American Skid Marks
Setting out on a great American motorcycle roadtrip.

If There is a God, He is F-ing Cranky

After a long haul last night I slept in a bit and had a long breakfast in Albuquerque. The morning ride north to Santa Fe followed highway 14. 14 winds through country that gradually becomes more and more rocky, filled with small canyons of an almost pink porous rock. The ride is winding but not twisty, you can let the soft easy curves of the road entrance you even at high speeds.

The only place I could think to go in Santa Fe was downtown. Downtown is devoted to peddling New Mexican crafts and souvenirs; in summary, it is a giant mall. If you need a T-shirt, some ice cream or a turquoise trinket that you can brag to your friends about having bought in Santa Fe, this is your place. Despite the overwhelming “Disneyfication” of downtown, the area is architecturally and historically significant. Some of the buildings downtown have been there since the time of the city’s founding and it may be worth a visit if only for that reason.

St. Francis Cathedral

St. Francis Cathedral

Loretto Chapel

Loretto Chapel

However, I quickly grew weary of the commercial bent of the place and decided to head out for Taos.

Road Outside Santa Fe

Headed to Chimayo from Santa Fe

On the way I decided to stop in the small town of Chimayo. Chimayo is home to a small church that purportedly is the site of numerous curings of the sick and healings of the infirm. In the early 1800s a rancher caught site of a beam of light emanating from the earth here. Just like most people who see ghostly lights shining up out of the earth in cow pastures normally do, he began to dig. Lo and behold, he unearthed a four-foot crucifix adorned with the figure of a man. A crucified man. A crucified man with a beard and dressed in a loincloth looking remarkably like the anglicised vision of Jesus splattered all over Renaissance paintings. Clearly unaware of the future possibilities of radiocarbon dating the wooden relic, he proceeded to spread the word of his miraculous find and eventually convinced the local clerical authorities to help him build a chapel on the site. The earth from within the hole where the crucifix originated is rumored to have holy properties and pilgrims make their way here in hopes of being healed and cured. I figured, “couldn’t hurt” and rubbed some of the magic dust on my riding jacket and pants.

Santuario de Chimayo Gates

Santuario de Chimayo Entry Gate

Santuario de Chimayo Cross

Santuario de Chimayo

Perhaps there is a god. And perhaps he foresaw my sarcastic description of his fancy chapel in Chimayo and decided a mild smiting was in order, for about 5 miles out of town, my bike stopped going. The gauges went dead and the bike sputtered and died; the symptoms indicative of an electrical problem. I checked my battery connections and stripped all of the after market electrical connections I had made. A bump start of the bike got me rolling again. For a about a mile I rode confidently, then the same thing happened; the gauges died and the bike shook to a halt on the side of the road. The second stall conveniently stranded me along a stretch of road where I could get no cell service. I had to leave my bike and hike to the top of a hill where I reached out to my lifeline back home, The Pidge. While I dejectedly watched the sun set and listened to the coyotes howl, she promptly signed me up for a AAA membership and arranged for them to contact me. To make a long story short, as the light of the day faded I spotted a tow truck on the horizon and made my way down the hill to greet the driver.

I had the bike towed to a powersports shop in Santa Fe where I locked it to the side of their building overnight; hopefully, they will not take offense. Vick, the tow truck driver, and I chatted on the 40 or so mile drive into Santa Fe and discovered that we both lived in a small Orange County town called Placentia at the exact same time as kids and may have even attended the same elementary school together. Small world. Tomorrow I’ll make my way down to the shop and get the bike looked at. I’m hopeful that it’s not the alternator; alternators are not supposed to break, and when they do, they are expensive to replace.


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