Chaco Morning
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

I was up late last night. In all my excitement I'd barely eaten, so when I got back to the campsite at sunset I still had to make something to eat. And then there was the moonrise to watch.

Nonetheless, I'd heard they were opening the loop road at sunrise for a gathering at a giant kiva, where the sun would come through a thing and shine on a certain thing, or something. Well almost - we were still a bit short of the summer solstice. But close enough!

So I got out of the tent into the 45 degree morning, hurried through a cup of coffee, and got on the bike and went out. There were about 50 people up that early at the kiva, including at least one ranger. The kiva was perhaps 30' across (this was unlike anything in Mesa Verde.) Along the outer wall were small niches at increments. There were four of them that were slightly lower and larger. Sure enough the sun was coming through an opening and as it rose it got closer and closer until it (almost) perfectly filled the niche. And then the bottom of the Kiva opened and out came a giant Coyote which ate half the crowd. OK that didn't happen, but I did see a coyote on the cold ride out to the giant kiva. Coyotes look like dogs, but more guilty. Or perhaps they look guilty as a dog, but more certain they won't be caught.

After the sunrise, a quick breakfast, pack up camp, and then a little hike up to Pueblo Alto. More mysteries. A large, single story pueblo, which originally had 14' ceilings. Based on fire pits and soot whatever, only light use. However, the inevitable refuse pile (which looks like an odd mound of dirt next to the pueblo) is substantially larger than any other found, and filled with pottery shards. Perhaps this was a ceremonial pueblo, and there were many pottery sacrifices, which is still done today by the descendants of the ancients?

Above is a look down at what remains of Pueblo Bonito.

After the hike, I hit the road. This time I lowered the tire pressure (TKC-80s, approx 30/32 going in, lowered to 22/25.) Now instead of going 30 I was going 45, and they felt much more connected with the ground. It is amazing how slight changes can alter how a motorcycle rides. I still spent half the time standing on the pegs (which gives you more stability and control, for a variety of reasons.)

I pointed the bike to Taos. My feet were getting sore, as I hadn't really given them a break much this whole time. I wanted some good food. It was only a few hours away.

[ tags: anasazi ancestral bonito canyon chaco f20 fuji mexico new pueblo puebloans ruins trail travel trip ]

Sunset in Taos
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

Not an hour out of Chaco, and suddenly I'm in the mountains, and it's cool, and raining. If you don't like the weather here, just drive an hour! The cool was more than welcome. The clouds broke and it turned into a beautiful afternoon.

There is something about the air out here that I love. It really feels good to breathe. Maybe the lower humidity just makes the air easier to move into your lungs. Or it munges the smells less, so the piney notes in the air come through clearer. It just feels good to breathe here.

I'm staying at the Pueblo Inn. Awesome! Quite cheap for this town. Adobe styled. Clean, but with some character. I'll do two nights here and catch up.

The people in the next room over pulled up. An attractive young lady gets out of the passenger side and immediately strikes up a converstation. She used to have an F650GS (similar bike as mine) and sold it when she moved to Portland. She loves the southwest and wasn't using it much there. We talked for a while. Her boyfriend stood behind her, existing. Ahh well.

I love the random conversations with people on the road. The motorcycle is a good catalyst for them, because it immediately implies you must have some story to tell. No one would look at your Illinois plate on a car and really ask you how the drive was. But on a bike - surely there is something to tell.

I think I'm pretty well acclimated. Chaco was at least as hot as Canyonlands, but it didn't bother me as much. Water is easier to manage. Even if I lose my breath a bit climbing up slickrock, I catch it again in just a minute. Cold on the bike matters less. Heat matters less. Even all in the same day. I can eat or not eat depending. When I do eat, the food just disappears. I've been making an effort to not do the normal trip thing, where you default to eating huge meals all the time, whether you need it or not. Initially on these trips, I find my body just freaks out. "Holy crap, I need all this water, all this food, what is going on!" After a week or so it finally has it sorted out.


[ tags: f20 fuji mexico new sunset taos trail travel trip ]

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