Day 28 – Upwind to Del Rio

Eagle Nest Creek

Crossing Eagle Nest Creek (Canyon) shortly after leaving Langtry. Click on any image to enlarge.

20 April 2011 (posted the next morning). No two ways about it: today was hard. I was pushing against a +/- 20 mph wind all day. I guess for the first hour or two it was more like 10 mph, but that gentle breeze faded into memory pretty early in the day.

I wanted to get an early start and get to Comstock. I had confirmed there was a café there where I could get a real meal. So I wolfed down a granola bar, filled my water bottles, and took off with the sun barely risen above the horizon. Oddly, I find that I’m usually not very hungry during the day. I almost have to force myself to eat enough to keep my energy up. I’m not sure why that’s the case; everyone told me I’d be starved all the time and wanting to eat everything in sight.

The trailer I slept in last night

This is the RV I slept in last night--as the sun was rising this morning. It was quite comfortable.

Keith & Marsha Mann's compound

Keith and Marsha hope to rebuild and reopen this "trading post," which they recently bought. It had been abandoned for decades. Keith and Marcia live in an RV in the rear.

Building shell

This building shell--walls but no roof--houses a big surprise inside.

Swimming pool

This vinyl swimming pool seems like a profligate use of water in a parched area. I didn't try it out, but I'm sure it's refreshing! Sitting here at night, you can look up at the stars--which is nice. That's where we played music.

I think I still have two or three of the dozen granola bars I brought with me, half the bag of tamaried almonds, and a smaller fraction of the cashews—all goodies from the Brattleboro Food Co-op. I tend to pork out at dinner when I get the chance (like tonight—I just had a steak, baked potato (smothered with cheese, bacon, onions, peppers and who knows what else), huge salad from the salad bar, dinner veggies, roll, a pint of beer, and two glasses of iced tea). But I never ate the brownie I bought at lunch and wrapped for an afternoon rest stop. And last night, all I had for dinner was wheat thins, bean dip, and some nuts. Odd that my appetite isn’t more engaged on this trip!

Other than the headwind, the sixty miles of pedaling today were rather unexciting. Early on I passed a bicyclist heading west (good day to be heading west!). I called out a greeting to him, but he barely turned around to acknowledge my presence. Usually, a fellow biker would stop and chat, put perhaps we was going to try to cover a lot of miles.

Bicyclist from Austin

Maybe I need some of that eye-shading--like baseball players--if I'm to be a tougher rider! Though, it may not have worked so well with these kids from Austin.

The other bicyclist looking for a ride

Here's the other Austin bicyclist, chatting with a Boarder Patrol agent. The green-and-white Border Patrol vehicles are everywhere! I've probably seen thousands on this bike trip.

Much later in the day, I saw two bicyclists, also heading west, who were trying to hitchhike. I crossed over to the westbound lane and chatted with one of the guys while the other was talking with a Border Patrol agent who had stopped. The two guys—probably in their early 20s—had left Austin five days ago, heading to California, But they figured that they were already behind schedule and decided to make up some miles by catching a ride. It seemed odd, since they had such great wind today! I didn’t find out how far they were hoping to get in a vehicle; perhaps, like yesterday’s pair, they were going to try to get past the West Texas fire zone.

I said goodbye and struggled on into the wind. The good news is that my knees didn’t bother me at all—or perhaps the degree of fatigue in my legs in general overwhelmed any discomfort my knees were feeling!

A highpoint of the day was crossing over the Pecos River. I thought the Pecos was a tiny river (as I remember it being when I used to hike in the Pecos Wilderness near Santa Fe—where the river’s headwaters lie), but it’s huge. If I had had better wind I would have taken some time to visit Seminole Canyon, just on the east side of the River—and joined a tour down into the canyon to see Indian pictographs. But I figured—correctly (!)—that I’d need all the energy I have just to get to Del Rio, without any side trips.

Pecos River

I stopped in the center of the bridge long enough to take a few photos--since there wasn't traffic. Note the black vulture soaring well below me! Mostly I see turkey vultures here.

Pecos River Bridge

The Pecos River bridge from a little viewing area. It's a little hairy to bike across, as there is very little shoulder, and the guardrail is quite low--it sort of feels like you could tip over it!

Pecos River bridge

Fortunately, none of these rigs passed me when I was biking across the bridge--though I'm sure I'd have been all right.

Amistad Reservoir

As I was nearing Del Rio, I crossed part of the mammoth Amistad Reservoir (this is just a small finger of it). This is one of the world's largest international reservoirs--the U.S.-Mexico line is in the center of the main reservoir. The birds flying around me are swallows.

I’m not yet sure what I’ll do tomorrow. The wind is forecast to be pretty much the same all week—wind out of the east or east-southeast at 15-20 mph, with higher gusts. If the winds were going to become more favorable on Friday I would consider a rest day here in Del Rio. It’s an historic city, and I’m sure I’d have fun exploring. But with the forecast as it is, I think I should push on—but probably not the more aggressive 70-mile goal I had had: getting to Uvalde. I’m trying to find out about lodging options in Brackettville, which is about 30 miles east of here; the limited options appear to be a lot more expensive than they are here.

Del Rio

Arriving in Del Rio, where Route 90 becomes the main commercial drag. A number of people have classified Del Rio as a real city--as evidence by the presence of a Walmart. I'm staying at a Motel 6 another mile or so down on the left.

Hot and fried!

Hot and fried, and ready for a dip in the pool. This is the first motel I've stayed at with a pool--and the first swim I've had since the Colorado River at the California-Arizona border. It felt good!

At the swimming pool I chatted for a while with John Seniff and psychotherapist who focuses on mind/body integration. He’s about my age, and I was pleased that about the first thing he asked was how old I am–somewhat in awe that someone someone my age would have biked here from San Diego. He lives  in Jacksonville, Florida, but has lived in New Mexico and elsewhere. I gather he has a few books out, but I haven’t looked them up.

My general plan is to veer off the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier route in Bracketteville, and continue east on 90 to San Antonio. That way I’ll miss most of the arduous climbing in the Texas Hill Country—which some bicyclists have told me is tougher than the western mountains I’ve crossed! It’s a constant up and down. I realize that I’ll miss some beautiful country, but I think an easier ride may be worth that price.

Instead, I’ll go toward San Antonio and find my way through or around the city and up to Austin. Anybody know anything about biking through San Antonio or up to Austin from there? For the latter, I’m hoping there’s a frontage road along to I-35.

Well, I’ll sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning—when I can also call about Brackettville lodging.

BTW, I was getting a lot of spam comments on some of the earlier blogs, so added some defensive measures. I hope that doesn’t make it harder for real people to add comments. Let me know if that proves to be the case and I’ll try to ease off the anti-spam filters. Thanks; I love the real comments!