Archive for April, 2011


Day 26 – Into the Heat – and on to Sanderson

Alex - Route 90

Hot already at 10 am.

18 April 2011. As I write this I’m sitting in a shaded courtyard at the Outback Oasis Motel in Sanderson, Texas, next to an artificial pond thick with water lilies and other wetland vegetation. When I walked around it, I heard frogs jumping into the water and I spotted an occasional goldfish through an opening in the vegetative cover.

I may not last out here too much longer, though. First of all, it’s hot. The NOAA Weather Website shows it being 99°F at the nearby Dryden Terrell County Airport (as of an hour ago). And it’s gotten quite windy—much windier than during my cycling today.

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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!

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Day 24 – Hanging Around Alpine

B&B Cafe

The Bread & Breakfast Café. Good food. WiFi.

16 April 2011 (posted the next morning). For the first time on the bike trip, I spent part of the afternoon reading—in a town park, shaded by some nice trees with an ideal temperature of perhaps 72. Finding the right book was a challenge. It had to be both thought-provoking and lightweight. I bought Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal, about a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico with the American Fern Society to study ferns.

Long ago I read Sacks’ much better known The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and loved it. It may help me understand what makes engaging writing about a place, and how to provide an outlet for his interests that extend well beyond one’s primary work—in Sacks’ case, neurology, for which he is so well known. I too am very attracted to ferns. So far the book is very engaging (and small!)

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Day 23 – Smokin’ into Alpine, Texas

Coasting to Fort Davis

Coasting down the mountain from the McDonald Observatory toward Fort Davis. Note the haze in the air from area fires.

15 April 2011 (posted the next morning). A fairly relaxed day of easy pedaling and explorations between the McDonald Observatory and Alpine. I dropped almost 2,000 feet from my host’s place at the McDonald Observatory and had somewhat of a tailwind to boot!

The challenge was to keep pedaling. I kept stopping to take photos of burned land, emergency response vehicles, and wildlife. But it was a good day. No knee pain at all. (Yes, Jerelyn, I’ll keep taking—resume taking—the ibuprofen.)

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Day 22 – Exploring the McDonald Observatory

Smith Telescope

Our morning walk up to John's "office" under bright blue skies. Click on any image to enlarge.

14 April 2011. It felt good to stay off my bike today. I did so partly because my legs needed a rest and partly because of the 40-50 mph winds. Oh, and there’s that little issue of wildfires in the area! The forecast is for much calmer winds tomorrow. I’ll try to get a relatively early start for Fort Davis and Alpine (as early as I comfortably can, with nighttime temperatures expected to be in the low 30s).

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Day 21 – Biking to the Stars

Route 118

On Route 118, heading toward the Davis Mountains. Click on any image to enlarge.

13 April 2011 (posted the next day). It was a long, hard day today. I had wanted to get a really early start, but ended up not getting off until 7:45—though that wasn’t too long after sunrise. For the first 39 miles, I was heading due east along Interstate 10—the first half of that on a nice frontage road, the second half on the Interstate shoulder. There was supposed to be a strong tailwind all day and it started out that way, but then, inexplicably, the wind shifted to a modest headwind for about 20 miles. (The wind makes such a difference!)

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Day 20 – Entering Central Time Zone

Frontage Road

The untraveled frontage road along I-10. Easy pedaling! Click on any image to enlarge.

12 April 2011. Uneventful is good! I took it easy today, pedaling only 36 miles—including the length of Van Horn and back upon my arrival to town. I was fighting a fairly strong headwind (over 20 mph for most of the distance, I would guess), but the only elevation gain was about 400 feet as I-10 crossed over the Carrizo Mountains.

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Day 19 – Tired and Sore – But I Fixed a Flat

Bike repairs

Leo appeared seemingly out of nowhere on his 100-day Walk Across America.

11 April 2011. No sooner did I have my panniers removed from my bike and the rear wheel off—with everything strewn along the unused terminus of the I-10 frontage road—than this chipper voice came out of nowhere. “Hi, I’m Leo Schreven, and I’m walking across America in 100 days” (or something like that). I had been so focused on my first flat—and nervous about fixing it, as it had been many years since I’ve fixed a flat myself—that I didn’t notice him approaching.

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Day 18 – Continuing on to Texas

In front of Lee Herman's house

Getting ready to head out at the not-so-bright-and-early time of 9:50. I'm in front of Lee Herman's house in Las Cruces--what a great host! Click on any image to enlarge.

10 April 2011. I was undecided last night as to whether I would take a “recovery” day in Las Cruces, or press on. I figured that either way, I’d take it easy in the morning. If I decided to leave, I only wanted to get to around El Paso.

In the morning, though, I considered the situation a little more closely. The weather forecast was for a west wind of about 20 mph—ideal for biking, as long as you’re going eastward. I realized that it was Sunday; El Paso is a pretty big city with significant rush-hour traffic—so better to get past there as much as possible on a non-work-day. And finally, my experience with the wind in Hatch took quite a toll on my confidence. If I could have a good day, that might do a lot for me emotionally.

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Day 17 – Did you say windy?

Windy on Route 187

The wind started to pick up as I biked south along Route 187. Dust from dry fields would be picked up and blown across the road.

9 April 2011. I’m sitting in the Hatch Public Library, out of the wind as I await my rescue.

I left early this morning from Kingston, as planned. It was still dark, so I had my headlight and rear flasher on, plus my flashlight easily accessible should I need to identify some mystery animal along the road. I must, say, it was pretty amazing bicycling all alone down Route 152 from Kingston to Hillsboro. Not a car passed me for the first ten or twelve miles.

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