By: Maryanne Erikson
Friday September 12, 2014
Ride from Santa Rosa, New Mexico to Acoma, New Mexico
This day started in pitch blackness when I was awakened by the sound of howling wind outside the window. I looked at the clock and it said 6:00 so I knew I was NOT going back to sleep. And I was curious about the wind, so I opened the window and it was true – the wind was howling and I felt a slight spritz of moisture. The rain was coming!
To most of us, this would be no big deal. But now that I’m seeing the world through the eyes of bikers, my perception has changed. So far every day has been rain-free (although not always perfect – some days were extremely hot and windy). Still all in all, for most of the group – it’s been a great trip so far. Today was looking dicey! By the time I put on my clothes and zipped up my suitcase to take it to the car the rain was torrential and the wind had to be 50 mph. I got drenched just taking my bag to the car – so glad I packed that hooded windbreaker!
Anyway, long story short, we left an hour late (at 9:00 am) and by then the rain had stopped. We were headed for Santa Fe and the weather channel was showing sunshine by noon, so we were all hopeful! And indeed it proved to be so – warm and sunny in Santa Fe – hooray!
Since we were following the group, there really were no stops between our start and finish but a pit stop. I decided to take some shots showing the evolution of the landscape. I think that is one of the things that has really impressed me about traveling across the entire US – the subtle and profound incremental changes in the landscape as you move along. Some of the views aren’t really anything to “write home about” – I wouldn’t want to live here – but when you contrast where you just were to where you are now – and now and now – wow! This is when I wish I had a geologist along for the ride, who could explain to me what caused those incredible outcroppings of rock that rise out of a perfectly flat plain – and then continue to rise and rise and become mountains. Was it the glaciers? Was this an inland sea and we’re on the bottom of what once was an ocean? These questions and so many more go through my mind as I take in the breathtaking beauty of the huge sky and the expanse of land that surrounds me 360 degrees.
Beginning of the ride from Santa Rosa, NM
Almost to Santa Fe
So today was less about documenting vanishing roadside (there are lots less towns out this way anyway) and more about the experience of being here now. I had to let go of my desire to find every picture – and just experience the vast nature of the landscape around me. Yes there is much desolation here – and many many abandoned buildings from businesses long gone – they are relics really. That could be an entire huge volume of photographs – and I’m sure many others have already done that book!
Lunch with Jen in Santa Fe
So after lunch Jen and I decided to go on our own and take our time getting down to Albuquerque. I rediscovered the coolest app that I had forgotten all about called “Roadside America”. For anyone with a similar interest it really is a great tool – you type in your city or area and they will tell you every quirky and potentially weird attraction to see and maps to get there. I put in Albuquerque and a bunch of stuff came up but my top two (since we now were getting late in the day) were the giant red arrow (I’ve seen so many pictures of it) and a strange Muffler Man (I need more of them- haven’t seen one in days!) that they were calling a “mutant muffler man” because evidently he had lost both of his arms (blew off in a wind storm) and they never found them!! Can you imagine finding a giant arm in your back yard? Someone did and it’s now hanging on the wall of their den!
Friday rush hour traffic in Albuquerque was no more fun than any big city – so we slogged through and found the giant red arrow in the parking lot of Whole Foods. Somehow, this was NOT the one I had seen pictures of – although it was dramatic. I’ll need to do some more research to find out the back story on this one. The guy at Whole Foods said it was “historic” – so we’ll see.
Giant Red Arrow, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The other attraction that by now was a must see was the Mutant Muffler Man who was now the calling card for a Vietnamese restaurant (of all things!) We found him, but the light was at his back, so perhaps this was not the best time of day to photograph him. They had painted him with an oriental beard and a hat and the poor guy has no arms – so it’s definitely a humorous and sad version of this American classic. All said however I was really glad to have seen him. Made my day!
Mutant Muffler Man, Albuquerque, New Mexico
We made fought the traffic out of Albuquerque to the Sky City Casino in Acoma, New Mexico. OK – I’m not really big on gambling, but will have some fun watching others partake. The landscape here is breathtaking – far from the madding crowd – unless you’re in the casino! Good night all. Tomorrow we will rest our heads in Winslow, Arizona and you can be sure we’ll be “standin’ on the corner” for a shot or two!
View in Acoma, New Mexico