There was a nice nip in the air as I headed east on old Route 66. At the town of Tijeras, I turned south along a comfortably bendy two-laner. Ah, delight - riding through old towns, some of them land grants from the days when Spain owned the area. Old churches in decaying villages as I rode on nice curvy roads along the side of the Manzano mountains.
Too soon, I came back out onto the eastern plains of New Mexico. The landscape flattened out and soon oil rigs appeared. Southeastern New Mexico is atop part of the big Permian Basin oil fields, which are being awakened from decades of decline by the advent of new technologies. Before the trip, I had wondered why motel room rates were so high - and now I knew its because the demand for rooms from the many new oilfield workers. Simple supply and demand.
I arrived in Artesia much too early to end the day, so I cancelled the motel reservations and rode on. I disliked crossing into Texas - I enjoyed the “ooo and ah” as people saw the license plate on my scooter that placed me far from home. Once back in Texas, I was just another bike.
I had a bit of a hard time finding a room in San Angelo. It seems the fracking oil boom has hit there too, and most rooms were taken by oil field workers.
I wanted to make it home the next day, so Saturday morning, I was up before the dawn and on my way. About an hour down the road, I found a bakery in Eldorado. Two things about Eldorado: first, the bakery was run by an Asian couple. When I asked the woman “You aren’t from around here, are you?”, she replied with a thick accent that she had just moved from Pennsylvania. I was to find out later that she and her husband are Cambodian. The other prominent note about Eldorado is that it is the home of the Yearning for Zion Ranch - the headquarters of the fundamentalist and polygamist break away Mormon sect which was raided for child abuse awhile back.
I cut across the southern end of the Texas Hill Country, then into the border city of Laredo. Mistake in doing that - way too much traffic. But Laredo also meant I was getting close to home, and as rain clouds threatened, I boogied alongside the Rio Grande until I saw the home fires burning.
So - was it a great trip?
Hell yes! I loved it - meeting the challenges of riding 3,600 miles on a 400 cc scooter. From the subfreezing morning in Portales to the Mojave desert, from flat plains to mountain twisties, it was a lot of fun.
Wonder where I’ll go next.