It has been raining heavily for days in Colorado and northern New Mexico. The news is full of lives lost and property damaged. Having been further south and west we have not been troubled by rain except once, yesterday, but that was isolated. Today as we were riding north from Tucumcarj on NM104 we started to see evidence of the extensive rains, with red, red rivulets in spate and much pooling of surface water. Crossing the Conchas River, we noticed it had burst is banks comprehensively so we stopped to take some photos and have a break.
A chap came along to look at the river while we were there. He is a local and said that last week they had had nine inches of rain. The repeated warnings from my GPS satellite weather about flash floods and road closures suddenly became more meaningful. This chap also warned us to look out for fallen and indeed falling rocks as we traversed the pass on 104 up towards Las Vegas NM. Forewarned is forearmed. I have not ever seen so many fallen rocks alongside and indeed encroaching upon the roadway. There was one particular boulder that was actually on the road that we think must have fallen only minutes before we passed. We stopped on a pull-out spot to take a photo of the pass and noticed how very soft and sodden the earth was.
An interesting fact about this young Hispanic man is that he builds car wrecks as a hobby. When we saw him arrive in his jalopy we were stunned. See the photo page. He assured us it was legal. Just brilliant!
We then enjoyed our easy ride on the high, grassy plain towards Las Vegas (no casinos there!) Eagles were patrolling the sky, some real cowboys were herding cattle and a couple of vultures reluctantly left their road kill to let us pass. The temperature was in the low twenties and there was no threat of rain. Few cars, and many of those that did come past gave a friendly wave.
Las Vegas is a small historic town that for some reason attracted well known criminals and riff-raff in its early days. There is not much there these days to recommend it to the tourist. We ate lunch in Charlie's, which was clearly the place to be. We arrived early and easily got a table, by the time we left their were people hovering.
Arriving in Santa Fe we went to the city center with a view to seeing if we could get reasonable accommodation there. John's initial impression of the city was 'it is delightfully commercial'. But expensive. We evacuated ourselves to the Best Western and will go back later four dinner.
Coincidentally, the routes we have chosen have caused us to ride now and then on, or across, Route 66. Tulsa, Amarillo, Tucumcari, Las Vegas and now Santa Fe. I am rather pleased to say that very few Harley Davidson's have been sighted.
Our short experience in New Mexico suggests that the folk are more reserved with strangers than in the other states. But aside from that, the scenery is beautiful. Vistas of wide plains and rocky mesas abound. There is a sense of space and of place. I like it here.