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Day 31 – I Made it to Utopia!

Route 90

There's some green in that grass! This is along Route 90, between Uvalde and Sabinal.

23 April 2011. Utopia, Texas, that is. Today’s ride was the easiest in a couple weeks, it seems. It was warm and the humidity has increased as I’ve headed east and met air masses coming off the Gulf (I suppose that’s what’s going on), but the wind was gentle and for half of today’s 44 miles, there was a tailwind! Imagine that!

I left my motel in Uvalde (probably the worst motel I’ve stayed in on this trip) around 8 am and went to a nearby pancake house. The buffet was great, because I could eat quickly and go back for seconds to bulk up on those carbs and protein!

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Day 30 – Dragging Myself Into Uvalde

Route 90

Pretty much like yesterday's Route 90, but perhaps with a few more trees. Those are mostly mesquite along the highway. Click on any image to enlarge.

22 April 2011. The good news is that the wind was much calmer today—and more out of the south than east, so the pedaling was easier. The bad news is that my legs still felt leaden by the end of what should have been a pretty easy ride: just 42 miles or so.

Now, I’m trying to figure out a route north from Uvalde (or one of the other towns between here and San Antonio) to get off the heavily traveled Route 90 and into some more beautiful country. This is a recommendation from a few people. But I’m spoiled with reasonably fast internet connections, which I don’t have here—despite what was promised. So I’m having trouble researching lodging options. Add to that frustration, one of the lights doesn’t work in my motel room, so I’m trying to squint at these highway maps. Aack!

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Day 29 – Still Upwind to Brackettville

Route 90 east

Route 90 continues to have a wide shoulder, though the surface (chip-seal) is a little rough. As I've gotten further east, traffic has picked up steadily. Click on any image to enlarge.

21 April 2011 (posted the following evening). It’s not like I wasn’t warned about the wind not always being out of the west here in Texas! Ellen Martyn had been pretty clear on that front: count on headwinds. Well, I’ve got ‘em, and they’re doing me in!

I was only pedaling about 32 miles today, so I spent a while this morning dealing with some software issues and spam problems with my blog. Needing more cash, I went out looking for a bank. On the way there, I passed my friend from the pool yesterday, John Seniff, and asked if he wanted to get some breakfast. He hadn’t eaten yet, so the two of us met a few minutes later at iHOP (used to be International House of Pancakes) and had a leisurely breakfast and conversation about everything from religion to passive survivability.

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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.

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Day 27 – Hot, Hot, HOT!

Sanderson Visitor's Center

Just after starting out this morning (with the air still cool enough to warrant a jacket--though I wasn't wearing one), I came across this very nicely landscaped visitor's center.

19 April 2011 (posted the next evening). After I got to Langtry, Texas, I dropped off my stuff at the trailer where I’m staying—a WarmShowers host who lets people camp for free for charges for the use of his spare trailer—and biked into “town” to visit the Judge Roy Bean Visitors Center.

They have a weather station there and the temperature hit 104 while I was visiting! But it’s dry heat, you know; doesn’t feel a bit warmer than 100! I think my body’s not acclimated to the heat. By the end of the day (after about 65 miles) I had crusted salt deposits on my face and neck. It’s really something else! Fortunately, I had a tailwind pushing me along. Tomorrow, I’m not going to be so lucky, with an east or southeast wind forecast. I think I’m about 60 miles from Del Rio.

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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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