A Debt of Kindness

George, the temporary keeper at the Black Range Inn and somewhat of a nutritionist, prepared us an amazing breakfast.  The main dish was fresh scrambled eggs with a mix of salmon, bacon, chilies, and tomatoes.  On the side, we had George’s homemade hand ground grain bread with an assortment of homemade jellies that were given to him by his niece: pomegranate-cranberry-habanero and apple-habanero.  Wow, an amazing breakfast, I never would have expected such unique food from a place so far from the beaten path.  Over breakfast, George shared a little about his background.  He was a retired Michigan policeman that moved to Alaska.  Years ago he broke his hip and the owners of the Black Range Inn put him up at the Inn while he recovered.  Ever since, George has volunteered some of his time each year at the Inn to repay their kindness.  I’m going to be busy because I have a lot of kindness to repay.

Our only plan for the day was to get to Albuquerque, NM so that we could take Dad to the airport the next morning.  Albuquerque was only about a three-hour ride away which left us most of the day to explore.  With a clear blue sky and temperatures of about 65 degrees, we couldn’t resist riding the bikes back up the mountain.  We had driven the same road the previous day to get to Gila, but it was a completely new experience on the bikes.  As we rode from sun to shade it felt as though the temperature dropped about 20 degrees, and it became clear why the two week old snow still hadn’t melted.  As Shannon and I photographed and filmed the scenery, Mom collected samples of all of the different shades of rock: white, gold, copper, purple.  It was interesting to see the variation as we drove further and further up the mountain.

At what seemed to be the highest point, we found a road to a scenic overlook that we missed the day before in our rush to get to Gila.  We took the bikes up the icy gravel road to find the most incredible scenic overlook.  You could see so far that the view took all of the different landscapes we had seen and photographed to that point and combined them into one phenomenal scene; from flat desert up to the snow-covered mountain top.

On our way down from the mountains, we stopped for lunch at a cafe in a small rural town called Hillsboro.  From what I observed, the town consisted of a church, cafe, and post office.  At the cafe, we placed orders and while we waited for our food we checked out their great southwestern style antiques and collectibles: rattlesnake skin, barbed wire collection, Lincoln assassination newspaper article, and more of the like.  After combing through everything in the cafe, we sat while we waited and waited and waited…I’ve never waited so long for food in my life.  However, when Dad’s chili was finally served it was apparent why the wait was so long, the chili was made fresh on the spot.  The food was all fresh and homemade, and more importantly, well worth the wait.

When we reached Albuquerque, we dropped our bags and the trailer at the hotel and headed to The Chama River Brewery for dinner.  In the typical fashion we sat down and ordered our drinks; Dad, Mom and Shannon wine, and myself a diet Coke.  Somewhat surprisingly she asked to see Mom and Shannon’s IDs but not Dad’s.  Very surprisingly she refused Mom after Shannon showed her license, but Mom explained that she didn’t bring hers.  I pleaded with her, “I have ID showing that I’m 32 and she’s my mother,” but the waitress refused.  She explained that they have a strict policy…hmm, its also a complicated policy because it apparently didn’t apply to Dad?  Toto, we’re not in Louisiana anymore.  The menu had some great choices.  Set on something light to give my stomach a break from the abuse I ordered their tuna special.  From the episode with the waitress and the stale bread I was skeptical, but all of our meals turned out to be great.  Most of all I was impressed with the artistry of the presentation.


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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6 Responses to A Debt of Kindness

  1. HP says:

    I have a theory about the ID check… Maybe they were concerned that you and Jim would slip something questionable in Shan & Betsy’s drinks. They wanted to be sure Shan & Betsy were old enough to (a) consent or (b) press charges. 🙂

    Enjoy NM! It’s a lot of boonies but really beautiful country. Sandia Peak is worth the trek! And what’s your answer to this question: green or red? This is one you must be able to answer before leaving the land of enchantment…

  2. Nanette Hance says:

    So enjoy all of your posts and the travels that you take all of us on. Loved the story about George and it’s great to know that so many people make an effort to give-back in whatever way they can. What a beautiful story.

    NM may have a lot of boonies but you and Shan have a way of making it the most beautiful place on earth. Beautiful photography and video with beautiful people in it! Not only are you writing the “book of books” as you go , but you are also making a full-length film as you go!

    Savor every moment of these special times and know how much we all appreciate
    reading about the “times and travels” of Bret & Shannon Hoefen! Have always wanted to go to NM and after reading about your excursions, I for sure want too.
    Love that steady hand that shoots the video . . . great job easy riders! I hear that there is a lot of art to appreciate in NM also . . .enjoy! Looking forward to having you two as guest speakers at a gallery event when you return … what a program and I think it could be a series. Love to all, Nan

  3. Marianne Borrelli says:

    I look for your post every morning before I go to work. It gives me cause to reflect! I love what you all are doing. It has given me a much better appreciation of what life is all about. Slow down , smell the roses, feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair! Loved your video ! It put a big smile on my face to start the day! Maybe the next step is to get a motorcycle!

    Wishing you all well. Looking for another Noreaster on Friday and then another next week. We are getting pounded. But at least the sun is out and the sky is blue in CT!

    Safe travels,
    Auntie Cuz Marianne

  4. Aunt Bo says:

    I really do want to go to NM…it looks wonderful and I also want to stay at the Black Range Inn…I looked at all the different rooms they have…what a wonderful place to stay. The breakfast sounds incredible.
    There is only one reason why Betsy was “carded” …it is because she looks so young and the waitress was not sure she was 21…come on..we all know that!! Way to go girl!!!!
    Can not wait to see where you are off to next! Keep that ride going.

  5. Fred Borrelli says:

    Hey Bret –
    what a wonderful view and wonderful people you are meeting. A cafe, church and post office – are you sure you wern’t in Wayland or Palmyra? I continue to be amazed at your love of life and ability to appreciate the things and people around you – what a blessing. We are all owe you a debt of gratitude for helping us open our eyes and our hearts. stay safe and continue your
    “easy rider” journey with zeal.


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