To Dryden 100km
To El Paso (Bus 350km 5 hours)
To Denver (Bus 15 hours)
I've jumped on a couple of buses, and got out of the heat, and Texas. Bill told me "You can't ride across Texas", and he was right. It was " hot, damn hot", and it was killing me.
I had a reasonably good day out of Brackettville. The temperature started cooler, and it was overcast, and the kms clicked past. But by the time I got to Seminole Canyon State Park, it was really hot again, 105°F. Here was a chance to camp, cheaply and safely, and really close to the Rio Grande and Mexico, three miles. I was too tired to walk to the Rio Grande, the border between two countries, but decided Fiona might be able to manage the trip, unloaded. She did great. The trail was sandy and rocky, but it seems as if my Mtb skills have left me, I only fell off once. I was too busy looking for snakes to see the deep sand, and the slippery slanting rock..... oh well.
My body seems drained, exhausted. I've been finding it really hard to eat. Nothing in the rest stops looks appetizing, and when I do buy something, I can only eat small amounts. It's a real worry. The last week or so have been a real effort to get on to the bike, the first time on my global journey I haven't been excited about "cycling today". I pretty sure it's the heat. And now I've got diarrhea. Bother.
Today I met Leo. He has cycled out of Denver, and is heading to Florida. It has taken him two weeks. He looks beat. He has a badly sunburnt face, burnt lips, and complains of the head wind and the heat. Meeting him perks me up, as I'm sure I don't look as bad as he does, and I haven't seen a cyclists in a while.
I also meet a young man walking across the USA, pushing his stuff in a pram.... very brave. And I'm stopped at a "Border Control". For the first time since Central Asia I have to produce my passport when I'm not actually crossing a border. There are "Border Patrol" vehicles everywhere in this area. Down dusty back roads, in river beds, patrolling the highway, at all times of the day and night. My tent is "spotlighted" in the early hours of the morning. There is a vehicle waiting for me to emerge from the campsite, just checking I'm not an illegal. The only buses I see are "Detention Centre", and they are filled with Mexicans.
I'm hoping for a better day cycling after a good nights sleep at the State Park, but even at 6am it's hot, and I'm feeling really weak. I struggle all day. I'm told it's 105°F, then 110°F, then a little later, 115°F. There is very little shade. I stop at a "picnic area", with a covered table. An American Chinese family offer me watermelon. They are very concerned that I'm out in the heat, but their vehicle is packed. I'm offered water, which I've got plenty of, and they leave. I fall asleep on the table. Bother.
I drag myself back on the bike, and eventually make it to Dryden, and the General Store. I am saved. I collapse on a chair, in front of the AC. A lovely family tend to my needs. Cold drinks, food, and advice. I'm not going any further today, what are my options. I can camp behind the store. I can sleep in their camper. And can wash under a hose. They introduce me to some locals, there are only eight residents in this "town", and they all offer advice. I could catch a train, but it is often delayed, very late, or cancelled. I could catch a bus, but it's schedule is also very erratic. Then Pat offers to give me a ride in the morning, to a larger town, on a bigger highway, where he is certain the buses west are more regular. Yeha. I accept..... maybe the first sensible decision for some days.
Pat and his wife are retired Army. They farm , ducks, chickens, and goats, and have 13 dogs. Pat wears a revolver in his jeans pocket. For an hour, I'm intrigued by Pats stories, of secret military missions, conflicts with "Border Patrol", law suits against the state, testing of biological weapons, and lots more. Pat is not only very knowledgeable, but also has some amazing stories, and is great company, and he helped me out of a deep hole I had got myself into. I love small town people....
Pat drops me at a Burger King/Service Area that doubles as a bus depot. The ladies behind the counter are not very helpful. "Sir, a non refundable bus ticket to El Paso costs $83. Or you could buy a ticket for $98, which allows you to alter which bus you travel on, if you pay an extra $20. Sir, I'm unsure whether you can take your bicycle. You will have to ask the driver....." I decide to spend the three hours before the bus arrives trying to hitch a ride. I get offered money twice. I am offered prayers. I am abused twice for interrupting. I am not offer a ride, although I ask only those seemingly heading in my direction, and with empty pickup trucks. Hmmmm.
The first bus driver...."Nope. You can't take a bike on the bus unless it's in a box." Where am I going to get a box big enough at a Service Area?
The second bus driver.."Put cardboard around these parts, and I will let you on my bus, but be quick. I leave in 10 minutes." Yeha. A mad dash. I find empty chip boxes. I wrap the offending parts, and bungy the cardboard on. I don't care whether it stays on, after the luggage door is closed. I buy an $83 ticket, with the driver breathing over my shoulder. The unhelpful ladies computer is not connecting, and she abuses me and the bus driver for putting her under pressure..... but we depart, only 5 minutes behind schedule. I'm "jumping" 350km, across Texas, to El Paso. Then I'm getting another bus, 1,100km north, hopefully out of the heat.