I woke up before Tina did, and I was going to wake her to talk to her while I prepared to leave. Her bedroom door was open, so it seemed like she would want me to. But, I knew how tired she had been and didn’t want to disturb her. It was seven-thirty, and I needed to go, so I was about to wake her when she woke up. Whew, I didn’t need to feel guilty.

We talked for a little longer, and I wished I could stay a bit. But, alas, I had some miles to cover, and I didn’t know what the day would bring. So, she packed me a delicious baby spinach salad and then we said our goodbyes. I feel pretty lucky to have met such an inspirational woman.

I was on the road by eight, and making great time. Today there was no headwind, and my road was pretty flat. So, when I saw the White Sands National Monument, I thought about checking it out. I went to the information desk to see about where I could camp tonight, also, and I found out that the campground I was planning on staying at the following night was actually on the east side of the mountains I was to climb. Great! Tonight, I was going to meet a friend from Philadelphia who is touring the US on his motorcycle, so now I was more at ease that we would not have to find stealth camping in the military area we were going through.

I did the sixteen mile loop around the heart of the White Sands, which are one of the natural wonders of the world. It was hard to differentiate the sand from snow the entire time I was there. Simply gorgeous. I had such a nice ride. I even got to see kids sledding down the sand dunes!

I was finished at one, and knew I only had thirty miles to go to the Aguirre Spring Campground. I figured I would be there by four-thirty at the latest, and then wait for my friend there. But, after the first ten miles, the next twenty were uphill. No big deal, but I had been told by several people that it would be flat until after the military missile testing area. Those people have a skewed idea of what flat is. Climb climb climb.

I did not see the sign for the campground until ten to six. I pulled in to see a sign: three miles to camp host. It was all downhill, and I was thinking about how much it was going to be a pain to climb in the morning. Then I saw the host trailers, and no one was there. I saw another sign that said the gates close at six, and that it was four miles to the camping area. Okay, this was a problem. My motorcycle-driving friend, Dan, wasn’t going to get there until at least seven. Well, I wanted to talk to someone, but there was no one to speak with. I thought I would see if there was someone at the camping area.

Long story short, I huffed, puffed, and cussed all the way up the MOUNTAIN I had to climb to get to the camping area. One hour to go those measly four miles. I was so mad – mad at the person who assured me the camping was right off route seventy, mad that there were so few signs, and mad that no matter how high I climbed, there were no signs of places to camp. And, it was dark.

I cried tears of anger for the second time on this trip. “Where!?!” I kept yelling, in reference to the campground. I was beginning to believe it was all a joke. On me. Let’s see if we can get this one girl on the planet to think she cam keep climbing this mountain and there will be camping.

Well, I saw a “1” and that was a camp site. So, that was where I was going to pitch my tent. No more climbing. I could not even stake my tent out because there was just gravel. More anger. And, I could not get in touch with Dan. My phone refused to contact him, and my battery power was waning just trying.

Finally, I get Dan on the phone. He has arrived, and had to sneak through the closed gate via the spiked side. His bike spilled over and he broke some things doing this. I heard the motorcycle approach and finally felt relieved.

Dan and I excitedly talked, and got inside my tent because it was too cold to hang out outside. Minutes later, the hosts drove up in their truck. We knew what this meant: Dan had snuck in, and a motorcycle doesn’t sneak around as well as a bicycle. So, Dan admitted he was in the wrong, and we explained the situation, and the guy said Dan was trespassing and if he was reported, he would have to pay a fine of $500. He didn’t seem like he was going to report Dan, so hopefully he won’t. Dan has had quite a few days of really awful luck, so that would just make it worse.

Dan and I traded biker-bicyclist secrets that would get us kicked out of an alliance if one existed for either of us. I don’t even know what that means, but in my head it sounded clever. And really, the view from the campsite was UNBELIEVABLE. We both agreed that on our separate trips, this was the best spot we had camped at.

It was so cool to finally catch up. He’s been behind me, checking out some different states than me, texting to see where I am for weeks. Now he was here, and we talked until we both fell asleep. He’s had a lot of really awesome experiences, including losing a whole bag with his laptop and everything, and then someone he just met even went to jail for him to get it back! You can check out Dan’s blog here. Find out where he has been, and see where he will be. He’s going to end up in Portland, Oregon, by mid-November.

