This is Dick and his 4 rescue dogs.
I first met Dick when cycling out of the wilds and into Grants. He has a thing for cycle tourers after having helped the Adventure Cycling Association draw up the map for Northern New Mexico. He very kindly got out a map of Grants and marked on the need-to-know info: which Chinese to avoid and which is decent (neither were visited), the location of Walmart (useful) and Dennies (now you’re talking!).
Daniel also bumped into Dick later that day and Dick offered to leave some water midway between Grants and Pie Town (2 days away) to save having to carry the extra weight. I think Daniel thanked him but said it wasn’t necessary and we thought that was the last of our very helpful friend.
Then as I was cycling through the Badlands the next day, a guy on a motorbike pulls over and it’s Dick saying he’s made the drop and left water and other goodies in some bags hidden “in the bushes along the fence to the west of the cattle grid that you cross when you peel off the main road onto the road to Pie Town”. Off I trotted with childish excitement and soon found the stash exactly where he’d indicated:
There were 2 massive bottles of water (too much for me to carry) and this:
And also this:
How nice! Brightened up what was already a great day cycling down the El Malpais alternate on what was clearly national cricket Let’s Have Sex! day as 8 out of 10 crickets on the road were at it. The others were, I suspect, either post-coital or in the bushes spraying themselves with Lynx or Impulse ready to paint the Tarmac red. I seriously think there is a mass mating day as after that I saw little cricket-cricket contact bar those eating a friend who’d been squashed on the road – they are ruthless!
On top of the sandstone bluff south of Grants on the El Malpais alternate:
La Ventura arch:
Next stop was Pie Town, historically and still famous for its pies. As I was cycling down the road towards some pie and the Toaster house (a must-stay place in PT), a car pulled up alongside me and, as we were both cruising along, the female passenger asked me what I was doing etc. The whole interaction was a little odd and the bloke driving looked like a cross between a garden gnome and those little troll figures you get in places like gift shops in Cornwall and you wonder who’d buy them when you could just get a box of clotted cream fudge for a couple of quid, job done. Eventually the woman asked if I was going to stay at the Toaster house to which I said yes. She replied that it was her house, took a photo of me out the window as we were both still cruising along and silently drove off. Bit odd…
I made it to the Toaster house to find Daniel there having done a full reccy and found out the essentials. It’s the former family home of Nita (the woman in the car, who now lives on a ranch) and she leaves the place unlocked for cyclists and hikers to use. There’s a well-stocked fridge (we took beer) and freezer (frankfurters and bread, gone) and kitchen appliances so you can make yourself at home, which we did! Nita came round later (she’s not weird when you chat to her properly) with some delicious pie and some tomatoes and peppers, then took us on a tour round Pie Town. Pie Town has a population of 40. They do have a massive radio wave satellite, a windmill museum and 4 churches though.
The next morning we left a donation in the box in the Toaster house, headed to one if the 2 pie cafés for pie then pedalled on our way.
Staged pie-eating shot: