Saturday, August 15, 2015

~ Father & Son Ride ~

"To seek adventure by one's self is admirable, exploring it with your son is priceless." - Robert Griego.

Our first day was long (550 miles) but we made it before dark. Robert and Keith Griego, 6/15/2008.

This is going to be our first bike trip together from California to La Joya, New Mexico.  Our son, Keith, just bought a used 2000 Yamaha VStar 1000 Classic.  We bought it from the son of a guy who passed away.  Apparently, the guy loved his bike, took great care of it, and it looks to be in excellent shape, so we grab it.  His energy will ride on with us.

Keith Griego is on a road that leads to nowhere.

Keith is excited about this trip and has made some long-distance bike rides in the past; I think out to Nebraska was his longest.  On the way back, we plan to meet up with Denise, Lori, and Evan in Phoenix, Arizona.  They will be at the Cibola Vista Resort.  Sun, fun, water.

I stop by Keith's condo in Spring Valley and his gear is laid out all across the living room.  One look and I know that about half of his gear will stay behind.  It is amazing how little you really need on a long-distance trip if you stay with the basics.  "We'll leave in the morning going east on Highway 8 to Gila Bend, then north/east towards Globe, Arizona," I explain.   That morning I'm not feeling well, my stomach is upset.  He eats a hearty breakfast at Denny's and I sip some coffee.  His bike looks good, well-packed with his gear, and without any fanfare, we're off.  

The desert heat is draining and tough.  At times, it looks like it might rain but it doesn't.  We stop frequently for water breaks that will continue until it begins to cool down after Globe, AZ.

Keith Griego, near Eagar, Arizona.

Our bikes run smooth and the higher elevations in Arizona provide relief from the desert sun. The bikes get better mpg at the higher elevations.  It will be a long first day but we push on hoping to reach Eagar, Arizona before dark.  Actually, about 5 miles west of Eager, is the South Fork Campground that my brother Leo recommended.  It is critical that we look for deer in these higher elevations, but thank goodness, they are elsewhere.  It has been a long day, over 550 miles when we reach our destination.  We gather firewood and set up camp.  We cook our dinner over the open fire and go to sleep right after our meal.

In the morning, we cook a dozen scrambled eggs, spam, tortillas, and drink orange juice and coffee.  With a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we push easily into New Mexico.  Our first stop is Belen where we visit with my first cousin, Tudie Romero.  I don't why it did not occur to me, but today is Fathers Day and they are celebrating with a barbeque.  "Come and join us, Robert and Keith," my cousin says, and we do not hesitate.  The hamburgers are delicious, and the cold beer is perfect.  Erlinda's sister and brother are there are too as well as other family members.  It is a great first day in New Mexico.  They make us feel right at home.

Thieves Mountain, near La Joya, NM.

Our goal is La Joya and this will be Keith's first visit there after many years.  We set up camp behind my mom and dad's adobe house and wander around La Joya.

The cemetery is first to pay our respects.  Here Keith gets a lesson about our family ancestors.  "Here is the headstone for Pablo Griego, your great is Alejandra Griego, your great, grandmother, and over here is Silvestre Moya, your great grandfather on my mom's side."  He listens intently while I recount our family roots.  We take pictures and return to our camp.  Tomorrow, we'll ride north/east to Abo where my sister Elva and her husband Robert Esquivel live.  

Robert's family has been here for four generations and he is full of history.  His dad was a school teacher, and though I never met him, a good man I hear.  Robert, who retired from the Santa Fe Railroad in Barstow, CA is a Vietnam Veteran.  Their property is located next to the National Park Service, Abo Ruins, Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.  We spend the night and both have warm showers, a real treat for bikers on the trail.  We eat stew, beans, red chili, tortillas, and tasty desserts.  We sleep outside on a mattress and the stars are perhaps the brightest we've seen.  There are several shooting stars that I see and I always seem to fall asleep quickly when looking at the stars.  Before I doze off, I spot the Big Dipper, and with its help, my finger moves preciously to the North star.  

That will be our direction in the morning, taking some back roads to Santa Fe.  North, I repeat, as I drift off to sleep.

Two bikers out in the Badlands of New Mexico - Abo Ruins.

In the morning, more straight-up New Mexico food.  At breakfast, Robert pulls out a map, "Why not take some scenic country roads to Santa Fe instead of the freeway."  That sounds good to us, so we ask him to continue.  "Go east on Highway 60 to Mountainair and then north on Highway 55/337 towards Manzano, Tajique, Chilili, Cedro, and Tijeras."  This is some laid-back New Mexico countryside riding -- good advice Robert.  Cruise'n New Mexico style.

