Elevation: 6,579 ft.
Distance: 85.4 mi.
Odometer: 2,948.3 mi.
Headed out of town on another extremely bike-friendly route, again thanks to directions from Andy, though I inadvertently went down a dead-end street and had to backtrack almost a mile. Very flat first half of the day. I took it easy anyway, and still made halfway decent time.
Halfway through the day, the road I was on veered east, away from the interstate, and I was very much in emptiness again. Still not out of the desert yet, though it's getting a bit greener. At the same halfway point, the road turned into a long, slight incline for 20 miles, and the last 20 miles after that were pretty hilly and tough. On the way, I stopped to check out Abo Ruins National Monument. Basically, it's ruins of a farm community/fortress that was built in the early 1800's. Definitely worth the 3/4 of a mile off the road.
Got into town and tried a few churches, but no one was there. Went to the Police Station/City Hall building and wound up talking to the mayor. She offered a room to stay in, and it's a little hard to describe, but it's almost a small apartment for travelers. Shower and laundry! Thanks to mayor Vel Gilley of Mountainair, NM.
Late at night, I heard knocking on the door. Not quite pounding, but hard knocking, and rapid, like they meant business. I froze for a second. It just so happened that all my clothes were in the dryer, so I was sitting on the bed, naked as a jaybird, writing in my journal. All the lights were on, so it would be obvious that someone was here. Maybe don’t answer anyway? Before I decided, a voice loudly announced, “Police! Open up!”
“Uhhhh! Just a second, please!” I ran to the dryer and pulled my shorts out and pulled them on. On my way to the door, I grabbed my pepper spray and put it in my pocket, just in case.
I must’ve looked strange, wet shorts only, no shirt or shoes, when I opened the door to two police officers who were more than curious about what I was doing here. They’d seen the lights on, and the mayor hadn’t told them that she was allowing anyone to stay, so they thought they’d better stop and see what was going on. When I described my bike ride and explained that the mayor gave me permission to stay here, they had one question:
“What’s the mayor’s name?”
When I answered that correctly, their demeanor shifted from stern to friendly. Essentially, they gave me a one-question test to see if I was telling the truth, or if I was a drifter and just squatting. Freebird was visible from the doorway, with half the panniers still attached, so I’m sure that helped make it clear. At that point, they had a few more questions, but only because they wanted to hear more about my ride!
Eventually, they shook my hand and wished me a pleasant night. I slipped my shorts back off, threw them back in the dryer, and fell onto the bed once more. It felt nice to sprawl out on a mattress, something I get to do rarely. I curled up with my journal and smiled. Nahhh, I’m not getting up again. I’ll do the laundry in the morning.
from Pedal for Potatoes