Sunday, May 10, 2009

From Farmington NM to Moab

Last night was spent at a Comfort Inn in Farmington NM after an eventful day on the road and a few hours spent at a BMW dealer in Santa Fe for repairs. Today will be a short and easy day, just 200 miles or so to Moab.

Since I got in to Farmington late - 7:00 PM - I didn't get to the Aztec Ruins national park, so considered backtracking a little to get that stamp this morning before heading to Moab. But as I walked out to my bike to pack my gear, two fellows sitting in the breakfast room jokingly said something about "biker trash" so I had to sit and chat with them for an hour or so. One was from Salt Lake City, the other from Oregon but they'd known each other for many years. One rode an FJR and the other a GoldWing trike, which he and his wife bought last year at Sturgis, trading in their two-wheeled GoldWing after deciding he could no longer handle the weight and size. He was headed to Durango to pick up his 13 year old grandson and bring him back to Oregon with him. He said that his grandson had chosen the route and, being a homeschooled boy, he hoped there would be some history credits in that trip. It sounded like a great itinerary.

So now it was 10:00 AM and I jettisoned the plan to get the Aztec Ruins stamp. So I let the GPS lead me out of Farmington and onto some really fabulous roads to get to Moab. I took US-64 west to US-491 north and into Colorado. It was relatively flat with the occasional butte or two jutting up off the high desert floor as I neared my turn onto US-160 west. The Garmin was showing a turn about 12-14 miles ahead onto SR-41. After my experience on SR-3 in New Mexico, I was unsure of the quality of this highway. But as I neared the turn, I could see a big 18-wheeler turning off of this state road onto US-160 so knew it would be a good road. And it was. It started out flat and straight but as it got further north it began to get a little more interesting but not terribly technical.

As the road neared the town of Montezuma Creek it ran along side the San Juan River for a while. This was a fast-moving muddy river that had, over the millenia, carved a nice little valley and I rode along with the river to my left and high bluffs to my right.

At Montezuma Creek I turned onto SR-262 which was gorgeous! A few miles up the road and it presented a couple of elevation-changing switch-backs. The road surface was very rough going through this section, and the bike hopped and bounced along through the tight turns. A check on the GPS showed an elevation change of 600-700 feet through here.

This road met 191 not too far south of Blanding, where I stopped for gas and a short break. I was now less than 100 miles from Moab. This was a gorgeous drive, and I was surprised at the amount of vegetation. I expected it to be more desolate than it was. Huge red bluffs, smoothed by time and erosion, rose on either side of the highway for miles. As I neared Moab, the elevation dropped gently and gradually until the road dropped me into downtown Moab.

There was a lot of traffic - cars, jeeps, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles - and every gas station was loaded with customers at the pumps. I filled up at a gas station just on the south end of the main street and then continued on to motel. A few folks were already there when I checked in and so I quickly changed out of riding gear and a few of us settled into chairs in the shade to watch one of our group change the chain and rear sprocket on his V-Strom.

After a good dinner at Eddie McStiff's restaurant, and some good visiting afterward, I quickly crashed.

Tomorrow: ride to Colorado Monument National Park and some good roads to get there.

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