Our Backroads Santa Fe and Taos Bicycling Vacation
Saturday June 15, 2002 - Saturday June 22, 2002
Anne and Stewart French

Desert Panorama
Santa Fe Panorama
Last Day Panorama

Saturday, June 15, 1 Day Before

On this Backroads vacation we decided to drive instead of flying. Neither of us particularly liked the "new" Backroads bikes we rented in the Canadian Rockies with their suspension, so we brought our own. We've driven with our bikes on the roof rack many times to Houston and San Antonio, so we figured the drive to Santa Fe wouldn't hurt them any.

We drove from Dallas to Oklahoma City on I-35 then west on I-40 to Clines Corner (a strange business/town hybrid) then north through the desert to Santa Fe. We left at 5:20 am figuring it about a 12 hour drive, so we would get into town during daylight. It was clear, no traffic, with strong cross winds that yanked our bikes around the whole way, but didn't cause any damage. In Oklahoma we saw a strange sight that we had never seen before! After turning north from Clines Corner we started seeing wildfire smoke. It was off behind one of the hills in the distance. The smoke rose high until it hit some atmospheric block then drifted away to the north. It looked like large clouds once away from the source. Once in Santa Fe we had trouble in Santa Fe finding our way to the Inn of the Anasazi. Our maps were terrible with only some of the streets marked. Besides, there was a arts and crafts festival going on in the downtown plaza and most of the streets around it were blocked off. Of course, the traffic was very heavy near it. We turned onto Paseo de Peralto and drove around completely lost until we realized that the street was a loop! We thought we were on the north side but we were on the south side. Once we oriented we were able to zero in on the Inn.

We were pretty brain-dead when we finally pulled up in front of the Inn. The valet parking staff were agressive wanting to take our luggage, remove the bikes, park the car, etc. We finally got them straightened out, took the bikes off the car, then took the luggage up to the room. Those guys continued to amaze us at their attempt to wheedle tips. It cost $ 12.50 to park overnight at the Inn. Since we were leaving the car their all week, with the tips and all, it added up!

It was hot and very dry, at less than 10% humidity, when we got there. That combined with the altitude caused both of us to have nosebleeds and to huff-and-puff when climbing the stairs or doing any physical activities. We always took the stairs to our 3rd floor room so we could start getting acclimated. Even with that little exercise we both were gasping and felt like we had heart palpitations! After settling into our room we headed out to walk the plaza and look at the arts and crafts festival. Santa Fe is very "ski-townish", small shops, lots of people, adobe everywhere (I wonder if this is a city ordinance?). There were art galleries everywhere. There was one section of the street, near the Palace of the Governors, where Native Americans were setup to sell their goods. This panoramic picture shows them on the left while around the corner on the right is the Inn of the Anasazi where we stayed.

There were serious water restrictions going on here in Santa Fe. I read in the paper where, on Saturdays, the city was giving away low-flow toilets and replacement innards for the others. They normally get 10 inches of rain per year, but so far this year they had only recieved < 1 inch! This encouraged the wildfires which were typically set off by lightening, although sometimes were caused by people.

We ended up back at the Inn in the bar for a glass of wine. Bad idea! The wine cost $ 10 - $ 12 per glass for the cheap stuff! Yikes! Enough to buy a whole bottle even in Dallas. We also had dinner at the Inn. It was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Santa Fe, and it was very good. While sitting at dinner talking about the various Texas bike rides we were planning, 4 people at the table next to us overheard us talking about the Waco Wild West 100. Turned out they were from Waco! They had just flew in on vacation. Small world.

Since we were driving, we had packed our luggage differently than usual. We had a bag for the two days before and after the trip, then another 2 bags for the 5 days on the road with Backroads. The trip planner had suggested that Santa Fe and Taos could be hot or cold and to pack accordingly. This is difficult on one of these active vacations. In Vermont it was very cold in the morning, then heated up in the afternoon. We had to pack to wear layers, so we did the same for Santa Fe. It wasn't necessary. The weather was hot. Even in the early mornings we never got chilled. So Saturday night we re-packed everything to leave most of our cold weather clothes in the car. Once again, we had to pay the ransom money to get our luggage to the car for storage. Then we crashed early.