This is not how I imagined spending my Halloween, but it was a memorable one for certain.

This morning I got to eat a completely delicious scrambled egg and potato burrito with salsa Vicki made from her garden. So good. We talked some more, and I really like what she has to say about a lot of things.

I also met her employee. Vicki is a dog groomer, and has her shop at home. I watched as they washed and dried some small dogs. Dogs like to get baths, I’m told. Vicki and her family have three dogs themselves, a really small one, a pitbull puppy that is larger, and a HUGE Great Dane. They are all really friendly and licked me a lot – I was pretty salty from the ride.

Vicki suggested that Zane drive me to the bike shop in town. I wanted to see what they could tell me about my upcoming route, as it looks like I will have to take the interstate soon. It was confirmed at the bike shop that it looks like I will have to. He was not sure if it would be okay legally, but Zane assured me in the car that it would be. He sees people walking and biking on it and if the cops stop them, they don’t get ticketed. So we’ll see.

At the bike shop, I purchased new gloves. They are not what I would personally choose, but they will be just fine. Twenty five dollars, and a brand I’m not too familiar with. At least they fit right! As I was checking out, one of the other bike shop clerks talked with me about my journey. He handed me a really, really nice Smokey Bear Mountain Challenge race long sleeve shirt and said I could have it. It’s as warm as my thermal, so now I can get rid of my sweatshirt finally. I changed into the shirt in the store. It feels soooo nice!

In the car, Zane told me about his work. He’s a glass blower, and at the house I got to see his pieces. He is really talented, and even has a shop at the house. Very cool. He drove me to the top of the summit, which was only about another twelve miles, but could have taken me about three hours to bike. Pure climbing in freezing cold headwind actually sounded less than appealing, so that’s where I biked from.

All downhill. I felt like a sissy for not climbing to the summit once I was going downhill. It was cool to see how warm it got as I peddled my descent – the snow on my shoulder melted, then another few miles down I took off my scarf and headband, then another few miles, my rain pants and coat. It was like a whole other world once I got down to Tularosa.

I was okay with an easier riding day for sure. I got to stop and take a lot of pictures. A smile was plastered on my face most of the day, as I was surrounded by majestic scenery. Unbelievable. Hands down worth dealing with some cold weather to experience. To make this even better: Sufjan Stevens (All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands) peddled with me against the light headwind on the downhill.

I was in Tularosa by 2:30. I ate my late lunch in the park, and checked out the town a little. I also went to their library for a little bit, as I knew I did not have far to go before I arrived in Alamorosa, which is not a town so much as a residential area between Tularosa and Alamogordo. My destination today was a giant pistachio nut. True. That was my landmark before the turn to the friend of Vicki’s that I would be staying with tonight.

I was looking for a pink trailer, and found it with no trouble. Tina came out to greet me in a pink shirt. I’m going to take a wild stab and say her favorite color is… blue. Tina was as friendly as Vicki had said she would be, and excited to have me as well. The view from her place is so amazing. I could see waking up there every morning and just being so glad to have that view.

She made us enchiladas, my first real homemade ones since entering the southwest. Simple and so tasty. Tina has had a really, really interesting life. I won’t go into details, as they may be personal, but Vicki had told me some of the terrible luck she has had, and Tina went into more depth. For someone with such a crap hand dealt to her, she is a remarkably upbeat and warm person. Seriously. She lost a teenage daughter due to incredibly unfortunate circumstances, and they had a unique and very close relationship. I stayed in her room for the evening, which was left the way it had been when she was alive. Tina has made peace as much as a person possibly can with this, and I felt very honored to share the space her daughter had lived in.

We stayed up late sharing stories, and though I would have loved to talk some more, an early rise in the morning loomed over me as we said goodnight. Tina loves life and laughs a lot, and is a good, solid individual. This didn’t surprise me. If she was a friend of Vicki’s, there was no way she wouldn’t be.

The universe is on my side, people. Truly, truly on my side.

I LOVE NEW MEXICO!

I left just a little after I wanted to in the morning. It is difficult to leave any earlier than seven-thirty in the morning, because that is when it is light enough. Seven-forty, I was on the road for my long day of riding.

It had rained the night before, and I was lucky to have missed it. I was surprised that it was a little warmer this morning, and glad for it.

