robin de puy is currently on a 2,5 month 10.000 km ride through America on a motorbike. Every week she shares her stories. This is the second week:
2nd week – 1700 miles / 2735 km
Paonia - La Junta - Raton - Sante Fe - Madrid - Albuquerque - Socorro
The past week has felt like the past year for me. So much has been happening every day that it was hard to keep track of where I was going and who I was meeting. With the map on my lap I'm retracing the route I rode.
My first week ended with my arrival in Paonia, Colorado. It was the moment the director and the cameraman had just returned to The Netherlands, and I was really left to my own devices.
In Paonia I met Melvin E. Miller – what an amazing name – and photographed him. A man with a face as distinct as his stories. He ended with '... and all you need to know is truth and beauty'. I do not know if I necessarily agree with that, but I think it's a nice conclusion to my visit of Paonia.
From Paonia I rode southwards and ended up in La Junta. While I had been driving through a very cold mountain pass covered in snow before, now I was driving on a flat road with an accidental cow. The sun was shining and it seemed like nothing much was happening. But this quickly turned around and there was another storm alarm. I decided to prolong my stay in La Junta with one day, driving around and eating soup at a bar named 'The Railyard'. When the owner found out a Dutch photographer was in his bar he took it upon himself to entertain me. He called practically all of La Junta to invite them over for a photo moment. A lot of people turned up to photograph me. I had become a tourist attraction. For a while I was enamored with the new situation, but after a few hours it was time to hit the road again. I wanted to drive eastwards first, but at the advice of the locals of La Junta I rode South, in the direction of the Mexican border.
On the road it became (painfully) clear to me what 'gusty winds' were. Gusty winds are not all that bad. It feels a little like somebody is grabbing you and shaking you really hard. Gusty winds combined with falling rocks and rain is a recipe for disaster. But my dad said I am like a tilting doll on my Harley. That thought gave me comfort.
My next stop was Raton. During breakfast I met a grandfather and a grandson, both in overalls. They drove a truck that said 'Little Stinker Septic Service, in the weekends we transport milk' on the side.
One night in Raton was enough and I rode on – despite the rain. Yet the rain changed to snow and hail and again I ended up in a storm with gusts that almost blew me off my motor. Because I could hardly see where I was going I had to wait it out. I found a restaurant with a sweet Mexican family where I could dry and eat pancakes. Once everything had dried I got back on the road. My goal was to make it to Madrid – a ghost town close to Santa Fe. After about 10 minutes of riding I almost got hit by a truck – I don't know how I managed, but I went right past it – and from that moment on I had had it for the day. After ending up in yet another storm I seriously started to believe that the weather was challenging me personally – the weather versus Robin – and it seemed like a good idea to find a motel and sleep. That helped.
The next day I felt better and the sun was finally shining. And according to the latest weather report the sun would continue to shine for a little while longer. I visited Madrid, shot a few nice portraits there and moved on to Albuquerque. There I stayed at the house of a lady who liked to walk around naked – a perfect photo subject. This lady had a large pool in the garden and the sun was shining. For a little while it seemed like I was on holiday and the snowstorms were far behind me.
At the start of this week I was convinced that everything was dangerous or unsafe. The country felt large and threatening, I felt vulnerable. Now it feels different. It feels like the country, the bike and the people are taking care of me. And that feeling is nice. 1700 miles down, 4300 to go!