Thursday, 8/30 – Headed out of town at 6:10 AM, taking I-40 to I-85. Encountered some traffic near Charlotte and Atlanta but nothing too bad. Most of it was because of construction. Got close to 18 mpg on the first tank of fuel. Around 7:00 PM, found a Comfort Inn near Jackson, MS. Ate at Ruby Tuesday near the hotel. We managed to fit all five bikes in the hotel room.
Friday – Got on the road at 8:00 after a kinda lame breakfast at the hotel. While driving through Jackson, the ABS light and two other warning lights lit up on Vanna’s instrument cluster. There was no real detrimental effect, except lack of cruise control. Probably a loose sensor. Laura read the manual and googled more info on it. Results seemed to support the loose sensor theory. Mpg seemed to drop a bit on the subsequent tank of fuel…bad diesel? Not sure. Ate at Cracker Barrel then rolled into Richardson around 4:00. Pete and Kim were not home yet, so we went to the store to get some sides for a cookout. Kimberly and Ellie arrived home and then Pete a little after 6:00. Ate grilled chicken, tater salad, etc., then watched Battle Bots. Later, Pete and I went to Spec’s to get some booze.
Saturday – Left P&K’s at 7:10 to fetch Adam in Lakewood. Took I-30 to Fort Worth to drop Laura off at Oma’s. Hit the road proper at 8:30, going through Weatherford to 920 to 1885 to 281 north. Got to Wichita Falls and El Norteno’s at 10:45…a bit early, but they were open. Food was awesome, as usual. Once back on the road, the overhead speaker panel fell, but luckily was halted by the sun visor panel. If that panel had not been there, Pete and Adam may have been knocked out. The amps would no longer work as a result, so we had no tunes. I set about trying to troubleshoot the issue but could not get power back. Adam suggested the amps were not grounded properly. Sure enough, the two screws that were holding up one side of the panel were also completing a circuit for the ground. When they sheared off, the circuit was broken. We stopped and got some cheap tools and I devised a temporary fix, then we were back in business and ready to boogie with tunes once more. We took 86 west from Estelline, then the usual route once in New Mexico. Like last year, we listened to ZZ Top’s Tejas on the stretch from Clines Corners to Eldorado. Arrived a little after 7:00 and ate Wendell’s excellent chicken tikka masala. Slept okay in the Sprinter.
Sunday – Ate some cereal and rode Galisteo Basin Preserve trails (from the Thumb trailhead this time) while Wendell, Pete, and Adam hiked. Laura and I got about 12 miles in, completing a large loop which included most of the trails. Picked up Elizabeth at the tiny Santa Fe airport, then drove straight to Lamy for a small festival with music and burgers. Met Terry, Sandy, and Sandy’s cousin Anna, who was about Elizabeth’s age. Got Elizabeth checked into her airbnb, then ate pizza at Chez Moya (Mom & Wendell’s). Terry et al showed up as well. Later, we played Wise and Otherwise. Mom led most of the round, then I made my move and finished strong for the win. But it really was not at all calculated; I just got a little lucky. Slept a little better in Vanna, but still battling a nagging cough.
Monday – Awoke and made bacon, eggs, and toast for the entire crew. Got bikes prepped and headed to La Tierra with Laura, Wendell, Pete, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth rode around the gravel lot, but seemed uneasy on the Pivot. Wendell, in the meantime, was having drivetrain problems on the Highball. We made some adjustments to no effect, then realized the cassette was worn while the chain and chainring were brand new. Not good. No amount of adjusting was going to fix that. Wendell decided to pedal easy up and down the road and would forgo the trails. Elizabeth joined him after deciding that the risk to her ACL was too great. I felt bad for them, and frustrated at the bike mechanic who failed to properly assess the wear on the cassette. While on the ride, I decided I would endeavor to find a new cassette while in Santa Fe. Pete rode strong on the Norco, while I pushed the S-Works single speed. The “Hustle and Flow” section was not as fun on SS rigid, however. We rode for about an hour and a half. Back home, we ate leftover pizza while Elizabeth ran errands and found a Planet Fitness to get a in a short workout. Sandy came over later and we all pitched in to help Mom shoot a video. It was an artistic short inspired by The Greeting by Bill Viola. It starred Sandy, Laura, and Elizabeth. Mom wanted to explore the array of emotions resulting from an awkward gift exchange, using slow-motion to fully capture the expressions on each actor. It came out really well. Later, Pete set up recording hardware for me to complete the solo on Don’t Want It. I noodled around until I found the solo I wanted, then punched record. It was not to be, however, due to technical difficulties with Garageband. Pete fiddled with the program awhile, then decided to give it a rest until he could figure it out by way of instructional videos. For supper, we ate Adam’s stew that had been…umm…stewing all day. Started a round of Beyond Balderdash with only four participants, but soon quit when we realized the real answers could be easily guessed. Later we watched Monsters, which Elizabeth had not seen.
