RideAbout65.4 – Day 5 – Clayton, NM to Taos, NM via Angel Fire Vietnam Vets Memorial


Total distance: 164.13 mi
Download file: Day-5.gpx


Today’s Mileage: 164 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 1336 miles


I had a good breakfast at the Best Western – very good in fact for a free breakfast, no rubber eggs or cardboard biscuits and a big crowd lapping it all up!  The road out of Clayton was not extremely scenic but it was easy to relax on as I headed toward Cimarron.  Past Cimarron the road turned into a motorcyclist’s dream, perfect pavement, light to no traffic, and curves, curves, and more curves as I headed up into the foothills toward Angel Fire.  As I had ridden this road last year, I was eagerly anticipating the rush only a good handling motorcycle can provide on such a road.  I chose this route again this year to re-visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park located near Angel Fire.  As I descended the last section of peg scraping curves into Angel Fire and approached the memorial park, I felt that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I visit the memorials of my war, the “I want to go, I don’t want to go” feeling.  But after visiting this memorial last year I know I will be glad to have stopped.

As I pulled into the parking lot, there were a few cars, more than the last time I visited.  But it was a Saturday this time rather than a weekday.  As I entered the upper section of the park I did not see anyone, they were all apparently down in the visitor center.  Once again I am struck with how quiet and peaceful this place is – the only sounds are the wind and the flag flapping against the pole.  I sat down in the garden next to the Huey to be with my thoughts for a while.  After about 15 minutes a couple enters and walks past, the guy, who is about my age not unexpectedly, asks the usual questions, having seen my bike and that I am carrying a helmet: “did you ride all the way from Tennessee” and “are you traveling by yourself”?  We have a pleasant bit of chit-chat and they continue on.   About 30 minutes later 3 motorcycles pull in, and they are not Harleys…a Kawasaki Concours, a Suzuki Vstrom, and a Honda Goldwing.  They all walk over to examine my bike before coming in.  They are from Texas and we chat about bikes for a while and then discuss my planned visit to the Sargent’s Mesa memorial in Colorado.  They mention they would really like to go there someday but not on this trip.  Soon they move on into the park as well – we are all really here for another reason and the short conversations we have are just a polite interlude.

After an hour or so I reluctantly walk out to my bike to ride down into Taos for the night.  Whatever resistance to stopping I had has been overcome by the comfort and peace this place shares with all.   A few more people are coming in and one asks a question I have never gotten before, “Is your bike a Ducati?”  I can feel my poor old Ducati at home spinning it self in circles.  I politely say no it is a KTM, “a what?” he asks.  We talk…

As I enjoy another great section of road down into Taos, I am already looking forward to the good meal that awaits across the street from my hotel.

Tomorrow is the day my friend Pat is supposed to meet up with me in Taos.  Pat is riding from Texas to Canada and we are going to ride together from Taos to near the Canadian border.


Entrance to the memorial.

Entrance to the memorial.

Tom Carter
Franklin, Tennessee

Mechanical Engineering Consultant

Motorcycle Rider/ Racer/ Tester

Husband/ Dad/ Grandfather/ Great-Grandfather

Planet Earth Arrival 1947

First rode a motorcycle around 1958

Still riding today…