Today was another long day and I was changing my schedule to go a little further to Alpine because a friend of a friend had offered to put us up. 20 more miles for free lodging was worth it! I had a lot of climbing and the wind in my face but after 7 long hours I pulled into the coolest little town of Alpine. I knew something was different about this area as I had passed a town called “Marfa” that had a “Marfa Prada” store on the side of the road. For a small town this seemed extremely odd and I thought I may had been hallucuinating!
Apparently, Marfa and Alpine are home to many artists and eccentrics. The dark skies and world class telescopes bring out many star gazers and also frequented by many world-renowned musicians. Who would have known? I arrived to be greeted by Jon D whom has been sober for 29 years. He was an awesome guy that took us to get some grub at a local place that I frequented again first thing next morning. I am a sucker for a good breakfast burrito!
After dinner Jon and I talked for a few hours about some exciting developments going on in both our lives. I really enjoyed hearing about what was going on in his life and hearing about his experience, strength and hope and all the gifts he had received as a result of sobriety. The next day Unk and I got a late start due to poking aroud the cool town of Alpine. Finally we had some healthy choices for dining and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Bread and Breakfast which reminded me of Sugar Magnolia- my favorite place to eat back in Statesboro. After lunch I went into a guitar store and was able to play some vintage guitars – very cool! I looked at my watch and realized that I was pushing it for time. I hit the road and after an hour I realized that this “easy” 90 mile ride was going to be a lot more challenging than I thought.
The winds had turned and there was several challenging climbs. I had been warned about the “hills” in West Texas which were more like mountains than hills. After 35 miles and 3 hours of riding I arrived in Marathon and thought of calling it day. I soon discovered that there were only two loding options one was a motel that was full and another was a resort-style ranch that was charging 285 a night per room- ouch! I tried to reason with them and got them down to 185 but that was still too expensive. The wind made it impossible to camp and Unk has a lung condition that was really flaring up in the dry climate. I then remembered hearing about a hostel that took cyclist in Marathon. I begin to ride “across the railroad tracks” into a questionable at best neighborhood to find said lodging.
What I came across was amazing. There was a series of 7 or 8 “pods” and then a main house that could lodge 20 or more travelers. I poked around but couldn’t find anyone. Then after 5 minutes or so an old silver Mercedes pulled up and I met a nice looking woman with a heavy Slavic accent asking me if I was interested in staying – for Unk and I it would be 20 bucks. I said sure and went back to bring Unk – I had to show him this place it was incredible!
After I showed Unk around I met the care taker whom had been cycle touring for the past 20 years and had done an estimated 100k plus miles! He informed me that the 50 mile plus ride to Sanderson was an “easy” one and downhill. I began to have second thoughts about calling it a day. We had already booked a place in Sanderson and I really couldn’t afford to get any more off track as we were expected to be in Kerrville so I could speak at a facility.
It was 5 oclock and I decided to go for broke and took his word for it being an easy ride and we moved on. I was a little bummed to not stay in the Marathon hostel as it really was cool – but I had places to be! I set out and discovered that the ride to Sanderson was not as easy as I was led to believe and took 2 more hours than I thought putting me there well after dark. It was cold and my lights were soon to run out of batteries but I made it. I discovered my only culinary options were a gas station and I chose from a limited selection of unsavory foods that I had to force down. Sanderson was hands down the smallest town we had been in and I had no desire to take a rest day there. The next morning I would set out first thing to Del Rio.