El Paso, TX

I got up at about 6 and made coffee.  The air was calm, but I knew that the wind would pick up as the sun warmed the area.  I didn’t really have breakfast, except a can of fruit cocktail.

bad hair
This is what happens the next morning when you didn’t dry your hair before sleeping.

I didn’t leave the Leasburg Dam until 9:50 am. It was already starting to get warm. The road ahead to El Paso was supposed to be flat, but I also had a mission of finding a New Mexico T-shirt. I had mapped out 3 thrift stores to look at in Las Cruces, the last major town before the border.

There was crosswind and sometimes headwind going into Las Cruces, so it took an hour and a half to do the 14 miles. Not real good, considering that I had 66 miles planned for the day.  I had my last buttermilk bar to munch on.  Just enough energy to get me there.

thrift store
This was the first thrift store I stopped at. There was no storefront, but an alley that looked like a garage sale, and a door to 3 rooms of warehouse. I got a plain white T-shirt there that said, “Columbia has Landed, 1982 White Sands, NM,” It was the kind of thing that most people would use as a rag, but it didn’t have any holes, was light-colored (very important), and was local to the state. 50 cents.

After getting the T-shirt, I thought about skipping the other two stores, and making miles. Nah, I continued on the next store, which was an Animal Rescue benefit store.

Leah and Larry
Outside the Animal Rescue store, I chatted briefly with some locals, Larry and Leah. They were long-term Las Cruces residents, both retired (Leah just recently), and were fixing up their house to sell, in favor of a home they hoped to build in the mountains. I asked them about restaurants, and they had a few suggestions, including Mesilla and a place on University Ave. They told me about the worst Mexican food they ever had in Alabama, and surprisingly good Green Chile in Washington, DC. That’s high praise coming from a resident of this part of New Mexico.

The final store was Salvation Army, where I got the perfect shirt – my size, new or almost so, local content, and fluorescent green. I’ll post a picture later. I put the shirt from the other store into the Salvation Army donation box.  On the way to SA, I had passed by a place called Tokyo Sushi. I doubled back for lunch.

As I was parking my bike outside the window, the owner came out and encouraged me to bring my bike in.  He sounded like he might be Korean, and in fact, there was Korean food as an option on the menu.  The restaurant was cool and pleasant inside, and I realized that it was just a giant swamp cooler blowing.  Those work well in the low humidity.

bibimbap at tokyo sushi
The bi bim bap there had a few differences from what I’m used to in California or Hawaii. They used matchstick zucchini, and skipped turnips and bean sprouts. Sriracha was provided on the side as the hot sauce. It was a good meal, and I wiped it out.
tree lane
This was the prettiest part of the day, a tree-lined section of a pecan orchard. Shade is a big plus. It only lasted 2 miles, though.

Somewhere along Vinson St, I unceremoniously entered Texas. No sign to take a picture with.

gravel path
The map says, “cross 200 feet of gravel, and enter bike path”. Looks like way more than 200 feet to me.
gravel path detail
When I actually walked the bike 200 feet, I saw the bike path leading down by the big rock.  Thank God.
icee
At one point, the bike path went up to cross a street. Looking to the right, I saw a gas station – I had not had any refreshment since Las Cruces, really. Amazingly, there were no popsicles at the gas station store – only ice cream. I got an icee. I’d better shave before church, tomorrow.

Adventure cycling would have had me stay on the bike path for 15 miles, but going onto a dirt road at the end. Google directions had me cut off the bike path at 5 miles, then ride through city traffic. I chose the latter, as my phone was programmed to get me to the hostel.

El Paso traffic
Yes, I was in El Paso. Google had me riding on a road like a California Expressway, except without a bike lane. People had warned me that cars give no quarter here, and they were right in many cases. I was extra conservative.  El Paso turned out to be quite hilly, actually, and I found myself shifting to my bottom (non-granny) gear on the uphills.  I saw a bank sign that said 94 degrees, at about 5 pm.

I stopped at a Wendy’s for a medium frosty.  I wanted the refreshment, but didn’t want to send a lot of time finishing a large.

In the back of my mind was the thought that lodging would be filled up on this Memorial Day weekend. I passed motel after motel, and their parking lots seemed rather full, although I didn’t see the NO VACANCY signs lit.

festival
As I approached the hostel, I saw hundreds of young people exiting a weekend festival. Great. Even less chance of getting a room.

It was 6:45 pm by the time I reached the Gardner Hotel, right in the middle of downtown.  Plenty of light left, but dreaded going back over the hilly streets to find lodging if the hostel was full.  I went into the lobby and told the desk clerk, “I’m almost afraid to ask, but do you have a room for tonight?”  He said that all the private rooms were taken, but that he had hostel beds open.  Perfect, that’s what I would have chosen, anyway.

There was no one else in the hostel room when I got there, and only one other guy, Guillome, that came in late.  The pounding beat of the Rave two blocks away was strong throughout the night.  I’m told it went on until 2 am, but don’t really know, as I have no trouble falling asleep amid noise.  No different from a campground near tracks where freight trains pass through the night.

Miles for today: 67.9, hot, hilly, windy, and with city traffic

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  1. You made it to Texas! I am not able to post as many pictures as I would like on my blog, something is funny with my yahoo mail. We stayed three nights by the sea of Galilee and will stay at lodgings by the Dead Sea tomorrow. We visited the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, and had a boat ride of the Sea of Galilee.

      1. Thanks for the link to Merrianne’s blog – it will be interesting to see her pics from Israel.

        While it’s fascinating to watch your progress, Rod, I can’t say that this blog is any enticement for me to visit such hot, dry and dusty places…

        1. A lot of my difficulties are related to my mode of travel – headwinds matter, road grades matter, condition of the shoulder matters, proximity of food and water matters. If you were in a car, these would be insignificant, and it could be a fascinating and pleasant visit.

          I’ll have a challenging segment in the next few days – services sparse, and I may have to wild camp by the road. Will be stocking up on food.

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