Day 24: Chamas to Dulce NM, 26 miles with a few hundred feet of climbing
I had three choices today: US 84 to Pagosa Springs - only about 50 miles, US 64 to Dulce - only 26 miles and little climbing, and US 64 to Bloomfield - about 100 miles with not a lot of climbing. Since the forecast was for thunder storms in the four corners area (Bloomfield) and there was a head wind as well as my general debility to deal with, I decided to do the shortest choice. I also need to do some maintenance on my bike (replace the front tire with the spare, fix the front fender flap, repair the rear fender, adjust and possibly replace the rear derailleur cable, and clean and lube the chain which has seen a lot of rain in the 600 miles since I cleaned and lubed it in OKC), so a short day was in order. I really would have been happy if there was something between Dulce and Bloomfield, but there is nothing except a convenience store about fifty miles into the 71 miles. These are wide open spaces. Dulce, and the route from here to Bloomfield is on the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation.
I had breakfast in my room at Chamas and hung around till 9:30 doing things and feeling tired. Then I rode out, stopping by the Chamas Supermarket to get some snacks and a can of WD-40. Boy are their prices high! It was good that I got the WD-40 there since Dulce's only hardware store is doing inventory today and not open for business. Prices here are also very high.
Riding out of Chamas heading west on US 64/84 was a real treat. Beautiful scenery, a good shoulder, light traffic and rolling hills made for great riding. There was little wind, bright sunlight, and the temperature was about 70 F. After about ten miles, 64 and 84 split with 84 heading north towards some breathtaking mountains in Colorado and 64 heading west down a beautiful valley.
It was hard not to follow 84 to those mountains!
US 64, after it splits from 84, has no shoulder, but the traffic is light and riding was still very good. As you travel west, the valley opens up and the scenery changes to mesas surrounding the valley. Lovely, and very nice riding! Dulce feels like an Indian town and is located in a very beautiful setting at the base of a
large mesa. When I got Dulce, I cruised on through town checking it out before coming back to the only motel, Best Western Jicarilla. My room is actually cheaper than my room in Chamas and nicer, plus I checked in before noon so I get a lot more use of the room. I enjoyed my Jicarilla Stew with fry bread (great!) for lunch and my body and bike need the R+R. Tomorrow's forecast is better than today's and I'll try to get an early start to beat the build up of the wind and the thunderstorms if they do develop. If things go well, I'll stop in Farmington (92 miles) or Shiprock (113 miles) tomorrow night. As a backup, Bloomfield is only 71 miles. Then I have to decide how to route west and north.