Fort Davis, TX

I woke at 4:02 am this morning (Friday), having gone to sleep before sunset on Thursday night. I’m now in Fort Davis, and am updating for the previous day. As I checked the weather forecast for today, almost on cue, the rain started. It’s raging wind and rain out there, but is supposed to let up in a window this afternoon.

(back to Thursday’s perspective)

I woke up at sunrise, and after my morning routine, left Motel 6 at 7:30 am.
water on road
The frontage road looked like any other for the past few days, except for the occasional wet spots.
road shrine
I stopped at a deserted place, and went behind a bush for a bathroom break. As I was going, I noticed an old memorial. Strange place, not on the highway, nor even visible from the highway. Hope that isn’t a live cam in the middle.
This feels like Kansas! I stopped and turned the camera back to get this picture of roadside sunflowers.

After about 20 miles of frontage road, the route entered the actual I-10 freeway. But right at the entrance was the Plateau Truck stop, so I got a hot dog and pecan pie for breakfast. Left the stop at 10:15. I-10 is a beautiful road for cyclists – wide, smooth, clean shoulder. The 80 mph speed limit is not an issue.

Kent gas station
I reached Kent at 11:50. It was a ghost town. It appeared that the last building to be abandoned was this gas station.
gas station shelter
This would have made an excellent campsite, and I do recommend Kent as a stop for future cyclists who don’t want to do the whole 90-mile segment in one day. No water, of course.

It was sunny, I had lots of water and food, and was still feeling good. I had gone only 38 miles so far. Of course, I continued. The route turned onto highway 118 at that point, which was also a good road, and lightly traveled.

Ft Davis 52
Still 52 miles, and I know there will be 4 major peaks ahead. But the weather is nice.
something on the road
Something’s going on ahead on the road.
vulture party
Okay, vultures. Wonder what’s on the menu?
Wild pigs
It’s 3 wild pigs. I actually saw another dead one down the road, along with a (deceased) raccoon and (deceased) coyote.

As for live animals, I saw quail, about a dozen bunnies (hard to photograph, they bound away in groups of 2 or 3 and run in circles), and 3 strange-looking deer that effortlessly leapt over a high fence as I approached.

dark skies ahead
It was starting to darken in the mountains.

Here’s the gap where there are no pictures.

As I was climbing up to the first peak, it started to rain – big, infrequent drops, that hardly got me wet. The rain came in waves for a few minutes, then paused for a few more minutes. At one point, it became steady, and I noticed that it had a white appearance when it hit the ground. Birdseed hail, the kind that melts instantly on impact. This pattern of a wave of rain/hail, then a pause, continued over the next 3 summits.

On the ascent of the 4th and final summit, the sky opened up, and the hail got to about marble size. Streams of water were running down the road, but fortunately, not across it. There weren’t any big trees nearby, and I wasn’t sure it would be smart to get under one in a thunderstorm, anyway. When I reached the top, I still had to go slow on the downhill, due to limited visibility.

A truck pulled along side me, and a young woman (Alex) hollered out the passenger window, “Do you want a ride?”

I was too frozen to eloquently express how grateful I was for their presence, so just answered, “Yes!”

I had thought I needed to take the gear off the bike to get it into the truck bed, but her husband Charlie just lifted the whole thing into there. The truck had an X-tra cab, so I didn’t need to ride in the bed.

Unfortunately, my front pack was still on the bike in the truck bed, so I didn’t get any pictures from the truck. Charlie and Alex were from San Antonio, where Alex has a government job writing and communicating policy. I didn’t want to distract Charlie from driving the twisty road through the rain, so didn’t learn what he did, but he did point out a Mule Deer, which was the funny-looking species I had seen earlier. In the morning, Alex and Charlie had hiked to the highest point (in Texas?), and got caught in the storm coming down. They drove me maybe 10 miles, and the rain stopped as we went down in altitude.

trail angels Charlie and Alex
Trail angels Charlie (L) and Alex (M).

They were willing to take me all the way into Fort Davis, but I just asked to be let off wherever they would naturally stop. They were visiting their aunt, a few miles before the state campground. I looked at Prude Guest Ranch, and the Indian Lodge at the State Park, where I had originally planned to stay, but realized it was still early, and all downhill into town, so I proceeded.

outside Porter's
I stopped at Porter’s supermarket on the outskirts of town at about 5 pm. This area is really scenic, and I would have gotten some fantastic pictures, were it not for the hail.

The ACA maps had several recommendations for lodging, but the first one I came upon was Stone Village Tourist Camp. The proprietor Randall told me that he only had rooms with two queen beds for $95 left. A bit pricey for the area, so I hesitated. He checked again, and said he had one camp room left, but it only had a screen door, and no privacy. Perfect! I have no need for privacy, except to the extent that it would offend others (like, who wants to see an old man changing?) And noise is never an issue.

screen door
A camp room only has a screen door. More than I need. It was not cold at all, nor was it hot.
room amenities
Far more than I need. A cowboy sink, towels, soap, shampoo and lotion (only used 1 towel). Outlets for devices, and wi-fi. And a shower down a few doors.

My camera got flooded and was flaky, so I took the battery and flash card out, and rested it on the lampshade. This was the first motel where they still used incandescent bulbs. Possibly it’s for the heat, as there is no A/C or heater in the room. Learning (re-learning, I should have known better): put the camera in a ziploc if rainy weather threatens.

I met some of my neighbors before heading out to dinner. They were all on motorcycles, from Lufkin (where they make the measuring tapes). More on them, later.

Dinner was next door at Cueva de Leon. I resisted getting the special, which was a huge platter of everything they serve. Instead, I got the #2, which was 2 enchiladas, 1 chalupa, 1 taco, rice and beans. Chips and salsa came with dinner. And a big iced tea, which I drained 3 times, I think. Just enough.

Two beds! Actually, I was so tired, I fell right asleep after dinner, didn’t blog, didn’t even brush my teeth.

Miles today: 80 (estimate, my cyclometer shorted out in the rain)

(Visited 132 times, 1 visit(s) today)
    1. The camp room was $44, tax included. I thought the screen door was part of the charm. The door had a key, but it was kind of pointless, because anyone could tear through the screen if they wanted to. I didn’t even bother to lock the door. The establishment did have single rooms with solid doors, it’s just that all of those were taken. Good thing, actually, because I would have preferred the camp room, given a choice.

  1. I’m glad to see you posting again. Last night I was envisioning you huddling in your tent, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, with a thunderstorm raging around you!

    Re sunflowers and Kansas… From what I’ve seen of Kansas (between KC and Lawrence), I think the countryside there is prettier (or at least greener) than what I’ve seen of the Texan countryside (Austin area and now your blog). That said, it does look like you are in what passes for a scenic area. Your images of the mountains in the distance remind me very much of Hwy 120 heading into the Sierra foothills, except for a lack of oak trees.

    1. It could very well have been that scenario, Marilyn. There was a picnic area (no shelter, just a table) in the vicinity of the final climbs. What kept me from stopping was that it was still relatively early (the sun sets late here, like 9 pm), and that I really hate setting up and breaking down my tent in the rain.

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