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All Downhill

snowshoe
A word to the wise: Do Not Attempt to Snow Shoe Through Texas!

The idea of doing an end of the bicycle tour blog has given me bloggers block for some time now. It has proven difficult to come up with a clever or witty way to express giving something up, so I’ve decided to forego all that and do a basic rundown of events in order to finally move onto other serious blog business. The gist of it is that things were intensely boring and unsatisfying throughout the entire state of Texas, and from the looks of things the atmosphere wasn’t going to change much in the next 1000 miles (i.e.: between El Paso and San Diego). Meanwhile, we were spending money on all kinds of gross food and lodging accommodations, and it just got to the point where it wasn’t worth it anymore. I basically snapped when we stopped for lunch La Familia in Sierra Blanca off Interstate 10, and was served the same soggy corn tortillas filled with boiled chicken thighs and watery pico de gallo in a room where the patrons were either Border Patrol or at least 100 lbs. overweight. That’s where I told Brie I was ready to give it up, and she more or less agreed, although somehow it was harder for her than for me. And that’s it. The next day would be our last, from Fort Hancock to El Paso, and it would also prove to be one of the most trying of the whole trip: ninety degrees in February, with west winds at 30 to 40 MPH. By the time we made it into El Paso it was like 8PM, and all we had really heard about the place was that Mexican drug lords throw headless bodies off the bridges, so you can bet we were psyched to be riding through the place in the dark, right? Brie got the last flat tire of the trip as we rode underneath the bridge leading to Mexico.
flatfixed
Then we checked into this faux-swank hotel called El Camino Real and drank a gang of wine and calculated how much it was going to cost us to move to Portland, OR. That’s when we realized we were making the right decision in ending our bicycle trip. Cost will humble the purest of intentions. The next day we rented a Penske moving truck for our bicycles and headed due North, and now, here we are in Portland.



An addendum of some photos from Texas:



eaglesnestcanyonEagles Nest Canyon



goldengrassGolden Grass



purpleflowersThe Only Thing not dead in West Texas: these purple flowers.



whitecowsSome white cows on the roadside along the Rio Grande.



desertshoesPrada Marfa

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bicycle touring Uncategorized

Almost to Birmingham, AL

clotheslinemoon

Thunderstorms: 1 — Brie & Phil: Doughnut. Ultimately, it was the rain that kept us at the University Inn for a second night. With reports of flash-flooding and dangerous wind/tornado warnings, we thought it best to let all of that pass before venturing any further westward. One of the benefits of this extended stay was the joy of cooking dinner in the tub for the first time (via a camp stove) despite Gabrielle’s protests. It was either that, cook in the rain, or order Papa John’s, and we’re supposed to be on a budget, so logic prevailed. In any case, after eating all that we couldn’t carry, we woke up the next morning to relatively blue skies, so we anxiously packed up and left Jacksonville, AL for the last time.

This day of riding beat the shit out of us, basically. We were reminded just how out of shape we are, and it wasn’t pleasant. The whole day consisted of riding into 20-30 mph headwinds, and many, many climbs. On the brighter side of things, we could have been stupid enough to leave the day before, and had the same ride, coupled with torrential down pours. And, the reports of flooding were not false. Here is one example of an athletic complex we passed early on in the day:

hpim0871

As you can see, the one building there is flooded up to the roof. Alabama has been going through an extended drought, along with a large portion of the rest of the south, and this is what happens when you get days and days of rain, on hard, dry ground that is not ready to absorb that much precipitation. We rode past a number of properties that had flooded up to the doorsteps of many homes, and the funny thing is that the people outside would always smile and wave as we passed by. I have to think that I’d be pretty pissed at that moment, but maybe it’s a case of ‘you can get used to anything’.

We pushed through about 45 miles of Alabama on that day, and it truly was a fight the whole way against the weather, and against the dogs! So many dogs!! We are getting used to being barked at, but still it always feels like THIS will be the dog to bite me, and honestly you never know. If anyone out there plans to ride their bike through Alabama, be prepared for many, many dogs, especially pit bulls–try to guess which ones are friendly!

alabamacampsite

At the end of the day, we were in the middle of nowhere, and out of water, with no foreseeable chance of getting anymore, so we stopped and pitched camp for the night atop this cluster of property for sale. There were the remnants of former homes in about 4 or 5 spots, a great deal of tires and beer cans. We chose the highest and driest spot, that still had its electricity meter, and a clothesline: it felt the homiest. The sun goes down about 5pm in Alabama this time of year, so shortly after that is bedtime. We’ve been getting to sleep about 7. It makes you feel like Ben Franklin or somebody.
pinesunset