Today I slept in. No, not to be lazy. I wanted to wait till the sun came out and pack everything up dry. Around 7 am I finally got up and started breaking down camp. I laid everything out on a semi-dry picnic bench in my camp spot. While packing up another camper came over. He was asking if I was doing a long or short trip. I told him I was headed to West Virginia currently, but possibly further if I can pull it off. Turns out the guy was big into travel and had been to Central America a bunch. He even talked about a backpacking trip through Spain that he wanted to do. He also took the train through Copper Canyon. We shared a few stories from our trips for probably an hour or so. He had to run off and get his wife to town, so I went back to packing. The sun was directly on the picnic bench now which was great. Packing up went faster. The tent took some time since it was soaked and dirty. Once all loaded up I headed to the check-in shack. With the heavy rain last night no one came around to collect the fee. So I stopped in to pay it. From there I headed out to top off on fuel and hit the road.
Once on the road I was headed in the same direction as yesterday. Again rain clouds were on the horizon. This time there was small scattered clouds and one massive one. I didn’t think I would end up under it. Wrong. Rode right through the sucker. Temperature started to drop. Then sprinkles of rain. Then light rain. That’s where it stayed. Didn’t get any harder thankfully, though I was freezing my butt off. I was again only wearing pants. I definitely need to get some riding pants or something I can toss on over my pants quickly. It got cold enough I was shivering on the bike. The rain lightened and the air slowly started to warmed. As I came out of the treeline into Round Valley I finally started to dry out. I rolled in to town and stopped to finish warming up. The next big city I need to get some rain gear.
I stopped in Eagar, AZ to get something to eat and charge my electronics. While there I talked with a local who had some property out in the sticks. I told him I was planning on going to a friends cabin 30 miles North of Pie Town on dirt. He mentioned it was probably muddy as hell and I kind of agreed. I would have to skip Jim’s cabin on this trip. The ride into New Mexico was great. I got away from the rain clouds that drenched me earlier. The sun came out for a bit. I pulled off onto a dirt road to take another break, grab some photos and take a leak. I headed East again to the VLA, but not before stopping in Datil, NM for fuel. While there a guy came over and made a comment he had the same exact bike years ago. Its kind of funny how many people are coming up to me saying they had an XL500R. He had nothing but good things to say, which is good to hear. Rain behind me started rolling in so I head out. This time I wasn’t able to escape. I was hit with light rain and got cold again. Nothing too bad though. I dried out fairly quickly afterward.
Rolling into the valley where the VLA (Very Large Array) was I could see another storm cloud ahead. I stopped off the highway to take some photos of the VLA, then headed to the visitor center. Right as I parked I noticed an epic downpour coming up the rear. I wanted to get a photo of my bike and one of the antenna’s, but I didn’t think I’d have time. I quickly walked around the self-guided tour and snapped a few pictures. As I approached one of the antennas a loud clap echoed through the sky. This rain cloud was now arcing in a massive display of lightning. I quicken my pace, then abandoned the self-tour as the lightning became more frequent. I wanted to get all suited back up before the rain came. Right as I got back to my bike the rain started in. I hurried to get all my gear on. Jumping on the bike I attempted to kick start it. I had to give it a few kicks before it started. Usually I can get it in one or two, but in my haste I wasn’t doing it right. I took off down the road at a good clip. In the back of my mind I thought I was going too fast. Turned out I was. I vaguely made out the shape of something crossing the road and slammed on the brakes. A group of Impala were making their way across. In my excitement of running from the rain I started acting stupid, which I should know better. I had to force myself to take it easy again and make it back to the highway.
The initial storm I was trying to avoid by stalling at the VLA.
Downpour started as I took this photo. Then headed back to the bike.
Eventually I caught up with the rain I was trying to avoid by killing time at the VLA. I was stuck between the two. I decided to say screw it and pushed on through. Daylight was burning and if I wanted to get dry again I would need to punch through the wet to get the last of the dry before night. This storm turned out to be way colder and way wetter. My feet were floating in my boots. Both pants I had on were drenched. I had to slow down to 45 mph to keep the wind chill down so I could partially stay kinda warm. I just sucked it up and made my way from the VLA to just outside Socorro, NM where the rain let up. I passed a decent spot West of Socorro on the 60 that I could camp, but I went into town to get fuel and food first. All topped off I headed back out into the rain to setup camp. I went probably 2 miles off the highway on a dirt road. The land was fairly barren with only a few bushes. I found a large enough one to hide the bike behind and stopped to setup camp. The rain let up and I was able to get the tent up and my gear inside all dry. My boots had partially dried out and my socks were still soaked. I also discovered my phone was almost dead. The charger I added on the bike wasn’t working. I’ll need to tear into that once the rail lets up.
The blood shot eyes & weary selfie…
Through the night a light rain came and went. I passed out for a few hours until around midnight. The sound of lightning overhead startled me awake. Shit! I didn’t think about lightning at all. I was in a fairly barren area making my bike the tallest thing apart from a few hills near by. I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. I was pretty scared to be honest. The lightning was intense and striking one right after the other. Mentally drained and physically tired I attempted to convince my self I should be good. And if not, well it will be quick. Yeah, a bit grim, but in a warped way it helped me relax. The storm slowly made its way North and away from me. Once it quieted down I passed back out.