From the window of my two star accommodations I have a view of the coffee station. It’s set up on the patio here at the American Inn. The brew they offer is a far cry from the hand picked micro plantation beans that they roast fresh back home at Bellatazza in Bend. But it will have to do.
It wasn’t until the hands on the clock had almost struck noon that I actually rolled out of town yesterday. After leaving the small farming community of Fabens, and the fire department I had slept in, I had to make a sixty four (s)mile trek through mostly dry land to reach my next destination.
Tornillo, Acala, Fort Hancock, McNary and Esperanza are all on the map. These places closely resemble ghost towns. They are located on a road that was once the main corridor connecting major cities. Now a days hardly anyone passes through here. I witnessed only a few automobiles traveling the long stretch, most of which were border patrol agents.
Finding water, one must either be trained in the use of a witching rod, or believe in divine intervention. I left my stick at home, so when I reached the post office in Fort Hancock, I asked for a drink. The kind woman went for the sink located in the bathroom returning with enough H2O to get me to the next well.
There’s plenty of sites to take in along the highway; old abandoned buildings, boarded up houses and businesses, farmers tilling land, tumble weeds and the Mexico border fence that parallels the road I travel.
Nick and I played leap frog for a few miles. He’s also on a bicycle. We stopped and had a snack, beef jerky, chewing the fat on the side of the road.
In the no horse town of McNary I located the only town park. It’s a dirt lot with a picnic bench and a gazebo. Kids must love it here I think to myself sarcastically; no slide, no swing, no teeter totter. But there is shade and a cool breeze. Set back in the distance is sign that reads, “Lovely Lady Park”. It’s a lovely place to rest.
Fifteen miles further I find what looks like an abandoned gas station. To my surprise they are open. Dinner options are limited but they have everything I want. I nuke a burger and a burrito, then chase that down with a moon pie and a pre-bottled iced coffee.
The sun set on my back with twenty more miles to go. In the dark of night I climbed a thousand feet over the Malone Mountains. Shoeless Jo is out of his wagon trucking along beside me. And there’s truckers trucking along beside me as well.
I’m only chased by three on dogs this day. One is a beautiful wolf dog. I actually stopped my bike for this one and stood my ground telling him to back away in my gruffest voice. Last week I was met on the highway by a demon of a beast charging at me at twenty miles per hour. It took everything I had to outrun him. And it scared the living Jesus out of me in the process. The dog/devil looked like this; a Dojo Argentino, bred for hunting wild boar. I’m not kidding.
The night air was cool, a breeze blowing off the mountains, now at a higher elevation. I found myself layering up on the side of the road, looking toward the town of Sierra Blanca a few miles off in the distance. I arrived moments before ten o’clock at night just before the gas station closed, loading up on dinner items; bread sticks, chicken wings and my second moon pie for the day.
My cycling pal, Frenchie is a few hundred miles ahead of me. He phones me on occasion, checking in on me. I do the same with him. He had mentioned that there was only one motel in this town, that it was clean and only fifty bucks. And so it’s here that my TurboPUP, Shoeless Jo and I shared a bed together.
When I leave here in a few minutes, I’ll pop my headphones in, tune to Willie Nelson, and be out there, On The Road Again.