My heart kept telling me to head west and keep on the throttle across the great plains. I knew that the high mountains of New Mexico awaited me with streams, Ponderosa and Pinõn Juniper after climbing out of the arid scrub brush, creosote bush and cactus. In Tatum, NM, I heard the hiss of an air compressor and made a new friend when he offered to blow out my air filter. A cloud of Louisana dust swirled on the wind and we both laughed about increased fuel economy. I made a crash landing in Roswell for supplies and got out before the locals could put a price tag on me for sale to any aarp cardholder. Only 20 miles west on 380, I heard a familiar clink and grind in the front end. Upon inspection, I found the front wheel bearing was going out. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as the last time on the Top of the World Hwy but I knew it could be. Fortunately I carry fresh bearings and planned to stop in Ruidoso to find an MC shop.
In the morning before sunrise, I replaced the exhaust gasket o-ring which had fallen off in LA at Despino's tire and I found after packing up the gear, made oatmeal then rode over the mountain pass and into town. Your Mother's Motorcycle Shop was closed but I wound up out front of Big Boy Toy's Motorcycle Repair where three brutish put bulls snarled and barked behind the safety of a 6ft chain link fence. Around back I found the proprietor, a wiry and muscular bearded fellow in oily jeans and black t-shirt, who eyed me with suspicion but offered to help. "I normally just beat me out of there" he said and with that promise was quickly hammering away at my bearings. Although the shop manual calls for a bearing puller and my cautious pessimism saw him pounding a hole in me hub, I kept my mouth shut and let the desert cycle sage handle the task. In three minutes or so, he had both bearings out, they fell throuhh a crack in the ramp in a clink of metal on the filthy ground below the shop. I guess I wasn't going to save the one working bearing after all. While he dealt with a local's tire change, I hammered the new bearings home and reinstalled my wheel. Before heading off, I offered my thanks and appreciation, to which he briefly looked up from the 1969 Yamaha enduro he was hammering on with a blank stare.
The front end felt solid again heading north from Ruidoso. La Tortuga climbed up the steep grade to 7400ft at a robust 12 mph but eventually escaped the commercial trappings of town for a NF trail. The road to Bonito Lake was in great condition and the day-use area along the way was just the relaxation spot I needed. The last river or flowing water I saw was the brown and weak Pecos River a few days ago. Honestly I just needed a free bath. After cooling off, I wound along the edge of the mountain past Nogal Lake and up on the edge of the desert and town of Carizozo in the valley below. Alamagordo and White Sands are just south but I'm headed along 380 tomorrow toward the Rio Grande. Hammock camping at 7100ft in October ain't too shabby!
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 59'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.