Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Day 8: Las vegas, NM to Albuquerque

First of all, a picture or two from last night. This is Nancy trying out my bike for size. She is desperately seeking a mid-life crisis of her own - we suggested a tattoo. Thanks for these Kevin.

Today has been a great motorcycling day, and I have experience all four seasons over the course of it! The wind had abated a little since yesterday, and I left Las Vegas bound for Santa Fe. The riding was great as I travelled along the Santa Fe  trail, through the Pecos national park. The roads had a mixture of long sweeping fast bends, and more technical twisty sections. The bike, despite its size, was up to the job, and once moving is well balanced, most of the weight being low down. Manoeuvring at low speed can be hard work though.

 The old Route 66 running parallel to the interstate in the distance

A gate to nowhere!

The road undulated, but overall climbed to Santa Fe, which is over 7000ft above sea level, making it the highest state capitol in the US. This would explain why it was getting colder, and by the time I got there it was snowing.

When Route 66 was first built in the late 1920s this was the route that it took - through Santa Fe. In the 30s, the Governor of New Mexico fell out with the Mayor of Santa Fe, and ordered that the route be realigned to run directly from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque, thus cutting out the Santa Fe loop, and denying the town of its passing trade. Many people travelling the route today take this more direct later alignment, but I wanted to do this loop as I'd heard (rightly, as it turns out) that the roads and scenery were very good.
Snow in Santa Fe in April.

The architecture in the town is Adobe style, and very attractive. The centre is full of art galleries and little expensive looking boutiques. I reckon that it must have the most Art Galleries per capita than any other town I've been to. There were also more homeless people begging in the street than I'd seen since Chicago - obviously there are extremes of wealth here.

I decided to wait and see if the snow would stop so had a cup of coffee and slice of the most delicious chocolate cream pie! It did stop after a while, and I was assured that Albuquerque would be a good deal warmer as it wasn't so high, so I continued my journey along the Santa Fe trail, to Madrid.

I wanted to go to Madrid as it had been featured in a number of movies, most recently Paul, but probably the biggest selling was Wild Hogs. The film takes place during the Madrid chilli festival. Up until then Madrid didn't have a chilli festival. It does now!

Talking to a few people around town there are obviously mixed feelings about this film. Some people did very well out of it - Disney built a diner movie set for the film, pictured above, and the current owner makes plenty selling Wild Hogs memorabilia and t-shirts. Others went out of business because Disney shut the town down for 3 months over the tourist season whilst making the film.
I think my favourite film that was made here though is The Man Who Fell to Earth, staring David Bowie. I must re-watch that when I get home.

Now it was more fantastic riding to Albuquerque, where I am staying tonight. I pulled over at one point to take some photos, and who should come past in the other direction - yes, the Aussies. I'm at the same hotel as them again, so I expect some more revelry in the bar tonight. In the mean time, I can't resist one more shot of the New Mexico landscape:

Today's route and more photos are here:

Today's Mileage: 149
Total Trip Mileage:1663

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