- Posted by Jan
- On April 3, 2017
- 3 Comments
Just when I was starting to think that my trouble with the desert thorn known as Goat’s Head had come to an end I awoke to find that the City Park I had camped in was filled with it. I made this unfortunate discovery by stepping on one in my bare feet. My first concern was not for my bleeding foot but for my vulnerable bicycle tires, and after hobbling over to my bike, at first glance what I saw confirmed the worst. Both tires were filled with Goat Head punctures, but amazingly neither tire had lost any air. I performed a kind of rubber surgery, removing each thorn meticulously with the blade of my knife. With this minor setback resolved I hit the road and a flat forty miles later arrived in Van Horn, Texas. Once there I camped in an RV Park.
West Texas has many long desolate stretches between anything resembling civilization. Today’s ride was one of my most intense experiences in that remoteness. It was about a 90 mile trek of gradual climbing through open desert and with no access to food or water. I left the RV Park early, and fully loaded with as much food and water as I could carry. The roads were fine at first but quickly became rough asphalt. By noon I was riding through a construction zone. Once through this, I turned onto a very rural ranch road and temperatures began to rise. By around two o’ clock the air temperature hit triple digits, after which I stopped checking. I found a cement drainage pipe and crawled inside of it. From my shady spot I then witnessed what is known as a dust devil. A dust devil is essentially a funnel cloud of dust. They look like tornadoes and are classified under the same weather phenomena, though are usually a lot smaller in size. I shouldered on and rode the remainder of the climb into Fort Davis, Texas. Once in Fort Davis I met a wonderful person by the name of Barbara Hoffman, and made arrangements to spend the night at her house just outside of town. I cannot use enough positive adjectives to describe Barbara as a person. She is hardworking, incredibly smart, kind, and humble. She put her two kids through college entirely debt free, and currently works as a realtor at Mountain View Properties, helping people buy and sell real estate in the Fort Davis area. For dinner I ate a delicious stew that she had prepared and then attended a star viewing party at the McDonald Observatory. Unbeknownst to me, Barbara had called the Observatory and reserved for me a free ticket, and in exchange for my free entry she had volunteered to work at the event. I saw through the lenses of several telescopes different galaxies, star clusters, and far off Nebulas.
I took the day off and found the historic downtown of Fort Davis both quaint and charming.
I rode twenty miles to the neighboring town of Alpine, Texas. There I ate a large lunch at Penny’s Diner. Afterwards I travelled about forty more miles to Marathon, Texas, where I camped in an RV park. It was spring break in Texas and this small town was flooded with tourists like myself. I made the mistake of walking into the fanciest restaurant in town, where three people wearing suits promptly seated me and put a high-priced menu in my hand. I felt out of place in my cycling clothes, but the food was excellent.
Today has mimicked yesterday. I rode around sixty miles to the town of Sanderson, Texas, where I camped in an RV Park. At the only open restaurant in town I met a husband and wife from Gurnee, Illinois. He was riding the Southern Tier route, and she was driving a support vehicle. As much as I love Texas it feels nice to talk about the Midwest with people who are from there.