Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shake, rattle and roll

74 miles.
Since we are at the western edge of the Central time zone, the sunrise time wasn't until 8 am. We got on the road while the sun was barely up and it was at such a low angle I could barely see anything when we were headed east. That was scary because cars wouldn't see us either. Fortunately we quickly got on US 90 which headed in a southeast direction which made it much easier to see.
The road all day and for the next 6 days will be US90. However we found out today that the road maintenance varied from county to county. We started out in an area with somewhat big pebbled chip seal. It was an older surface so the cars had mashed most of the pebbles into the surface of the blacktop which made it tolerable.
Then we got to Jeff Davis county and the road was awesome! Very smooth and easy to ride on. We continued to the little town if Valentine. The story is that Valentine was named because the railroad reached that point on Valentine's day. We mailed a postcard from the post office so it would be postmarked Valentine, TX.
We had a lunch of burritos made by the high school travel club. They have the lunch for us as a fundraiser for a trip every three years. A few years ago they went to Italy. This is a tiny, mostly boarded up town so that is impressive.
We continued on and when we entered Presidio County the road turned to bone jarring chip seal.  27 miles of that stuff! Plus it was a gradual uphill that didn't make it easier. In the distance we would see a mirage, but instead of looking like water, it looked like smooth road. But no, it never materialized. Always just ahead...
Finally started a nice long downhill so we picked up speed. And the wind was mostly a tailwind so we tried to just get into town. We had to dodge a few tumbleweeds too, it's the wild west!
Finally came to a large sign announcing Marfa. But the landscape looked tha same. Where is the town?! Finally another 5 rockin' and rollin' miles later we see up ahead, wait, is that a mirage? It looks like smooth road. We gratefully found out it was cement road. We came down the hill towards the cement road and passed a deputy that had someone pulled over. We politely waved and got into town where we headed straight for the Dairy Queen. We found out after some other riders joined us, and later at dinner that a particular short stature deputy had pulled numerous people over and told them they had to be on the shoulder all the way over to the edge of the grass!
The roadway was only barely rideable where the car tires had pressed the chips down somewhat into the tar, the shoulder is loose gravel and goathead thorns; not rideable.
Last year Bubba had dealt with this same deputy and thought he had managed to show him the Texas state law to let him know that the roadway, by definition, is to the white line and that we have the right to be on the roadway as far right as practiceable. He pulled several of our riders over with lights and sirens. It must be his once-a-year busiest day for him.
We also went outside of town after sunset to see the "Marfa lights". We think we may have seen them?? They are unexplained lights that have been appearing in the prairie since the 1800's. The town erected a veiwing area about 9 miles out of town. While we were there a tour bus arrived full of people!
Tomorrow is supposed to be windy and cold. When we leave it will be in the high 30's and we'll have a headwind. Oh joy. Luckily tonight we are indoors at the Marfa activity center. I'm so glad that Bubba found a different place to stay other than, "El Cosmico" campground with it's two toilets and outdoor showers!
Shorter day tomorrow, 57 miles. We will have a rest day Friday and will be driven to Big Bend National Park.

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