Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fort Davis to Alpine, TX - We love the people in Texas

Greg and his new Super-tube!
The box is twice as large as a normal tube.

Do you think it is windy in Texas? That was our headwind.

The view coming into Alpine. Everyone out here has windmills.

Mitre Peak, an old volcano, if you squint your eyes, it almost looks like Mount Doom on Lord of the Rings. Frodo, we'll never make it....
Fort Davis to Alpine, TX
Day 74
27 miles

We had another cold, but comfortable, night in Fort Davis. In the morning we awoke to a quite comical cacophony of animals serenading the town. We had packs of dogs howling and barking, a rooster “cockadoodling” and the occasional cow giving a long and low MOOOOo, not to mention our old standby, the mourning dove. Our plan had been to ride to Marathon today, but we took our time getting ready and stopped to eat snacks and talk, which ended up making it pretty reasonable to stop in Alpine. On our ride to Alpine we had a headwind for most of the day, except for a fifteen minute run of 20 mph tailwind, which we relished! We saw the 130 year old adobe ruins of an early settler to the area.

We got into Alpine around 2:30 and decided to have a look around town before we set up our camp. Greg called the bike shop in town, called Bikeman, but, as we had expected, no one picked up because it was Sunday. We were about to ride over to the shop to check out their hours when two guys walked up to us and asked if we needed anything for our bikes, because one of the men (John Elsbury) owned the only bike shop in town, and the only bike shop we would see for about 200 miles. He offered to open up the shop for us if we needed anything, and indeed we did! The BoB trailer wheel was out of round and hops when Greg rides over 20 mph, and he had a slow leak on his rear tube and we needed a new tube before we went much further. The guys, John and Mike helped us with our wheel by placing a weight on one of the spokes to balance it. We ended up staying at the shop for a while and talking with Mike and John about bike touring, Texas, places to go in town, and more. We got some great advice for our tour coming up and got a great understanding of Texas from these two. John had recently also done the Southern Tier Bicycle Route and Mike has toured all around the country on his motorcycle, and they gave us some good tips. We had such a great time just talking and hanging out. We can't thank them enough for taking time out of their day to help us out and share their knowledge. We also ended up buying an amazing tube from John. Apparently, big spiny goats heads plague cyclists around here with flat tires, so John carries these amazing heavy, thick tubes that almost feel like tires themselves. It is a good thing we bought one today because by the time we got to our campground, Greg already had a flat rear tire. We can't wait to use the new tube.

After meeting up with the guys at Bikeman, we decided to get groceries. Just as we were walking into the store we met another John, who works up at the McDonald Observatory. He told us that he had passed us yesterday while riding down from the Observatory and if we hadn't already been eight miles from the summit, would have invited us to stay with him and his family at the Observatory. John has a Ph. D in geology and we loved talking to him about the geology of West Texas, because we had been noticing some interesting formations along the way. He told us that this area of West Texas is a series of volcanoes. We also learned about the formations that created the hill country that we will be riding through in East Texas. We also talked about Montana, because John's wife is from Bozeman. We understood fully when he told us that the development of the Gallatin Valley was so sad, he didn't want to see what it has now become. John had also taken a cross country bike trip when he was a young man, and gave us some good advice. He said, whatever you do, don't fly home because it destroys the feeling of accomplishment from riding so far on your bike. John also told us that the most he ever learned was on his cross country bike trip, and I think that says a lot coming from someone with a doctorate. It was so good to meet John and hear his stories, and share ours as well. It really excites us to meet such passionate and interesting people as we have today in Alpine, Texas. This has honestly been one of our best days yet on the trip.

Tonight we decided to stay at the Pecan Grove RV Park. It was a great choice because the people running the place were very friendly, the bathrooms were very clean, and we met more friendly people here and ate pecans from the trees. What a good ending to a great day. We weren't sure what to expect here in Texas, or if we would like it, but it is really growing on us. Texas has really impressed us and we are so excited to continue our journey through this state.


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