As I mentioned in my previous post, we took two day trips to Santa Fe while staying in Albuquerque for a week this past July. The first trip was all about walking around and sight-seeing, while this second one was all about riding -- and an unexpected turn of events. But more about that later....
Before our trip, Barry discovered that there is an excellent rail-trail in Santa Fe. It starts out paved but as it heads south into a more rural area, the pavement ends and the trail continues for over 11 more unpaved miles. Nothing too technical, just gorgeous scenery, some heart-pounding climbs, and swoopy descents. Perfect!
We had big plans to ride our mountain bikes the eight miles over to the Rail Runner train station to catch the 7:30 am train north to Santa Fe. We'd already done a reconnaissance ride to check the route and make sure it was doable. I talked about that in this post. We were just about ready to leave our rental casita to head out on our bikes, when I discovered yet another flat tire from a goathead. I just wanted to cry -- and actually I think I did for a minute or so. So frustrating!
We could either wait another few hours to leave and catch a later train or drive over to the station after Barry fixed my flat. We chose the latter as we really wanted to get going and beat any afternoon thunderstorms. We made it to the station and rolled our bikes onto the train with just seconds to spare. Nothing like living on the edge!
When we got to Santa Fe, we stopped in at a Whole Foods to ingest a few pre-ride carbs. Yum!
Then it was time to hit the trail. We had a perfect day for it.
The real fun started when we got to the unpaved trail. It started out remarkably well-groomed and with some very challenging hills, especially for folks used to lower elevations like us. Since the elevation of Santa Fe is over 7000', these climbs got us breathing hard!
There were numerous cacti on the side of the trail in places. This is a place you wouldn't want to fall!
Once we passed the spur trail (we didn't take it due to time constraints), the trail got a little narrower and less groomed. I'm guessing this section doesn't get nearly the use that the part closer to town gets. It was still great fun riding and not too technical. It wasn't as hilly as the earlier part since we were high up by now, but it was still lightly rolling -- just enough to keep things interesting.
Nearing the end of the trail, we got to a road crossing and some nice adobe homes with great views.
We rode down a little paved side trail before turning around to begin the trek back.
Shortly after turning around, Barry hit a bump, and I saw something pop out of his seat bag. He stopped to retrieve it, then got a weird look on his face. He had just realized that his wallet was missing. Somehow he'd been riding along for miles with his seat bag zipper open, and because I was riding in front of him most of the time, I hadn't even noticed! Looking back at our photos later, I realized that I could and should have noticed when he crossed the train tracks in front of me (see the large photo above), but since that shot was just a "photo op", he didn't continue in front of me for long, and I was too busy setting up the photo to see the open bag. Crap!
Of course he was freaking out, and so was I. We knew our chances of finding the wallet were slim as quite a few riders had passed us heading the other way, and if it were lying in an obvious spot, one of them would certainly have noticed it. As we rode frantically along looking all along in and beside the trail, we were both thinking about all the hassles he'd have to go through to replace his credit cards, driver's license, and other items in his wallet. And I realized that I'd have to do all the driving for the rest of our trip. What had been a joyful ride had so quickly turned into a stressful, worrisome one.
As expected, there was no sign of the wallet on the way back. To make matters worse, about a mile from town, on the paved trail, I realized my rear tire was flat yet again. Arrrgh! Barry needed to continue riding to look for his wallet, so we didn't take the time to change it; instead, he went on ahead, and I got off and started walking my bike. This day was going from bad to worse.
After I finally arrived at the train station, Barry rode up from the other direction shaking his head. Nothing. He called the local police and reported the wallet missing in case some good samaritan picked it up, and we talked about all the things we'd need to do once we were sure it wasn't going to turn up. There aren't any photos from this part of the day, as you can imagine -- we were just too bummed.
After taking the return train and driving back to our rental casita, we were looking up a few things on the computer, and all of a sudden I noticed I had a Facebook message from our former neighbor Mike, who owns the condo beside the one we sold in San Pedro, Belize. The message said that he knew that Barry had lost his wallet and to call this person at this number. What?!? Mike, in Boston? How did he get into the loop on this?
I messaged him back, and it turns out that he had gotten a call from a man in Santa Fe who had found Barry's wallet. He had found Mike's business card in the wallet and called Mike. Unbelievable! We were exuberant, naturally. Barry gave the guy a call and sure enough, he had it. He said he'd found it right around the area where I was looking at the map of the spur trail in one of the photos above. The entire contents were strewn all over the place. At first he thought some slob had littered the trail until he realized the "litter" was cards from a wallet. He said there was no cash there (there had been $40 in the wallet), but there were credit cards, Barry's driver's license, and other cards and papers. This day suddenly got a whole lot better!
So, we jumped in the car and drove back up to Santa Fe. A tremendous storm started up as I was driving, and it was pretty scary -- lots of thunder, lightning, and driving rain. One of those brief but intense storms where half the cars pull off to the side of the road to wait it out, and those of us who continue on drive extra slowly with our hazard lights blinking. Not our most fun drive! But we finally got to the other side of it and found the guy's house. He and his wife couldn't have been nicer, and he said that he had actually lost his own wallet a year before while out walking and had it returned by the finder as well, so he was just returning the favor. What a wonderful break and such a load off our minds!
When we got back to the casita, Barry went through the wallet, and everything was there except the cash. I guess the original finder just wanted that but took everything else out and tossed it on the ground looking for more cash. There was no attempt to use the credit cards either -- another break. This really couldn't have turned out any better than it did. Sure, we were out $40, but in the scheme of things, it was far easier to lose cash than most of the other items in the wallet.
After all that excitement, we were totally drained and treated ourselves to a meal at Garduno's. Those margaritas went down really well!
As we reflected on the day's twists and turns, we realized that my morning flat tire was a blessing in disguise. If we'd been able to ride our bikes to the train station per our original plans, we'd have been looking at a 45-minute bike ride back to our casita, plus additional time for Barry to change my flat tire before we even got going. This would have delayed hearing from Mike and kept our stomachs churning for even longer. Gotta love silver linings!
Please stay tuned...wallet firmly stowed, we head to Taos next....
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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