Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Thursday, April 17, 2008
As expected, our cell phones don't work here in Langtry. They have a wireless internet connection which we're using but it's pretty slow. We thought we'd give you a synopsis of the day first to get something up there quick and we'll move pictures up later. The weather today was almost identical to yesterday's - cloudy and windy in the morning, clear sky and hot in the afternoon - but this time we had a good tail wind all day. The route was mostly uphill today and was on Hwy. 90 all day until our turn-off at Langtry. We started at 8:30 this morning, after going a couple of miles to a breakfast place and to pick up some supplies at the local Wal-Mart - mostly food for the next 2 days. We rode through only one town today and all it had was microwavable cheeseburgers for lunch. Langtry, our destination, was equally restaurant-challenged. It had a dairy bar where we got ice cream and cold drinks. Needless to say, there's no breakfast to be had here, and tomorrow we'll also be going through only one town which has, at most, a gas station mini-mart. So, we had to pack some dinner for tonight, and breakfast & lunch fare for tomorrow. Luckily, tomorrow night we'll be in a large enough town to have both cell phone service and food.
So much for logistics. today's ride was through beautiful Texas semi-desert countryside. There were very few trees. Most of what we saw were shrubs and desert plants, flowering cactus, yucca plants that weren't quite in bloom yet (or maybe already past blooming), some other flowering shrubs (same as yesterday's) and a few very tiny flowering plants. There were some ranches, many with attractive gates but no visible house or other buildings. Most of the time, the landscape stretched to the horizon, either flat with scattered shrubs and plants, or rolling hills dotted with the same plants. The road often cut through the tops of hills and the exposed cliffs were fascinating. There were various layers to many of them, some layers very hard stone, others powdery or brittle. The colors were mostly sandy white, but often had mustard yellow or reddish-orange sections. Sometimes the layers were rippled, too, rather than just straight across. It was really beautiful.
We had a few highlights today as well. Early in the day, we crossed the Amistad Reservoir - a huge body of water created by the Amistad Dam across the Rio Grande. The reservoir went on for miles, with little fingers of water running off in all directions. There were lots of recreational offerings in the area. We were fairly close to the Rio Grande on a few occasions but didn't actually see it. We may walk down to it tonight - it's about a quarter-mile from our campsite. Another stupendous highlight was crossing the Pecos River. We were way over the river as it was down deep in a canyon. The canyon walls were impressive - a very high, solid rock face. The river was an odd green color. It was all so striking that we actually stopped at the bottom of a long downhill, losing all that momentum we were hoping to use on the uphill ahead, to take pictures of it. It took enormous willpower, but we felt we had to do it.
We went through an Immigration Check Point this morning as well. Almost like a toll booth, there was a building at a stop sign right in the middle of the road (there were warning signs ahead of the stop alerting everyone of it). We were only asked if we were US citizens and then waved on. There are Border Patrols trucks everywhere. We saw one of the trucks dragging some truck tires along a dirt frontage road next to Hwy. 90, on two separate occasions. At our lunch stop in Comstock, a Border Patrol man came in for a snack and we took the opportunity to ask him what that was for. As we suspected, it was to clear the road of tracks so that illegal aliens' footprints would show up better. Our destination, Langtry, is the site of the Judge Roy Bean museum. Roy Bean, apparently was a colorful character from the Wild West days - he was the local sheriff and dispensed law according to his own principles. The saloon that served as his court house and billiard parlor is still standing and we took some pictures there.
Late breaking news: as we went out of our tent to see if we could get a look at the Rio Grande, we noticed some enormous clouds had appeared out of nowhere. We hurried off to see the river and managed to get a few pictures, when the rain started. We really didn't see the river, just the canyon where the river is, because the river is very low here, due to the various dams along the way. The canyon floor was full of a plant called River Cane which you may be able to see in the picture below. It's very dense, apparently. Anyway, we had brought along our umbrella just in case the rain that seemed to be hitting north of us changed direction and came our way, and it did. We scurried back, noting that there were little bits of hail in the rain. The rain didn't last long, but we were ready for bed, so we turned in. What came next was an even bigger surprise - the winds that had moved the clouds our way got stronger and stronger. Our tent really took a pounding but it held up like a trooper. Unfortunately, it was not a very restful night. It wasn't until about 1 am that the winds finally died down and we managed to get to sleep. Certainly our worst night out of the trip so far.