Alaska Adventure Machine!

Alaska Adventure Machine!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Steaming South

The morning dawned bright and clear. The cobalt blue skies of the American West lifted my spirits as I clipped into my pedals. I had a quick goodbye with Dan as he rolled over to sleep in (finally!) and await his car ride home. On the edge of Antonito, NM is the northern terminus of the Chama Toltec Scenic Railroad. This coal-fired steam train first began running in 1880. Now it is a popular tourist ride of 64 miles, chugging it's way through sage hills and alpine aspen groves. Although not officially running for the season yet, I was fortunate to be there as they were moving the steam engine around the switch yard. A big black coal plume bellowed skyward, pumping steam power to the big wheels. And a long toot of the whistle...magic!

With the whistle ringing in my ear, and New Mexico a few minutes ride away, I enjoyed the cool morning air. I reflected a bit more, with some melancholy, about Dan's dropping out. It sure had been a good time with him. We'd figure out some future adventure fun someday. Yeah for sure! I took photos at the NM border and pedaled into the home state of my youth. It felt good to be returning this way, by bike.
The miles passed quickly. The grass lands of the San Luis Valley gave way to rolling juniper and pinon pine covered hills. Alpine mountains were in the distance. A very quiet highway, perfect for cycling. After 64 miles I passed through Ojo Caliente, NM. Meaning "hot water" literally in Spanish. This is the bi-lingual "Land of Enchantment". No stopping at the hot springs for me; the upscale spa there would have been a wonderful respite. But I had miles to ride and a friend's wedding date to arrive by! I dropped into drier country now.

 I finished my day's ride at Espanola, NM. I had ridden 87 miles. I called Dan up check in. He was still in Antonito, CO awaiting his ride. He was pretty bummed to not be riding; even a bit more so at not having left Colorado yet, and I was done pedaling for the day. We said our goodbyes and hung up. I celebrated my progress by having a large pizza delivered to my motel room.

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