Sunday, June 16, Day 1
Santa Fe Loop - 10.3 miles

We got up early today as we adjusted to Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). Stewart called his dad since it was Father's Day today. Then we headed around the corner to a small French pastry shop we saw the day before. It was very pleasant sitting in the sun having breakfast early in the cool morning. After breakfast we started walking again to visit some of the museums and shops. We visited the Georgia O'Keefe museum. But unfortunately, many exhibits of her work were closed. But there were lots of photos by Todd Webb of Georgia O'Keefe, and that was interesting. We visited the Museum of New Mexico which had a lot of history of the artist settlements near Santa Fe and Taos through the present. Anne shopped at the native American area and bought a small lizard that came with a write-up of the meanings of the markings. We lunched at a little burrito shop near the Inn. While eating the Backroads vans pulled up! We walked over and met Stefanie and Wally. Stewart snuck a fake bullet hole on the back of the rental van, put on his game face, and remarked to Stefanie about it. She got _very_excited_ until she looked closer and saw what it was! Then he did the same thing to Wally while Anne and Stefanie watched. Wally whooped and hollered then laughed and laughed when he figured it out. This set the challenge in place... uh oh...

Backroads had a nice new feature called the "Snapshot". We picked up the Day 1 snapshot at the Inn's front desk. The snapshot gives the route options and tips for the day. This one gave directions to the park where the bike fitting and intro would happen (at Marcy and Paseo de Peralto). We dressed and brought our bikes down from the room and biked over to Marcy park. Lots of the other guests were there getting fitted and learning about their bikes, the routes, and the other guests. We got our front-packs installed and our water bottles and Camelbacks filled up. We wandered around saying hello to the other folks when Stefanie and Wally called everyone together to do intros and give instructions. We had two large family groups this trip (the Oaks and the Barkers). In our experience this is unusual. They asked us to introduce ourselves, tell why we selected this trip, and to describe how we prepared for it. Turned out a lot of folks signed up for this trip because it fit their schedule. Just that. Certainly that was true for us. Some weren't bikers at all. Stephen and Joanna from Alaska wanted to take the Puget Sound trip but it didn't "make"; not enough guests. So they took this trip as their fall-back trip. They were both pretty worried about the heat since they were not used to it at all.

With all that done we headed out on the 10.3 miles Santa Fe loop. This was the hardest biking of the week! I think mainly because we still had not adjusted to the altitude and dryness. This ride had steep, short climbs on it. We were sucking water, gasping, heart fluttering. We saw lots of galleries, adobe houses and building, sage brush, juniper, and blowing dust. We biked out to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture then walked around inside for a while. It contained beautiful pottery identified by Pueblo. We didn't spend a lot of time there. We should go back sometime and visit it again and go through the adjacent International Folk Art Museum. When we completed the ride we headed back to the Inn where the valet guys parked our bikes (of course!). We showered and lathered on the pine scent body lotion because it was _so_dry_ out biking! Stefanie and Wally were hosting cocktails down in the Inn's library before dinner so we headed down there for drinks. Later we had dinner as a group around the corner at La Casa Sena with Joanna and Steven, Mike and Adele, Peg and Brian. It was wonderful food.

Monday, June 17, Day 2
Inn of the Anasazi to Rancho de San Juan - 50.7 miles

We had breakfast at the Inn before heading out on our bikes. They had that fine "steel cut" oatmeal that Stewart likes so much! Our bikes were all lined up outside the restaurant. Wally came by to ask where our bikes seats had gone? Stewart ran out to see that the seats were just fine, thank you very much. Wally gave the route talk while everyone listened carefully. We headed out on the route biking with Redge with the first stop being the Shidoni Gallery and Tesuque Glassworks. The outdoor sculpture gardens were beautiful and we took a number of pictures there. Redge took a picture of the two of us "reeling it in!".

The Tesuque Glassworks were marvelous. A glass blower was busily at work in the back as we examined the delicate glass in the gallery.

