50 pleas for a ride, population 2121, Balmorhea and 60% humidity

D. Judd Marfa, TX

D. Judd Marfa, TX

I made the long trip to El Paso in the hope that I would be able to hitch a ride on the interstate 10 to Van Horn (my connecting point to Marfa). I pedaled about 20 mile on the frontage road all the way to the outskirts of the city, constantly asking for a ride at each gas station I passed. The ride from El Paso to Van Horn is about 110 miles on the interstate and was not something that I looked forward to. I asked at truck stops, gas stations and even got desperate enough to hitch on the last on ramp going out of town. No luck! I accepted my situation, and realized that I needed to pedal over 30 miles in the dark to get back to downtown.

 

El Paso, scenes for downtown. Actually a really cool city

El Paso, scenes for downtown. Actually a really cool city

 

The next day I boarded a greyhound bus. I had 20 minutes to break down my bike and get it to fit inside of a box made for a kids bike! I barely made it on the bus, and spent 3 cold hours sitting in 4th of July traffic. I was shaken awake at the immigration check point and was confronted with 3 officers and a team of drug dogs searching the cabin and luggage bin. We were at the Sierra Blanca check point, which caught both Willy Nelson and Snoop dog in the same year! Each were carrying over a pound of reefer and the officers were hoping to find something on the bus.

R.I.P Playboys attempt a creating a mural in Marfa Texas is met with dislike

R.I.P Playboys attempt a creating a mural in Marfa Texas is met with dislike

Marfa Texas was a great place to spend the 4th! After arriving I took a outdoor bath  under a mulberry tree, and enjoy the company of about half the town at the bbq. Artists, dancers, and film makers make up most of the town, which started booming when Boston artist Donald Judd moved to the town in the 1970’s. I stayed for 3 days in which time I toured the local museums, schmoosed with artists and photographers at openings, mixed Thai basil cocktails and ate a grill cheese sandwiches in a school bus.

Cement boxes D. Judd

Cement boxes
D. Judd

Chinati foundation, Marfa, TX

Chinati foundation, Marfa, TX

I took a slight detour a rode to the top of the McDonald observatory, there I met with an cyclist turned mad scientist and toured the telescopes at the top of the mountain. From McDonald I pedaled to the refreshing waters of Balmorhea, where I camped with a van full of Koreans and Europeans. After 4 hours of Beatles, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan guitar covers I slept under the stars in the warm summer evening.

Telescope control panel McDonald observatory

Telescope control panel
McDonald observatory

Sunset from the telescope cat walk

Sunset from the telescope cat walk

Balmorhea springs

Balmorhea springs

Austin, TX! What a city! The first thing on my agenda was to determine if “everyone from Austin is cool”, obviously a statement like this can never be true but it actually took me a little time to prove it false. I swam with friends in the humid afternoon at Barton Springs, and enjoyed the cool evenings in downtown.

Local BBQ fare and friendship in the making

Local BBQ fare and friendship in the making

The heat was difficult in the west, now its the humidity! Cycling out here feels like you are pedaling in a Jacuzzi! These are the proper conditions to remove meat from bones. I have asked several people in vehicles for directions and they barely crack their window to speak to me, rolling it up and closing it between sentences!

I think I have developed a bit of the local accent, but I have lost the straw hat

I think I have developed a bit of the local accent, but I have lost the straw hat

I will be in New Orleans on Friday, but it is going to be a hard week of pedaling. Roads out here a very busy and rarely have a bike lane. Welcome to the swamps! Sorry for the delay and will write again when I get to Louisiana!

-Julian