This hilly road gave me a chance to use some different muscles; often I rose out of my saddle and cranked up the hills furiously against phantom competitors. I was certainly chasing Don Juan’s tilting windmills out here, a bit bored at times, my mind wandering. There was some internal clutter that the expansive western vista helped me throw away. The pavement was rough at times, not being a priority for the cash strapped NM highway department. Yet this road was an enjoyable route worthy of my two wheel explorations.
The early Spanish settlers faced a major stretch without water here. Wikipedia describes it, "The name Journey of the Dead Man probably originated with a German man who died there while fleeing the Inquisition in the later 17th century, although due to the complete lack of water, grazing or firewood the route through this area already had a negative reputation. Although quite flat, the Jornada del Muerto took several days to a week to cross and presented great difficulties to the earliest Spanish travelers who were on foot with carts or wagons pulled by oxen. Bishop Tamaron traveling north on his visitation to New Mexico in 1760. Leaving the Paraje de Robledo traveling 5 leagues:
- "On this day, the twelfth of the month and the sixth of the journey,
we came to the Jornada del Muerto. To prepare for it, a detour is made
to seek the river at a place called San Diego.
The night is spent there. Everything necessary is made ready. It is
about half a league from the river. Barrels are brought for the purpose.
These are filled with water for the people. On the morning of the
thirteenth the horses were taken to the river to drink. Somewhat later
all the food for the journey was prepared, and at half past seven we
left that post with considerable speed, stopping only to change horses.
During this interval we ate what there was, and we traveled in this
fashion until eight-thirty at night, when we halted opposite the Sierra
of Fray Cristobal."
Soon the burger was eaten and the empty shake’s cup were tossed in the bin. I pedaled over to my hotel. A bit of a ‘dive’ at $58.00 per night, I thought. The decor was old but the room clean and on the quiet side of the building at least. The wifi worked and so did the A/C. Good enough for a touring cyclist. The attached restaurant was conveniently located for an early dinner.
I walked over to Walmart to get some fruit, yogurt, milk and cereal for tomorrow’s breakfast. I took several photos of the old Hammel Historical Society building nearby. I loved the old stonework. At least something remained of settlers past in town.