The bike ride continued up to a dirt road crossing over a low stream. The road was terrible right there, washboard and gravel. We met up with other bikers on the bridge. Georgia and Redge talked about apartments in Oakland (a 1 bedroom apartment costs $ 1400 / month! Yikes!).

We paused at the Sanctuario de Chimayo. Supposedly this contains healing dirt. There were lots of testimonials written and posted on the walls and discarded crutches. In the back through a low door was a small room. In the middle of the ground there was a small pit where one can draw out the dirt to rub on oneself to cause healing. Bobbie scooped out some and put it in a baggie. Never know when you'll need some healing dirt! Anne got a few grains too.

We had lunch at Rancho Manzana. Stefanie and Wally had setup the lunch on tables in the back under a trellis covered with vegetation. Rancho Manzana is a beautiful Bed and Breakfast that offered us use of their bathrooms. It was made of original adobe and had notices on the walls not to get them wet!

After lunch we headed out on the bikes again on the road to Espanola. The biking was getting much easier. We were slowly adjusting to the altitude. The dryness continued to be a problem, but we no longer were gasping or having those heart flutters. The road to Espanola was open with wide views of the sagebrush, juniper, rock, dust, and mountains off in the distance. It was getting very hot in the afternoon. Anne's trip computer showed 130 degrees after lunch, but that's probably because it was sitting out in the sun. We guessed it to be in the mid to high 90s.

We passed through the San Juan Pueblo in the afternoon. Wally had warned us of the poverty, but it really wasn't any different than many of the towns Stewart grew up with in Kentucky, and much, much better than the small villages we saw in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We raced a school bus through town as it dropped off elementary school kids. On the other side of the Pueblo we met up with some other bikers on the bridge over the Rio Grande river. This was the lowest point of the whole trip at 5,465 feet.

As we approached the Rancho de San Juan in the late afternoon, our accomodations for the next two evenings, there was a long uphill climb. Beyond that, at the entrance to the Rancho de San Juan was a steep dirt road that we couldn't bike and had to walk up. All that combined to cause a number of folks real problems. They were getting way overheated and had to sit and regroup under some low juniper bushes. Steven and Joanna from Alaska looked really whooped. Luckily Stefanie came by just then with the van and pointed out where our cabins were. Thank goodness!

The cabins were low, small adobe structures sitting in the desert off the dirt road. From the outside they looked very barren and uninviting. When we approached ours (called Kiva), unlocked the door, and entered we both exclaimed "Oh My God!" This place was spectacular. Easily the best accomodations of any Backroads trip we have ever taken so far. It had a round front room containing the king sized bed, a couch, chair, coffee table, and a bench built into the adobe wall that went 3/4 way around the interior. It had beautiful tile floor, art niches in the wall that were separately lit, two ceiling fans, a fireplace. On the other side of the building was a small kitchenette, and a massive bathroom with jacuzzi tub, dual sinks, and a large shower. When we entered there was Native American flute music playing. It was a perfect accent to the plush accomodations. It was clear that the owners had art and architecture in mind as they designed this place. They had left us some sherry in a crystal decanter by the bed along with two glasses. We helped ourselves to the sherry as we wound down from the ride.

Anne took a warm bath and Stewart's attempts to speed up the ceiling fans shorted out two of the three fans. Uh oh. It was unseasonably hot outside and this place did not have air conditioning! The office was closed on Mondays so we thought we had little chance of getting the fans fixed. It was probably 98 degrees outside, and in the high 80s inside. The adobe helped a lot to keep the temperature under control. Stewart stretched out on a curved bench up against the adobe and that cooled him a lot. Anne's bath helped her. We also drank refrigerated mineral water to help cool us, and ate fritos to satisfy a craving for salt. We tried to relax in the heat until the van came by to shuttle us to dinner. It was air conditioned in the van! Yeah! We told Stefanie about the fans and she contacted someone to get them fixed ASAP (they were fixed by the time we returned from dinner). We also found out that our cabin and another were scheduled to get air conditioning. It was supposed to have been installed today but they got delayed by one day, so tomorrow...

Dinner that night was at El Paragua in Espanola. It was heaps and mounds of Mexican food. Wally and Stefanie treated us to a round of margaritas. They had excellent guacamole and sopapias. We sat near Sue Ellen, Steven, Joanna, Georgia, Sue, and Gary.