Getting out of Roswell was not difficult, but I was enjoying riding up main street and seeing all the shops and such that I was distracted and went a mile too far. Whoops. I got back on track without too much trouble.

As soon as I was headed west again, the headwinds whooshed at me. Tired of hearing about them yet? Most of the day, they seemed to hold me back a little more than usual, but I think the fact that I did no riding the previous day had something to so with that.

The elevation climb was more than I have been used to as well. I have been warned that from Roswell to Ruidoso is a good 75,000 mile climb. This sounded insane to me, such that I would only make about fifty miles in my ten hours of daylight to bike. I needed to go seventy-three miles to get to the Ruidoso. Luckily, as I had hoped, even though the map does not show it, there are little stage stops and quasi-towns here and there along the way. My fears of running out of water feel pretty much depleted now, as it seems this is what I can expect throughout all of New Mexico.

Also, I saw my first antelope! They run like mechanical quarter-slot animals that might be found outside of a grocery store. It was too far away to take a picture of, but I thought that was pretty exciting.

I had chosen to go this route, even though there was this climb, because everyone spoke so highly of it. It is a breathtaking scenic byway, to be sure. Even though I had so many miles to cover, I couldn’t help stopping every now and then and just look all around me at the valleys I was wrapped in. As far as the eye can see, pure natural delight. New Mexico is every bit as awe-inspiring as I had imagined it would be. And it is even nicer when I have the Boy Least Likely To keep me company. If you click on the hyperlink, just click on the “play” button on the screen to listen.

I finally got off of route 380 and headed for 70. This is also known as the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway, and I saw the return of bike route signs. Yay! I was a little let down that this shoulder, which is supposed to be meant for bicycles, was not a little more cleared of broken glass and general roughness. It wasn’t so bad, but it’s just strange because my entire shoulder on 380 was wider and more free of debris than 70.

I had to pee a lot today, even though I feel like I didn’t drink as much as I usually do. I stopped behind one post office, which was not open. As I was getting ready to leave, a bald man pulled up to collect the mail from one of the mail boxes. He was outwardly concerned for me when I told him my destination. “Don’t you know there’s a storm coming?” No, I didn’t. I purposely didn’t check the weather. Everyone has said there is snow in Ruidoso, and I would prefer to not think about it. I can worry about it when I get there. But, now knowing there was snow, and more coming, I have to worry a little about it.

I huffed and puffed and climbed all day, and about quarter to six the same bald man pulled up in front of me on the shoulder. Hs name was Kurt. The snow had already begun to fall, and it was getting a little heavier. My hands and feet were quite cold. He wanted to drive me all the way back to the quasi-town where he had seen me earlier in the day to stay at a church. He was really, really worried about me. He even threatened my parents life for “letting” me go one this trip, even after I told him how old I am.

I declined his offer. This may sounds stupid, but I knew that was not what I was meant to do today. He also called me a “dummy” when he offered me twenty dollars and I turned him down. He crumpled into my hand. So yes, I again, took money. I think that I will buy different bike gloves with it, as the ones I have are too big and actually pinched my nerves a number of times today, which they are supposed to prevent!

He had told me there was a police station as soon as I got into Ruidoso, and I told him I would check with them. But, I could tell I was still about six miles from entering Ruidoso Downs, and knew I still had a hill to climb after that, and it was snowing and dark and I knew I would not make it. So, instead, I saw a well-lit house and asked the young man, Zane, if I could camp in the backyard. He went in to ask his mother, Vicki, who invited me inside to stay in their spare room instead. Deal! I’m not so prepared for snow camping. I really did not think that I would have to be worried about it in New Mexico. I knew it would be colder since I was up in elevation, but this did surprise me.

Vikki made me some pasta and garlic bread and a salad with real lettuce, and I drank hot tea. I talked with her and her friend who was visiting, Celeste, as well as Vicki’s husband, Tim. They are a really close bunch, and they seemed comfortable with having me there. They were also excited to watch the second game of the world series, so they watched while I looked online more closely at what my next few days looked like on my route.

I think Vicki and I are on the same page about a lot of things. She has an outlook on life that I share, and so it is easy to talk with her. I also like her voice a lot. I looked forward to a good night’s rest in her nice, warm home.

