Day 82 (2016-11-16) ~65 miles from Caballo Lake State Park to Las Cruces, NM. Mostly good riding conditions along highway 187 & 185.
I wake at first light, before the sun crests the ridge to the east. It’s chilly, but my tent is not frosted solid. Not even dewy. Sweet! I eat the last of my granola and cranberries, dry, since I had no oats to soak last night. I am on the road by 8:00 and make good time heading south towards Las Cruces. I pass through fields of chili peppers and past plants processing them into all sorts of yummies. As I continue south I pass a few pecan farms and fields of cotton.
In Hatch I stop at the Valley Cafe for second breakfast and order Huevos Rancheros with red chili sauce. I get two eggs, covered in sauce, with hashbrowns and beans for $6.75! The food is fantastic! I sip my tea, finish Around the World in Eighty Days, and continue on my way.
I continue to spend time on podcasts relating to Trump and the election today, planning what I hope will be a powerful written piece for the blog. I have so many thoughts and so much material to draw from – I feel inspired and full of clarity at times and others overwhelmed with the sheer scale of the situation. I’m sure it will not end up being as clear and direct as I hope. 😦
Shit, where did that wind come from? Somewhere about 10 miles south of Hatch I am hit with a strong headwind out of the south, alternating angles at it twists and turns through the valleys. Thankfully the brunt of it only lasts for 5-10 miles and I once again find myself on flat roads now almost entirely surrounded by pecan farms. Some have huge signs warning against trespassing and thievery, while others adjacent to the road seem less aggressive. I pick some fallen shells off the ground and crack them open for a simple midday snack. I wonder how you are supposed to crack these to not smash the nut…
I arrive at my WS host in Las Cruces and, after showering and throwing my things in the laundry, John takes me out to one of his favorite sandwich shops for dinner. The food is crappy and most of the time he laments about an injury that robbed him of his mobility, his balance, and caused him to gain a hundred and some pounds. He weezes like he smokes a carton a day and walks as fast as a turtle. He seems nice enough and treats me well, but both he and his wife are odd and I definitely do not feel terribly comfortable in their house.
Having the suspicion that my hosts do not desperately desire my interaction, I hop on my computer after dinner and pull out my maps. I have about a month to reach NOLA, which is 1500 miles away. At best that is 24 riding days with another 4 rest days thrown in there. The benefits of continuing the usual bike trip are cost savings and a chance to explore the route area. The drawbacks are a very limited chance to explore Big Bend, explore the cities, and meet up with my college friends Rebecca and Alyse. Looking to reduce ride time I consider Amtrak but the roll-on service has no baggage stops between El Paso and San Antonio, meaning I would not be able to skip part of West Texas and still get to Big Bend. Skipping through central and east Texas would not help me much since it is more dense with cities/people to visit, so that is out of the question. How to make it all work?
I come up with a rough plan: rent a car in El Paso and drive to Big Bend to maximize my time there and perhaps stop at Balmorhea State Park for a day. Then return to El Paso and catch the Amtrak to San Antonio – effectively cutting out 400-500 miles of riding and enjoying 5 full days in Big Bend/Balmorhea. Estimating 2-3 days in San Antonio and Austin (plenty of time to coordinate with my friend Rebecca), I should leave Austin about the same time as if I had riden the whole way. I call that a win. I’ll be left with about 100-150 miles to Houston, where I can visit my friend Alyse, then a final 400 mile push to NOLA. I estimate the total cost to be about $300 plus gas, so bout $400 plus food. Given $20 a night as a low average for my trip the comparison is like $500 Vs. $240 riding. We’ll see if it actuall works out like that.