Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Socorro, Nm to the Valley of Fire and inbetween

Im breaking down the last several days of riding into different posts so its easier to follow. My last update was on my day off in Datil, Nm, March 30th I believe. Well, its Tuesday April 5th now and I am in Lubbock, Tx. Im going to update you all with the cronological order of events and then at the end summarize and work it backwords to better explain the events and circumstances that have got me exactly where I am. So, I am at the Romero residence after finishing off an easy day today and the only reason I am right here and have had the luck Ive had up to this point is because of water and traintracks in California.

So, on my day off in Datil, I had my meal paid for by a Marine 2nd Lt. which was pretty cool. The next day (Wed Mar 30) was my ride from Datil, Nm to Socorro. I was feeling alot better after enduring the ride on Tuesday and was happy to have very little headwind so I made the 64mi ride in a little over 4 hours. On the way though I passed the VLA, Very Large Array. Its a Y shaped array of large antenneas that are trying to speak with aliens to my understanding. It was pretty cool. I pushed down the road through Magdalena and down the hill to Socorro. My primary concern entering town was locating the bike shop so I could stock up on tubes since the ones I had were slowly losing air all the time and every morning and at least 1 or 2 times throughout my ride I would have to refill them. Well, I rolled into town and passed another biker, a lady pulling a tow-behind. I blazed right past her in a hurry to the store and rode into the center of town, or something like it, and looked around. There was no bike shop to be seen and I wondered if I passed it so I turned around and the lady I passed earlier was just pulling up next to me.

"Hello, you must be looking for the bike shop!"
"Oh, I thought you were since you came this way. They used to be right there on the corner but the owner sold out a month ago and is in Europe now working as a mechanic for a womens bike racing team."
"Well, my name is Cathy!"

Well, we talked for a minute or 2, there were no other bike shops in town but maybe they had some at the house. Cathy also said that I could stay with her and her husband Pat at their home on the NM Tech campus. I followed her back to the house, met Pat and dropped my gear. They didnt have any tubes in the size I needed but it was ok. The tubes were holding up well enough I suppose. It was mid-afternoon, so I changed clothes and hopped on the bike and rode down to the campus and sat down and started talking with people. It was fun hanging out and meeting random people ill probably never see again but who knows. I had to make it back to the house by 6:30 because Pat and Cathy offered to take me out to dinner. We ended up going to Socorro Springs and I had the amazing green chile cheesburger that New Mexico is, among many other things, better known for. We got to talking. Pat and Cathy travel quite a bit and one of my hopes is to sail South America and coast hop and such but I dont know anything about sailing. Theyve sailed a bit so I picked their brains a bit for knowledge but they ended up referring me to a friend who lives in Louisiana who knows a whole lot more about that subject. So, im going to New Iberia, La to meet Ken by April 15th. When we got back to the house, Cathy mentioned a few places on my route to check out. One being Valley of Fires, a campground next to one of the best preserved/most recent lava flows in north america, so I decided that would be my destination for the next days ride since it was located only several miles west of Carrizozo, the town I was planning on making for that day anyways. The next morning Cathy made me breakfast and we all talked briefly before I ended up taking off to the Valley of Fires.

Thursday March 31st: An interesting day. Rode on the 380 south of Socorro and headed eastbound. The wind was blowing pretty good across the plains and was coming from the north so the flag was fulled extended and visible to all who passed. Definitely was a good thing today. As I was pedaling along the north side of the White Sands Missle Range, just past the Trinity test site, I saw a car pulled over on the roadside and the driver was leaning against it in an odd manner. The closer I got, I saw that the driver was taking pictures. Pulling alongside, I slowed down and she walked over to me and asked what the story was. She was visible appreciative of it and she explained her cousin and his wife, Eddie and Novelda Chavez, had lost their son Steven in 2007 and that they lived in Hondo, a town right on my route. It was pretty awesome, in the middle of nowhere, on the side of a windy highway we were able to meet and connect in this way. She signed his name on the flag and took some more photos as I rode on. The rest of the day was somewhat uneventful. I stopped to water up at the Rock Shop in Bingham, Nm and met Donny and Allison there, both huge supporters of the military and such. I hung out for a bit to take a break and socialize. Donny hooked me up with some grain bars and Allison gave me a bumper sticker honoring the fallen from Vietnam. I trimmed it up and put it on the back of my helmet and soon after got back on the road and finished the next 30 or so miles to the Valley of Fires. So, the Valley was pretty neat, the campground is located right next to the lava flow and the campground hosts are even more awesome. Fred and Trish Steely are volunteers who live at the campground and run it. Well, I ended up hanging out with Fred for most of the day and they offered me the recliner in their camper that evening. Their son Casey was in the Marines and they were very supportive of the ride I was doing. Fred and Trish, like Pat and Cathy have life figured out and I had a good time talking with Fred. They hooked me up with food and drinks that evening and we ended up getting an astronomy lesson as well from some guys with telescopes at the back of the park. The whole day was pretty awesome and Fred and Trish definitely made the ride and experiences much more memorable.

Danny and Allison

Fred and Trish

A few quick notes, the photo above, I was friended on Facebook by Brandi Giese, she had lost her brother Ryan in January so, with her blessings, I signed his name on the flag to ride for him as well. The other thing, Fred was in contact with Casey the evening I was spending with them and he gave me his number to look him up when I got into Roswell since Casey is now in the National Guard and lives there.

Anyhow, this is as far as im going to update you for now! Stay tuned of course, I still have to finish catching up to myself and let you know how things worked out to get me here! Well, hopefully I have more time this evening to do that! Take care all! Thanks for the support and love.


  1. Levi!!! So awesome brother man! Wow:) inspiring:) rode a qck century this am and though of riding alongside ya! You are living the dream and I give you the very very very best week ever... Get ready for that amazing thing that has yet to happen;) it will if you expect it to!!
    My best to you always- gp - petey4kids

  2. ...great update Levi! You know how mother just waits (and waits sometimes) for news so I appreciate you taking the time to update as you can. It gives me something nice to think about while I am at home working and missing you! :) love, mom

  3. Sounds quite eventful! I want to see that lava in real life and poke it with a big long stick!it definitely looks as if your trip is NOT boring and I'm sure meeting up with those people at the end of everyday must be nice instead of just the voice in your head and the wind rushing by :) love you! -Laona

  4. What an awesome experience you're having, and meeting such awesome people! You are doing a great thing and thanks for sharing- you have a way with words that draws us in! I find myself always looking for the next update, on FB or here. :-)

  5. WOW! Levi, you are having a grand time and doing so amazingly well! Thank-you for allowing us to share your experiences with you! Aren't Americans and America great!?! Love, Auntie Carol

  6. Glad you had such good experiences now! Thats awesome you have been able to see so much! Love, Christy

  7. These blogs are so interesting. {I'm not glad i got sick cause i missed out on something amazing... another time maybe} :) but I am catchin up on the blogs :D... its like you are telling your adventures and Im right there with you. Cant wait to read the next one hun. always, luvy