed up and ready to roll, but where are my glasses? Oh yes, they are still in the convenient pocket in the corner of the tent. Never mind, I can see well enough during the day without them and I left anyway, cutting off the guy with the generator as he was pulling out. At least that felt good. On, westward on Hwy 60 through pine forests of Cibolla NF and I had not gone but a couple miles when a pair of elk does walked across the road 100 yards ahead. My, they are big. I was too early to eat at Pie Town – I’ll catch it another time. Yes, there was a gas station in Quemoda. Whew. I won’t have to skimp and maybe beg for gas before Grants. My tank is only 1.8 gallons. I whizzed past Mal Pais NM with all its lava flow and a huge cliff that rose up right beside the road. After being in open land it felt a little surreal to be riding next to it. I stopped for groceries in Grants and parked next to a fireworks stand so they could watch my stuff while I shopped. I was going to buy the least amount of firecrackers I could to scare away bears if needed. The nice lady gave me 2 strings of Red Devils. Hope I don’t need them. I’m in a remote campground 12 miles from Grants tonight. A couple of guys cruised through in a low rider and I got a little concerned. I was headed back to town to return later and set up at sunset, but I saw the ranger truck on the way out. He was ticketing the guys for day use without paying. It turned out that the local LEOs patrol the area and I would be safe.

June 22 Grants to Farmington, nm
A long hot dry ride and no camping in or near Farmington. I had to stay at a motel @ $40 for the night – 2 days budget, but the shower was great. TV and a bed, wow! A run to Walmart for food and an AC/DC converter so I could charge my computer with the 12V car charger using 110 current. Turned out it didn’t work with the computer charger after all – bummer. I’ll have Sue send me the AC charger I left back there.

June 23 Wednesday Farmington to near Mancos, CO
Nice ride through the rest of dry New Mexico and then into Colorado. Better roads and green farms. I stumbled onto a good NF campground, but expensive at $7.50 a day. All the Colorado NF campgrounds are operated by a concessioner and the prices are jacked up. The camp host is a Viet Nam vet and we swapped stories about dealing with the VA. He has gotten representation from a VA claims specialist lawyer, Berry Law Firm in Omaha and is optimistic about getting his disability after struggling with the VA for the last 15 years. I rode into Mancos for food, so my entertainment tonight will be cooking cube steak and corn on a fire.

June 24 Thursday Rico, CO
This is one of those perfect days. In Dolores I used the library computer and got caught up on email. One of the messages was from an ARAMCO Brat in Denver who invited me to go dirt bike riding if I am nearby. I have an old friend from a commune in Santa Monica that lives in Boulder I’d like to see, so I’ll likely get over that way. I found a great camp spot up a forest road. It’s where the stream crosses under the road and there is a flat area 50’x 30’ and a tent site bench area just up hill from that. I looks like hunters on horses have built this up as a staging area to go further up into the woods. There are shell casings and old dry horse poop in the big flat area. There is a good size rock fire ring and logs to sit on. I hung my food in a lodge pole pine and doused myself with deet. The skeeters didn’t like it at all. Not a bite. I’m cozy here in my tent hearing the stream and birds.

June 25 Fri
I rode over Lizard Head Pass through what must be the best scenery in all of Colorado. I went into Telluride and it exceeded my expectations of becoming crowded and gentrified. A body could hardly ride down the street without stopping for someone wandering across the road. I even had to pay for parking to go into the library. I called Robyn and arranged to meet up in the city park in Ridgway. I followed her home – a log cabin on 40 acres of pinion pines on a mesa. She has 2 horses, 2 dogs and a cat. She has to truck in water and has solar power. She has been living here for 27 years. Her living room floor was perfectly comfortable for the night.

June 26 Sat
What a beautiful location this is with a meadow behind the cabin and ringed with mountain peaks above the trees. Robyn and her friend Sue ride their horses most weekends when Sue is off work as a nurse practitioner. I was going to get to ride Robyn’s gelding Cassidy. Wow, the only other horse I’ve been on was a pony when I was 7. We were going up the slope of Mt. Sneffels which we could see from Robyn’s back deck. I was both excited and apprehensive. This was not just a simple walk on a road. I was finding out about horse management. Robyn’s two horses, Cassidy and Red Cloud were bonded and never alone, so we had to trailer both of them to Sue’s and leave Red Cloud in a pen next to her other horses or he would freak out. Herd animals, you know. We loaded up two of Sue’s horses and took off for a 10 mile drive up a dirt forest road to the trail head. Sue graciously rode in the back seat of Robyn’s pickup with Robyn’s dogs, Gomez and Indy. We parked and tacked the horses, taking longer than I would imagine, similar to getting ready for an outing with triplets. Finally adjusted, strapped and buckled with a beer under everyone’s belts, we were off up the road to the trail. The usual afternoon clouds acme and went with a few sprinkles, but we had rain gear in our saddlebags. I was trailing behind a bit and touched Cassidy’s ribs lightly with my heels and he immediately accelerated into a trot, jostling my feet out of the stirrups. I clutched him with my knees, held tightly to the horn and applied the hand brake er.. reins along with the voice command we all learned from Western movies, “Whoa!” It worked! Sue and Robyn readjusted the height of my stirrups and we were off up the single track trail, climbing quickly as we ducked and wove around branches and trees. Gomez had been following too closely behind the horse Robyn was on and got kicked in the hip. She was concerned for him and we decided to turn back. I wasn’t disappointed, feeling that this could become a more technical ride than I could handle. Rain and hail started just then with thunderous lightning near by. We waited it out under a tree and broke out raincoats and another beer. Just the mile or two was enough of a first ride for me and I was a little shaky after I dismounted back at the trailer. I stayed behind with the dogs while Robyn and Sue went on to continue their ride. Back at the ranch for dinner and to sleep, having had a good day.

