Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend, New Mexico

Ninety degrees in Seattle and I was looking forward to getting on that plane and heading to New Mexico for Memorial Day weekend. Weather was supposed to be mid-seventies and I had reserved a convertible. Before signing off the computer, I decided to see if Jason and the Argonauts were playing anywhere. I had checked a few weeks before and they were going to be playing at the Old Taos Inn, but before I could get there. As luck would have it, they were booked in Jemez Springs.

So fly we did, in search of better weather, motorcycle roads for future use, and a general curiosity to see if the Red River Rally would suffer from the call to boycott the event. We found the answers we were looking for, and caught some good music and a good unwinding along the way. After arriving in Albuquerque, which so far has always reminded me of Buffalo with a different climate, we headed North to Jemez Springs.

State Highway 4, is one of New Mexico's splendid and scenic drives that takes you past amazing geological formations, ancient Indian ruins, the Jemez Pueblo and Los Ojos, the local watering hole. There were approximately 50 people attending the Memorial Day JAMM Festival. Great place if you are uncomfortable with crowds. We hung out, sampling salsas, barbeque and Indian fry bread until Jason played. At best there were 15 people sitting in the tent as he opened with "Everything Good." During his set, it began to rain like a bastard, so the entire cadre of festival attendees suddenly appeared to take advantage of the tent. Good thing I put the top up on the car.

After chatting with Jason at the conclusion of his set, we headed North, and then East towards Bandelier National Monument. By then the rain had stopped and the scenery was kick-ass. We eventually landed in Chimayo to check into our hacienda. At the conclusion of yet another wonderful New Mexican Dinner, I smoked a cigar and relaxed outside. A passing native asked me if I wanted a beer. "No thanks," I answered, a little suspicious of her seemingly unstable gate and slurred speech. She assured me it was non alcoholic, but she could come up with some wine if O'Doul's didn't suit me. I used the cacophony of coyotes yelping in the background as the reason for why I had to leave, immediately, and thanked her for the offer. Maybe next time.

On memorial day we headed up to Taos via the scenic route. Toas get's its fair share of spill over from the Red River Rally. The locals seemed to indicate that things were a bit quieter this year.

Last year, 15-year-old Gerald Bailon of Questa hit a motorcycle traveling east along New Mexico 38, head-on, and sent another motorcycle skidding out of control. This resulted in the deaths of two bikers, and there is a theory that the driver crossed the centerline on purpose - a sort of game of chicken or bizarre scare tactic. There is a feeling by many bikers that the families of two bikers that were killed have yet to see justice. Fuelling this anger is the fact that the kid's license was never yanked. There is also speculation that his family is politically connected. Just a bad situation all around.

In response to this tragedy, Abate of Colorado had said that they would boycott the rally, and they encouraged others to do the same. It seemed to be having some effect, though I questioned whether it really hurt the intended targets.

We drove through Taos and indeed there were bikers - grey-haired circus clowns dressed in Harley bling, sans helmets (anyone catch this months Motorcyclist article about helmets? ), brandishing their Harley credit cards and tattoos. I was embarrassed for them so we headed north to our property which rests in a valley near Arroyo Hondo, where the Hondo River meanders through farm country and eventually meets the Rio Grande Gorge. We hung out for a while and then drove down to the Gorge to watch rafters preparing to battle the class 4 rapids.

Hunger eventually got the best of us, so we had to endure the biker circus until we could seek refuge at the Old Taos Inn. After a few margaritas, few glasses of wine and a wonderful feast consisting of duck, venison sausage and elk wellington, we started to forget about all that shameful noise and silly behavior going on out front. I was half-prepared to gather them up and hold an intervention, but then I thought, hell, if these people want to play dress up and throw money at the town, why not? I left Taos wondering what sort of goon-squad would replace them after they eventually died out?