Setting off from Phoenix, I knew I would lose my riding buddy Drew within the next few days. Although this process was lengthy –Â I believe we officially said goodbye three or four times — with each departure my heart would grow a little weaker.
The cactus in the front yard of Vernon’s house was extra friendly. Their hospitality was much appreciated.
After taking in the views and history of the mines in Silver City, I headed to the Lower Gallinas campground below Emory pass.
The campground’s elevation is approximately 7000 feet. It was by far the coldest night as all my water — besides the bladder, I was using for a pillow — froze solid overnight. As I crested the peak, I was rewarded with a splendid view.
The next 90 miles into Las Cruces ended with me receiving my first car ride from my great Uncle Ron, who was gracious enough to pick me up 5 miles away from their home so I wouldn’t have to ride through Las Cruces in the dark — a frightening thought. Las Cruces continued to provide some much-needed rest, fantastic Italian food, and wonderful family members. Uncle Ron and I worked on my bike for the afternoon and I learned something that would change my life forever. . .
Tip of the trip: When patching tubes, light the glue on fire for a “hot patch”. The heat dries the glue and bonds to the patch quite nicely. P.S. The glue is supposed to be dry when you adhere the patch.
El Paso brought completely new experiences to the trip, both frightening and revolutionary.
The road I was originally supposed to ride was completely closed, forcing me in another direction. This other direction was a road that became a freeway, which had a nice shoulder/sidewalk to ride along. Unfortunately, a bridge narrowed the sidewalk so that only a very slender human being would be able to cross. I waited until there was a break in traffic, took a deep breath, pulled into the right lane, and booked it across the bridge. Luckily, the bridge was fairly short and only a handful of cars passed before I crossed. Regardless, I hope this is a one-time experience!
Although riding so close to Mexico brought an uncomfortable feeling of privilege, I met some lovely people in El Paso at the youth hostel. I met Mike, who convinced me to come to stay with him in Alpine before heading to Big Bend National Park. I also shared guacamole with a fellow traveler from Australia and another man who didn’t speak any English but was kind enough to share some of his Horchata. More importantly, I had a crucial revelation of how I would view this trip. I left El Paso with my neighbor from back home’s parting words ringing in my ears: “Many touring cyclists only see pavement. Don’t only see pavement.”
At this point, I decided that it would always be more important to experience the country, rather than pedal the entire way. I will, of course, attempt to pedal as much as possible, but I don’t want to miss a thing. In fact, today I will be hopping on a train to New Orleans in order to meet up with a friend for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. But I digress. . .
I wanted to arrive in Big Bend as soon as possible, so I decided to hitch a ride from Van Horn into Alpine to avoid a night of camping on the side of the road — which would have been inevitable.
Lloyd, one of the most generous and relaxed individuals I have ever met, was kind enough to give me a ride. After picking up his friend Ed in Marfa, we went to rescue Ed’s truck where the transmission had gone out. Since the sun had set at this point, Ed and Lloyd decided it would be best to take me out for dinner before driving me the extra 20 miles into Alpine to personally drop me off at Mike’s house. I will never forget these individuals and hope that many other travelers will experience their benevolence.
Big Bend only brought more benevolence, as I met a group of four dudes that would become good friends on my first night in the park.
After hiking with them the next day, they offered me a ride to Austin so I wouldn’t have to hop on a bus — the goal being to attend South by Southwest Film and Music Festival with my best friend Brian Frager. This also allowed me to experience much more of the park, as the next two days we continued to hike and visit the hot springs. We also met a retired comedian and his wife, who kept us more than entertained, as well as a group of girls on their Spring Break. Overall a fantastic experience — thanks to Mike for making the suggestion.
I am currently in Austin, Texas, taking in South by Southwest, and looking forward to whatever may appear.