Taking in New Mexico (Part I)

Arriving in Santa Fe, we first stayed with a friend of friends, Faith, and her housemates. Faith was very invested in the local vegan community and we had a great time meeting everyone.

We then followed a local bikepacking trail http://www.bikepacking.com/routes/caja-del-rio/ , meant to be an overnighter.

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Some Petroglyphs at La Cieneguilla near the start of the trail. Some are thought to be several thousand years old.

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We were also looking forward to pay a short visit at what seemed like a very interesting museum at one possible start of the trail, El Rancho de las Golondrinas, which is a Museum on New Mexico history, specifically focusing on the 18th and 19th century. Unfortunately the museum is only fully open to the public from June to the beginning of October and while we still could have done a guided tour throughout October we would have had to book it in advance.

But we had a chance to learn more about New Mexico’s history later on as we visited Santa Fe’s history museum. And after a while without off-road cycling and camping we enjoyed being out in the sun again.

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However we didn’t make it nearly as far as we had planned to camp that evening. While we had tried again to fill our bicycle tubes with slime/goo to avoid getting too many flats due to New Mexico infamous cactus thorns and goat’s heads, it only won me a flat-free hour. After a couple small thorns in one tyre it wouldn’t seal anymore and we had to get pretty dirty and change the tube, and I had a few more punctures later on.

The following day the trail was quite mellow for a while, until it got to rockier parts.

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IMG_4412Still amazing views, and the landscapes reminded us of Baja.

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When we hit what was pretty much a donkey trail we had a hard time, especially me, trying not to fall or slide down from the narrow and crumbly trail while pushing my loaded bicycle (but still not maxed out since we had left stuff in Santa Fe).

As we hiked-a-bike for a couple of hours we had to renounce doing the complete trail as we had to be back in Santa that evening. We took a well-travelled dirt road to make it back in time. It made us realize that for us doing one of these “Overnighter” means we need 3 days to complete it!

From Santa Fe we cycled to a place between La Ribera and Villanueva, one day’s ride from Santa Fe. There, via workaway we had rendez-vous at a family’s place to help out on their homestead.

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The cute “casita” we stayed in while volunteering.

It was a great occasion to learn more about growing veggies and cereals, organic farming, living in rural New Mexico, and about what being self-sufficient nowadays really means, because as our host pointed out, it’s maybe not about being 100% self-sufficient or as close as possible, but maybe more about what you can grow without too much input and which makes a significant difference to what you eat in quality and quantity.

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Vegetables beds
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Yummy greens
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Getting friendly with typical New Mexican weeds.

We did a bunch of weeding, harvesting, prepared some garlic, and had a good time hanging out with our hosts too.

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Harvested amaranth
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Heaps of corn !

After an interesting week we came back briefly in Santa Fe and waited out a couple of days at a Warmshower’s host couple, Laura and Eric, for some nasty weather (cold and freezing rain) to pass.

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Some traces of the previous days nasty weather on a car coming from high up with some snow on the hood, as we cycle out of Santa Fe…

We then cycled out to Taos area, to go visit our friends Jolly and Carrie and have a look at the famous Earthships…

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Admiring the snow-capped mountains riding towards Taos.

We had met Jolly and Carrie in Baja as we rolled into Todos Santos (Southern Loop (456km)) in February.

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20181103_104325.jpgIn between some delicious pancakes, organic tomatoes, and other vegan delicacies we got to explore and did a lot of climbing all together outdoors.

First at El Rito where the rock was a mix of metamorphosed sand and mud, and cobbles. It was a great and fun crag for easy climbs (sport and top-rope).

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Ian and Jolly making fun of a very strong climber yelling on an overhang.

The following day we went out top-roping on some of the Rio Grande gorges. Amazing views and good climbing too.

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Carrie spotting some 4-legged friends…

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IMG_4553.JPGIt was Ian’s first time climbing outdoors- and while he wouldn’t spend his time doing it it was an interesting discovery for him.

We then went to see the famous Earthships.

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IMG_4627.JPGWe didn’t get to do the short guided tour but felt we learnt more by having a look at Carrie’s Earthship.

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A banana tree in the Earthship’s greenhouse space

Then Carrie and Jolly treated us to a night in a cave house…

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Crossing the river to get there !

Carved in sandstone this is simply amazing.

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If you want to know more about these caves and the man who have digged them, have a look at the documentary Cave Digger !

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After making it back to Santa Fe, collecting a new thermarest to replace my old one which had delaminated and sorting out a few more things, it was time to hit the road again.

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