June 27 Sunday
Robyn is picking up another horse today, a mare that is basically an indoor horse that has been mostly used in an arena. Work need to be done n the fences and gate which I did while she went to trailer the horse back. All worked out well and the new mare had a big pasture to herself while the 2 geldings were in an adjacent enclosure. The were constantly interested in each other and seemed to get along well. Elk steak tonight, lean and tasty.

June 28 Mon
A day of errands in Montrose. Pizza, banking, Ute Indian Museum and groceries. I didn’t get to see more of the museum than the lobby, but Robyn got to talk to the director about her plan to hold event on her property such as sweat lodges and vision quests. She was encouraged and I was invited to be a photography vendor at their pow-wow in September. I’m not sure where I’ll be then, but it would be fun to do portraits of Indians in their regalia.

June 29 Tue
I helped Robyn with some cabinets she brought back from her origin, Kansas. Her dad was a noted wildlife artist and his legacy to his children, Toni and Robyn was a huge collection of valuable art and prints. She has an outbuilding to house her share and begin selling it on line.

June 30 Wed
Another errand day, towing a water tank to Colona several times to fill the cistern and horse troughs. 25 cents for 300 gallons.

July 3 Sat
Robin has decided the horses are getting along so well in the same pasture that she could lead the mare around the meadow with the geldings following. Not so easy; it turns out that the were competing for her and this was an opportunity to work things out, horse style. Kicking, charging each other and running wild. So, Robyn haltered Cassidy instead and lead him around. Not good. Red Cloud and the mare took off and were soon out of sight. Eventually they returned and calmed down. Back to the fenced pasture for them.

July 4 Sun
Kick back day, Robyn went to Telluride to ride in the parade.

July 5 Mon
Mexican food in Montrose and 2 trips to Colona for more water.

July 6 Robin’s
I replaced the 2 bolts that hold the exhaust pipe to the engine. I had been wondering why I was hearing clattering noise.
Today was another water fetching day and I made fish tacos for our dinner.
San Diego-style Fish Taco Sauce
1/2 Cup reduced fat sour cream (I bet Greek yogurt would be delicious as a substitute if you’re not a fan of sour cream)
1/2 Cup reduced fat mayonnaise (you can use full fat, but, the spices are so delicious, you won’t miss that particular flavor contribution)
1 lime, cut in half
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
1/2 Teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 Teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 Teaspoon oregano
1/4 Teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
1/2 Teaspoon capers, minced
1 hot pepper of your choice, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and mayonnaise until well blended.
Squeeze the juice from one lime half into the mixture, then whisk thoroughly. You’ll want the consistency of a pourable, creamy salad dressing. If still too thick, add more lime juice from the other half. If too runny, add sour cream.
Add all the spices, whisking to mix thoroughly. Add the capers, minced pepper and cilantro, and whisk thoroughly.
Cover the bowl with wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour — the longer the better.
Serve chilled. Spoon over tacos, or add into taco salads or rice bowls.

Beer battered fish

• Olive oil
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
• 2/3 cup beer
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 4 tilapia or flounder fillets, about 5 ounces each
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper

Heat enough olive oil, to shallow fry the fish, in a large skillet over medium-high heat
In a shallow dish, whisk together 1/2 cup of the flour, beer, egg, and baking powder. Place remaining 1/4 cup flour in a separate shallow dish.
Season both sides of fish fillets with salt and black pepper. Dredge fish in flour, turn to coat both sides and then shake off excess flour. Dunk fish in beer mixture and turn to coat both sides.
Add fish to hot oil and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, until cooked through and opaque. Remove fish from oil. Place on a paper towel lined plate.

July 7 Wed Robin’s
I slept last night in Robin’s tipi and decided that I would sleep in one whenever I have the chance. I built a fire in the middle and stayed warm most of the night.

July 9 Fri
We went to Montrose to use the camera room of a photographer Robyn knows. I shot some of her collection of her dad’s prints so she can put them up on eBay and be a seller.

July 10 Sat
All day doing post production PhotoShop on the pictures from yesterday.