State road 104 runs toards Los Vegas from Tucumcari in New Mexico.
The road is a good sealed surface, not much in the way of curves certainly no switchbacks as I encounted in The Smokey Mountains but while riding in a group under the Eagleriders banner in April Toorak (Melbourne) 76 yr old motorcyclist John Scully lost control and as pronounced dead at the scene.
The accident happening near Conchas Dam.
I had decided to stay two night in Tucumcari so as to allow time to do two separate events.
The Quay County 4 day fair was on and with my show background I wanted to add a visit to a rural fair in the USA to expand my base of understanding what makes a good show and every keen to bring new ideas home.
For a small community under 5000 to run a 4 day event as unusual and also giving free admission.
I fronted up on day 2 to see the sheep shearing by hand shears carried out by children and the two other feature events the kids pets show which was rabbits this day. Also the pig section was in full swing.
The grounds had the usual array of sideshows, cattle pavillion but also an extensive main pavillion. In this pavillion I noted handicrafts, sewing, photo's, painting, fruit & vegetables and childrens handicraft along with quilts, including one as a raffle.
In the pavillion however apart from the usual array of traders and community groups it appeared every church at least 8 i counted had displays most of which were interactive and aimed at participation by the children. I hung around for a while helping the "wantabe"winners learn the "secret verse"and then get a prize often home made cookies. My assistance was likewise rewarded with samples. The two main political parties had static displays and the Fair to assist in raising money had a raffle first prize a rifle! Lioke much of the USA the second amendment is strongly fort for and the NRA is "the organisation"to belong to.
The kids enjoyed having an Äussie show President"come to their small fair and delighted like Paxton, in showing me his prize winning rabbit and Payton with Mum took me to the kids handicrafts and the winning ribbons that were attached to them.
The Quay Fair does on one day have a horse section but that is minor compared to the level of childrens exhibits in the smaller animals must have been over 200 rabbits on display.
The other reason for my visit was to ride State Road 104 at least as far as John Scully's accident scene to gain a first hand look and understanding, if possible, of why a fellow Australian motorcyclist had been killed while enjoying an adventure.
At the accident scene I could not establish why the Harley had failed to negotiate the curve. road conditions were good, the hire bike was reported by the attending Patrol Officer as being new and in excellent condition. It appears to have been rider error and the yet to be held inquest will deliver a final verdict in time.
Deciding to ride further towards Los Vegas , in this State that has the highest death per 100 road users, I came across the scene of three crosses and a Christmas tree that had even had electric power for the festive lights. It was the tree that attracted my attention and it was not until I had pulled up and was walking the scene that I saw one large cross and two smaller ones.
This isolated area has little in the ways of civilisation apart from Conchas Lake township and one gas station come general store.
I waited until I found a farm house and seeing a man in the front yard I stopped and soon was engaged in conversation."Lot's of bikes but they never stop like you", he replied.
Well my reason was to enquire about the crosses down the road.
"never talk about it", he said,"but guess I should".
I was at home when I heard the crash so I jumped in the pick up and drove down. Really bad a car had rolled and the three occupants were thrown out all dead."
"Not knowing what to really do I stopped with the victims in the moonlight for about an hour before calling 911."
"That's not all he struggled to"say his voice getting weaker and cracking,"I never got to see them again until the viewing before the funeral" He was crying in an uncontrolled manner by now, "my wife my family" and then disappeared into his shed.
I stopped for a quiet pray at the crosses on the return and then the next day passed a growing mass of flowers on the Interstate where only the week before four members of the one family were killed and the driver of a semi that despite being a dual lane Interstate had crossed over the median and both vehicles burnt.
New Mexico has some harsh reminders.