A West Texas Welcome
It was a relaxing and enjoyable visit in Alamagordo but the call of the road led me back to the wilds. Climbing to Cloudcroft at over 8000ft meant 4500 feet of elevation gain in 15 miles but, just as last time, La Tortuga slowly topped the rise into town. After a night camping at 7000ft in the southeastern mountainous juniper forests, I descended toward the flat expanses of west Texas.
Oil rigs and pump jacks dot the horizon and a strong north wind gusted me toward the emergency lane where I likely belong. Speed limits in Texas are high with many of these two lane roads allowing legal 75mph traffic. Although the speeds are high, it makes my 35 mph seem that much slower and passing motorists assertively leave me in their dust. The reflective vest also meant folks slow a bit and recognize me as a hazard or slow moving vehicle from a mile off.
In places where oil or gas wasn't viable, monstorous wind farms exponentially expand toward the flat horizon, their blades slowly spinning with a hollow "whomp". Many of the oversize load trucks passing me carry a single nose cone hub for these generators, a component that much more impressive at ground level.
It seems like just last week that I was crossing the Colorado River in Arizona and here I was in Texas crossing another Colorado River. The drought in recent years here has led to major drops in water level, rendering many of the recreation areas high and dry for boating and access. Fortunately for me they were empty in the frosty air of February and nobody was present to demand the $5/night fee. Ample camping was about a 100 mile ride apart and I took each day slow, gradually packing in the morning sun, brewing coffee and riding when warm enough mid morning.
My friend Tom in Marble Falls invited me to stop through the Ranchito overlooking the Colorado River. There I met Gittie, his new bride and spent a few days visiting local watering holes with them, picking guitar and savoring her delicious cooking.
I fiddled around with a cantankerous chainsaw carburetor before Tom suggested we burn some brush. A year old pile of juniper that he cut was prime for lighting so he set up the weed burner and I walked around igniting the conflagration from downwind side around to windward. The heat was welcomed among the brisker winds of the dipping pressure system.
On Sunday before I departed we made a trip down to Brass Hall for some pool and pale ales. The atmosphere was relaxed and along with the jukebox, pool table and denim clad Texan, I snapped this memory with my phone. Thanks for all that southern hospitality!
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In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.