Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Mesa is Verde, The Ride is Fine

With no connectivity, you will be getting this a day of two after I am writing it. I found the nice people at the Cortez Public Library offered me connectivity and a table to work at. I was in town for a real meal and in search of WiFi.

My trip on Wednesday was a little longer than the map would indicate. Again, the water theme influenced my travel experience. After a last soak in the "Party Pool" at Valley View, I reluctantly struck the tent and packed for departure. It did enter my mind to just stay at Valley View, but the goal was Mesa Verde, and I had to get going.

The ride coincided with "Ride To Work Day" and I am guessing I might have had the best ride to work day of anyone on earth. This photo shows the road out of Valley View. Well, someone has to enjoy the day! Yes, it does say cattle guard, it is a 2000 acre ranch as well as hot springs.

Water continued in the form of two more moderate rain soakings, one in a pass at about 11,000 feet. There was still snow on the side of the road at Wolf Creek pass. I did stop once for a few minutes to wait for the rain to pass, but mostly it was an easy and chilly ride. The rear tire was beginning to show some loss of traction on tar covered road surfaces that are found in a few places. Road construction and an accident of some kind involving fire engines and ambulances delayed me for about 30 minutes in sunny weather, and people going 40 mph in 55 and 65 mph zones with no passing zones frustrated forward progress in what turned out to be the flatest, straightest roads of the day. What were they doing?

Those of you who know me realize that I ride to eat. Finding cool little places are some of the highlights of any trip. I found a winner in Saguache, a tiny town with a few touristy antique stores and an old downtown of two blocks. The highway, Rt 285, runs a block away from downtown, so I took the 30 seconds to tour the whole town.

Back on Rt 285 I saw the word: Tamales. The name of the place was "Dessert First" which sounded like my kind of place. Lucky for me it was after 1pm and the place was not busy. Not lucky for me, it was roundup time, and the workers had eaten all the tamales for that day. So I had brisket bar-b-que and a piece of peanut butter pie for dessert. I ate dessert last just to be different. Sorry, no pictures of the food this time, but let me say that it was good, and just a little too much. I got it all down. I met a woman from Maryland using the wi-fi, and mumbling under her breath at the laptop. Reminded me of home. She is the wife of an artist doing shows in the area (as in three-state area) and is staying with friends that live in this town. She told me how to pronounce the name of the town (think of a person with a NY accent say "So whatch ya want?" and drop the "ya want." It seems that there are a group of artists in this town as well as the downtown antiques area. It deserved some photos, but the camera remained in the tank bag.

Back on the road I filled up with $4.45 regular. I am getting great gas mileage here, about 50 mpg which leads me to beleive that someone in the past tuned this bike for high altitude. It is running strong and feeling good. However, that 1500 miles of mid-west interstate have taken their toll on the rear tire. So in the town of Del Norte I took a break to call in an order for a new rear tire to be sent to Dodge City where I will be next. I took some time to visit the local museum and tourist info center where I finally got a map of Colorado and some great advice from the staff there. He told me about some not well known sites that would not be as busy as Mesa Verde, but I will have to save them for another trip.

Last night at 9pm I went to the ranger talk at Mesa Verde. The subject was agriculture but it was packed with little gems that will serve as a good intro to my time here. Interesting facts I learned include that the Ancestral Pueblos only domesticated 'food' animal was the turkey and they also had dogs as pets. The turkey was a fiber producer: They wove cordage from the feathers and used that for clothes and mats. They used the bones to make tools. According to the ranger, a study of the turkey bones in the ruins indicates that they had arthritis, meaning they were old turkeys, so likely not raised only for meat. Turkeys eat bugs, so they may have used them for insect control in their fields as well.

Dogs were used as aids in hunting rabbits and other game, but as the ranger noted, dogs have been man's best friend ever since man cooked a piece of meat on a fire and the dog looked up as if to say "some for me?"

After I finish this post I'll be gearing up and riding the bike to Far View visitor center and getting tickets to take a couple of ranger guided 1 hour tours. I then plan to take a couple of hiking trails which appear on paper to be good chances to take some pictures not filled with tourists as it will be the hot part of the day by that time. I plan to go to town for my t shirt at the Colorado Welcome station and to eat dinner, so likely more food talk in tomorrow's post

At the moment I am sitting at the Knifes Edge restaurant at the campground where they offer all you can eat pancake breakfast. I elected to get the child's plate, and could not finish that!
Lessoned learned was covered in the ranger talk paragraph, but in addition I learned that someone is actually reading this stuff, so I better keep writing. Thanks to the readers and the commenters. I should have a bunch of photos from today that I will put up in google space and give you the url to find them tomorrow.

Ride on ....

Oxymoronic Sign Dept (for my daughters)

1 comment:

erica said...

Man, if only they could have put those two signs on the same post, THAT really would have been something...