Pictures: Day 16 - 17

Day 16-17 / Saturday-Sunday, September 12-13 2009

Spending the night at Kerry's (from ADV's Tent Space List) south of Las Cruces, NM.

It's always good to connect with other ADVers. Kerry, riding a KLR650 is hoping to ride the CDR at some point. He escorted me to the correct highway leading out of town and northeast towards Chicago.

Crossing over the Sacramento Mountains and the Lincoln National Forest, the birthplace of Smokey Bear. These would be the last mountains I see as it was flat plains from here on east.

Passing through Roswell and this was all I could see of its alien fame. I didn't even find a welcome sign.

Passing through Blackwater Draw near Clovis, NM, the archaeological site where Clovis remains are being dug up. These were the first people to inhabit North America, around 13,000 years ago, even before the Native Americans. Their disappearance is still a mystery and research is ongoing.

Swinging by Cadillac Ranch, west of Amarillo, TX on I-40. It's an art installation depicting tail fin Caddys from the 50's.

On the last leg of the journey, heading north to Chicago. A fantastic two weeks out on the road and in the forests of the Rocky Mountains along the Continental Divide. A superb ride.

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Pictures: Day 15

Day 15 / Friday, September 11, 2009

From the Canadian border to the Mexican border along the Continental Divide of the USA. Done.

Crossing over into Mexico at Columbus / Las Palomas to make sure I could enter the country with no problems, as I didn't exit properly the last time in 2007.

My reward for having completed the ride - having some super tasty birria for lunch, which is stewed pulled goat meat soup. Mmm mmm good, my favorite dish from my first trip into Mexico.

What a nice array of condiments, just the kind of stuff I like to put on my food: cucumbers, avocado, cilantro, cabbage, salsa and hot sauce.

Heading over to cross back into the US at Juarez.

At an abandoned Pemex gas station, changing out my main jet on the carb for the low elevations that I would be in from here back home to Chicago.

Wrenching on the easily accessible DR and the access to the main jet on the flat slide carb is very convenient for quick changes.

Crossing the city of Jaurez at dusk, making my way to the border. Drug related violence has escalated in recent times and the strong gun-wielding military presence around the city is trying to curb that. Jaurez's economy is currently growing at a fast rate and has a bright future, if only they can get a handle on the cartels.

Ahhh, los Estados Unidos, mi casa durante diez anos.

The bridge crossing the Rio Grande connecting Jaurez to El Paso.

Being 1 of the 60,000 people crossing at this border daily and being a foreigner, there's always some hesitation when crossing into the US and I triple check to make sure all my papers are in order. I was surprised, they didn't even finger print or take my photo this time.

Next: Day 16 - 17, Riding back to Chicago

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Pictures: Day 14

Day 14 / Thursday, September 10, 2009

I spent the windy and thunderous night in this shed in an RV park close to the array site.

Entering the array site, which was built in the 70's.

Even with all the ex-military vehicles around, this is a non-defense site and is purely a science facility, thus being open to the public.

Taking a self-guided walking tour of the facility.

One of the 27 antennas that the public is allowed to walk up to. The dish is 82 ft (25 meters) in diameter and is fully mobile to point at any direction and to follow a radio source across the sky as the earth rotates. The antennas were constantly moving while I was there.

The primary purpose of these antenna is not to listen to radio sources from space but actually to capture the electromagnetic radiation (also known as light) and produce images of objects that emit radio waves, like the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

The base of the antenna, when unbolted, can be lifted and allows the antenna to be moved to different configurations across the site as all the antenna can act as one big radio antenna depending on what is being observed.

Sculpture depicting the Y-shape of the array site. The antenna are periodically moved back and forth on rails to provide different resolutions. At its widest configuration, the array can simulate a single dish that is 22 miles in diameter.

Detailed view of the underside of a dish, showing its rotating mechanism.

One of the rail transporters that is used to move the antennas around.

