Ted's Big Ride---Day Ten

Sandia Park, NM to Phoenix, AZ
May 9, 2006

Well, today was a test in perseverance. The first thing I realized was that I had left my camera battery charger and spare battery in Clayton, NM. Therefore, a disaster would befall me if/when my current camera battery goes flat. I called the Clayton Best Western (BW), and they had not seen the charger but would keep looking. I then called Claudia to try to find someone who could/would Next-Day ship a new one to me in Tucson. While that was in the works, the BW called back and said that they HAD located my charger. I arranged for them to FedEx it to me in Tucson. . . . One disaster averted, or at least minimized for now.

The rest of the day would also throw some more interesting challenges my way, but I will not spoil the intrigue here. . . . Read On.
Plan distance: 476 miles
Plan time at posted speed limit: 9 hours 55 minutes

Actual distance:  Today=494 miles    Total=3,182 miles

Average Miles/Gallon: 38.0*
Average Price/Gallon: $3.122

* See details below.
10:53:00 AM Packed up and posed in front of David and Linda Jones' lovely home. They are working folks and left before I got up. Many thanks for putting me up for the night. I discovered that if you pet a cat in the dark (in Albuquerque) a shower of static sparks is displayed. Interestingly, to my delight, the cats simply enjoy the petting.
1:44:31 PM Old Baldy is easily seen.

2:33:25 PM The Very Large Array (VLA) is an astronomical observatory. With this instrument, astronomers can study cosmic objects ranging from the Sun and planets of our solar system to distant galaxies and quasars at the edge of the observable universe. However, instead of analyzing the light from the stars and galaxies, astronomers here study the radio waves emitted by celestial bodies.
2:36:09 PM The VLA consists of 27 dish-shaped antennas that are connected together to form a single large radio telescope. The sheer size of the array does not lend itself to simple snapshots.

For more info check: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
3:36:48 PM Finally I get to the "REAL" continental divide. Note that this one is 4501 feet higher in elevation.
4:54:32 PM Now for the next adventure of the day. I have been refilling the tank about every 125 miles. This is about the time that I need to switch over to my reserve gallon. This strategy has worked well in the past but NOT TODAY, the availability of gas stations has seriously deteriorated. At this point, looking back for three miles is the distance I pushed the 600+ pound bike. I was three miles from the border when the engine quit (see next photo). The slope was moderate uphill but started to fall away in the distance, and I was hopeful that there might be some border town "JUST OVER THE CREST." Wishful thinking. . OBTW --- no cell coverage here ;-(
5:12:02 PM I only stopped here because there was a slight downgrade and I could start coasting again, albeit slowly. Dual gestures.
5:18:41 PM Well, I'm down the grade and there is VERY BAD NEWS ... 12 miles to Springerville! No flipping way. I check for my Verizon bar count --- Oh wow, there is one (1). I call my roadside assistance, press 1, then 1, then 'all our customer service representatives are busy, please stay on the line', hold, listen to musak, finally my call is answered. I'm at . . . .
           Line goes dead and no Verizon bars, BUMMER.
I must get closer to town. I throw out my thumb at the first car that comes by and bingo, a nice fellow stopped and agreed to take me to Springerville. He was returning from Albuquerque had seen me earlier in the day. We chat in the car and all of a sudden I have 5 BIG WONDERFUL signal strength bars. I yell STOP, let me out. Although we are in the middle of nowhere he graciously grants my request, although he is somewhat skeptical of why I don't want to get to town for help. Fact of the matter is that I need to be with the bike when roadside assistance sends help and if that help comes from the other direction, I'm hosed. The connection holds and help is promised in 30 minutes. Only now I need to get back some 4-5 miles in the next 30 minutes. I cross to the other side of the road and throw out my thumb. The only trouble is that this is a not-so-busy thoroughfare. I'm walking back at a good pace, and the first 10-12 vehicles just pass me by like I was road kill.
5:55:19 PM Then to my rescue comes a group of bikers. The guy in the trike said climb on board and off we went. In the end, I get back to the bike with 10 minutes to spare. During which time I have a chance to polish some chrome. Larry from the service station gives me two gallons of gas, and I'm back in business.
7:57:42 PM Coming through Salt River Canyon ... simply awesome. Again, the enormity of the landscape cannot be comprehended in a small format photo, sorry.
8:08:28 PM You can see the road on the other side of the canyon where I took the above picture.
Well, the bottom line is that I have adjusted my refueling philosophy: top off after 75 miles and DO NOT let this ever happen again. All in all I came out smelling like a rose. Total lost time: approximately 1-1/2 hrs. Coming into Arizona gained one hour back as they do not observe DST. So I was able to meet my old Air Force buddy for dinner at about the time we had previously set. We had a very fine meal at the "Top of the Market" fish restaurant. We both agreed that we still looked the same; and we are meeting for B'fast tomorrow before I take off for Tucson.