The temperature actually drops off very quickly as the sun sets. It had dropped into the low 80s be the time we returned from dinner. We opened all the windows and got a cool breeze through. We both slept like rocks that night.

Tuesday, June 18, Day 3
Rancho de San Juan to Ghost Ranch - 32.6 miles

We woke today to very cool temperatures. We made coffee and sat out on our west facing deck in our bathrobes and slippers. The view was spectacular as the sun rose and illuminated the hills. Breakfast was over at the main building of Rancho de San Juan, about a 5 minute walk with our bikes. We dressed for the ride since we wouldn't get a chance to come back by the cabin. Breakfast was wonderful, some sort of egg enchilada they called an egg fritata, with fruit. After breakfast we filled our water bottles, listened to Stefanies route talk, and walked our bikes to the entrance. That's when we discovered our booby traps. Anne's bike rack was covered with gummy worms, while Stewart's shoes had been packed with them! Stewart was going to sit on a rock at the entrance to clear it all out of his shoes, but the lizards had other ideas. Today we biked a relatively short route out to the Ghost Ranch. We stopped about halfway out at the Abiquiu Inn to use the bathroom and entertained the restaurant guests with our bright jerseys ("Look momma! Look at her shirt! It makes my eyes hurt!"). We helped another family get a group shot at the Abiquiu Inn then they took our picture. We later saw this same family at the Ghost Ranch! We also stopped at the little gift shop called "Happy" which had only been open 1 week. They were very friendly and excited by our visit and asked us to talk it up at Rancho de San Juan and with the Backroads staff.

There was some headwind and one long climb up by the Abiquiu Dam before going over the top and down the other side and turning into Ghost Ranch. The Ghost Ranch entry was a rock and dirt road for 1.4 miles. Very difficult biking and too long to walk in bike shoes. Lunch was a great picnic under some trees near the museums. We ate then went and visited the Paleontology and Anthropology Museum. We didn't have time to visit the "Labyrinth", it was too far a walk for the time we had. Stewart decided that he would rather shuttle back and spend the extra time visiting the "Windows to the World" shrine back at Rancho de San Juan. Reluctantly Anne agreed.

When we arrived back at the ranch there were A/C workmen on our roof! Yippee! They said they'd probably be at it until 4pm. That gave us plenty of time to visit the shrine. We hiked up to it, a stiff .3 mile hike in the sand and rock, with Georgia and Anne who both had flip flops on (ouch! hot!). The shrine was built by one artist over a 2.5 year period with simple hand tools. It was an incredible cave-like structure, cool and dark inside with glass windows that looked out over the desert on all sides. You can see our cabins out there in the desert. We took books to read to pass the time until the A/C was completed. The shrine had little nooks that one could sit in to read, including a desk and chair built right into the stone! Any noise, sound, or voice would reverberate off the walls and echo around inside making deep booming sounds. Very cool.

Georgia the adopted Doberman puppy had joined Marcy and Dan while they were at the shrine. When we returned the pup joined us for the walk back to our cabin. The A/C was done and the workmen had cleaned everything up and left. The cabin was very comfortable now. Georgia came in with us and rooted around the cabin for a bit, sticking her nose in our wastebasket and pulling out a kleenex. Bye bye Georgia.

They had left us some more sherry, this time about twice as much as the day before! So, again as we wound down, we helped ourselves. Tonight dinner was at the Rancho de San Juan restaurant. We were looking forward to it since everything about this place was tops. We had cocktails set for 6:30pm, dinner at 7:00. It was a superb meal. Imagine chilled melon soup with crystallized ginger, grilled tasmanian salmon with mango salsa, and watermelon soup with frozen yogurt souffle. Tonight we sat with Brian and Peg, Sue Ellen, Tere, and Stefanie. During our conversations we all discovered that Sue Ellen had been at Woodstock! She had actually bought a ticket! I never knew anybody that had been to Woodstock.

We slept in luxuriant air conditioned splendor our last night there.

Wednesday, June 19, Day 4
Rancho de San Juan to Casa Benevides - 75.7 miles - Stewart's personal best!