I wanted to sleep in, but the latest my body would allow me to was seven in the morning. I had some errands to run today, so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

Mary Jo and I ate some hot cereal that was like grits and drank some hot tea. Hot tea, surprisingly, is not a common item to come by these days. I even drank (well, tried to drink) the decaf coffee I ordered in Tatum, which arrived in a package next to a mug of hot water. That suggested a new low to me. Do people actually enjoy that stuff?

Anyway, Mary Jo and I figured out where I would be able to get some supplies and things. I called ahead to see what stores carried. On my bike, when I have arrived at places to find they didn’t have things, it was a nuisance because I sometimes went several miles out of my way to get there. Mary Jo offered to drive me, and I was fine with that. The only bike shop didn’t carry biking gloves, and the sporting goods store said they did, as well as fleece tops.

We went to the library first. A little plug for the Roswell library. This library was the most well-designed library I have ever seen. It had been remodeled a few years back, and the building is really something else. The last names of authors border the top of the building in big, silver letters. There is a “Tree of Knowledge” that was designed by an artist, and the bark has intricate details about literature and words inscribed. Even the leaves spell words. I mostly only used the internet when I was inside, but it looked well organized.

I had a lot of catching up to do on the internet to take came f various things, and the connection was a little slow, so I ended up there for nearly three hours. Mary Jo didn’t seem to mind waiting for me. We went to the UFO Museum and Research Center next, because we were not sure what time they would close. I enjoyed my visit there. They have a lot of newspaper articles and affidavits of different witnesses to the Roswell Incident, and pictures and drawings and the case reports of the alleged space craft debris and alien discovery that began on July 5th, 1947. The conspiracy theories were really interesting to read and to see how different people wither support or debunk them. My favorite part of the museum, though, was the portion that displayed ancient civilizations’ depictions of extraterrestrial life.

Whatever anyone believes about any of that, Roswelll certainly takes pride in their notoriety. There are alien-themed shops all along North and South Main street, and even the McDonalds has fun with it – it’s silver and there is a flying saucer-themed playground.

I was pretty hungry, but it was close enough to dinner time that it looked like Mary Jo and I would wait to eat. My metabolism, at this point, expects food more frequently. But I could be patient.

We went to the sporting goods store, and they did have one fleece top. It was heavier than my sweatshirt, and so I thought for fifty dollars, it might not be worth the exchange. I bought a polyester top instead, which seemed like it would be at least as equally warm as my sweatshirt. It got pretty cold today, so I think I will hang on to the sweatshirt for a test run just in case. The nights are all getting down to the mid-thirties for the next few days, so I don’t want to suffer too much.

I had been hoping to get biking gloves with fingertips, but that was not going to happen. They only had one brand of gloves, and the brand was not very good. I have small hands, also, so my option was only one kind of glove. I bought them, since I would rather have junky gloves than none at all, but they are stiff, and do not seem very breathable, and only half fingered. Also, they are heavy. I miss my other gloves, which cost less and were of much better quality.

So disappointments about gear aside, I had a nice day off. We went to the grocery store so I could stock up, and there was a hardware store next door I went to get some glue. In the museum, I had taken off my glasses to clean them, and they snapped right in the middle. I guess I was pressing on them? I was engrossed in what I was reading, so that was possible. The museum had some super glue I used temporarily, but I know that stuff doesn’t last. I don’t have any insurance, so I really do need my glasses. I got a better glue to fix them, and I hope it lasts. What good would looking at the sights of the country be if I could only see the shapes and colors? Not much, I tell you.

Mary Jo and I talked some more over a nice dinner of linguine tossed with olive oil, broccoli, mushrooms, and cheese, and then I got ready for an early start in the morning. I’m preparing to climb some elevation and the weather is not going to be pleasant, so I want to be set.

I was up at five in the morning, unable to fall back to sleep. My body was still an hour ahead of this time zone, I think. I didn’t try to get up, as I wanted to sleep some more, but I basically stayed awake until my alarm went off at six-thirty. I made a quick effort to get moving, as I could tell once I left my sleeping bag it was going to be tough to pack up with how cold it was. I could see frost lining the see-through screen on my rain tarp.

My fingers could barely move by the time I finished packing up my frost-coated tent. My feet were also cold. They had been cold the previous day, so today I tore a plastic bag and wrapped the two halves around my socks before I put my shoes on. I hoped this barrier would help.

