Originally Published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine on: 6/19/2014
Nothin’ New in New Mexico (It’s Still Beautiful)
Finally! Today is the day I leave Oklahoma. I am not so much excited to be leaving Oklahoma, as I am to know that I will soon be home in Colorado, my halfway point on the TAT. I have been on the road for about a month since first leaving Connecticut. I am really looking forward to part two of the adventure towards the coast, but I am also looking forward to seeing my wife and daughters for a week before continuing.
This morning I experience the very opposite of what I mentioned in my Chewbacca Bridge post. From Arkansas to Oklahoma there was virtually no change in terrain. However, from Oklahoma to New Mexico—right on the state line—the change is clear as day even without the welcome sign. Immediately the color of the dirt changes from gray to red. The deep high contrast colors of the rock against the red leaves no doubt that I have crossed into New Mexico!
This section of the trail traverses a portion of the Santa Fe Trail; this nice fact, however, is quickly overshadowed by barbed wire fences; one after another. Apparently, this section of the trail has been taken over by privateers. Several false starts eventually compel me to try a road that, while named differently from my maps, seems to be where the trail should be. Signs for private property can be confusing. It is not often clear if the private property is on either side of the road or the road itself. After about an hour, I see no choice but to try a “private road.” I tread slowly and intentionally, ready to stop and speak to someone, to better understand the signage, but I never see a single soul.
New Mexico is one of the shortest portions of the Trans-America Trail. You cut across only the north eastern corner before entering Colorado. I pass through a few farms which seem operable but today are abandoned. Sadly, some cows lie deceased amongst the others grazing. It is an eerie site in such a remote area. After only a short time I arrive at what seems to be a public road. Not long after I pass my second “official” sign of the trail I see a hand made sign attached to the state sign for Long Canyon Rd. It simply says, “Biker Route.” That’s good enough for me!
The first town I reach in Colorado is Branson. It appears to be an active community, but in the middle of the day there is literally nobody home. I am a tourist in an empty town and after a quick detour to visit the local jailI continue north towards La Veta. When the hail starts, my vision is even more impaired, but that is a story for next week!