We awoke, dressed for the bike ride, packed all our stuff, and left it outside our rooms. Bummer that we had to leave. I could have stayed here the rest of the trip. Since we had shuttled back the day before our bikes were already over at the main building prepped and ready for riding. We had breakfast and started biking up to Ojo Caliente, a popular mud bath/spa. Some guests shuttled to this point for a 44.8 mile option. Some biked here and stayed to enjoy the spa then were shuttled on further to the right turn onto NM 64 at Tres Piedras. We stopped briefly to refill with water and have Wally adjust Stewart's rear wheel which was rubbing his brakes, then we biked on. The first half of this day's ride was a long gradual uphill marked as one "false summit" after another for 40 miles. This was a tedious and grinding leg of the ride. I clearly remember annoying flies, sage brush, juniper, dust, and cool temperatures. The ride wasn't particularly difficult, just really long. We biked for a while with Redge and Carol, then later with Bobbie, stopping for lunch at a picnic table where we met up with Rick, Carole and Redge again, Sue Ellen, Kelli and Larry. When we stopped we noticed that the wind was actually to our back giving us a nice boost. Problem was, we had a turn to make that would put that wind in front of us over our right shoulder. What was supposed to be a great 20 mile downhill into Taos turned into a monumentally grinding ride into the heat, wind, dust, smoke, dust devils. The Weather Channel said later that it was 25 mph gusting to 36. Anne and I made that turn then, taking turns, drafted each other for about half the ride. Here's a panoramic of the scenery. Notice off to the right the smoke from a wildfire. The smoke goes up on the other side of the mountain then drifts across the image right to left and off the far side. It must have been quite a fire. We decided that the haziness was smoke. It was giving Anne a lot of problems with her contacts. Halfway through Stefanie drove up with the van with Redge and Carole inside. They were getting a short boost before continuing their ride. We stopped there and refilled our water. Anne took out her contacts and put on her glasses, which was a great relief for her eyes. Continuing to bike, we passed a sign "If You Lived Here You'd Be Home!". Ugh. I can't imagine living here and calling it home.

As we approached Taos we stopped in at "Earthship Homes" where they had built homes in the ground using recycleables and renewable resources. Although we didn't go inside, the place looked very interesting and appropriate for the landscape they resided in.

A little further on we crossed a bridge over the Rio Grande gorge. From a distance I couldn't see this at all over the barren, flat terrain! But here it was at 6,787 feet elevation, 650 feet above the river. We were getting pretty tired by this point, at 63.4 miles. We kept peddling and slowly approached Taos. Anne said that, when we turned right on 64 toward Taos, at the 70.3 mile point, if there was a headwind she was quiting right there and taking the van. By the time we turned we had entered an area where there were actual trees to block the wind somewhat and the ride was a wonderful downhill, so we kept at it, turning into the Casa Benvides at about 4:30pm. We had spent 8 hours on the road.

Casa Benvides was an Inn that had grown over the years to cover multiple city blocks and eat up buildings all around it. We biked into the main building where they had lemonade, tea, cookies, pastries, and other goodies waiting for us. We were escorted to our room over in another building down the street. Our room was rustic, with a bedroom/living room, separate full kitchen, and separate bathroom. It seemed pretty cheap, but was clean and functional. We showered, rested, helped ourselves to some more tea and cookies. While checking in we ran into Redge who was organizing dinner for the evening at Lamberts. We signed up for that, to meet them all at Lamberts at 6:30pm.

We arrived a little early and ordered drinks, then everyone else arrived: Mike and Adele, Redge and Carole, Rick and Bobbie. In conversation we discovered that everyone at the table were long-time partnered. Mike and Adele were celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Redge and Carole their 25th. Rick and Bobbie their 30th (!), and we were celebrating our 20th. Dinner was very good. The wait staff was very professional, entertaining, and made ordering a real pleasure.

