Day 22(Tuesday, May 10):Marathon, TX to Sanderson, TX–58 miles

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

We are out of the starting gates at 6:30 am.  Do you hear the thundering roar of our furious pedaling?
We expect an easy day; the elevation map shows the majority of the route to be gently downhill.
The winds are calm; the temperature, perfect despite the early hour. Our only concern is the fire ahead. Again we see scorched grassland riding out of town. Twenty miles into the ride, we approach the area of the Schwartz Fire; on a ridge 3 miles to my northeast I see a line of red orange:flames.  I look around and can see 4 separate smoke plumes.
We ride on towards Lemon’s Gap and our eventual downhill descent; we are through the tinderbox of fire danger areas. The morning news showed a fire in Deming,NM, a town we stayed in a week ago; we seem to have squeaked through this whole area.
I stand and turn 360 degrees; I am surrounded by distant mountains in every direction; I do not see a single structure. It is heaven.
The temperatures are forecast to be 15-20 degrees above normal. We luck out and our morning is cool due to overcast skies which do not give way to sunshine.  I can feel moisture on my skin for the first time in three weeks; the humidity has increased from 1% to 47% in 24 hours.  The extremes of this journey continue.
The descent starts fast and then the winds change; for some reason we are working more than we expected. The culprit: 15mph east winds!
Nonetheless we arrive in Sanderson around noon. It is a very quiet town with two cafes; both close at 2pm. One of them, Dairy King, opens again at 5pm– our dinner destination.  A description of how minimalist this town is in other words:even bottled  water is difficult to find,  even though two of the residents we spoke with either filter or boil their water.
Joe is the team leader; I am the chief cook and bottle washer. I review the routes and maps, check the latest weather/fire reports, take photographs, write the blog(which we edit together) and research both lodging and food options.
Joe is always raring to go; it takes me about 30 miles on the road before I wake up and begin enjoying the day.  Joe is the rabbit;  I am the turtle.  Our speed is determined by my slower rate as Joe patiently waits for me throughout the ride; he also gets longer rest stops.  Although slower,  I arrive at our destination and begin the next job of finding lodging, food etc. Joe is the angel of the trip, subsidizing comfortable lodging, rather than relying on my finding more free camping spots…there may be one on the agenda for tomorrow.
The iPhone is incredible. It serves as not only a phone, but also a camera, a GPS, a map, a weather station, a newspaper, a notebook and perhaps best of all a computer– we write the days up and then send both the photo and our observations with a few keystrokes, whether a wifi source is available or not.  One small piece of technology–how incredible.
Tomorrow we visit Judge Roy Bean…maybe even Dead Man’s Gulch!
Trivia for the day: The Marathon Motel, yesterday’s lodging, was one of the locations for the  1984 Wim Wenders movie “Paris, Texas”.  Rent the movie and look for it(prior to restoration)!

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