I rode the Rail Runner from Santa Fe to Albuquerque (with bike), then Amtrak to Gallup, New Mexico. To visit Ruth-Claire on the Navajo rez, just over the state line in Ft. Defiance, Arizona. In Albuquerque I pedalled the sturdy Diamondback over a long red bicycle bridge spanning the wide Rio Grande, spectacular in fall colours with the Sandia mountains rising up behind. Before I left Santa Fe someone told me the place was “an armpit” – and such is the view, of most any place, from behind the wheel of the cage. Albuquerque is really a rad town, as only a town explored by bike can be.
And the train through the desert, well!â€”isn’t that just the way. No billboards or strip malls or gas stations, no interstate monotony. Just me in my glass spaceship gliding along the rails, fully exposed to the horizonless mesalands and the intimate backsides of cities and towns. Children waving, dogs barking, horses and graffiti and laundry flapping on lines. Blues guitar soundtrack with low trainwhistle and steel wheels soft chunkachunk. Flying free.