I made my way into west Texas last week and am currently in the small town of Sierra Blanca, famous for a border protection checkpoint that has busted some big names for drugs–Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson and Fiona Apple, among others.
But let me rewind a bit. The weather has been great, sunny and warm every day. But the days are getting shorter. Sunrise is at 7:30 am while sunset is at 6:15 pm. When camping I need to quit a couple hours before sunset, and I am not usually riding before 9:00 am, so some days I barely get 7 hours riding time, compared to Canada in June, where it was light at 5:00 am, and dark at 9:30 pm–12 hours or more of cycling time.
So I have a lot more time to watch movies in my tent in the evening. I just finished Narcos and am currently working through the Walking Dead series.
I was interviewed over the phone a few weeks ago by a reporter from the L’anse Sentinel in Michigan. Here is the article. I think he did a pretty good job.
This is the third time I have been interviewed for a newspaper while cycling. The first time was in Illinois in 1984 while cycling from Texas to Michigan. The article has been lost to time. The second time was in 2008 in Beirut, Lebanon. Can anyone read Arabic? I have no idea what it says.
I finally left Arizona and crossed into New Mexico. Here are some photos. One thing you will notice is the cloudless, azure sky.
Check out this house. How would you like to wake up to this view every morning?
Here I am at the continental divide, at a fairly tame 4250 feet elevation.
This peak looks perfect for climbing. In my younger days I would have stopped and climbed to the top just for the heck of it.
In New Mexico I started seeing dozens of Customs and Border Protection trucks go by. I passed a couple stations and began to wonder if it was safe to camp so near the Mexican border. Once, when I was resting, this officer stopped by and we chatted for a bit. He was a real nice guy. He assured me it was safe to camp there. “We’ve never had a problem. It’s mostly just bad guys killing other bad guys.” Well that was reassuring. He could not believe I bicycled 7000 miles. He said, “You must be a superman.” Not quite. And I did not share with him my views on immigration reform.
I struggled through two days of headwinds to get into El Paso, TX and decided to stay a couple days. I needed a bike shop to fix a broken spoke and get a new chain put on. I also wanted to stock up on a number of other spare parts before heading to Mexico. My previous experience in South America told me getting bike parts is not easy south of the border. Plus I was exhausted after eight days nonstop riding from Tucson.
In Spanish el paso means step, and I always thought El Paso referred to a step of some kind. But apparently it also means pass, as in a mountain pass. As Spanish explorers in the colonial period approached the Rio Grande from the south, they viewed two mountain ranges rising out of the desert with a deep chasm between them. This site they named El Paso del Norte, the Pass of the North, and it became the location of two future border cities, Juárez, Mexico on the south bank of the Rio Grande and El Paso, Texas, on the north side. Some local history for you.
I get asked a lot about my trip from people I meet on the road. Several people have asked if I have a blog or anything. So while waiting for my bike to get fixed in El Paso I made up some business cards to give out when asked about the trip. Cool huh?
A grocery store in Mexico? Nope, southern Texas. Yes, there are a lot of Mexicans here.
I’d say this truck needs a lot of work.
Evening sky east of El Paso.
I had to ride on interstate 10 again for about 15 miles. I did not exceed the speed limit.
Memorial on the side of I-10. It must have been a horrific crash. Drive safe.
An old abandoned church in the small town of Sierra Blanca.
After much indecision I finally decided where I will cross into Mexico. There is a minuscule border crossing in Big Bend National Park that sounds interesting so that’s where I am headed. It is about 250 miles to the southeast. Stay posted.