Lightning to the left of me, lightning to right…

… Here I am, stuck in the middle with the Trooper

Well the day started well enough. The sun was shining with a clear blue sky when I awoke in Santa Rosa, NM. As I was loading the Trooper, a guy emerged from the room 2 doors down, and began loading  luggage into his pick-up truck. We exchanged greetings, and simultaneously realised we were both English.

Matt came around and noticed the British licence plate on the Trooper and we exchanged stories. Matt was originally from London and had moved out to LA 8 years ago to start a magazine. He now owned a shop in LA and gave me a few tips for neighbourhoods to stay in – Silverlake and Echo Park. He’d been over to New Hampshire to buy the pick-up and was now back on his way to California. That seems to me to be a crazy distance to go to buy a truck. There must have been something really special about it.

My plan for the day was a fast ride through New Mexico, hopefully making it into Arizona by the end of the day. Whilst a lot of people travelling Route 66 might want to stop off in Santa Fe or Albuquerque (I’d recommend Santa Fe of the two), I’d already ridden some of this stretch of Route 66 in 2011, and had stayed over in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Despite wanting to go fast, I still rode the old route up to Santa Fe rather than the newer re-route straight to Albuquerque, and I was well rewarded, as Santa Fe is over 7,000 above sea level – it’s the highest state capital in the US – you have great scenery and roads to ride to get there, but as I was on a mission for distance today, I didn’t stop for many photos.

From New Mexico, July 2013

As I approached Grants, I could see the rain in front of me, and to the south. I didn’t have much option for an alternate route. I had to press on.

From New Mexico, July 2013

When I got to the Continental Divide, the rain had developed. I could see two thunderheads ahead, one to the south of the road, and one to the north, but apart from a few spots, I had had no rain on me yet. My luck couldn’t last, and I didn’t like how close the lightning strikes to either side of the road looked, so I stopped for half an hour or so to see if it would pass.

From New Mexico, July 2013

The thunder and lightning did seem to die down, but the black clouds and rain were still ahead. I knew I couldn’t wait here all day, so I decided to press on and take my chances. A couple of more miles and the rain hit, and carried on and on. Riding in rain isn’t fun, even in waterproofs. As I reached Gallup, I decided enough was enough for the day. I’d stop here for the night rather than continuing on into Arizona as I had originally planned.

In 2011, I’d stopped in the historic El Rancho hotel in Gallup, but at over $100 a night, I decided more modest accommodation was in order and continued on to the cheaper motels on the west side of town.

From New Mexico

 

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