Santa Fe is busy, with too many people.  It is hard to navigate around town and we get lost a few times.  "Since we are here what about going to see the Georgia O'Keefe Museum," Keith asks.  He is an artist and loves to draw and paint.  I like her work, so that becomes our priority.  

Afterward, we both agree to leave Santa Fe and push on to the lonely roads near Bandelier National Monument.  This was not on our mind, but sometimes it is best to adjust.  We loved it.  A great campground with a table, fire ring, water, and restrooms.  We buy two big T-bone steaks at the camp store to barbecue for dinner.  Delicious!

When crossing the desert, it is important to stay hydrated.

Well-rested and eager to continue our ride west on scenic Highway 4 and 126, we push forward.  Keith thinks I'm joking when I say "If we stay on this road, we'll soon wind up in Cuba."  At the intersection, we head south on Highway 550 all the way to Bernalillo.  As we fill up at a small gas station, he smiles and thinks back to our brief stay in "Cuba."  We need to make up some time after our detour to Bandelier so we jump on to Interstate 40 heading west for Grants.   I've taken some back roads going south from Grants on Highway 117 and that's the plan.  I show Keith a nice BLM campsite near El Malpais National Monument where I've camped before.  It sits high on a bluff and is a no-frill campsite but it is free.  

We leisurely ride south towards Pie Town.  You guessed it.  We stop for pie and it's delicious.  A must if you are out this way.  There is also free camping on USFS lands nearby.  The weather is great.  Keith must be my good luck charm as most of my trips are wet ones.  Next Quemado and we stop for a break, and we both are feeling good.  We are just cruising in 5th gear, the wind in our face.

About 40 miles from Show Low, Keith signals me that he has hit his reserve tank.  I see the worrisome expression on his face.  Our options are to return back towards Springerville or go for it.  

I never have liked going backward so I quickly do some math.  I know my bike and I keep track of mpg in my head but I don't know Keith's bike that well.  We pull over to talk "If you ride behind me, and we slow down to 45 miles per hour, I think you'll make it."  He agrees.  By now, I'm going through some contingency plans.  Could I tow him with my parachute cord?  We could camp alongside the road and hitchhike into Show Low.  We could drain some gas from my tank to his.  So on and so on.  All these "what ifs" wear me out.  So I stop.  We'll make it I tell myself. Done.  Over.  We keep steady at 45 mph and there before us is Show Low's first gas station.  

His tank holds 4.490 gallons and the gas meter stops plumb full at 4.469 gallons!  His bike was getting about 50 mpg on those easy-going roads and it paid off.  He was riding fumes.  Honestly, that was a bit too close.  Relieved we continue until we find some USFS land and camp.  There is a red flag warning so we do not have our normal campfire.  My small stove works just fine and we heat up the can of stew we bought at the last little market.

We travel along Highway 260 towards Heber, Payson, Pine, Strawberry, and Camp Verde.  This is one of my favorite rides and we savor the cool air and sweeping vistas.  The desert will soon be in front of us again.  We reach Phoenix easily.  

There to meet us is Denise, Lori, and Evan.  We spend the night with them and enjoy the pool at the Cibola Vista Resort.  They are relaxed and happy and we have a hard time removing the grin from our sunburnt faces.

Keith continues onto San Diego as do Denise, Lori, and Evan.  My direction is north/west on Highway 93 past Wickenburg, Nothing ('that's right Nothing'), Wikieup, and the Interstate 40.  I'll camp at my usual spot, Satellite Camp just south of Ash Fork, Arizona, and continue home to  Three Rivers.

This was one of the best trips that I've ever taken, and Keith made that possible. 

The odometer records 2,310 miles . . . . .

Six miles from La Joya, New Mexico is this iconic sign.

1st cousins, Tudie Romero and Robert Griego in Belen, NM.

Our La Joya house was built by my dad, Sebastian Griego.

Robert Griego - Jewels Camp, La Joya, NM.

Keith Griego is next to the famous Dance Hall in La Joya, NM.

I wrote this poem for my mom, and placed it in the La Joya church, years ago.
It was still there!

Our neighbor, Marcelo Abeyta & Robert Griego, La Joya, NM.

Keith Griego at the site of his great grandfather, Pablo Griego.

 Grandfather, Silvestre Moya, and Robert Griego.

Keith Griego.  Abo Ruins, Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.

Robert Griego, Elva and Robert Esquibel & Kiko.

Robert Griego, Bandelier National Monument.

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