Day 25 – On to Marathon

Route 90

Miles and miles of open range! Click on any image to enlarge.

17 April 2011. I’m sitting in the Gage Hotel White Buffalo Bar awaiting one of their widely acclaimed margaritas. It’s a beautiful building—exposed vigas and latillas. And aptly named, with an albino bison head on the wall. Oddly, the Celtics are on the TV—playing the Knicks.

I started out from Alpine this morning around 9 am, after posting yesterday’s blog outside the Holland Hotel (because Bread & Breakfast didn’t open until 8 am.) Then at B&B a filling breakfast of scrambled eggs, grits, toast, and (splurging) a cinnamon bun!

Along Route 90

Burned land east of Alpine.

Richard Maloney

Originally from Sidney, Australia, Richard Maloney now lives in Florida and is biking across the country east to west.

Not long after heading out on Route 90 east for the relatively short ride to Marathon, I ran into a bicyclist heading west. He crossed over and we chatted for probably 15 minutes. Nice guy, Richard Maloney. He’s originally from Sidney, Australia, but has lived in Tarpon Springs, Florida, for the past 20 years. I’m guessing he’s a little older than me. He retired early and has been adventuring quite a bit. Last year was a solo crossing of the Pacific by sailboat. On this trip, his wife is leapfrogging him in an RV, so he’s not having to carry a huge amount.

Along 90 I saw another herd of Auodads or Barbary Sheet (the North African sheep described in my Day 21 post). This was a larger group–about 20. When they saw me, they took off for higher ground, and I could still see them running steadily several minutes later. Perhaps that’s why they have been successful at growing their population in Texas–at the expense of native desert bighorn sheep.

I guess I’m breaking myself back into the bike trip after my relaxed time in Alpine. Today’s ride was only 33 miles or so, though I’m biking around Marathon a bit as well. Tomorrow will be a little further—55 miles, but that should still be quite reasonable. I was in Marathon (aided a little by a tailwind, though it was mostly a side-wind out of the south) by around 11:30 am.

Front Street Books

At Front Street Books in Marathon--a tiny bookstore, I was surprised to see this great selection of green building books--incluing my own!

I stopped first at the local bookstore (the same store as in Alpine) to see if Joan Carlisle was there. She was, and we chatted for a while. Joan is a good friend of Megan MacArthur of Marlboro, Vermont; she and her husband Bill lived in Marlboro for a time, though it sounds as if Bill was more connected with Marlboro and Vermont than Joan. I gave her my cell number and told her to give me a call if she or Bill wanted to get together for a drink later. No word yet—and I’m not really expecting a call.

The big surprise in the (small) book store was seeing a copy of my book, Your Green Home! They have a great selection of green building books, quite prominently displayed.

After spending a little time chatting with Joan and getting a great milkshake next door, I biked out to where I’m staying tonight—with a little trepidation. It’s a place called La Loma Del Chivo. It’s an alternative community—a loose assemblage of transients, volunteers, and people wanting to experiment with alternative building system (and who knows what else).

La Loma Ded Chivo

They're doing some interesting stuff at this "eco-community," but it's not really my cup of tea! They are very generous to open it up for bicyclists.

Community buildings

The multicolored building was one of my lodging options for tonight.

Community hostel

This is the main hostel and kitchen at the community--where I expect to stay tonight (unless it's too raucous too late).

Batch solar water heater

The project du jour was fixing up the batch solar water heater on the roof beneath the blue mural--using salvaged materials.

Community kitchen

The mostly out-of-doors kitchen at the community. I liked the sign over the sink: "First the Dishes - Then the Revolution"!

Another community building

Another oddball building. The light didn't seem so great inside this one!

More community structures

I'm not sure what the building on the left is; the one on the right appears to be a bake oven of some sort. There's a lot of earthen construction here.

Community structures

Yet more odd structures--many, maybe all the buildings, are built of salvaged materials.

Community junkyard

Raw materials for the creative genius!

The founder of the community, Guilford Jones (Guil), has done some long-distance bicycling, so he makes the facility available to bikers through WarmShowers. Fortunately, a group of five people just left, so it’s relatively quiet, and I had my pick of where to stay. We’re talking funky!

There was some sort of wedding celebration yesterday, so they have lots of leftover food, but you notice that I’m here at the Gage and not out there in the dust!

After taking a short nap, I biked over to a little shack that Megan owns here in Marathon. She calls it Snake Ranch. Before remembering her name for it, I was keeping a watchful eye out for snakes—seemed like perfect habitat! So I think it’s aptly named. It’s cute, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing to buy a place here! I kind-of like moisture now and then!

Snake Ranch

Megan MacArthur's cabin in Marathon: Snake Ranch. Cute. Rustic.

Snake Ranch

Snake Ranch from another angle.

Snake Ranch interior

A shot of the interior of Megan's cottage.

Back at the commune, I showered (sort-of an experience), washed out some of my biking clothes, pitched in to the community effort, but wiping out the bathtub/shower (looked to be the first time in a while), and high-tailed it down here on my bike. I’ve finished my margarita and moved on to a Negra Modelo (one of my favorite beers—a dark Mexican beer). I think I’ll order something from the menu—fortunately, they have a more affordable bar menu!

Gage Hotel

The elegant Gage Hotel--the main attraction of Marathon (unless you're really into alternative building!).

Hotel lobby

The Gage Hotel lobby, where I'm sitting to post this blog.

White Buffalo Cantina

You enter the White Buffalo Cantina through this courtyard.

White Buffalo Cantina

The White Buffalo Cantina, where I enjoyed dinner and drinks.

Tomorrow, on to Sanderson. Hopefully with a bit of wind at my back!