A Ride to Taos and The Rio Grande Gorge, NM

Day 8

Typically, by mid-November, northern New Mexico is freezing and its encompassing peaks are wrapped in many layers of snow.

Typically.

Turns out skiers will have to wait a little longer this year because Colin and Tali are here for the 70-degree weather route.

The Adventure

We started in Española, where our friends, Eric and Patti live, and where our 12ft home is parked.

The morning was perfect; the sun was warm and all we had to do was follow Eric’s white, lifted, Silverado to Taos.

State road 68 was a sedated introduction. At first, the mountains were pale protrusions in the horizon, and their distance kept their magnitude hidden from our foreign eyes. We followed our friends like two high vis neon ducklings, thinking little of what was ahead.

In time, however, the mountains stretched taller—and kept on stretching—until we could no longer see their pinnacles without lifting our helmets dangerously perpendicular to the road. By then, we were cutting through the mountains on a meandering road, worrying about nomadic cows, goats, deer, as well as loose rocks and depleting oxygen. It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

I kept hearing my voice over the radio, “Wooooow…. Woooooow….” We followed the curvy mountain in perpetual awe. Each turn revealed another beautiful formation, another set of colorful textures, all drenched in a mind-altering fragrance from the Rio Grande river, below.

“Colin, this is the best ride of my life.”

By the time we reached the top, we were approximately 7100 ft. above sea level and the view was breath-taking. We removed our helmets and took it all in. What a day!

15 miles later, The Plaza

Taos was a beautiful, albeit congested, city. Roads were pitted and bumpy, and the amount of clutching and stopping was brutal. Everyone was headed to the Plaza, which was bursting with tourists and local customers. Shops ornamented the square with turquoise goods that flattered the adobe walls and reminded us how far we were from home.

But it was getting late. So we purchased chocolates and postcards and left for the Gorge.

The Bridge

A brief ride, northwest of Taos, brought us to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

“Holycow it’s enormous.”

My shaky knees planted my feet in to the concrete. I could barely move. I wouldn’t say I have a fear of heights; I sincerely believe that most people would feel the instinctive need to crouch once they see the gorge and what I would call, “the certain death,” below.

Let’s just say we didn’t stay for long.

The Way Back

Eric said we will take the same road back. “Great,” I thought. “We’ll be clutching and stopping through Taos. Picking up speed toward the mountains. Riding downhill, past the cows and goats and deer and straight back to Española—Easy!”

After all, the way back is always faster.

Once we left Taos, we were driving west, facing a beautiful New Mexico sunset.

And we couldn’t see anything.

We lowered our chins in different angles, struggling to block the light with our visors while still seeing Eric’s Chevy.

“Keep your eyes open for deer,” Colin said.

“I can’t see anything.” I replied, annoyed.

“Just do your best.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”  It was impossible.

I kept thinking, “what mountain goat? what loose rocks?” I could barely see Eric’s rear tires in front of me. It was painfully bright.

We rode into the sun for about 15-20 long minutes until we reached the expansive shadows of the mountains. “Thank god!” I said.

Just when we thought our challenge was over, it got cold. We were in the shade, the sun was nearly gone, and the Rio Grande—the once magical Rio Grande—was chilling the air further.

The temperature plummeted from 70 to 52 in a matter of minutes.

We still had another hour ahead of us and I felt myself freezing. “Colin, I’m cold…” I turned on my handle-bar warmers and imagined I could soak the heat to the rest of my body. Nothing helped.

Like the amazing husband he is, Colin let me whine and acknowledged my struggles.

I didn’t know how to pass the time. I knew we couldn’t stop; I wasn’t going to leave my bike in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t bring extra layers. Stopping would only make it harder. I had to keep going.

“Itsy Bitsy Spider….”

“Ten little monkeys were jumping on the bed….”

“I’m cold, Jack….”

Colin let it happen.

I laughed now and then which steamed up my helmet. Great, I couldn’t even laugh!

But I knew it’ll make a great story.

————-

Eric and Patti

Thank you so much Eric and Patti for guiding us through your beautiful state, teaching us about its history and versatile culture, and welcoming us into your home. We are so lucky and cannot thank you enough for your friendship.

We look forward to introducing you to Wisconsin’s cheese curds.

The Gist

Beauty: (4 / 5)

Skill level: (1 / 5) Easy.

Road quality: (4 / 5)

Overall: (4 / 5)

 

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