At the Antenna Assembly Building, where servicing and construction takes place. This is as close as I'll get to the Shuttle's Vehicle Assembly Building down in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Hoping to see a launch before the program ends.

Looking down the main rail line of the array with all the dishes pointed up.

I had good timing as the antenna were all bunched up closely making for some nice shots instead of being spread apart.

Continuing on south on NM-12 heading to Silver City through the Gila National Forest.

Good thing I decided to stay on pavement as daily afternoon thunderstorms were becoming the norm and New Mexico is famous for its dirt roads that turn into mud when wet.

New Mexico's storms are also known to be fast moving. Heavy rain above, bright sunshine here...

And heavy rain again. Click image for high resolution image of the panorama.

Nice views riding through Gila National Forest.

Wee, fun twisties.

Rainbow over Silver City with rain clouds hovering about.

I wanted to camp one last night before reaching the Mexican border tomorrow and seeing this black mass, I decided to head closer to the border to avoid the rains.

Zero visibility warning, that is during dust storms across the open US 180 heading south to Deming from Silver City.

They really psyche you out with all the warning signs, but with that dark clouds up ahead, it's probably appropriate.

Fast moving rain across the desert.

I was hoping to camp at Rock Hound State Park, south of Deming, at the base of the mountain at the bottom right in this picture. The road is so straight that I could see this mountain almost the whole way from Silver City.

But as I got closer, this cloud had settled in at the top and lightning was striking around the rainbow and the black mass of clouds had followed me all the way south. Just as I checked in to a motel, the skies opened and the deluge ensued with a beautiful lightning storm.

Next: Day 15, Into Mexico

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Pictures: Day 13

Day 13 / Wednesday, September 9, 2009

With my left foot still throbbing and knowing that the northern New Mexico part of the CDR route was quite rocky, I decided to stay on pavement through the state.

Red rock formations south of Chama on US 64.

Abiquiu Reservoir

My good friend Allen is from Farmington, but I was heading south to Cuba.

Twisty pavement on NM-197 heading to Grants.

Straight as an arrow heading into the desert.

At the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook in El Malpais (badlands) National Monument looking out across the vast McCarty's Lava Flow, dated to around 3,000 years ago and comparable to the currently active Kilauea lava flow in Hawaii.

Sandstone bluffs along NM 117.

Sandstone bluffs along NM 117.

La Ventana Natural Arch, eroded from sandstone deposited during the Dinosaur Era (more than 65 million years ago).

Short trees growing in the lava flow, which can be around 200 years old or more but have stunted growth due to the harshness of the environment.

Sandstone bluffs along NM 117.

Reading up about the lava flow.

The CDR route to Pie Town, which I decided against seeing the soft mud and the expected afternoon rains.

On such open ground, the clouds feel much closer and provide enough entertainment in the otherwise barren landscape.

Montana might have grabbed the Big Sky tag line, but how's this for New Mexico's big sky. The road is at the bottom right.

Turns in the road are always appreciated after super long straight sections.

Cutting across on NM-603 towards Pie Town. I did say no more off road but I was trying to avoid riding through that dark cloud on the right with lightning.

A random old sign post with the infamous Hwy 666, which was taken down due to its religious connotations with the Christian devil and the sign being stolen too often.

Bad timing as the famous pie shop closed an hour before (3pm).

Crossing the Plains of San Augustin on US 60 and catching the first glimpse of some dish antennas in the distance.

The dishes are part of the Very Large Array radio telescope, located 50 miles west of Socorro. This was also the site for the Jodie Foster movie Contact.

Being an astronomy enthusiast, I was excited to visit the site, which is open to the public.

How beautiful to see nature interacting with man's high technology. Pronghorn galloping across the array site.

It was getting late in the day and I planned to visit the next morning.

Signature New Mexico thunderstorms moving in fast across the high plains with lightning in the distance.

Next: Day 14, VLA and Southern New Mexico

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