84. Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again, Y'ALL WELCOME TO TEXAS! Days 22-25.




14/Mar. Day 22.  El Paso - Alamo Alto.
43 Miles. New state: Texas!
At the point of reaching El Paso, L and I thought we’d have the option to either stick on the Adventure Cycling Association’s ‘Southern Tier’ coast to coast route, or travel directly north so as to hop onto another ACA coast to coast route which runs parallel through the mid states. It would appear not. The cold winter weather across the middle and north of the USA which had dictated we begin our cycle in the more temperate south, was still lingering and so it was an easy decision, we would be continuing to ride The Southern Tier.  
We bumped into Brian outside a coffee shop in El Paso, or maybe he bumped into us. The coffee shop was built from a couple of brightly coloured, stacked, shipping containers which reminded us of Christchurch, NZ. Brian was interesting, he was American and travelling the US in his car, visiting all of the country’s most amazing places. I’d hoped to include a photo of the 3 of us stood behind The Flying Fox, outside of the quirky coffee shop, after all Brian went to a lot of effort to take the photo (he’d manoeuvred a chair into the middle of the carpark to use as a stand for his Gorilla-Pod which held his phone) but Brian has forgotten to send us those photos! (hint hint Brian) Instead check out El Paso’s restored retro trams, an added hazard for any cyclist, the trams… and the tracks! Before leaving El Paso, the Flying Fox got some ink @ One Stop Print Shop.





15/Mar. Day 23. Alamo Alto- We gave up (Fort Hancock) TX
13 Miles. Battling the winds.
The morning had started brilliantly. Both L and I had slept amazingly on the ultra comfy bed, in a spotlessly clean Texan farm house decorated with an eclectic mix of Jesus’, other Christian paraphernalia and glass gun display cabinets. There was a sign in one cabinet which read “Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again!” We’re still unsure if this was Texan humour or a serious statement! This was our Warm Showers host No.5. 
Our breakfast had been cooked for us, as had our evening meal the night before. We packed a 0.5kg gift bag of delicious home grown Pecans into a pannier and left feeling refreshed and grateful for such warm hospitality. No.5’s son in law had been battling on with the most horrendous sounding cough and so concerns over how likely we were to contract his illness, lingered on both of our minds as we pedalled away. 
Our positive outlook for a day of flat riding didn’t last long, strong headwinds battered us for the next two hours and this was when we decided to give up. We’d travelled a grand total of 13 miles and landed in Fort Hancock; a one street town with one motel, one cafe, one fuel station, numerous churches (one with a ‘Reserved Preacher’s Parking’ sign) and a handful of dilapidated houses from a bygone era. The motel wasn’t the cheapest considering it was the most dated we’d stayed in so far. A square TV from the 1990’s was sat hidden in a wooden cupboard opposite the bed, I half expected the picture to be black and white but it wasn’t. Tomorrow’s weather update: Rain and cloud.


16/Mar. Day 24. Fort Hancock - Sierra Blanca TX
40 Miles. Jumped by an Alsatian!
The heater had been stuck on ‘tropical’ and blowing all night which made stepping outside to load up the bike, particularly bracing on this particularly cold morning. L drew the short straw for this task. The road to Sierra Blanca was mostly on the shoulder of the Interstate Highway or on a parallel running trunk/access road and the scenery wasn’t anything special. Things soon livened up when a barking Alsatian darted out from behind a ‘middle of nowhere’ roadside house and started chasing us up the trunk road. Note the ‘up’. The terrain was not in our favour and so ‘out pedalling’ the enraged beast was not on the cards. Within seconds the dog had gained on the ‘not so’ Flying Fox and an unknown outcome of events was imminent. Stopping the bike, thus killing the chase usually works for most dogs. So can shouting; “No” “Stop” “Stay” “Sit” or “Go home.” “Get off the couch!” had previously been recommended by one cyclist but by this time things had escalated. L and I had barked all doggy commands known to man and we’d moved on to shouting expletives instead. Neither of us fancied our chances of stopping given the set of gnashers on display, especially after a few snaps towards our legs. The beast latched onto a rear pannier, almost pulling us to a stop and suddenly we found ourselves in the midst of a not so friendly tug of war game. The Flying Fox remained the tug rope until we gained enough momentum to break free. 
On a positive note, the forecast rain had held off all day and it had remained around 18'c, that was until we reached the last peak before Sierra Blanca. The grey cloud lingering at the top of the hill, broke, unloading a shower of sleet upon us! Rain coats came out. Their easy access location, in a blue dry bag attached below my handlebars, wasn’t so easy to access with numb hands. We arrived in Sierra Blanca a little cold. With no answer from the motel reception other than the excitable attention from two tiny puppies, we headed down to Delfinas’ to warm up. This involved several refills of coffee which came with a concerned look from the waitress after L’s fifth cup. 




(Photo Above: Tree, Sierra Blanca)
(Photo Above: Ripped Pannier!)

17/Mar. Day 25. Sierra Blanca - Van Horn TX
33 Miles. Mexican Cocktails.
We’ll remember the small settlement of Sierra Blanca for the quirky historic motel/lodge we stayed in, for the poodle who cruised down the street head sticking out of the owner’s sunroof and for L’s first visit to a small town, American Sheriffs department. Yesterday’s dog attack was now reported, we felt we ought to, given all the cyclists who would be passing by.
In Van Horn we stayed in Motel 6, it was cheap and quite the contrast to last night. We ate out at Cactus Cantina, ordered cocktails which tasted like anti freeze and stayed up late watching a rubbish film on the huge tv in our motel room. Tomorrow would be a long 74mile ride to Marfa with nothing in between...or so we thought!

(Photos above and below: Sierra Blanca Historic Motel).


NEXT UP: Texas continued... travelling through hip and trendy & finally reunited with my glasses!


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A little extra note: L and myself are raising money for two great charities as we cycle home to the UK from Australia, across the landmass in the middle... AMERICA. If you'd like to sponsor us, that would be amazing, here is the link to our just giving page where you can also find out more about the charities: CALM and Alzheimer's Society. Thank you to all who have donated, it keeps us pedalling! https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/foxonalead

Comments

John McManus said…
Great blog. I wish I knew how you made summary pages with details available.
FOX ON A LEAD said…
Hey John, hows it going, I'm not fully sure I fully understand? Do you mean how the posts are listed on the main page as a list of small clickable links, each with a small square picture and small text? and then a larger feature post link (which is always the latest post) that would be the 'theme' option I chose. If thats not what you meant feel free to msg again :-)