Ok, can’t just jump to the chase with this title, so working into it chronologically: A very pleasant morning at the Mission RV park and plans made to get some grocery shopping done before moving on again to the less populated regions. It was a pretty varied list, so Wally World was the most likely place to get it all in one place. Google Maps knows everything, so off we went into the El Paso triple decked traffic. A warning had magically appeared after the route was given telling of a 20 minute delay on I10 due to an accident. No problem. Routed around and at the store in short order. Cathy locked on to the Hair Salon as soon as we entered the door and made a command decision that I was going to get my hair cut before we left there. Done. Results shown later.
The map planning and recon is one of the key elements that have made our trip work so well so far. Since the shopping and tonsorial experience had already used up most of the morning, the plans had to be adapted to make the only connection at the planned camp site. It adds quite a bit of reassurance when we know we’re in an area that allows us to have sure communication on the road. We knew the destination at parting, but not the camp site. And, another milestone, we have moved into the 5th map of the 7 map set! Lots of route changes en route, and just finding the “bike trail” as the first step was more difficult than normal. After a couple of false leads, I found that the “dirt road” referred to in the biking instructions was actually a dike along the unmarked and totally dry Rio Grande “River”.
However, as things turned out, this 9 miles of bike path was the high point of the days ride. As soon as I exited the protecting lee of the dike, the winds building with the day’s heat hit with unimpeded force. My typical riding speed is 13 – 14 mph, and with today’s head/quartering winds of 25 – 40 mph, I was often down to 7 – 8 mph. It’s like riding up steep grades all day with no down grade to rest and make up time. (Just as corroborating evidence, Cathy had to exit her route on I10 as the winds were making driving STella a rock and roll, white knuckle experience.)
Yet another high caliber milestone, however, we finally made it all the way across Texas!! We entered Big Texas on 17 February, and 17 days later, we’re out the other side. Hello, New Mexico!
The topography and land use are monumentally different now. The access to irrigation water and the deep, rock-free soil on this side of the Rio Grande valley make for intensive food production agriculture. I saw more big working John Deere tractors today alone than I have for weeks out in the rocks and hills of west Texas.
I had always associated pecan growing with the southeastern states, since that’s the location listed on most of the ones we buy at home. This region is heavily populated with them, and has been since the late 1930s. I stopped to visit with a couple of pecan farmers that were working on one of their irrigation canals and learned a lot in a short time. I, as a corn grower from Iowa, and they, as pecan growers from New Mexico, had more in common than I would have guessed relative to how production of our crop has, and continues to evolve. It was a pleasant and enlightening conversation, and I wish I had more time to talk, but the slow pace of the day’s ride would, I know, already have Cathy worrying about where I was. I plodded on. But loved looking at all the neat pecan orchards as I did so.
By the time I rendezvoused with Cathy at the prescribed location, I had ranked today as the one of the hardest days (and only 50 miles to boot!) riding I had since the days in South Dakota in 2005 on the Lewis and Clark ride. Glad to have this one “in the books”.
Our location tonight is in the oldest organized settlement in New Mexico, Mesilla. It is just short of the bigger town of Las Cruces, NM and has been very well preserved and is a hot spot for tourist travel. After getting showered and cleaned up, I thought we deserved a “night on the town” and we drove the few short blocks to the old center of town, the Mesilla Plaza. A local restaurant, La Posta, has national fame, and we did a leisurely walk there taking in the sights and history. Neither of us claim to be experts on the genre of Mexican food, but we were open to the experience that had come so highly rated.
The La Posta had an entire menu for just their margaritas. We liked the sound of the one that incorporated our favorite cerveza. The pic also highlights my “new do”!
The meal was wonderful, and our decision to share the single entry was spot-on, as we could barely eat our half portion each.
So, a great ending to the day of the: Worst. Wind. Ever.
Love having you all along.
We feel the prayers and appreciate all of them.