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North Carolina BBQ, Atomic Bombs, Canyon Roads and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame – Santa Fe, New Mexico

November 28, 2009

One of the nice things about not having a fixed schedule is being able to decide to hang around place for a while if you decide you like it. Santa Fe is that kind of place. I woke up early in the Marriott, showered, and packed my gear. I rode over to the Santa Fe KOA and checked in. I have a love/hate relationship with KOA. They are usually very well run and have immaculately clean facilities – bathrooms especially. KOA’s however are designed to cater to the RV crowd, not the leather clad long distance biker. They usually greet motorcyclists with bewildered looks, suspicion or downright hostility. We are the bottom of the KOA chain second only to cross country bicyclists. I paid for two nights and was given directions to my Kampsite. I rode over and setup camp. Desert camping has its own set of challenges which mostly revolve around shade, dust, and more dust. Thankfully the weather on October was pleasant if a bit cold in the evenings. My only real worry was rain forecast for the next day and night.

Today I planned to visit the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos and check out whatever else Los Alamos had to offer. The to Los Alamos was good but there was a ton of stop and go traffic through Santa Fe. Closer to Los Alamos the road opened up and I crossed the Rio Grande and started to climb through the canyons. There were several sweepers and turns as the road went higher. The last few miles were absolutely gorgeous and the road offered even tighter turns.

I can see why they put the nascent nuclear program out here – it’s in the middle of nowhere but they do have a Starbucks. I found the museum and went in and almost immediately came back out through the double doors. It was dull, it was un-interesting, and it was a friggin joke. That’s it for the start of weapons of Armageddon?

I wandered around the town for a bit. One interesting thing was the duck pond/swimming area. A “Cement Pond” to quote Jed Clampett. It looked like an excellent place to relax after a day of working on WMD’s. It was lunch time and I was hungry. On the ride up I passed a portable BBQ truck. The bed of the tow vehicle was piled high with split hardwood and I think that usually separates the good ones from the bad ones. If you are hauling a chord of wood around AND the BBQ facility up winding mountain roads in the middle of the New Mexico dessert you must care about your product. Kenny’s North Carolina BBQ is definitely a place that CARES about what comes out of their portable kitchen. Love the flaming pig logo.

Good stuff. I felt like a cannibal at a plane crash. They were a bit stingy with the napkins and by the end of the meal I looked like a baby eating beans – a sticky, BBQ sauce covered idiot with a grin the size of Texas. Thankfully for me there was a gas station next door and I was able to wash my face and hands. The grin however, stayed with me for the rest of the day. There is something about finding these out of the way places that just makes the food that much better and this was no exception.

Back on the bike, gloves yanked tight, leather zipped up and a blasting down the canyon I go. I’m heading back to town to get some supplies for the camp. Back in Santa Fe I hit the grocery store and pickup water, Mount Gay Rum, tonic, limes, ice and a few snacks.

The Cowgirl Hall of Fame

This place is absolutely a tourist trap but a good one with lots of locals who are easy to talk to and are interesting. I meet a heavyset grizzled hippy type guy who tells me that he is going to participate in a reality TV show about a group of “groovers” who are in-line skating across the USA. “It’s a sort of The Hills meets Survivor meets Melrose Place” he says. I don’t know what The Hills and don’t watch Survivor but I vaguely remember Melrose. Let me tell you it’s hard to come up with much more than “aaaaaaaaaaaaaah, that sounds interesting” as a reply to something like that. We get to talking and here is yet another character who claims to be recently divorced from a woman who took “several million” in the settlement but has the outward appearance of someone who would be hard pressed cover his bar tab and have enough gas money to fuel his Microbus. Maybe it’s the New Yorker/Banker in me but I regard everything that comes out of his mouth as bullshit – but we have a good conversation anyway – I buy the beers. I’m here mostly as a friend of mine has a friend here who works at the bar and is supposed to be gorgeous. Think a 20 year old Karen Allen or a 30 year Miley Sirus – your choice. Heather is her name and she is indeed very easy to look at. We chat for a while and she gives me a list of places to see from a local perspective. We try to match our schedules to go out together to see the town. She picks me dinner and it is very good, better than I was expecting at a place like this. I say my goodbye for the evening and say we’ll catch up tomorrow. The ride back is very nice if a bit cool.

Back at camp I clean the chain, organize some gear and take a few notes on the last couple of days. I also break out the rum and mix the sailor’s cocktail, a Mount Gay and Tonic with lime. When the booze comes out I’m off the bike for the evening. I buy firewood at $8.00 a bundle for the evening fire.

I end the day with a roaring fire under absolutely beautiful Santa Fe stars. The moon is peaking out through the clouds and I chat for a while with nearby campers who are doing a similar drive around America but in a cage. They both work at a resort hotel in the Cayman Islands and we compare notes on where I’ve been and where they’ve been. It’s good because they are heading east and I’m heading west and south. Soon after I head to bed and sleep very well under the stars.

Tomorrow – Santa Fe Mosh Pit, heavy rain in the desert    

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack permalink
    December 7, 2009 10:40 pm

    Well, you made it to Los Alamos. It’s too bad you didn’t keep going because the Jemez Mtns. are absolutely stunning. And there is a winery in Jemez Springs. Great roads, not too many cages, and absolutely unpredictable weather.

  2. Jack permalink
    December 7, 2009 10:40 pm

    P.S. The place to see is the Atomic Museum in Albuquerque. Very cool.

  3. Kenny Miller permalink
    February 8, 2010 3:14 pm

    It gives ME a grin the size of Texas to hear that you enjoyed my BBQ so much and I really enjoyed reading the way you described how you felt and looked. I will be adding your comments to the “Recent Reviews” section of our new menu. I remember you and your bike and had even mentioned you and your BBQ Sauce covered beard that evening to my girlfriend. Sorry about the napkins but I do remember bringing out some more after I saw that you definitely needed them. We are giving out more and better ones now. Come and see us again when you get a chance.


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