December 12 - 20, 2015
Garmin info with maps
|This sculpture was above a highway in Mexico.|
We had no choice but to take a rest day just north of El Paso. The rains fell all day with howling winds and I spent the time putting some work into updating the journal. The next morning saw a big improvement in the weather and we got packed up. The unexpected benefit of taking a rest day was we would ride through the city of El Paso on Sunday. The city is on a big hill and we started the ride with a good deal of climbing. We followed a route plotted by Googlemaps that zig-zagged on deserted roads through the industrial section of El Paso. The border fence for Mexico was usually within view. Maybe it was just our route through town but El Paso seemed to be a poorer city than we had ridden through so far on this tour. The buildings were old and roads were in rough shape. Pretty soon we were beyond the city and riding along quiet pecan orchards. With the big winds yesterday there were lots of nuts in the shoulder. We stopped to pick some up. I used Myrtle's front tires as a nut cracker. The pecans were delicious. A few miles from our destination we were on a farm road going through old small mission trail villages. The road was damaged and there was a detour. A passing motorist stopped to escort us to the road we needed to be on. We ended the day in the town of Clint at a very inexpensive run-down but comfortable hotel just off I-10. Mamacitas restaurant next door was surprisingly busy with depressed Cowboy fans who were watching their team lose to the Panthers. We enjoyed a nice meal with a cold beer before getting a good night's rest.
|Myrtle the nut cracker|
|Pecans on the road|
|Historic Catholic Church in Fabens|
Tailwinds into Sierra Blanca
|Very generous Fort Hancock Community Church|
|Cooler bag with drainage grommet added|
|Ft. Hancock accommodation|
|Myrtle warm and secure in the motel room|
We had another ride on I-10 ahead of us. What's been nice about the rides since leaving Las Cruses is we have had much more reasonable miles every day. I'm such a slow rider I prefer distances under 40 miles a day. Lately our mileage has been in the low 30's. Less mileage means I have time to be more relaxed. We can check out the towns, talk to people, learn about the area and still get all our daily chores done. What I especially appreciate is being able to wash my clothes out with time enough that everything dries overnight.
|Very cold in the mornings|
|Entering Central time|
|View from the road|
|Riding on I-10|
|Enthusiastic road crew on Hwy 90|
|Abandoned Lobo, Texas|
Ride to Valentine Public Library video
|Valentine Public Library and, sometimes, motel|
|Lety the librarian with puppy Woody|
|My first rear flat on the road - ever!|
Hwy 90 has been a really good road. There's a wide shoulder and the road surface has been smooth. Until our ride to Marfa. Everyday, Maryann and I have breakfast together and then start our ride. It doesn't take long and Maryann is out of sight. She always gets to the next town long before I do. A few miles out of Valentine Hwy 90 crosses into Presidio county and the road became really terrible. The surface was so rough it might as well have been unpaved. Not long after getting on this stretch I had another rear flat. This would be the first time I would fix a rear flat on my own and I wasn't really sure I could do it. Actually fixing the flat wasn't hard although I found lots of goat heads and one was huge. They were really hard to remove and I ended up using tweezers from my toiletry kit. I also noticed the tire seemed to have an irregularity on the inside. The part of fixing a rear flat that had me worried was getting the wheel back into the derailleur and then seated correctly. I was really surprised how easily I got it done and I was back on the road. Until another 10 miles when I had another rear flat. At least this time I was confident I could get it fixed. Again, I pulled out lots of goat heads with one being especially thick and sharp. The goat heads were embedded deeply in the tire and it took a long time to get them out. Thank goodness I had tweezers! By the time I got to Marfa it was late in the afternoon and I was exhausted. In Marfa I stopped at a bike shop to get a new patch kit. The shop was an old automotive garage and the mechanic was listening to heavy metal music at it's loudest level. Most of the bikes on display were refurbished cruisers. He was also selling extra thick 20 inch tubes and I picked one up with a patch kit.
|Camping at El Cosmico|
|Riding through Marfa|
|Holiday antlers on the trike|
Maryann was waiting at El Cosmico. She had been waiting there for hours. Turns out Marfa is very expensive. She tried to get motel rooms and the cheapest room was $115 - ouch! El Cosmico has vintage trailers, tents and yurts for rent. The trailers were sold out and the cheapest one was $230. The tents, which include a heating pad on the mattress, went for $145 and the yurts were also sold out at $185. This is a very small town in desolate west Texas that I had heard a lot about and was looking forward to seeing. In fact, this was the only town in the area I wanted to visit. Maryann had ordered ACA Southern Tier maps delivered here and had picked them up from general delivery. We were hoping the maps would tell us the inexpensive places to stay going forward. Marfa is an idea from Donald Judd who started the Chinati Foundation. He brought the idea of installing large scale artwork in this barren landscape inviting a small number of artists year after year until it built into an important foundation. Marfa continues to be written up in magazines and newspapers bringing tourists from all over the world. Many actors and musicians including Beyonce and Matthew McConaughey have said Marfa is their favorite place. All this tourism has pushed up prices so high the locals are being driven out. The schools are having trouble keeping teachers because no one can afford housing. This isn't at all what I expected. The prices for everything was much higher than I wanted to pay and I felt foolish for being here. Even though the temps were going to be very cold over night we ended up camping at El Cosmico for $32. The outdoor bathroom was extra special. The structure has toilets and showers that are roofless. The walls don't have mortar and anyone can see in between the wood slats. The toilets have canvas doors that don't stretch all the way across and there's no way to lock them. One toilet didn't even have canvas covering the door. Yes, very special. The outside sink also didn't have soap and in the morning the pipes were frozen. It was too cold to take a shower anyway. I went to the front desk to complain about the shower building and they said it was typical of any campground. Not for these prices. Very strange place!
|El Cosmico entrance|
|Tents for $145/night|
|Wood burning hot tub for $92 at El Cosmico|
|Alpine, TX mural|
|Cards and champagne with Liz and Debbie|
After a relaxing 2 night stay in Alpine we were ready to get packed up and back on the road.
|Another lovely mural in Alpine|