Alpine, TX

On the recommendation of Katie and others, I planned to try to visit Big Bend National Park. That was 100+ miles away, meaning a 4-day cost there and back on bike. I needed a car, and there was a rental place in Alpine.

Alpine was a mere 24 miles away, and furthermore, the weather forecast was for possible storms in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. So I took my time in the morning, and didn’t get on the road until noon.

Charlie
I had breakfast at the Country Store next to Stone Village. There I met Charlie, who was a special ed Elementary School Teacher on summer break. He and his partner had bought an old house – 100 year old adobe construction – and were remodeling everything except the exterior structure. Charlie was interested in bike touring, and showed me a picture of his bike, all outfitted with front and rear racks, ready to go. I hope he does get to tour, soon.
The 3G's
This was the motorcycle group that was in the adjoining rooms. I didn’t get to socialize with them the previous night, because I had fallen right asleep. L-R:   Judy & Bobby, Connie & Mark, Marion & Kent.  The women had these shirts on that said “3G,” which is what they call their touring group. If I recall correctly, it means Good Looks, Good Friends, Good Times. Before they left, the Joan-Jett-looking woman said a prayer for them, asking for protection and wisdom on the road. Almost exactly the prayer I make every morning before embarking.
Chihuahuan Desert Visitor Center
Someone in town recommended the Desert Research Center as a place to visit. The entrance said that it was a mile to the visitor’s center. The road seemed good, but it was uphill. I really wrestled with whether to go up or not, but decided that there was ample time.
Jason
As I arrived at the visitor’s center, a group of hikers came in. They had just hiked for several hours in the canyon. Jason, one of the instructors with UT, was helping them identify flora and fauna. Turns out Jason grew up in Hawaii, and went to Radford. He had worked in bike shops in several capacities, and also on skis, before his present job. Talking with him made the whole spur up to the visitor’s center worth it.  By the way, at UT where he attended, the Shaka sign stands for Roadrunner, their mascot.

The staff at the DRC said that the birds in the roadkill picture I took yesterday were Buzzards, that is, Turkey Vultures. They also said that the three wild pigs were Javelinas. Apparently, they are very family-oriented animals, so if there is one, there are usually others nearby. If a piglet gets hit, the mother often gets killed too when she checks up on it.

The rest of the ride into Alpine was uneventful. Just rolling hills. I kept looking down at my cyclometer by reflex, but it had been flooded out the day before.

Big Bend 110 miles
That’s where I want to go tomorrow.
rental car
There was only one car rental place in town. There, I got this Ford Focus. I had to take the front wheel off my bike to get it in there, but basically, all my gear fit easily.
Highland Inn
Over dinner at Dairy Queen, I used my Android to look for a motel. Google Maps listed a lot of them, but not the Highland Inn, which was recommended lodging on the ACA map. I had to type the Highland name explicitly to find it. Turns out it was wonderful. $55 including tax, for a spacious, clean room, and 5 Mbps wi-fi. For once, I didn’t need to roll the bike into the room, though I could easily have done so.  If it looks like a storm is gathering, that’s because it is.  I can hear thunder in the distance.  Glad I’m in a room.

Learning: the ACA recommendation is always good.

Tomorrow, off to Big Bend.

Miles today: 26 (estimate, still drying out the cyclometer)

(Visited 24 times, 1 visit(s) today)
    1. Okay, I’m back. Neither internet nor cell at the campground. The park is remote, 100 miles from the nearest reasonable town. I blogged offline, and will sync, soon. Funny you should mention weather…

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