|Damn. It's been a long time, boss!|
The Beast is a Kawasaki Vulcan 900. He is NOT on steroids, like some of his brothers, but he weighs in at over 600 lb., and will travel all day at 70 mph. That suits me fine, though in truth I seldom spend much time over 50, since anything reasonably nearby is just a blur past that point, and I'm here to see what there is to see.
The Beast is all about muscle. He has tremendous torque, and accelerates smoothly in 5th gear from about 35 to somewhere north of 90. There are many faster bikes, and heavier, and more powerful, but for all around touring in the range of 300 miles, I like the 900. It is an essential part of my RV strategy.
The Daze is a house on wheels. As such, at 22 feet, she is actually rather dainty. Her 350 V8 proceeds at a dignified pace, and while pulling the trailer gets around 6 mpg. She has a first gear that will go straight up at 25 mph and never flag. But her top end is around 70, and she is most comfortable cruising at 50. There are many crowded or narrow places she would rather not go, because of her...ah... bulk.
That's okay. That's not her job.
The Beast is nimble and quick, and will travel practically anywhere there is pavement. He's a little top heavy for soft dirt, mud, or sand, but he will complacently proceed up any reasonably hard packed dirt road. And he will get 45 mpg while doing so.
The Daze is Home. The Beast is an Explorer. The Daze will get us comfortably near where we want to go. The Beast will then check out every nook and cranny for hundreds of miles around. With any luck, he'll let me tag along.
After enjoying a morning of cool weather near Sipapu, the Beast insisted on being let out. He was a little dusty, which surprised me, as I had thought the trailer was tight. A few pails of river water and a quick toweling took care of that. The Flipzilla camcorder leaped onto the handlebar, and we went back over the mountain to Mora, and explored Morrie Lake.
The little camcorder did its best to commemorate the event with a movie, but the beast vibrates quite a bit on bumpy roads. It helps if I hold it steady with one hand, but that sort of blows the ride for me. We are going to work on that process, and see if we can upload something to YouTube. So far, however, I haven't found a single wifi access point that will transmit a 5 minute video in less than an hour. And that figure is pure projection. Most of the time I'm just thrown off in mid-try.
I am aware there are helmet cams and such that threaten to do a better job of damping. I may explore those possibilities. Meanwhile, you will probably have to wait for these movies until we get back to Texas.
On Thursday we decided to motor over what is called The High Road To Taos, which is a ride from Taos up NM518, down 75 through Penasco, down 76 past Santa Cruz Lake to 503, and on to Nambe, Espanola, and back up Hwy 68 to Taos. The high part is spectacular desert country, and even US 68 is pretty along the Rio Grande coming back, once you have left Espanola. Espanola is a long strip town with heavy traffic, and reminds me of what Gertrude Stein said of Los Angeles in the 1920s: "There's no there there."
Fortunately Espanola is a lot smaller than LA.
The best part of the enterprise was simply Riding the Beast. That's hard to portray in still pictures, which can only show where we stopped. Here's some highlights:
|A plastered tire fence in Penasco|
|A roadside shrine|
There are many crosses along the road, usually marking where somebody died in a car crash. This one was more substantial, and had no name on it.
|A roadside church|
|Santa Cruz Lake|
|Santa Cruz Lake again, from above|
|El Sanctuario de Chimayo|
This is Penitente country, known for it's deep and somewhat weird Catholicism, particularly the processions of flagellantes during Lent.
On a lighter note:
|A Volkswagen Busette? BugBus?|
I passed this beauty at 70 on Hwy 68. I did a double take, roared up the highway far enough to give me time to get off and get out the camera, and got this picture of it going by at 55. Apparently he cut down the body of a Bus, and bolted it to the frame of a Bug. It was the cutest thing. I followed him for a while, wanting to talk about it, but he turned onto private land. Probably thought I was a stalker. Which I was.
A long but satisfying day on the Beast. After spending an hour at an internet cafe in Taos, I got caught by nightfall on the 30 mile climb back up to the Daze. Gets cold quick up here in the shadows. After a couple of beers and some jazz, I turned in and slept 10 hours.
I think this scheme is going to work out.