Bavarian Mountain Weekend Rally – 2013 – Sipapu, NM
Even tho I said I wasn’t going, I looked at the points that I had not yet visited on my K&N Yamaha Discover Oklahoma passport. By splitting them up going to Sipapu and coming back a different way, I could finish getting all the locations without having to make another trip out west to Woodward and doing additional roaming around. So I packed, aired the tires and moved the car out of the garage to get the RT ready the to leave in the morning.
Leaving home at 7:00 am it was already light and I didn’t need to swap out my face shield. Can also see the deer lurking in the weeds next to the road ready to ruin my day. (Unfortunately, I’m not fast enough to react.)
I quick stint it to the toll road for OKC and set the cruise for the limit, minus congestion and construction zones, of which there was more of the latter. Oklahoma city was into the latter throes of their commute window, so getting through the city wasn’t an effort. The tolled expressway helps out a bit also. Get a pike pass – it makes things go so much easier. Used to pull over BEFORE the toll gate to get my change ready so I didn’t spend over 30 seconds at the gate. Now just fly (well, 30 mph) through.
On I-40, there were a number of trucks and cars assembled ahead, and wishing to stay away, I just bided my time and watched from a distance. They will get themselves straightened up and I can get going again, right? NO! After 10 minutes or so, I allow the bike to do it’s best and cut and pass, and I was now in front of the gaggle not to see the mass again.
Upon approaching Clinton, I start seeing the signs for the Route 66 museum, one of the points I must collect to complete the K&N Yamaha “Passport Oklahoma” event this year. My GPS, however, says I must go another 30 miles to El Reno. I’m confused. I do the exit and was promptly placed upon the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton. I pull out the Passport guide and find, indeed, the one I want is in El Reno. Glad I didn’t go in, as I’m sure that would have cost at least $5. Like Ben Franklin said, “Mind your pennies and the dollars take care of themselves”.
Hmm. What is the last thing you’ve stuck a penny into? Parking meters and gum ball machines take no less than a quarter. I’ve sidetracked my communication, let be get back on track.
Back on the interstate and jumping off on El Reno, it is much further through town to find the “National Route 66 Museum.” On the northwest side of town. BIG sign, it would be hard to miss on an airplane. Where I am now positions me for the next spot: the Sand Creek Historical Sign along the highway some 15 miles or so distant.
My GPS directs me to a point where there is nothing. I go the compass points for about 1/2 mile in most directions and still see nothing. Going back south to the last intersection, I open K&N’s instructions and it is worded thusly; two miles up, 11 miles from the next town. Check the odo and head north again, immediately passing a sign that says the next town is 15 miles up. Two plus eleven DO NOT make fifteen. So, I start looking at 11 miles and keep going. At three more miles, I see “Historical Marker – 1 mile.” Maybe? Yep! Got It! Now drop back south to catch the interstate again, which takes longer, since it too, has been veering south, away from my reach. Fuel up in town and jump back on the Interstate going west.
Upon hitting Texas, I note something nice; the Texas highway department has upped the speed limit to 75. The last time I was through here it was 70. The only item that seemed to slow progress was Amarillo, and the ever-present wind out of the south. It gets a bit stronger where ever they have plopped down a number of wind generators on the north side of I-40. The RT seems to handle it with aplomb.
I find out something nice about my ’08 RT – the odometer is spot on. On the east end of the panhandle, the first mile marker I passed, my odo read 4 tenths. At the last MM, it read 6 tenths (plus the same difference of the two markers, around 180 miles apart), and I’m into New Mexico.
Stopping to get gas, food and water for my evaporative jacket, my 25 minutes off the interstate was enjoyable as my shirt was cold from evaporating in the air conditioning. Still, the wind is out of the south, and turning north on US-82 toward Las Vegas, NM off the interstate was durn near pleasant, with that wind now on my back. Still, I had over an hour to get there, which would put my arrival time after 5:00, and I want to get my shower.
The showers at this rally are located in dorm rooms on the third floor of the ski lodge. Bunk beds in the dorms are available to rallygoers at no charge first come, first served. Those staying in the dorms share the showers with tent campers until 5:00 pm.
North of Las Vegas, I was heading uphill doing about 10 over when I see the state patrol pop over the lip of the hill coming toward me. They must now ignore anything up to 15 above, because I didn’t even get a peep from him. I think it was the same fellow who caught me last year at nearly the same place for doing about the same thing.
