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