Thursday, 25 February 2010

Blowing in the wind

Good thing we did a holding blog last night and today is a rest day. We’re both sitting in our room eating Snickers bars and watching highlights of the Winter Olympics women’s and men’s curling on TV. Getting excited about lumps of granite sliding down the ice will most probably be the high point of today’s activities, so without further delay let us get on with telling you about yesterday’s adventure packed day!

Basking in the glorious sunshine and in a great mood we started from Las Cruces at 3900ft destined for Kingston at 6,200ft. We made our way through some choice parts of New Mexico. The wide open plains with Pecan Trees and Chilli Farms back-dropped against chains of magnificent reddish brown mountains made for some spectacular views. Pecan Trees are dominant in this region and an ingenious farm tool is used to trim their braches and keep them in check: imagine a 20ft long roller blade with wheels made of sharp spinning metal discs the size of dustbin lids. Attach this configuration to the arm of JCB and voila… you have a tree branch trimmer New Mexico style. Not wanting to be out shone by the mega-tree-trimmer we saw what we believe to have been a majestic Peregrine Falcon, even as it sat motionless on a branch it looked as if it was moving at a million miles an hour.

Still on a high and cycling with Talwin’ behind us, we saw, far in the distance, what we though was snow on the ground. As we slowly got closer, the upsetting truth became apparent. Thousands of little white up-side down crates, similar to dog-houses lined up in rows and columns that from a distance created an illusion of white snow. Poking out from this mass of crates were little sad faces not more than 8 weeks old, wishing for just one chance to run and be free. We were going to take a photo but thought some of you might have been as disturbed by the image as we were. Veal. Most of us have probably eaten it. This image will put us off for quite some time.

We crossed the dry Rio Grande several times and it wasn’t until we took our final lunch break 5 hours into the trip at the foot of snow-capped mountains, that we learned why the river was dry: thanks to Wanda at the grocery store who explained this to us. The Rio Grande is fed from the north by a huge body of water called the Caballo Reservoir, which itself is fed from the mountain streams and melt water from the snow. Each winter, the reservoir is damned to encourage the maximum volume of reserve water. In spring, the dam is opened and water flows freely down the Rio Grande and into the many creeks which in turn support the multi-million dollar farming economy of New Mexico, with each farm taking its turn to irrigate its land. Refreshed and armed with information to take our minds off the ‘Killing Fields’, we turned west to complete the final 27 miles …OMG it was tough, especially with Edwin’ and the Sidewinder playing tag with us all the way. Check out the Garmin speed/elevation graph in the photo gallery.

15 miles, 90 minutes and 1500ft ascent later, we still had over 10 miles to go as the sun began to set behind the snow-capped mountains. Rather disturbingly, we hadn’t seen a single open store, restaurant or service station throughout this whole 27-mile torture. We were both quietly thinking, “Where on earth are we going to eat?” (or something a bit less polite) and decided not to discuss this obvious and imminent problem. Finally approaching the B&B, we were greeted by growling, barking dogs. But nothing was going to stop us getting a shower, food and a good night’s sleep. We think the dogs could see the rabid hunger dancing like fire in our eyes and made a swift retreat fearing for their own lives. We parked our bikes up against the side of the building and walked through the front door of the B&B without a scratch or bite!

As we walked into the open sitting room made cosy by the ornate wood burning stove in the corner, we were struck by the overwhelming (i) smell of food cookin’ in the kitchen and (ii) Bob Dylan’esque aura permeating through every sinew of the building. An irresistible urge to don a pair of sandals and tie dye shirts; eat tofu, smoke herb, hug trees and play the guitar was understandable. Catherine, the owner, is the Grande Fromage of ‘natural building’, providing consultancy services around the world and teaching the art of ‘no rules’ natural building from her B&B nestled on the side of this snowy mountain. Sitting in the open plan lounge to greet us as we walked in were a lovely Canadian couple who shared the philosophy of eco-friendly organic living. After a short introduction and Anthony hugging Catherine after she informed us that we were invited to dinner, we got shown to our room. A quick wash and scrub up we hurried back down to the main house for a family style dinner of Pumpkin Ravioli & Salad with Paige, Matt, Roberta, Jor, Tom and Catherine. We learned that Matt and Paige, who had cooked the dinner, were fellow cyclists, who had chosen to be homeless as they cycled from San Francisco to Austin, and had arrived at the B&B a few days earlier. Roberta is a sculptor looking to learn more about ‘natural building’ and Jor (meaning “earth”) a Norwegian traveller whose fixed abode is …wait for it …the Earth. Dinner was a nice affair as we exchanged stories about life, recent experiences and eco friendly cooking.

We’re meeting a lot of urban warriors on this stage of the trip who are well educated in the matters of complex carbs, yoga, the powers of crystals, Adobe wall building and opening chakras, but unfortunately for us (present company not included) have not yet mastered the essentials of consuming ORGANIC WINE. For thousands of years alcohol has been a staple and important part of the development of the human species. We respect this important part of our history and encourage others to do the same (Warning: Alcohol should be drunk in moderation and not if you’re pregnant or a light-weight).

As dinner was coming to an end, we heard the distant sounds of singing and guitar strumming coming from the front room. Then to make things more interesting, the Canadian guy came into the kitchen to find some spoons play! Very one-man band.

A big thanks to Matt, Paige and Roberta for all the delicious cooking, to Mike for the fresh vegetables, and to Catherine for inviting us to dinner both nights … and a late Happy Birthday to Paige.

Us x


  1. Hi Beans
    A blog worth the wait! Maybe you should start an organic winery when you have finished your trip?! I would volunteer as a taster, just to help you out, you understand! Hope the snow stays away. LOL SB xx

  2. Dahlings

    So many things to read and so many comments to make...we like the speed/elevation graph very much but where is the photo of His Majesty Peregrine The Falcon? You know how we like to have the evidence of these sightings just to make sure you weren't confused by a large New Mexican sparrow. Parts of the blog are worrying, although I don't want to dwell on the baby calves, not good. I take it that you are not getting any eco-wine at the moment. Without alcohol it is probably nearly impossible for AHB to listen to the strumming of the eco-guitar, without being reduced to tears, bringing back as it does, the ghost of Christmas past...let's all sing along now: "kumbaya, my lord, kumbaya", and if you can't sing, then just clap along in time...probably AHB feels better now. Just off to sort out my throat chakra, it's closed up a bit with emotion. Good luck with the next stage. We love you both.

    MG & T xxx

    PS off to Geneva Show on Sunday, will be out of contact for a few days

  3. SB, MG&T - You will be pleased to hear that we will be setting up our own petite organic village when this is over. We will call it Reyall. SB, you will be Head of Organic Wine Tasting. MG&T, you will be Joint Heads of Wildlife Photography. We miss you all.
    Us x