Tuesday Day 4 - Volcanos, rivers and hail, oh my!

Longer day today. We had been blessed with the route on the left by a very very friendly bar tender in a mexican restaurant next to the hotel we picked in Amarillo that night. They were closed but we looked so roadworn (after all of 200 miles) they reopened the bar for us for a while. We checked tire pressure and attended to a few other items before loading back up and heading out, planning to spend the night in reserved hotel room in Albuquerque where our tires were to meet us at the Greyhound bus station.
We saw some great "big sky" in NM on our way to Cimaron and the Capulin Volcano near Capulin NM. We stopped for lunch at the Sierra Grande restaurant and were treated to local southwestern fare, highlighted by sopapillas with honey for desert. Local Mom and Pop eateries add a lot of color to your trip. It is hard to capture the beauty of the sky out here, pictures just don't do it justice.

We visited Capulin Volcano National Park and met up with some old cruiser guys out for a short ride. Lots of people flocked over the see our bikes and ask questions, one guy was amazed at the size of the V-Strom having only seen them in magazines.

The views from the rim of the volcano were spectacular and we could see the rain cells coming in as we posed for pictures. We got on the bikes and hauled butt back down the snaking road hoping not to get too wet. Not only did we get wet but we got caught in a hail storm. The hail began small and gradually got bigger. At the end marble sized hail was falling a covering the road. We continued on hoping to run out of it, but the impact of the hail stones with the added hiway velocity hurt! We rolled along as a half inch of hail covered the road.

While Jeff and I were wearing fairly thick leather jackets, Jeff was gloveless and Don was wearing only his Darians with no liners and the impact on those unprotected areas was severe. Red welts were visible on Don's arms all afternoon from the impacts and the Arai logo on his helmet was shot peened so that only about half remained. To add insult to injury Don's headlight fuse had burned out in all the excitement and we had to stop at a gas station just off the I-25/Hwy 64 junction noear the NM/CO border to install the included spare fuse.

We stopped at the pallisade cliffs to catch our breath and sit by the stream, and oh yearh, smoke a cigar. After the cigar I was high as a kite so we hung around little while in the interest of my balance be fore heading out for Eagles Nest.
We paused in Eagles Nest long enough for a snack of nachos in a warm and inviting saloon on main street before hitting the road again. We followed directions to a mexican restaurant we heard about from an old guy at the volcano. The stretch of 434 from EAgle Nest down to 518 is spectacular. Winding, hilly, and very narrow. Trees came right up to the pavement in places. Any road that is signed "NO VEHICLES OVER 10 FEET WIDE" is a good thing. But no mexican restaurant was evident. We stopped on the road in the middle of nowhere to sniff out some wireless phone coverage and Verizon came through again.

We popped out to I-25 and slabbed to Albuquerque with a stop in Santa Fe to go through the drive though at Wendy's, the only thing open. I almost freaked when the exit numbers on I-25 seemed to indicate that Albuquerque was 100 miles furthere than we thought, but it was operator error, the hotel was on I-40, not I-25. We had called to confirm that the tires had been sent to Albuquerque via Greyhound bus, so we we're set to get them installed the next day, Tuesday. My chain and rear sprocket looked a bit peaked as well ...

After four days in the rain it became evident that my dearly departed cat, Snuffle had left me a gift in each boot. The Cat Piss Boots began to take on a life of their own and had to spend the night in the bathroom, the socks went into a ziplock bag I had brought along. While I had occassionally caught a whiff of this on the boots back home, the four days of being wet was taking it's toll, the cat urine rising like a phoenix remind me of the forteen years I spent with Snuffle and, oh yeah, to stink!