Tuesday – Got up and rode the Dale Ball Trails while the rest relaxed at home. I rode the long stretch between 14 and 13 without dabbing, which was a first for me. Met the others at REI, then found a food truck and ate delicious BBQ tacos. Called local bike shops about a cassette and finally found one at New Mexico Bike and Sport on Cordova. However, I later discovered I did not bring the necessary tools (chain whip and splined cassette tool) to remove the old cassette. Grrrr. Hung out awhile, then recruited the other men to help fix the broken speaker panel in Vanna. Pete and I went to the local True Value in Eldorado and got some beefy screws to replace the busted ones. The repair proved to be a major sonofabitch, but we prevailed. Later, Sandy and Terry returned and Mom made another slo-mo short about a weird marriage proposal at a party. Mom seemed pleased with the result, which needed about 10 takes to get right. We ate leftover stew and Indian food, then listened to tunes on Spotify before crashing.
Wednesday – Laura and I returned to La Tierra trails in the morning and got in over 12 miles. Rode nearly everything, then returned to New Mexico Bike and Sport to purchase some tools for the cassette. The others hiked some trails in the ski basin, then we all rendezvous’d at the same food truck parking lot as the previous day. This time, there was a Mediterranean truck called Yummy Town. Some of us ate from that while others ate from the BBQ Taco truck. Got home and I finished assembling the speaker shelf (attaching wires mostly, as all the hard work had already been done). I replaced the worn cassette on the SC and gave it a quick test ride. Much better. Went to Meow Wolf with Laura, Elizabeth, and Adam. Trippy. Later, the entire crew ate dinner at Pecos Trail Inn. Short on atmosphere, but the food was top-notch. Pete went back to the bnb to crash early, as he had not been sleeping well. The rest of us watched Get Out, which Adam, Wendell, Mom, and Oma had not seen.
Thursday – Laura, Wendell, and I rode from the house to GBP trails via the railroad trail. We ended up riding all the way to 285, and thereby overshooting the connector trail. After consulting Google maps, we backtracked until we found the trailhead which led to the signed network of trails. We rode much of what we rode earlier, with Wendell handling the SC nicely. On the way back we took pics of the railroad trestle from Breaking Bad. Ate sandwiches for lunch, then geared up for a round of disc golf with Pete, Adam, and Elizabeth. Clouds stirred overhead, which cooled things off as we played. Pete won by a few strokes as usual, but we all had a great time. Filmed one more video with Mom directing once more. Ate gourmet burgers, cob corn, baked potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. Played more music then watched First Reformed starring Ethan Hawke.
Friday – after an emotional goodbye and farewell photos, Pete, Adam, and I hit the road at 8:10. It was a mellow trip, but with lots of music. Took I-40 to Amarillo where we stopped for a good Tex-Mex lunch, then 287 to Wichita Falls and 281 south, then back through Weatherford. Pete and Adam did most of the driving. Rained off and on most of the trip, then came a downpour once we got out of Weatherford. Picked up Laura, then dropped Adam off. Got to Pete’s at 9:15 PM, where Kim’s taco salad awaited us. Played with Ellie and watched some Simpsons, then went to bed.
Saturday – Left about 7:40, taking I-30 to Little Rock to pick up I-40. Did not want to take the southern route and experience the horrible roads of Shreveport, LA. The northern route is much more scenic anyway. Found a Cracker Barrel for lunch and then drove until after 8:00 PM. Stopped in Cookeville, TN at a La Quinta. Ate dinner across the street at a place called Gondola Pizza. I had veggie lasagna and Laura had a gyro. Watched the last half of Napolean Dynamite, then bedded down.
Sunday – Back on the road by 7:15 after a hotel breakfast. Driving was easy, and the ABS light never came back on. Ate lunch at the same Zaxby’s as I did when first driving the Sprinter from Florida/Brevard back in May. Got home at 4:12 PM. 3,773 miles.