I don’t usually take people I just meet up on generous offers for fear of an, “I didn’t really mean it” suggestion or imposing. Although, when I make similar gestures I feel flattered when they’re accepted. I take it as a “company compliment” – that they enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. Long story short – woh, a huge preying mantis stick bug just crawled onto my water bottle; crazy!

Sorry for the interlude; creepy camping surprises. Anyway, I called up Mark and Marian Fogarty, who I met in the northern New Mexico Sugarite Canyon Campground, and took them up on the offer of a Santa Fe mountain bike spin. I thought that as long as I’m skipping the flat western Oklahoma Trans-Am section, I should make my way to Santa Fe and head east through Amarillo, Oklahoma City and up to Tulsa, where I can rejoin the twistier parts of the trail.

After meandering through the Lotaburger and Whataburger chains, dollar stores and pawn shops, I arrived at the one and only hostel in Santa Fe to avoid camping in the rain. I asked the man at the front desk for some around town information, and in the midst of his suggestions he said, “Because you know this isn’t the U.S. It isn’t Mexico either, but it’s somewhere in between. You can see the third-world here.”

Outside the hostel, there was another dual-sport motorcycle in the parking lot that happened to belong to Annette Birkmann, a well-traveled adventure rider who’s been on the road through the U.S. and South America for the past five-years. She has also been a BMW travel spokesperson and said that in all her time touring, I was only the fifth solo female rider she’s come across; surprising tidbit. Great conversation, great inspiration; Annette is definitely someone with a million stirring stories. I hope to run into her … uh, figuratively, in some other corner of the globe down the road.

Santa Fe takes the initiative to preserve its adobe architectural history throughout the downtown district. Everything, including fast food chains, are constructed in the brown, beige or peach adobe, from cafes, Native American art shops, galleries and specifically the Georgia O’Keeffe museum; a stunning “go see” recommendation. But it’s not only the vibrant talent emanating from O’Keeffe’s abstracts, but the progressive woman she was.

“It’s what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest,” she said in 1976, at the age of 89.

I met Mark and Marian at their house in the afternoon and took a lovely single-track peddle with Mark over a red dirt path that overlooked the city; no high-rises, just adobe-styled brown establishments to preserve the horizon line. After the ride and a quick shower we were off for a micro-brew and to hear the tunes of Girlyman; a foursome who can harmonize like they’re wired together. They also provide some amusing and telling tune-interludes.

“This is one I wrote for a girl who I was trying to get to ‘switch teams’, said one of the lesbian singers.

The MM-team gave me a soft bed for the night, made me eggs in the morning, and gave me excellent “where to” advice. To that tune I rolled toward Amarillo with a smile … until the wind came.

As I twirled sideways down the New Mexico highway, white-knuckling my grips, I tilted my head upright enough to read the sign, “Wind Gusts May Exist”. Ha! Seven-hours later as I leaned into Texas, more than my knuckles were raw. Western Texas is so flat that I felt like I was riding on a mesa top; nothing on the horizon was taller than a windmill or water tower. I tucked in for aerodynamics like I was on the front straight of Willow Springs Raceway and pinned it – to the dismay of my sweet knobby-fitted oil-eater.

I arrived at Palo Duro Canyon State Park just south of Amarillo, Texas with my $3-dollar bottle of wine and veggie mashed potato dinner. I ate under the stars; the kind that fill the sky like a blanket, so many to see that it’s dizzying … or maybe that part was the wine.

In the morning I ran the Givens, Spicer, Lowry (GSL) Running Trail and because it was so beautiful I just kept going; 11-miles worth. More than my current state of conditioning, but the views from the rocky ledge of the Lighthouse were well worth going the distance.

I left Palo Duro on a high note, thinking I should have stayed longer, but I also wanted to stew in a city for a bit before getting back to the Trans-Am. I high tailed it to an Oklahoma City RV Park that was recommended at the visitor’s information center on the I-40.

Fellow Motorcyclist Announcement: Try your darndest to avoid the flat, windy, monotonous I-40 through New Mexico, Texas or Oklahoma if you can avoid it; an ass numbing argh!

Just before I hit Oklahoma City my gas mileage dropped from a crappy 42 to 30 miles per gallon from a one-time high of 52. I attribute this to both the headwind and the fact that my KLR is eating just over a quart of oil per 1000-miles – $2.99 10W-40 time!

When I arrived at the interstate-side RV Park, just 8-miles west of downtown Oklahoma City, I was greeted by a tenting neighbor. He stumbled over to me and asked if I would go to the liquor store for him. He slid his glasses down his nose and with a blurry-eyed unfocused stare said, “Yer cute as a button. My name is Animal.”

After I carefully locked all of my belongings away, I went to the RV attendant-suggested Tap Room for a sweet stout. I got a Great Divide Imperial Porter instead that was the strong, rich sipping satisfaction I wanted. Best of all, I met another solo sipper who knew the area and let me accompany him to a live music cigar bar. I got a little vanilla puffer to flavor the deep, rocking sound of the live blues grooves. There’s nothing like a nice beer, good conversation and earnest tunes to easy the soul after an iron-butt ride.

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