Thursday, June 20, Day 5
Taos to Vietnam Memorial and Back (With Shuttle) - 40 miles

We woke and dressed for the ride. Our butts were pretty sore from the long ride yesterday, but we were determined to do at least part of the Enchanted Circle ride. Our plan was to bike the 18 miles up to Palo Flechado pass, have lunch, then turn around and coast back down. We walked over to have breakfast at 7am in time to see the Oaks having breakfast before biking away to attempt to whole route, 85.5 miles. Wally said that only one person in the last 3 trips had done the whole circle, it is so difficult and long. Casa Benvides had a very good breakfast with homemade granola with peaches, eggs with hot sauce, and various sorts of muffins.

We started biking around 8:30am. It took Anne about 7 miles to get warmed up. All the way we both considered turning around. We had an unseasonable headwind (again). Our butts were _very_ sore, but the pine trees and greenery made it cool and beautiful. The humidity among the trees was way up and we felt it as a comforting thing. Stefanie passed us several times in the van providing encouragement to keep going. Anne's trip computer showed 6% grade until we got to the hairpin turn before the final .8 miles. At that point it bore out their estimate of an 8% grade! It was a tedious, long grind, 2.5 hours to the top. We arrived at the top about 11am followed very close by Sue Ellen. She paused, then motored on over the top and down the other side as we ate our pack lunches. Wally drove up from the Vietnam Memorial just then with Kelli and Larry in the van. Kelli admitted that the steep hill at the Vietnam Memorial was the last straw. She wasn't having fun anymore, so they decided to come back. Wally gave us a great new option that Larry and Kelli seconded. Go on over Palo Flechado Pass and down to the Vietnam Memorial. Then he would shuttle us back to the top to continue the 18 mile downhill back to Taos. It was a fantastic option! The downhill was not to be missed. Steep, lots of turns, good road surface, no traffic, near 30 mph most of the way until it opened onto the valley on the other side, an incredible long view. The Vietnam Memorial road was 1/2 mile of pure-and-living-hell! a 10% grade, the toughest part of the week's ride. The Vietnam Memorial itself was very moving. We are both glad we went and walked through it. It was a time in our country's history that we shouldn't forget.

While in the memorial a tremendous storm blew in from the north, dark clouds, wind, temperature dropped, but no rain. Stefanie shuttled us, Brian, Bobbie and Rick back to the top of the pass. The storm was threatening rain and had turned the wind completely around so we again had a stiff headwind! This actually helped keep our speed under control (averaging 24 mph) as we descended. Bobbie, Anne, and Stewart put on rain gear as it started spitting rain and getting colder. We flew down the mountain! 3/4 way down the sun appeared so Anne and Stewart stopped and stowed the rain gear and flew on into Casa Benevides. Stewart's rain coat was sopping wet _on_the_inside_ while completely dry on the outside. When we saw Casa Benevides we were sorry it was over. This was the last biking of the trip. We unloaded our bikes and gave them to Wally for storage on the van for the trip back to Santa Fe on Friday.

We were planning on going on a tour of the Taos Pueblo at 2:30pm that afternoon. But we changed our mind, got cleaned up, then headed into Taos for a relaxing walk in the cool, damp breeze. The storm was still hovering over the valley, but no rain was coming down, just cool wind, and some thunder and lightening. We found a nice little outdoor cafe and ordered some espresso, mocha, carrot cake, relaxing at a little table, watching the tourists go by. Later we found a small kiosk selling Pad Thai noodles. We ordered some and talked with the woman running the place for a while, sitting on a little bench under a tree. The people here were very friendly and loved to talk. After all the hard biking we were ready for some relaxation and this was a perfect place.

Back at the room we opened all the curtains, blinds, windows, and screened door to let the breeze blow through. Right outside were Wally and Stefanie packing the van, shooting the breeze, and generally having a very good time while working. Peg came by our room and we sat and talked for a while. Then we just laid back, reading our books, while the work proceeded outside.

Dinner tonight was at Doc Martins, one of the better restaurants in Taos. We met up with Kenneth, Andrea, and Tere while walking toward the restaurant. Kenneth and Andrea had gone horseback riding today and characterized it as too expensive and working the same "muscles" that the bike had worked. Ouch! We went in and were directed to our private room where we ordered our drinks. We didn't see Wally and Stefanie for a while, until they appeared telling us they had been in the bar waiting for us! We had another fabulous dinner (a recurring theme if you hadn't noticed) punctuated by birthday cake for Adele's 50th and Redge's 51st.

