Going out to check the bike as soon as I wake is the normal routine. The temperature has dropped again. It’s 22F, nearly -6C. This is a shame because I’ve another reasonably long day ahead. So I decide I’ll leave as soon as it’s 0C, measured by smoke/no smoke and go back in to call DT to chat about tires, etc.

It’s about 150 miles to Jemez before another 125 to Santa Fe and we cross more beautiful desert on our way to Cuba, our first gas stop, passing more sandstone escarpments.

And pass horses and mules occasionally. I’m not sure if they’re wild or not. No fences, so maybe wild.

The escarpments get bigger.

Then we’re into the hills and shortly before entering the Jemez canyon, the town of Jemez. This all you get because the town is on the other side of the street and there’s a big wooden sign that says:

No photographs

No video cameras

No cassette recorders (I’ll have to ask Siri, my new BFF, if she knows what this is)

No sketching

It’s an Indian reservation and old, dense and lived in, like a favorite pair of shoes. Washing hangs out to dry across the streets, dogs sit in the sun, kids totter on bent bikes, homes are randomly aligned, power cables are haphazardly supported, bright red peppers hang on strings everywhere. Gorgeous. But no pictures.

Then into the canyon

And down to the river

The road is twisty and leads to the ruins of an old mission church. Built in 1621 and designed by a Franciscan priest, it burned down in 1623.

There’s a point on the road after the town where hot springs rush up and flow under and across the road and join the river above these falls

Then the unexpected perfect riding thing happened and we were in twisties for miles, gaining altitude until at 9000′ the trees opened up and a high altitude grassland plain appeared, the Valles Caldera. It was one of those moments when I Whoop! in my helmet.

Then after topping out, the road descended through very tight twisties. It was several degrees below 0 and I was concerned about tire temperature but we let her rip a bit.

Then a special diversion, to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Much larger than I’d imagined, there are over 10,000 employees on a campus at the edge of the forest in pristine buildings, pouring out to their cars;  I’d arrived at 5:00. I was passed through security without any questions and headed down the main drag, brilliantly named Bikini Atoll. That’s the spirit guys!

On the highest point of the campus was a dominant building, where all the very cool ideas are cooked up no doubt.
Then on to Santa Fe, as the sun set.

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