There’s a town on the east side of the pass, what is it? Mora, that takes forever to get through at the posted limits of 40 and 25. Shrink the town or raise the limit, please. Finally, up the pass, and I’m enjoying the sweeping curves as I climb to the pass around 9400 feet. It sure felt good after 10+ hours in 90 degree, no shade with wind and heat. Couple of other bikes roared past me (old man) and I watched them disappear up ahead.
Finally, I pulled into the front parking lot at the lodge, and got my gear together for my shower. Who should I meet right there, Dr. John Wood from Weatherford who I met in the past when traveling with the airheads and he sponsored a couple of tech days. Up the stairs, I find a room with no one in it, and only one bed has stuff on it, thus I didn’t feel as I was impinging on anyone. Back to the bike to stow my gear, and run into Rex. We decide to take up two bunks in the room where I showered.
Now, everything I’ve told you, I was by myself, so there is no one to argue my story. The rest of this monologue, I was with Rex, so the rest of this story may have an alternate path. But you’re going to get mine, anyway. First thing is those folks from Oklahoma I didn’t see: Kendall, Bob, Steve, John, mebbe others. Next year?
We acquaint ourselves with the location, as I believe this is Rex’s first year here. Go to the bar out back and have a lager, dark beer, maybe something in between. It quenched the thirst and precluded the necessity to down it with a pop chaser. Those who know me realize I mostly drink out of cans available at the grocery store – Oklahoma grocery stores. Then they bring out the stew for the Friday night snack. We gather around like everyone else and meet with Paul and Jackie Mulhern. Didn’t I just see you two at National?
The sun drops behind the mountain tops and the temps drop. Up 2 flights of stairs to get a jacket for the weather. As many times as I do that this weekend, I figured I would have lost some weight. Not so. The Mountain Jug Bluegrass team are providing their music to the crowd, their playing as good and delightful as normal. I purchase the last of the CDs they have available to round out my collection. Didn’t want to buy all three at once, they’d let it go to their heads. Also, the way I pack, there was no guarantee that any one would arrive back in Tulsa in good shape. Last year’s purchase, I did crack the CD shell. Ask me about how I did that.
The next day we jump on the bikes and head to Taos to look for a favorite place to eat, but it is too soon, and we take a backroads down to Santa Fe to attend an annual festival at the town’s plaza. Half way there, we turn into a winery selling samples of their wares, and afterward, stand in amazement of the dozen or so hummingbirds in their trees in the front of their property. Of course, they have about 8 feeders for their enjoyment. At Sante Fe, there is entertainment, trinkets, and food. All of it seems to be priced at either expensive and more expensive. Rex and I chose a tent that was selling a Navajo burrito that needed a sharp knife to cut into small bites to consume, but we made do with those cheesy plastic knives and forks. Since every bench, chair and wall was filled with people, we just sat on the grass and followed our plates around the park as we attempted to cut apart the food to edible parcels. That “Keep off the Grass” sign would have made a nice back support if I was near it. Being about a mile high in elevation, a shady spot is most important.
Each event, I seem to develop a forgetfulness that concerns one object. This year, my wallet. I normally carry my wallet in my ‘stitch front pocket, and when I get off the bike, transfer it to my pants. When riding, the reverse is true. I think Rex had to wonder what I was doing when all of a sudden, I’d tear away to run to the bike to locate the wallet that I left on top of the seat with dozens of people wandering down the sidewalk, next to my parking location. Poor Rex watched me do this more than once. This old man is getting senile!
We leave after consuming our goodies, and check out the mall on one side of the square before loading up and getting out of the congestion. I set the GPS for home, and attempt to follow its confusing and circuitous directions to get out of town. Heading back to the 4 lane that will lead us back north, I pass by a sign that says something like, “Old Taos Highway” with an arrow pointing to the right. Just whizzed right by that. If I didn’t mention it to Rex later, he wouldn’t have even known of its existence.
I do turn off on a minor road and have to stop and see some of the wonderful local landscape done on the earth’s surface by lack of rain, soft rock and lots of wind. Unfortunately for Rex,
I pulled the same thing on him as I did on Bob the year earlier. My fuel gauge is showing empty and there is not a gas station in sight. When Jerry put in my new sender, he calibrated it as the bikes come from the factory. When the gauge reads empty, I still have a gallon left. After making a wrong turn in Vadito, they have about 3 stations and I put in 6.19 gallons. Hey! I had 0.91 gallons left! Fat and happy, we scoot down back to the rally site.
