Across the desert

Ok, so much to catch up on… On Thursday morning, we made ‘bike touring delight’ for breakfast (eggs, veggies, cheese, and salsa), and then headed out from Questa towards the Rio Grande gorge. After a few miles of rollers on the highway, we turned off on a dirt road that took us on a gorgeous descent along a creek that started as a green valley and then became a steep-walled canyon before joining the Rio Grande at the John Dunn bridge. There we parked our bikes and hiked to the amazing black rock hot springs, which are right on the river so you can go back and forth between the cold river water and hot pools. Absolutely beautiful.

After we finished soaking, we rode up a steep series of switchbacks to get to the top of the other side of the gorge. From there, it was several miles of fantastic dirt road across the empty desert – no traffic, no people, just us and a strip of dirt leading across the sagebrush to the horizon. Simply stunning. We did run into one guy parked in the middle of nowhere in his ‘green new deal’ bus – had a nice conversation with him and told him about the hot springs: “you don’t know it yet, but this is why you ended up here!”.

Eventually the dirt met back up with the highway, and it was about 20 more miles of lonely, empty desert riding until we finally got to the town of Tres Piedras. We had expected there to just be a gas station where we might get some water, but instead we were greeted with the Chili Line Depot, a restaurant/motel with amazing food and even better company. A true crossroads, the back patio collected a menagerie of folks – an old biker who was building his own house in the desert, a lady who knew a ton of facts about the town (but talked non-stop), a man travelling from Silverton to pick outlet covers (“this is the most people I’ve seen in months”), a young couple from Minnesota who were looking to buy their own desert plot, and troubedor escaping the smoke from Tahoe who played us a few tunes. All this, plus good milkshakes! We debated heading on into the night, but the owner told us we could set up our tents in the back if we came back for breakfast – Deal! We set up camp and waited for Morgan to show up in her minivan before turning in for the night.