"After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music." – Aldous Huxley
|Robert Griego y Roberto Griego.|
Traveling 2,200 miles to see a concert is a bit on the crazy side but that's what happened last week.
The headlines read, Roberto Griego performs at Isleta Resort & Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His music is straight-up New Mexico and I'll soon be there to hear him for myself.
It will take me two days of riding but the trail is already etched in my mind. My bike knows the trail ahead and eagerly responds as I leave Three Rivers at 7:10 am. Our nearby lake is collecting more water from the recent rains and there, coming down the road around the lake towards me, is another biker. Not just another biker, but Dennis Reneau.
My left arm lowers and he responds in kind – a biker's greeting. In just a few seconds, he knows it is me by the expression on his face. It warms my heart. I always try to connect to something at the start of the trip and hold on to that connection as the miles wear on me. Seeing Dennis today was that connection for me. He was on his way to work at Sequoia National Park but soon those days will be behind him.
My brother Leo is working when I stop at 11:30 am by the Barstow Detective Office for a quick visit. He introduces me to his fellow workers and they hear about my plans. One detective comes out to look over my bike and I sense that he is trying to imagine the trip that lies ahead for me. I explain that by 7 pm I hope to be camping, just south of Ash Fork, Arizona. My brother, Gilbert, and I call this camp, Upper Satellite. It is 550 miles from Three Rivers. The country-western songs from the small transistor radio keep me company. The stars are bright and my dinner cooks over a small fire. In the fire's reflection, my bike rests and so do I.
In the morning, my plans to head south into New Mexico change. My sister Elva and Robert, who live near the Abo Ruins, will not be able to join me at the concert. It makes more sense now to head directly east to Albuquerque and camp. I stopped by Belen to visit with my first cousin Tudie Romero and his wife Erlinda. We laugh and share stories and he makes me feel like I'm really in New Mexico. Erlinda serves us food and her red chile is hot but so good. She gives me a gift for Denise which I pack carefully in my saddlebag.
Isleta Resort & Casino is 11 miles from camp Motel 6 and there must be 2,500 people there at the showroom. There are other performers there too – Al Hurricane, Al Hurricane Jr., Tanya Griego, and of course Roberto Griego. The music begins and many are already moving forward to dance. Roberto Griego is fantastic; his music moves everyone and couples dance quickly to the sounds of his Spanish music. He has a powerful voice and most of his songs are in Spanish.
Honestly, there is one song that I hope to hear.
It is his new release, Arriba Nuevo Mexico. It is special to me because he sings about my home village, La Joya, and our families -- "Los Griegos, Romeros, y los Moyas." He sings many songs and at the end, he sings his final song, Arriba Nuevo Mexico. I am content; this ride was well worth it, his music sought to that. I tell him later, "I traveled from Three Rivers, California to hear you tonight, hoping to hear Arriba Nuevo Mexico."
There is a line forming with his fans hoping to get his autograph, so I talk quickly. It is now my turn. He signs his name to his CD, Arriba Nuevo Mexico for me.
"Who should I make this out to?" he asks matter of factly. I show him my ticket that I purchased on the internet with my name printed on it. "Please make it out to this name," I point with my finger. "Well, that is me," he says, "but what is your name." He asks again and has that confused look in his eyes.
"My name is Robert Griego and I was born in La Joya, New Mexico," and in the blink of an eye, a connection is made. He lifts his head, looks directly into my eyes, and says: "That is something, you are from La Joya and we have the same name!" I explain that I am the son of Sebastian Griego and Nancy [Moya] Griego. Roberto Griego was born just 6 miles from La Joya in a small village called San Francisco, a stone's throw from Bernardo. My dad may have been born in the same village but he called it Rio Puerco. Today, there are just a few dilapidated houses to remember their colorful past.
The picture taken of us is special.
ON TO LA JOYA
Coming down the hill into La Joya has always been magical for me. I make a hard left turn at the bottom of the hill and go to the cemetery to pay my respects. I see all our families – the Griegos, Romeros, y los Moyas.
The petrified tree for Pablo is there too just as Ruben, Gilbert, and I left it. There is a headstone that lies between Silvestre Moya, my grandfather, and Alejandra Griego [Romero], my grandmother that has always been a mystery to me. I look closely at the cement cross but it does not bear any clues. Then, at the base of the cross, I find a small tin plate with the faint name, Amborio Peralta etched on the plate. It turns out that he was married to Eleonore Moya, sister to Silvestre Moya. They did not have any children. Another sister, Silveria Moya married Candelario Trujillo. They had two children David and Ignacio Trujillo. Ignacio married Eutimia Peralta and they had three children (Lalo, Lydia, and Eloydia).
Genealogy is a slow process but another part of the family puzzle is solved. It now makes sense that the previously unidentified cross belonged to the family.
My respects are paid.
I spend little time at our mom and dad's house and then go to see a neighbor, Stanley Esquibel. He proudly shows me his garden and newly leveled field that will produce hay this summer. He brings out some red chile, rice, and saltine crackers and we eat, both sweating freely from the chile's heat.
My ride home west is easy going and I'm on the scenic route – Socorro, Magdalena, Pie Town, Datil, Quemado, and Apache Creek. Apache Creek is surrounded by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. I set up camp near a stream. There are blue herons and ducks nearby and hundreds of elk in the meadows. There is plenty of firewood and I have a very cozy camp.
I decide to ride into Reserve for breakfast but the only cafe there is closed on Monday and today, yep, is Monday. There is a historical statue of Elfego Baca in the village that catches my attention.
He was in a gunfight with 30 cowboys or so, surviving over 4,000 shots into his house. The battle lasted over 30 hours and the incident became known as the Frisco Shootout. There is much more about this historical incident but I am hungry, so I push on towards Luna and Alpine, tasting breakfast.
From Reserve, I ride past Luna, New Mexico, and the Blue Crossing where our dad was stationed during the CCC's in about 1935. The story is documented in the video and post, In Search of POP25.
The archeologist who found this site is Pete Taylor. Without him, we may not have known the full story about our dad, Sebastian C. Griego. He works at the Springerville (Arizona) Ranger Station, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests and I call him to see if he is in his office. The good news, he is there.
As I walk into his office, there on the bulletin board is the picture of our dad next to the petroglyphs, the picture of Gilbert and me at the same spot, and my letter thanking everyone who helped with "In Search of POP 25."
We talk and it is another great connection with our family's history.
|The end was worth the miles.|
The rest of the trip can only be described as pure misery for a biker. The winds from Arizona to California are fierce. My bike strains as it fights the wind blowing from the west, and occasionally from the north.
From Laughlin to Barstow, the wind is not only stronger but ice cold. I hoped to camp at Walker Pass near Lake Isabella but the rain appears to be turning into snow right before my eyes. Walker Pass sits at 5,300 feet and again, I head for lower ground. Camp Motel 6 in Mojave is just ahead. It is windy the next day over Tehachapi but not nearly as severe.
I arrive home 7 days later and 2,240 miles.
It was Roberto Griego who made this trip possible and he did not disappoint me – Arriba Nuevo Mexico!