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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Hot Springs

Posted Jan 04 2012 12:29pm
Okay, it was not so funny, really.

When we plan a trip on the bike, we really do our homework.  We check weather forecasts.  We check road reports.  We check the weather from the past week to make sure there isn't an inordinate amount of sand on the roads.  We make sure we have a lodging reservation nailed down so we don't get stranded with no place to stay.  We make sure we're prepared for a range of temperatures and weather conditions, packing hats, gloves, leathers, sometimes rain gear, and sometimes helmets (really yuppie-ized helmets that let us talk to each other, have integrated FM radio tuners, and connect to our iPhones via bluetooth, as well as keep our heads warm and dry).  The weather here on the Front Range is motorcycle friendly most of the year, happily, so we take advantage of that, but the weather here is also capricious so we travel prepared.  We've ridden in plenty of rainstorms all over the place, through nose-hair-freezing temps in New Mexico in April and November, hundred-and-ten days in South Dakota in August, pelting hail and freezing muddy construction in Wyoming just a few days later that same August, and snow over Independence Pass in July.  So we weren't too worried about the forecasted "gusty winds" in southern Colorado; we packed our usual cache of gear and hit the road on Saturday.

The winds were definitely gusty - to the tune of 60-70 mph in all different directions, which made riding interesting (we stopped in Walsenburg for breakfast and at one point the garbage can flew into the door of the convenience store).  Temps were okay, though, so there were wet spots over La Veta Pass, and a helluva dust storm just the other side of the pass... but then riding got more pleasant as we rode through Alamosa, and south through La Jara and Antonito, and we were really ready to get to Ojo and unwind.

And then we hit the New Mexico state line, about 45 miles north of Ojo Caliente proper.  Immediately, 3 inches of slush, and then a hundred yards further, turned into hard snowpack.  Nary a snowplow in sight... so we had no choice but to turn around.  Scott is an incredibly sensible rider; he's very careful, but also is always expecting other drivers on the road to be clueless - so as a result, I completely trust his judgment and just sit on the back and smile.  I agreed with him that it was dumb to proceed, so we headed back into Antonito to reformulate a game plan.  We had talked to folks at the Ojo Spa the night before, explaining that we were thinking about riding but wondered if the roads were dry, or what, and they had assured us they were dry, they hadn't had any snow for several days, etc...

We got back to Antonito and went into a little convenience store to look at our maps, and to pee, and to cancel with heavy hearts our reservation at the B&B we stay at in Ojo, because there was really no other practical way to get there before nightfall.  A gentleman who was in the store at the same time overheard our plight, and remarked that it must have just been a bunch of drifted snow, because he had come through there the previous day and it was dry, and there hadn't been any storm in that time.  The clerk there suggested a hot springs north of Alamosa, to which Scott made a call, but no lodging available there... so back on the bike and northbound to Alamosa to find a place to shack up for the night.  It was getting colder by the minute, and we were pissed off and just wanted to make sure we had a bed to sleep in, and with any luck a hot tub.

It all turned out fine, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in Alamosa, and the desk clerk gave us a really sensational deal on a room for the night (I think it was probably because he was hoping he could borrow my husband for the night, but hey, thanks for the discount pal, better luck next time...) so we stayed there and soaked and went out to dinner and soaked again, and celebrated our New Years together...all of the things we would've done in Ojo, and probably spent about half the money we would've.  It was just fine.

The next morning, we woke up to the next ugly surprise from Mother Nature (that bitch!!).  The temps that had been forecasted to be in the 40's...were not.  It was a whopping 6 degrees when we went down to breakfast, and by the time we were packed it was a balmy 9.  The bike's battery wasn't beefy enough to sustain the starter as long as it needed, so we got a jump start from the hotel's housekeeper... and bundled up and off we went.

The ride home was fine, warmed up the further east we went, and I mostly didn't notice because I had my music turned up full blast and was singing at the top of my lungs (I'm absolutely no good at all, but when I'm the only one that has to hear me, I really let loose...) most of the way.  We got home and warmed up in the jacuzzi tub, and had a nap, then went out for sushi, and all was right with the world.

It's like I've said before.  Scott and I, we've gotten into some bizarre situations and had our share of travel mishaps and generally curious circumstances.  But there's absolutely nobody else in the world I can imagine sharing all these crazy misadventures with.  We always find something to laugh about, even when it's just our own dumbassitude, and we always have a story to tell.

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