Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 7 - Waltz Across Texas

(1st Photo: K & --friendly desert-rat Ben pulls us off road and gives us free drinks)
(2nd Photo: Gloves from Oil Patch wave us on)
What? 2 days of favorable wind?
Yes, Yes, Wind is wonderful, We fly over the pavement, which is so damn rough that I would ordinarily be cussing it, but with wind nudging us along what the hell have I got to complain about? Big point of the day was the Burger in Mentone (population 16 which triples during election according to the café owner). Because we have taken a couple of extra days and there have been no stores to buy anything, we have been existing on soups and snack bars for about 4 days. About 8 miles from Mentone we are waved off the highway by a fellow named Ben standing in front of small building with a railed porch and K and K over porch. He offers us a cold drink and we listen to his story: Retired Navy Medic and 4 wives brought him to the desert. He won’t take any payment for the sodas and we exchange pictures and he tells us that there is a restaurant up ahead that only opens for lunch and they will be open for about an hour. We mount and ride with abandonment, arriving just minutes before it closes.
And we eat a burger that makes a Whopper seem small. Ahh solid food!
We leave full and ride (slowly) off. By the time we get to Kermit in the afternoon the wind is probably 25 to 30 mph and at our backs. I don’t want it to sound to damn easy because we are still exhausted by the time we pull up and order two large root beer floats at the Kermit Dairy Queen--which we feel is well deserved because sometimes it was hard keeping up with Myriah!

Day 6 Waltz Across Texas

Myriah turns sweet
As my son, Tao, noted, Guadalupe is the highest point in Texas and so we ought to be able to coast all the way the rest of our trip through Texas and by damn, if today is like the rest, then he is right. Not only do we start off with a nice down hill, but the wind starts kissing our backs. And while there is a few hills, the wind helps us up them and on the down hills, well we’re in the zone. By the afternoon we able to do 20 miles an hour on the level with Myriah’s help. I guess Myriah is trying to make up to us for torturing us earlier.
Our only disappointment is that the café in Orla (population 10) is closed, but we find a real nice wild camp in the desert and gently drift off to sleep.

Day 5 Waltz Across Texas
Just roll around heaven all day
We just lounged around, no riding, not doing sh… but enjoying it. Hey, it’s vacation.

Day 4 - Waltz Across Texas

Up, up, we go
Today is short, hard, and sweet. We only went 11 miles today, but it was straight up. We have wanted to climb Guadalupe Pass for years, but summers would be just too hot for us. It’s just a long climb with only one real 90-degree bend. Pine Springs campground is at the top and because it’s a national park it’s only 4 bucks for old geezers like me. And, of course, one of it’s biggest attributes for us is cool, clear, water. No showers, but lots of cool clear water. Kamala was chuckling to herself because she gets to wash her hair which had turned to straw the last few days.

Day 3 - Waltz Across Texas

(Photo--Salt Flats with El Capitan in the background)

Wind--Friend and Foe
“Way out West they have a name for rain and wind and fire. The rain is Tess, the fire is Job, and they call the wind Myriah.”
I know how boring it is for traveling cyclists to talk about wind (and food, and hills), but, hey, without talking about last week’s wind there ain’t a whole lot interesting because old Myriah was a blow’n and a go’n and just generally stirring things up. Some days she was a real bitch and other days, an angel sitting on our shoulder.
The day started great, a slight downhill and absolute calm. We have a short day planned; only 36 miles. Yeah, there is a small 2000-foot climb up Guadalupe Pass at the end of the ride, but we’re feeling good. And then…. And then……about 3 miles into the ride I feel this slight breeze in my face. After 10 miles the breeze is a pretty good wind and by the time we get 13 miles we’ve got a good size “BLOW” coming at us and our speed is about 6 miles an hour and when the ground starts to tilt up our speed slows down. At around the 19th mile Myriah is laughing through the loud gusts and she knows that she is winning. But Myriah, if you are going to be a bitch today, hell, we just won’t play.
We start looking for a secluded place to set up camp even though it’s only about 3 in the afternoon. At a point where the road cuts through a hill, we leave the road and roll our bike and gear to the top behind a ridge and some small shrubs and we’re home. We will just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 2 of our little “Waltz Across Texas”

Today’s 48 mile ride was a pleasant cruise through a beautiful serene desert. We ended up at a small little gas station at the Dell City turn off. Out here in this dusty patch of nowhere an old man spends his day (7:30 - 7:30) in a small room with a small satellite connected television and a icebox full cold drinks selling gas to those poor souls that forgot that there was 120 mile stretch of gasoline void between White City and El Paso (with the single exception of this one. Which of course becomes a wonderful short lesson teaching the law of supply and demand. It strikes home immediately when they peer out of their car window a view a price that is about 25% higher then the one at home. The old guy spends his day out there with 2 big tom turkeys that act as greeters to anyone that stops for gas (they especially love motorcycles), a big golden rooster and a sleek guinea hen. The proprietor, with no hesitation, gives us permission to pitch anywhere “outback”.
We see a nice spot of soft brown grass that would be a nice flat place to erect our little fabric home for the night. We roll the bike right out to it and I put my hand down to pat the ground and …ouchie… owwie…. There is at least 10 goat head stickers in the palm of my hand. We turn and look at the tires on our bike. Yep! They’re both full of those nasty little buggers. We are smack dab in the middle of Goat Head Paradise. After several minutes of picking we gently roll the bike to the dirt area of the front. Picking as we go along. Our one salvation being that we weren’t riding the bike, adding our heavy bodies to the weight pushing those horns into our tubes and we must be living clean and thinking pure thoughts because we don’t get a flat, but there is no way we are going to be able to set up the tent with our inflatable sleeping pads out there in Sticker Land; so we look around and off to the side we spy a old cement foundation where once a small trailer stood.
So the tent will be set up on cement, but that’s no problem (after we sweep the stickers off) ‘cause our thermolite inflatable mattresses are absolutely wonderful. There is a wee bit of a problem when we notice that we are right below a large light so tonight there will be no need for a flashlight in the tent; but hey, it’s free so as we wave good bye to the owner who heads off toward Dell City we, and the animals, settle down for the night in enough light to make an amusement park proud.

El Paso to Kermit, TX success!