Saturday, October 1, 2011

National Parks Tour - NM

Trinity Site

Site of the first nuclear explosion on July 16, 1945.  Trinity Site is deep in White Sands Missile Range and is open to the public on two days each year.  The first Saturday in April and October.  It was a 1,000 bonus point location on the 2011 Land of Enchantment motorcycle rally.  I always wanted to visit this historical site and when I found out the LOE Rally included it as a bonus location I signed up for the rally.

On US 70 just east of Alamogordo.  This was an opportunity NPT passport stamp stop as it was not a planned stop on the LOE rally plan.  I literally stumbled over it on my way to the next bonus point. 

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

This site was on the LOE Rally bonus list and was a challenge to get to.  It was at the end of a one lane road through the Gila National Forrest that went on for almost 40 miles.  When I started down the road it was late afternoon.  I had to ride back out at dusk then dark.  Lots of critters.  I did not get a passport stamp as the Visitor Center was closed when I arrived. 

Carlsbad Caverns

This was a treat to visit.  I stopped by on my way home after the LOE Rally.  Took lots of pictures inside the caverns but most of them turned out too dark or fuzzy.  But It was a cool, literally, experience.

Check out this SpotWalla Map of the entire LOE Rally ride.  Also, check out the blog of the Land of Enchantment Rally for more details about my second official motorcycle rally.

Land of Enchantment Rally

This motorcycle rally is a IBA crowd favorite.  It was my second motorcycle rally, the Iron Butt Rally being my first.  The main reason I entered this rally was because my rally mentor, Howard Entman, encouraged me to join him and others.  And when he told me that the Trinity atomic bomb test site was one of the bonus locations, I had to enter.

Here is the Garmin zumo 665 GPS track of my ride in the rally.  See the SpotWalla Map of the ride up to NM, the rally bonus point locations, and the ride back home.

The LOE Rally started on Saturday, October 1, 2011 in Las Lunas, NM.  Riders assembled at the hotel a couple of days prior to meet friends and hang out.  On Friday evening the Rally organizers conducted the rider meeting where they handed out the bonus packet.  A list of locations from which riders could choose to ride, record there arrival, take a picture and then head to the next chosen bonus location.  This year's LOE Rally was a combo and efficiency type.  Bonus locations could be combined to gain extra points.  Riders would be ranked by total points divided by miles traveled.  So, the highest points per rally miles determined the finish order.   A minimum of 1,000 miles in 24 hours must have been recorded by a rider to be considered a finisher.   I finished in 12th position with 1,167 miles, 8,953 points for 7.67 points per mile. 

Listed in order are the bonus locations I scored during the LOE Rally:

Trinity Site Monument - 1,000 points - Central Combo
This is the large monument at the exact spot of the first atomic explosion on July 16, 1945.  Going to this historic location has been on my 'todo' list for most of my life.  It was quite a thrill to finally get to stand in the exact spot of the first nuclear explosion. 

The Lincoln County Line - 276 points - Presidents Combo
New Mexico has 5 counties named after US Presidents.  The Presidents required the rider to take a picture of the rally flag, rider number and the county line sign to score.

The National Solar Observatory - 28 points - Observatory Combo
Near scenic Cloudcroft NM the observatory is high in the mountains at the end of a long winding road.

Poncho Villa State Park - 42 points - West Combo
Site of where the forces Poncho Villa's army invaded the United States and attached the residents of Columbus NM and a small US military encampment on the outskirts of town.

The Grant Count Line - 276 points - President's Combo

Hacita Liquor Store and Saloon - 26 points - Southwest Combo
Only Ira knows why this is significant enough to be a bonus location.  And, I didn't ask.  Was an easy stop tough.

Gilla Cliff Dwellings National Monument - 42 points - Southwest & West Combo
This bonus location was at the end of a 40 plus miles winding single lane road through the Gilla National Forrest.  It took me almost 2.5 hours for the round trip back to the main highway.  The trip back was in the dark and I had so reduce speed due to the many critters encountered along the road.

The Town of Reserve - 47 points - West Combo
It was late in the evening when I got to this bonus location.  It had a gas station with pumps open to credit card users.  I filled up and was on my way.  Lots of elk on the margins of the highways in the Gilla National Forrest.

NRAO Very Large Array - 28 points - Observatory Combo
Yes, this is the one from the movie "Contact", my favorite ScFi movie.  In order to score this bonus at least three of the radio telescopes must be visible in the rally photograph.  It was after midnight when I pulled.  In had to position my motorcycle such that my high and low beam plus driving lights would illuminate the picture.  I also used my 192 lumen flashlight to help with the lighting. 

Pie Town - 29 points - West Combo
Famous for....pies?

McKinley County Line - 276 points - President's Combo
This was my last bonus location before heading back to the finish line at the hotel in Las Lunas.