Four Corners Ride
Our intrepid wheel man, Paco, drove the Badger Den and trailer 543 miles from Russellville, AR to Amarillo Texas for an overnight stop and then we pushed on to the Desert Rose RV Park in Bloomfield, NM, which is northwest of Albuquerque, a total distance of 453 miles from Amarillo.
Crossing the top of Oklahoma was a dispiriting trip and I was thankful we were in a heavy truck instead of braving howling winds sweeping across the featureless landscape on a motorcycle. Likewise, the panhandle of Texas held nothing that was memorable. But all of this effort brought us to New Mexico to set up our Four Corners trip on May 22nd.
As is painfully obvious, we’ve spent a lot of time hauling the bikes from one area of the country to another to do a one day ride. However, we were well-rewarded for these long slogs with a breathtaking circuit from northwestern New Mexico into Colorado and on to the Four Corners Monument with a short leg of the trip into Arizona, returning to New Mexico. We did clip a very tiny corner of Utah, so I’ll claim that we rode Utah.
The change in environment from New Mexico to Colorado was striking. We went from an area of dry mesas and barren hills almost devoid of vegetation to landscape of lush forests and snow laced mountain ranges and, important to riders, better roads. The 20-plus mile ride up a twisting, serpentine road to the top of Mesa Verde offered inspiring and distracting views of the valley below us. That part of journey alone would have been more than enough for a satisfying motorcycle adventure.
We were determined, however, to find the Four Corners Monument, and so we left Mesa Verde, gassed up in Cortez and pressed on to the FCM.
There the wind was ferocious. The flags of the four states and the Indian nations that have custody of the monument were flapping strenuously, ready to rip off the flagpoles. The road into the Monument was unpaved as was the area surrounding it and was an unstable surface for motorcycles. But as can be seen from the photo below, a number of bikers—all Harley riders—were as resolute as we were to experience being in four states simultaneously. We strolled around the plaza filled with tourists from around the world, gawked at the markers and plaques, and Paco had his first taste of traditional fry bread prepared by a Ute woman.
After our visit to the Monument, we rode south into Arizona, then turned east toward Shiprock, NM to begin the final leg back to Bloomfield. Shiprock—the rock, not the town—is an imposing landmark that dominates the horizon to the south as you travel east on Route 64. It rises up from a flat plain, 7,100 ft. high, and it’s hard to not be mesmerized by the sight. This section of highway was very uneven and a brutal cross-wind continued attacking us, so I finally pulled over for a photo op to capture the scene and focus on keeping the motorcycle upright for the rest of the trip.
Shiprock, the town, is within the Navajo Tribal boundary and the tribe’s headquarters are there. The next town was Farmington where we made a brief visit to the local Wal-Mart for a few supplies that we could carry on the bikes. I mention this only because we were just about the only non-Native Americans in the store—we were the minorities there and it felt like we had been transported into a village of Navajos, Hopis, Utes, and other tribal populations. We were the outsiders. It was humbling experience.
Two humorous episodes deserve comment: in the store, I passed by a Native American man sporting a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt and later on the highway to Bloomfield we spied a large billboard sponsored by the local Catholic diocese that displayed a picture of Christ. The text below, “Jesus is watching you.” Directly behind the spot where the billboard stood was a commercial property—the site of an adult video store. There was only one car in the parking lot at the video store so perhaps the billboard was having the desired effect. It merited a photo but we didn’t have time. However, Paco later found the picture on the web and I’ve included it so you can see it for yourself. Obviously, we weren’t the only ones who found humor in the juxtaposition of the two signs.
We returned to the Desert Rose, toasted our 247 mile Four Corners Tour with cold Coronas and started planning our route north to Idaho as the next destination.