Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Desert

The hotel in which I stayed solved the train noise for me by providing earplugs. Despite getting to sleep relatively early, my body didn’t want to get out of bed right away. It was the best sleep I had on the trip to date.

The day was much warmer than the past few mornings, a sign I was heading further south. I started the day in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt with my jacket over the top, but I took off the jacket within five minutes.

In the first hour and a half, the road twisted back on itself several times, so I had the wind both with me, against me, and everything in between.

There was little going on during the ride as I was just riding through desert. I had a ride of 80 miles for the day and only one town along the way. I made use of the waypoint by talking to the guy working at the gas station. He was a local from the Marathon area and lived there his whole life. He had some interesting tidbits about the area and answered one of the questions I had been wondering about.

I had seen a bunch of dead animals run down on the side of the road: dogs, cats, coyote, boar, various birds, antelope, a horse (I couldn’t figure that one out), skunk, raccoon, desert rat, loads of rabbits, but no snakes. I thought that perhaps birds could carry a snake away instead of dining in the street, but my new friend told me quite simply that they aren’t out yet. He mentioned that if I waited a month I would see plenty of them, as they like sunning themselves on the asphalt.

In thinking about the animals, I was wondering about the Texas Longhorn. In my past travels I have seen the Zanzibari Red Colobus Monkey, the Ganges River Dolphin and the Yellow Eyed Penguin, none of which have more than a couple thousand left on the entire planet. Now here I am in Texas and there are allegedly over 250,000 of these longhorn characters, yet I haven’t seen a single one.

After my lunch break I made some great time. I cruised along and knocked out the last 50 miles in about two and a half hours, making it to Sanderson, Texas by 2 o’clock. I inquired at the store about how far it was to the next town with a hotel/motel. The answer: 120 miles. The decision was made; I would be staying in Sanderson, Texas for the night.

What to do with my afternoon? As it turned out, I met a German couple, Klaus and Doris, who happened to be biking around different parts of the globe. They were obviously fit, but were also competitive athletes, Klaus being 68. It was so great to talk to a couple that could fully understand what my life has been about for the last three years. Everyone puts their own slant on travel, but we were able to connect on so many different places and experiences. What I enjoyed the most was sharing stories of people’s kindness to travelers, regardless of where. Even today when I was stopped on the side of the road I had a car stop and ask if I was OK. I think that individual travelers break past any barriers, political or otherwise. Not only do I have a better understanding of how the world works after my last few years of traveling, but a few years ago I didn’t think it was even possible to have the understanding of people and cultures that I do now. I am sure that there are other people that could take it to another level.

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