Taking my own shower in ‘my’ room, I find out that if you don’t hide the towels from those who camp and use ‘your’ shower, they end up using ‘my’ towels. HEY! You’re supposed to bring your own and use ’em! We had a new person spend the night with us arriving late after the 3 of us were in bed. We left him still asleep the next morning, his feet dangling over the edge of the bunk bed, I’m sure the board his leg was resting on was not doing good things cutting off the circulation to his foot. Rex and I pack to leave and we got out by 6:30 or so? Which would be 7:30 Tulsa time. Now where is my wallet?
We take some of the secondary two lanes roads about as directly East as we can, and stop for breakfast in Roy, where I have hash browns that look like they have been boiled in oil. “New napkins for a grease squeeze, please!” During this time going East…… no, that doesn’t belong here. Getting up to 412 west of Clayton, we have two 250 or 350 series Ford FULL sized pickups pass us at different times doing at least 90. Hell, with front doors like that, we roll it up to about 85. That’s enough. Filling up at Clayton, I take off some of the cool weather gear for going across the panhandle of Texas in the nineties. Rex heads to Boise City and home, I head south to Dalhart to go into Oklahoma to go by Shattuck to pick up the Windmill museum and pick up the remainder of the western items for my K&N Yamaha Oklahoma Passport.
Hanging around the windmills, attempt to enjoy what wind is available that is turning the windmills around, I try the shades of the trees to cool down, if I can. Finally jump on the bike and head northeast to Woodward to spend the night in air conditioned comfort. Half way there I see a construction crew of linemen string high voltage line among a new series of electrical towers. Must be that new line to bring all the electricity generated by the windmills to Google and Wal-Mart who I think are buying it.
After a shower and a change of clothes, I walk across the street to the Mazzios or Pizza Hut, then next door to the convenience store to pick up dessert before heading back to my little air conditioned room. Once the sun starts hitting the horizon, it ain’t too bad out there.
The next morning, I wake up to rush hour, or the increase of traffic that happens in the morning when the sun comes up in Woodward. I tank up again, and head directly north out of Woodward. It is actually quite interesting as the whoop-de-doos in the road follow along the lush (for western Oklahoma, it was lush) trees and grass heading for Kansas. I’m looking for Lookout. A ghost town. Following my hint on the GPS, I come to a ‘T’ intersection on two dirt roads. Looks like a cattle loading area and a tree growing with stuff around it up the hill on the other side of the road. Hike up there, nothing that says “Lookout”. I go up further on the leg of the “T” to see anything else up there and I find concrete bases for something that used to be there, but I’m thinking that is later than Lookout, so I dismiss it. I’m giving up, the instructions in the book do not give any additional information, I’ll have to research this further and come back. Backtracking from whence I came, I see a little green sign that points to the west along a dirt two lane track and says “Cemetery”. My wife is into her family’s genealogy, so I stop and turn around and follow the track about a mile. Plain as day, the “Lookout” cemetery. I grab the picture with coordinates and head to the next spot, Great Salt Plains State Park.
In 1990, my wife and I went to New Zealand and Australia. Without referencing a map, most people think New Zealand is right off Australia’s border. We flew by jet from Christchurch to Melbourne, and it was a 3 hour flight. They ain’t anywhere near close. That is what I was thinking when I left Lookout to get to the State Park. It wasn’t 3 hours, but they weren’t close either.
After snapping that shot, just one more left, Astrobleme museum south of 412 in Ames, OK. This location is where a pre-history, 450 million years ago, a 1,000 foot asteroid hit Oklahoma and created a dent in the earth that was not recognized until oil companies were doing seismographic testing in the area for oil. After looking at the charts, one of the astute company’s geologists recognized the shape of the land as a classic astrobleme – the geological name for an asteroid hit.
I was expecting someone had set up a display in their back yard, and that is what I was looking for. After passing it the third time, I walked across the street to the town’s post office and asked the person there where it was. I’m glad she didn’t laugh as she said, “across the street”. Huh? What I thought was a rest area in a park was the structure they set up for the museum. Two walls of concrete, open on each end with a green steel roof on top. The exhibit is inside. They say this is the world’s most examined impact site, the meteor and its pieces being buried some 9,000 feet by the years of sediment that have filled in the crater over the years.
Going back east, I then drop south and jump on OK-51 to head through Stillwater (my last gas stop) and get home to Sand Springs. With my wallet.
Co-rider Rex Brown has some pictures for those interested. Check out his Flickr page for some pics taken at the rally and other trips he and Jackie have been on this year.
To learn more about the Land of Enchantment BMW Rider’s annual rally in New Mexico visit www.loebmwr.org.