Sunday, November 16, 2008

Road Trip: Gilman, NM (Holiday Mesa)

One of my favorite rides takes us to the Gilman Tunnels - a road that used to be a railroad pass through rock with a winding stream next to it and high cliffs on either side. On many trips to this area, John and I have looked to the cliffs and wondered "How do we get there?" Well, John and his trusty steed found the way to the cliff tops - Holiday Mesa - while I was visiting Sam in PA for Halloween. When I returned home, he took me to see the sites.

Being in November 9th, the weather was COLD, so we wore our winter gloves and pants. We experienced snow covered ground in the North facing valleys. The weather made me think of ski season.

The "road" was hardly a road at all. Dirt and horribly washed out, the going was slow and sometimes hard. Often we had to leave the deeply rutted path to venture around trees and back to the road. A couple of times I was sure I was going to get tossed to the trees, but John always assures me... If I just hold on, he'll get us through. Trust me - I hang on!

John stopped at a couple of cool turn outs with great views and cool rock formations. Yes... I felt compelled to take some artsy photos to share. I think you will agree, they are pretty cool.

On the route to Holiday Mesa Overlook, John showed me a little pull out he'd found earlier. If you stepped off the road about 20 feet, there was a sign noting the archaeological remnants in the area, and asking that they be left alone. Scattered about, literally everywhere, were pieces of pottery with hand painted images. I would have loved to have found a larger piece just to have a better idea about the designs painted on them. It was fascinating enough just to stand out in the middle of nowhere and imagine a people living there in population enough to have left so much behind.

The entire area is rich with volcanic formations. So much of New Mexico is. Among the rock formations we saw were "tent rocks" and "razor edges" (pictured here.) We wonder if the razor edges are hollow in the center, but without really good climbing gear and a satellite phone to summon the rescue, we aren't about to try to find out.

(See photo on right - John contemplating a dangerous motorcycle jump... "I can make that!")

On the top of Holiday Mesa, there is an incredible view. It looks back down in the direction of the Gilman Tunnels. Although you can see the road, you can't see the actual tunnels. The view seems to go on forever. You can see the Sandia Mountains off in the far distance.

It was warmer on top of the mesa than most of the rest of our drive. We stayed up top for quite a while - snacking on fruit leather and jerky while enjoying the view. John grabbed the camera and took a couple of photos of his favorite things... his motorcycle and me!

The entire trip (leisurely stops included) took about 6 hours and was all told 140 miles.