Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Saturday, April 19, 2008
Sanderson, TX to Marathon, TX
57 miles (2555 total miles)

We had a much easier day today. Marathon was only 56.6 miles away and although it was basically uphill all the way, it was a very gentle climb. We had a late night last night trying to catch up on the website postings but we slept like logs in real beds in a nice motel room. It's amazing the difference in one's mood being well-rested can make. So even though we poodled along at about 9.5 mph most of the day, it wasn't as frustrating as yesterday had been.

Sanderson is in a beautiful canyon which we rode through for miles on our way out of town. The hills were fascinating, sparse vegetation, rocky soil, with cliff edges at various levels. They often had rocky structures at the top that looked like little fortresses in some cases. The vegetation on the hills was mostly small shrubs and desert plants, but changed along the way - some areas were a little greener than others. At some points we saw a row of trees that looked strangely lush for the area. The cliff sides that we rode through were the same sandstone mix that we had seen for the last two days. At one point though, they changed drastically. First, instead of horizontal layers, the stones were oriented vertically. They changed color too, becoming a dark reddish-brown. The soil around them had a greenish, khaki color. We came upon a marker that explained the geology of the area, which we found to be quite interesting (see picture below). The last stretch to Marathon flattened out quite a bit, with rounded hills farther back from the road. We could see higher mountains in the distance, quiet reminders of what was coming in the next few days.

We've been seeing several deer for the last few days and today we saw some climbing (effortlessly) up a hillside. They were grayer than the deer we've been used to seeing and blended in well with the hillside. Today we also saw some buffalo in one field. A few others had cattle and at least one had goats. Other than that, the only wildlife we've seen are birds. The traffic was so light that often when we'd stop for a rest, their chirping was all we heard.

We met two other touring bicyclists today - now that we're following the Adventure Cycling route, it's become an everyday occurrence! Today we met 2 women, Clare and Caitlin from Portland, Oregon. They're camping every night, but like everyone else we've met, they're traveling much lighter than we are. There were no towns on route for the whole 55 miles but we had some sandwiches, donuts and raisins packed and did fine. Tomorrow, we should have it easier in that department - only one town on route again, but we've been assured that it has restaurants that will be open on Sunday. It will be a tougher climb though, so we're hoping to get enough sleep tonight to be up to it.

This morning's scenery - hills, cliff edges, desert plants

Interesting hill shapes

Note the ridges of cliff face around the middle and top of the hills

An especially tall and rocky hill

A ranch with an unusual fence, and a more common wind mill for pumping well water

This mountain had a bit of a curve to its side

Desert plants at a picnic area by the road - these areas came every 20 miles or so

The picnic areas each had these handy ladders to get over the fence
to the bathrooms (i.e. bushes)

A lusher hillside - the deer is in the middle left to right and
just below the edge of the hill, he's grey with a white rump

Train tracks, hills, and plants

We saw some reddish cactus today, this one by a lovely yucca plant

A close-up of another red cactus

An amusing ranch gate

A hill with especially large boulders, many of which had tumbled down the hillside

A funny-looking round, rocky hill

A hill with fortress-like rocks on top

It was interesting to see greener spots apparently where there are water flows
(when there's water to flow)

Caitlin and Clare from Portland

A beautiful yucca flower

Interesting wispy clouds - it was sunny all day

Odd machinery housing that we'd seen off and on all day

A herd of bison

A surprising row of trees

The new vertical cliff faces

And the marker explaining them

The road ahead

Rounded, browner hills with mountains in the distance

The road gets flat and straight into Marathon

A cow looks longingly at the dry water pond

Two markers related to Marathon, this one unfortunately defaced

Some shops along the main street in Marathon

A fancy restaurant in town that was booked up

An area of the courtyard at our campgrounds

Our little tent with big mountains behind

Another view of the mountains