Friday, June 21, Day 6
No Biking! Rafting Down the Rio Grande

Stewart got up early and went and got coffee. This was another packing day, our last one. Everything had to go back to Santa Fe, Inn of the Anasazi, today after rafting. This included our biking gear, helmets, shoes, water bottles, Camelbacks. We packed a dry change of clothes into our backpack then headed over to breakfast at 7am. We had breakfast with Stefanie and Wally along with the Oaks, then later with Rick, Sue Ellen, Carole, Tere, and Bobbie. Wally said this was on of the few sit down breakfasts they ever got. The Casa Benevides staff really worked hard on their fine breakfasts!

After breakfast everyone packed into the 2 vans (nobody took the option to bike to the river) and we headed to the Rio Grande put-in point. We were met by a river rafting company with 25 inflatable rafts that looked like a cross between small canoes and solid kayaks. Some of them looked quite old, others were very small (and unstable, it turned out). They held a quick intro, instructions, warnings (don't stand up!), and inflated the rafts that needed it. Stewart got a raft where the center wasn't inflated (he didn't know it was supposed to be!), so he ended up sitting in 6 inches of water the whole time and busting his butt on the rocks at every opportunity. We had rapids to navigate that spun our boats, dumped cold water in our laps, and dunked a few people. Redge and Gary got the small, unstable boats and Redge fell in getting soaked head-to-foot. Anne got stuck on the rocks 3 times and had to do the "low-water-shimmy" to get off. There was a lot of shimmying going on! About 1/2 way through Gary traded with Brian and it was Brians turn to fall in twice. Once he had to let loose the boat because the water was too swift and the footing too unstable. We had a serious headwind (again) on the river making forward progress more difficult. I think we would have managed to get down the river without paddling, but it would have been slow. The water level in the river was seriously low so we were closer to the rocks on the bottom than if the river was running higher. This was due to the drought. We were on the river about 2 hours. At the take-out point Anne stepped into mud up to her ankles filthifying her sandles. She cleaned them a bit with her water bottle at lunch.

After the rafting, we cleaned up and had another picnic lunch. Wally and Stefanie got some of the river guides to run the cameras and we got group photos. The river guides, 4 or 5 young men, got the left-over food and this made them very happy. Stewart talked with one of them for a while. He said that they had over-booked the rafting and had to borrow some of the inflatables from other companies, and bring others out of retirement. Some of the rafts never should have been let back on the water.

Here's a panoramic of the picnic as Wally is cleaning up and we all mill about. Finally, we all loaded back into the van and headed back to Santa Fe, Inn of the Anasazi.

At the Inn it was a sad time, everybody saying their good-byes, discussing what their next step was to get home, flights to catch, connections to make. We checked in, took our bikes to the room, and hung up our sopping wet clothes out of their plastic bag where we stashed them after the rafting was over. Santa Fe weather was beautiful on Friday, cool, overcast with sun peeking through, a nice breeze. We cleaned up and headed to the plaza to get some coffee. Outside the Inn we saw the Oaks loading into a van to head out to Albuquerque for their flight home. Maybe we'll see them at the Katy Flatland Century ride in Houston in July.

Dinner was back at Casa Sena restaurant that evening on the patio. It was great. We brought home some "Kellfire" sauce to enjoy with our bar-b-que and remind us of Santa Fe. That night, after going to bed, a storm came through, wind lightening, thunder, and _rain_ !

Saturday, June 22

We got up real early to get started on our drive at about 5:30am. It rained on us as we drove south towards Clines Corners, a welcome rain for the area. We could see rain streaming down all around us. The drive back was completely uneventful. This time we turned off in Amarillo and headed more directly toward Fort Worth on the secondary roads, instead of driving interstate to Oklahoma City then heading south. This carved off about an hour of the return trip.

Looking back, now that the nosebleeds have stopped, we both really enjoyed this trip as we challenged ourselves and both achieved (from a mechanical aspect at least) our bicycling personal bests.