Marathon, TX

22:05 05Jun2017 There is no internet here, I’m blogging offline.

This was to be a short and easy day – 31 miles to Marathon. In the morning, I visited the Bike Store, even though I knew it would be closed on Monday.

Bikeman store.
As I was standing there, a cyclist rode up on a classic Raleigh. Jeff sometimes worked at the store He recognized several of the vintage components on my bicycle. Also, he offered to open the store if I needed anything. But basically, I was fine – just wanted to get a picture of the last store until Del Rio.

I also looked at a couple of the Alpine drugstores to see whether any carried After Bite (anhydrous ammonia for insect bites). Nope.

By then, it was after 11. Still in Alpine, I stopped at Sonic for a breakfast burrito, which I ordered from the stand-up board.
Okay, I know the channels are for drainage under the highway, but why are there pipes across them?
A few miles out of town, I stopped at the smallest Target in the world.
I’m beginning to understand what other riders said about Texas having straight roads into the horizon though a whole lot of nothing. But in this case, it was nice road. The last 15 or so miles into Marathon were smooth and slightly downhill. In fact, the bike lane (shoulder) was in far better shape than the main road surface. From the piles of gravel by the roadside, I presumed that they were just about to repave.

In Marathon, my first stop was the post office, to mail a few things home. It was 2:00 by then, and the manual window was only open until 2:30. Merrianne, a package should arrive for you, shortly. One of the items in there is for you – you’ll know which one.

Next, I visited the French Grocery. They had little bags of grapes for 99 cents. Granted, it was the loose type that they throw away at the Farmer’s Market where I live, but it was a nice snack, all the same. I tried the Rice Pudding Helados, which turned out to have raisins in it. I also noted that they sell pre-made sandwiches, which will be useful for tomorrow’s ride.

I then proceeded to the La Loma Del Chivo hostel on the other side of the tracks, where the normal people live.

La Loma del Chivo hostel.
The first person I met at the hostel was Juan (Juan in a Million) Williams. He did various maintenance around the compound, and had just finished painting a room. I think I listened to the amazing stories of his life for 2 hours, including his Testimony. Juan, I hope that Truth and Justice prevail.
The hostel’s name means “Mountain of the Goat,” and the owner was Ingrid (“Goat Queen”) from Slovakia. She said the first night was free for cyclists. I asked whether she accepted donations, and she said yes, there’s a box.
The hostel consists of perhaps a dozen interesting structures spread over a large area. There are no building codes enforced in the place, so experimental building can go on. One of the neighbors built their house entirely from recycled materials like aluminum cans, bottles, and plates. This picture is one of several hobbit-like buildings on site. Some just hold a bed, some actually extend underground.
Common sense, but a good idea to post a warning, given the jerry-rig nature of some of the buildings.

Juan showed me the bathroom, which was a different building from the sleeping quarters. There is even a hot shower – you just have to turn the propane on before getting in, and turn it off when you get out. I had to extract a 2″ jumping spider from the tub, and a 1/2″ one. They couldn’t escape because the walls were too slippery. I just put them out onto the bath house floor.

I went back to town for dinner. The main street of Marathon is a mix of artsy galleries and the Gage hotel, plus mostly abandoned old businesses. The only restaurant open was the hotel one, with fancy prices. I had the Elk and Buffalo meat loaf, which I thought was pretty good. But remember, I kind of like liver, too.
And I got to enjoy the decor.
As I was the only guest in the hostel, I had my pick of places to sleep, and narrowed it down to two. Which would you pick – this one, inside a newly-painted room (I couldn’t smell it, but was told that it might take a few days to dry).
Or this one, on the roof deck, with a view of the night sky? No biting insects in either.
A trace of Katie.
Here’s someone familiar.

Tomorrow’s goal is Sanderson, which is 56 miles away with no services in-between. Much of the latter part is downhill, however. I hope to leave early in the morning.

Miles today: 35.4 (cyclometer working again!)

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    1. I really hope someone records the stories from Juan. Several are worthy of publishing in a book like Chicken Soup for the Soul. Ingrid probably had a lot of stories, herself, but I didn’t get to spend much time talking with her.

    1. I took the inside room, for the simple reason that it would quicker to load the gear onto the bike from there. If I had multiple days, the roof room would have been a treat.

  1. Very eclectic hostel, looks quite interesting. I don’t think I would have liked the spiders, or the monotony of the road. It is great to vicariously experience your trip through your pictures though.

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