Day 11 Motorcycle Ride in the Pilar, New Mexico Area

Today we took a M/C ride in the area east of our campsite. Got a few miles from camp and had to change route in order avoid two miles of rocky, dirt road. Remember the dirt road in an earlier post? Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt! We did end up on a dirt road after all on the way Ghost Ranch. The host at Ghost Ranch told us how she had been on that two mile stretch of rocky, dirt road and almost didn’t make it IN A CAR! So glad we didn’t try. It is very twisty and rocky with no guard rails. We would really have gotten ourselves into trouble on that one. So we turned around and headed in another direction.

Our first stop was Abiquiu (A-bi-kew) Lake, a reservoir of water for Albuquerque. There is camping and day use at the lake. We packed a picnic lunch and ate it at a picnic table overlooking the lake. The US Army Corps of Engineers runs this flood control reservoir in Northern New Mexico and the locals call it Tierra Encantada – The Land of Enchantment. Today, the terrain and cultural mix varies only slightly from what the early inhabitants experienced.

Abiquiu Lake

Abiquiu Lake

Then back on the bike and a few miles up the road we stopped at the Ghost Ranch. Now this was a very interesting place. Ghost Ranch is part of Piedra Lumbre (Spanish, “Shining Rock”), a 1766 land grant to Pedro Martin Serrano from Charles III of Spain. Arthur Newton Pack, the co-founder of the American Nature Association and one-time editor of its Nature magazine bought Ghost Ranch in 1936, and donated it to the Presbyterian Church in 1955. Ghost Ranch is the subject of many landscapes by the American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, who maintained a summer home there in 1934, then her permanent residence nearby in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

200 million years ago Ghost Ranch and the American Southwest were located close to the equator, and had a warm, monsoon-like climate with heavy seasonal precipitation.(Certainly not like that now!) Ghost Ranch includes a famous paleontological site preserving Triassic dinosaurs. Fossil bones were found here as early as 1885. In 1947 the paleontologist Edwin H. Colbert documented the discovery of over a thousand well-preserved fossilized skeletons of a small Triassic dinosaur called Coelophysis (Seel-oh-FY-sis) in a quarry here. Ghost Ranch is known worldwide as one of the richest dinosaur quarries. (Thanks Wiki) We looked through a microscope at small bone fossils. The piece of quarry that was in the museum had hundreds of fossilized bones in it. They have also discovered other types of dinosaurs in the area. They think the reason for so many bones in one area is due to a flash flood and mud slides that killed and buried many, many dinosaurs at one time. The place is a paleontologist’s wet dream!

Closer examination

Closer examination

Coelophysis all put together

Coelophysis all put together

This area is also full of red rocks like the Sedona area. Absolutely beautiful!

Red, red

Red, red wine….no….rocks.

More red rocks

More red rocks

Then we returned “home” and started packing up. We are leaving in the morning for the 175 miles ride up to Pueblo, Colorado.

Goodbye New Mexico…it was great getting to know you.
Colorful Colorado…here we come.

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