Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flood plains, freight trains and watermelon vines.

Above post
Left to right: Mike, Bryan, Sara and me

It's strange, but as soon we crossed into Texas,  I thought, "Oh yeah, this is definitely Texas. " As if the overall landscape in different states adheres rigidly to political boundaries.  The sun is more direct now and the is air is a powerful desicant.

After a long day yesterday,  we made it to Hempstead, Tx which is about 20 miles south of Navasota where we are staying at my aunt Peggy's house for a few days.  Sara left for home this morning and we were all sad to see her go.  We are over 800 miles from where her trip began in Pensacola, Fl.  She decided to give it a break after a culmination of various circumstances lead her to reconsider the next 1000+ miles.  Long distance trips can be punishing.  There are an untold number of unforseeable challenges we face every single day.  Several days ago she caught a cold and has been feeling feverish and congested but rode through it.  800 miles is a very long way.   It's nearly impossible to understand what its like on a bike, camping in the rain, battling trucks all day, and fending off large toothy dogs.  Even for me, the continuity of the miles begins to fade against the backdrop of the incredible distance.  We will miss Sara tremendously, she is such a wonderful person and traveling companion.  Now its just Brian, Mike and I- three scroungy bearded dudes on bikes.   I doubt we will have as much luck asking small town sheriffs offices if we can camp in the local town park.  Sara gave us a certain credibility, now we are just a roving troop of serial killers in the eyes of weary locals.

We've heard tell of a bona-fide Texas rodeo happening today at some point.   Apparently the Jonas Brothers are playing at the halftime show- seems like an unlikely demographic to play for but I've seen stranger things.  We've been hearing things from locals about west Texas.  After the initial astonishment that comes from telling people what we are doing, we usually get a list of all the ways we are going to die.  "The road will be covered in snakes!" one woman said, "its so hot out there that the pavement boils."  So riding on boiling tar covered in angry venomous rattlesnakes probably isn't most peoples idea of a good time, but I am looking forward to the West Texas night sky.  Conditions in West Texas make for some of the darkest and clearest nights in the lower 48.  Seeing the milky way will be a first for Bryan and Mike who have both grown up in fairly populated areas. 


Aliese said...

Isn't that funny that so many people's response to your trip is to inform you of why it is not a good idea to do it. By the way, I heard that scorpions out West have been known to attack and sting unsuspecting bicyclists.

Ryan, whenever you have a mail drop address, let us know. I have something very light to send you.

Rees said...

Texas is a bear. I recall amazement at the East Texas highway sign announcing: El Paso 697 miles.

I'm just just home from flying out to San Francisco (so I beat you) to be with and assist Daniel and his boss with a film project. There was a highway department sign in S.F. on U.S. 50 near the coast that read "Ocean City, MD 3128 miles."

In 2000, Daniel and I hiked up Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, when we were driving across country in honor of his high school graduation. It's a good hike and might get you closer to those stars, as long as a moon rises to take you back down again.

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