New Mexico Continues to Provide Amazing Views the Last Two Days
Day 37 July 9th. Grants, NM to Ramah, NM 47 miles Total Miles 2,066
Weather: Sunny, warm 87 degrees, headwind
We went a bit shorter today because we wanted to check out some cool places along the route. Our ride took us thru two National Parks – El Malpais National Monument and Conservation Area (114,000 federally protected acres) and El Morro National Monument and Conservation Area encompasses 2 square miles. Both are amazing pieces of property. El Malpais has natural features left behind by the volcano, including lava tubes, lava beds, sink holes etc. El Morro National Monument and Conservation Area is the site of over 2,000 petroglyphs due to the fact that there is a pool at the base of El Morro and for many years people would camp at the site and leave messages on the walls of Zuni Sandstone.
We also stopped at a privately owned site called Ice Cave – Volcano Land. It was a fun place to tour but difficult to get to by bicycle. We had a two mile climb to their property and then had to push our bicycle down the half mile volcanic ash driveway. There was no way to ride it due to the depth of the ash – our bicycle would sink and come to a stop, we finally gave up and pushed it in. But it was well worth the trouble – we took a half mile walk up to the Bandera Volcano site. The volcano erupted over 10,000 years ago and is one of the largest volcanos in the region. From the trail up to the Look Out Point you can see 15 other volcanos in the area. There are actually 29 in the region. After viewing the volcanos we headed over to the Ice Cave- very cool literally – the temperature in the cave never gets over 31 degrees. As rain and snow melt seep into the cave the ice floor thickens. The floor of the ice is 20 feet thick and some of the ice dates back 3,400 years. The ice is tinted green from an Arctic algae that grows on it. They have no idea how the algae got to New Mexico because it is typically only found in the Arctic.
After our tours we pushed the bicycle back to the highway and rode the last 1/2 mile to the Continental Divide which was 7,882 Ft. This is the highest we have ever been on the bicycle.
The rest of the ride was pretty much downhill but unfortunately we had a nasty headwind to deal with and had to work to keep the bicycle moving even on the downhill. Our overnight stay was at the El Morro RV Park and Cabins. They had a great little restaurant – Ancient Way Café and even an organic grocery store across the street. We had an amazing dinner at the Café and even picked up some goodies for breakfast at the grocery store. The staff that worked at the campground were very nice and welcoming and we enjoyed our stay with them.
As we climbed into our tent we had the pleasure of hearing two owls calling to each other and viewing an amazing sky with stars everywhere. Being up at almost 8,000 Ft you feel like you can touch the stars, they are so clear.
Day 38 July 10th Raman, NM to Gallup, NM 61 miles Total Miles 2,127
Weather: Sunny, warm 87 degrees, headwind early and then tailwind
We woke up early at the campground, ate a delicious breakfast of home made wheat bread, peanut butter and dried fruit from the organic grocery store. What a good way to start the day. We even had company for breakfast when two of the neighbors chickens came to our campsite to join us for breakfast. We were all packed up and on the bicycle by 6:30 am and were pleased to be getting a nice early start to our ride. We even had our jackets on because it was 60 degrees as we were leaving. Unfortunately our early start did not last long because about a mile down the road the cable for the rear derailleur snapped- bummer. So we had to stop to fix it. Fortunately we carry a replacement cable with us and Peter got to work removing the broken cable and putting in the new one. Unfortunately neither of us had ever replaced a broken cable and it ended up taking us a hour and a half to complete the repair but we got it done and the bicycle was shifting well – YEA!!
After the repair we headed to our first stop at a convenience store in Raman – about 12 miles down the road. We stopped and filled up our water bottles and bought a snack. From there it was downhill, but unfortunately into a nasty headwind – at times it felt like we were going backwards. Finally we turned north on to Hwy 602 and had cross and slight tail wind, it was a nice change. The first 9 miles of 602 were a climb of 1,000 Ft to an elevation of approximately 7,300 Ft. From that point until we got to Gallup we bounced up and down until the last little climb into Gallop.
Being that it was a Sunday there were a fair amount of drivers on the road, but they were really good about giving us space and a friendly wave as they passed. One woman passed us, beeped and waved on her way by. A few minutes later we were stopped along the road for a short break until we made the last push into Gallop and a car stopped near us, it was the woman who passed us earlier. As she was heading home she saw her uncle walking along the road so she picked him up and took him home. She then drove by us again and decided to stop and say hello. She was very interested in our bicycle and where we were from etc. We talked for a bit and then she wished us luck and got back in her car and headed down the road. It just goes to show you never know who you will meet when you are traveling on your bicycle.