Mother Nature blessed us with a most perfect riding morning. Not a cloud in the sky and temps perfect for short-lived riding across Arizona and New Mexico on into Texas.
Before we begin, we gathered at Paco’s home or better, I should say, Mrs Paco’s home.
A scheduled “kick off” Zoom meeting was planned. Again, with the day 1 theme, we were blessed to have Bishop Staker via Zoom to bless our ride for travel as well as COVID safety. To our surprise over 50 Zoomers logged in from around the country to hear a few words and our blessing. Even The Judge bestowed a Jewish blessing. Rover, of the world famous Mars Rover Rover bestowed a more secular blessing as well. Thank you, everyone, it truly touched our hearts. We were also blessed with a few in-person persons. This portended a day with a few welcomed wanted normalities.
Even the Paco neighborhood showed up to give us a horse and horse-n-buggy parade. It was an amazing morning.
After some quick hugs and kisses we were off! Down the dusty (literally) trail. Soon we headed south on Scottsdale road, onto the 101, merged with he 60 and headed east. Head East is generally overlooked by class rock radio.
Our first stop was Globe, AZ. We needed to top off the tanks for the more sparsely populated southeast Arizona as well as hydrate and disinfect! New normal? As we consumed our electrolyte infused beverage we commented on the amount of traffic we encountered. This was unexpected on a COVID era Saturday morning. We also commented on a group of teenagers with no where to go and not enough to do in a parent’s car at the gas station. Thank goodness we were NEVER in that predicament and as such never got into any adolescent trouble!!! Time to head southeast.
Next stop, Lordsburg. I have always thought it takes an interesting ego to name a town Lordsburg. Godsville, Messiahstown, Alhambra, …wait, there is one of those in California. But I digress.
Lordsburg was a stop for fuel and a short break. Here we noticed the COVID changes. Most people wearing masks, social distancing being observed in a stringent manner but, at the same time, typical acknowledgement and greetings from the locals and passers-through. We also commented on how well Slaw was doing this year. No cramping or visited to an ER. This is a true blessing. Also we had not yet heard Gordito complain about our direction or speed. Wonderful!! Although either Papa or Paco needs to clean windshields and check the oil on Sunday morning because Lone Star is on strike.
As we roared East on Interstate 10 we still have beautiful clear skies but the typical New Mexico wind out of the south. Truck traffic seems normal. Just before dropping down into the Las Cruses valley we were deleted by a dust devil and always has a tendency to snap a riders senses back to 100%. Paco is constantly reminded of how grateful he is for finally getting a big boy seat and a big boy windscreen. This makes all the difference in the world on the long haul. It also makes all the difference in the evenings and subsequent days because of the lesser amount of wear and tear.
Soon we are crossing our second state line and find ourselves in Texas about 15 miles from downtown El Paso. Merging onto I10 in going our direction was a large group of bikers, most of whom had high rise bars. Just due to speed and traffic, Paco and Papa ended up in their group while some of their group were cut off and separated form their pack. In some areas of the country this is considered bad form. In an effort to A: avoid downtown El Paso and B: extricate ourselves from the foreign pack we took an exit that puts us on a relatively new bypass for El Paso. It is also a very cool steep mountain climb up and down that takes us around the north of El Paso and ultimately to the southeast side one exit from our hotel. As we made our way around the bypass it did not go un-noticed that one of our earlier biker brethren came flying through at a speed much greater than the flow. He made a quick glance and moved on. Certainly he wasn’t a scout looking for any mischievous foreign biker gangs! The Patriots Pack can be an intimidating bunch LOL.
Our hotel was welcoming and the staff was wonderful. Some social distancing measures and a request to wear masks at least in the lobby to protect the front desk people. This seems reasonable. It was nice to hear the families in the pool. We checked in and went to our rooms for a quick clean up and then back to the lobby to uber to the steakhouse. Who knew that would be a possibility in this era? This was wonderfully normal with a twist of the new normal. Our Uber driver, Irma, was taking a long time to get going form her prior stop and the 7 minutes travel time was still 7 minutes 10 minutes later. A quick zoom of the Uber map and sure enough Irma was in Target when she accepted the call. Multitasking I presume. 9 minutes later she arrived and there was perhaps a Target bag or two in the car. Our steakhouse was all of 3 minutes away so the joke in on her… but now really because Paco, ever the gentleman, gave her an old fashioned tip. It was this green rectangle thingy he had stuck in his pocket.
As we approached the front door Paco stopped us and pulled out his bottle of hand sanitizer. Rover and Mrs Paco should be proud. This is the solution I almost mistook for sunscreen earlier in the day. Why else would Paco be offering me a bottle of a sticky solution at a few stop?! We cleansed ourselves and entered the restaurant where the host and hostess stoped us to first stand at the sanitizing station before entering. We pleaded this would be redundant and when Paco produced our bottle of hand sanitizer they acquiesced. We were given the options of a booth or a table. The tables were at about 1/3 the normal density. There were servers, and a bar and diners and bar patrons. It was refreshing. Who knew this would be a highlight of the day? We were given disposable menus. Our napkin wrapped tableware was itself wrapped in cellophane. Servers all had masks. This is new normal? What was normal were the cocktails, bread and chips and our ribeyes. It was the best B-/C+ ribeye I have ever tasted. Just to be back in an almost normal dinner-out setting.
At the end of dinner we ordered another Uber. This time Carlos was 18 minutes away! Oh well, we can just continue our conversation. As we see Carlos is approaching we exited the restaurant to find a “police” situation on the street in from to the parking lot. This was an airbag deployed accident. A Ford Fusion was half on curb and half in the street facing the wrong direction in traffic. The driver was standing and speaking to a masked officer. It was a curious situation as there was no other vehicle and we couldn’t imagine how this dude was able to get his auto into this position unaided. Carlos arrived and we were off. It so happens that our route of travel took us by the accident and we say the other side of the car. There obviously had been another vehicle involved. Carlos in English said “hit and run.” Really? Are there many of those here? “Yes, many.” Mexico is 500 yards directly ahead on this road. They just ride into Mexico and forget about it. Can I say that I prefer Scottsdale as a place to live?
We arrived safely back at the hotel, scheduled our morning departure, used our hand sanitizer and headed off to bed! Day one down.