I had heard the previous day that the Steak Café serves a good breakfast, so I went there to thaw out and wash up. I ate maybe the largest amount of hot cakes I ever have. It’s a good thing I did, because by the time I came out of the café, the winds had begun to blow. At least the sun was coming out, though.

I hoped the headwinds would slow at some point, but it was apparent that today, they weren’t going anywhere. I was a little concerned, as I had to cover seventy-three miles today, and had ten hours to do it. I was on the road by eight-thirty, but the light looked more like nine-thirty. I should have tried getting up at five when I was already awake. It would have given me a little more time, and I would not have worried about making it before nightfall.

I was about to stop for a food break around noon when I saw a little roadside giftshop/café. I was surprised to see it, as everyone had told me I wouldn’t see anything between Tatum and Roswell. I went inside for a restroom break and to see if there were any postcards for sale. I stepped inside to find what looked like a revamped house. An older woman stepped out to greet me, Reba, and as if she was expecting me, asked what she could do for me. She was fixing a big lunch for a group of cowboys who were coming through, and said I could fix myself a plate. She made pinto beans and corn on the cob and dinner rolls and some kind of corn casserole and salad and mashed potatoes.

I wasn’t about to say no, but I told her I would wait for the cowboys to help themselves first. We talked for a little while, and then the cowboys started showing up. I was getting a little nervous about the time this would take, but she said if I didn’t mind waiting a little longer for the cowboys to finish eating, one of them lived on a ranch twenty miles in my direction. Okay, this way I can eat and visit with cowboys, and why not?

There were about fifteen of them, and they had been up since two or three in the morning working. They were transporting calves, who were being weaned from their mothers. They need to be up that early because the calves are most likely to be feeding then, and if they wait until later, the calves will have strayed. They were the quietest bunch of cowboys I have ever imagined. I guess they were tired after a hard day’s work. Reba kept telling them they weren’t as tough as I was.

The cowboys who gave me a twenty mile reduction in my daily mileage were Gary, who drove, and Bryce, who sat in the back. He was only a few years older than me. They were both very polite and answered all my questions about the things I’d been seeing and didn’t know what to make of them. They also assured me that I would be a lot less likely to worry about rattlers and scorpions at this time of the year. That’s what I’m talking about! “What do you do for fun,” I asked them. “You’re looking at it.” Nice.

Once I was dropped off, I only had twenty-three miles to bike, and it was two pm. No problem. I made much better time than expected, as there was a big hill I got to fly down (although I would have flown faster if the wind wasn’t holding me back). I entered Roswell about five, which I didn’t think would have been possible.

I plugged the address of the woman I was going to be staying with into my gps. The woman was Mary Jo, my grandmother’s sister in law. I have never met her before that I can recall. It’s nice to meet family. I got to her house without trouble, and she wasn’t home. I made a phone call while I waited, then I saw a note on the door for me. She plays drums in a jazz band, and had forgotten to tell me she had practice. She left a key under the doormat for me. Thanks!

I got off the phone as she returned. She was softspoken and I could tell what a kind person she is right away. We talked for a while, and she let me cook some food I had with me. She told me about some really neat things she has seen in New Mexico and Arizona, as well as California. Her favorite place to visit is Hawaii. She also told me that we could go to the UFO museum tomorrow, and that I could run some errands. I had hoped to take the day off when I got here, and I was glad she didn’t mind.

I was really tired, even though I didn’t even ride all my miles today, so I turned in a little early.

I had really strange dreams.

 

I was glad to find that not fifteen minutes after my alarm went off, the rain ceased. Nice. It was still pretty cold, and very dark. I ate breakfast (I had looked around town to see if there would be anywhere to eat, and was left with the McDonald’s option). I got ready and packed to go a little before nine. A white truck pulled up and three guys came out. Park people. The were nice, and said they wanted to make sure I was okay. They saw my bike locked to the bleachers nearby and figured out what I was up to. They also let me know that technically I was not supposed to have camped there, but I explained my logic and they told me there was no problem.

I went to a hardware store because I’d been told that sometimes they let you borrow tools. I needed a tiny screwdriver to undo the battery covering of a headlamp I had acquired. The store clerk said they don’t do that. I’m sure I’ll find someone with a tiny screwdriver soon enough. It would have been much easier to cook last night with that thing working.

I was really happy to see that the headwinds had moved on. My ride was overcast, but flat and nice. It was chilly, and at one point I did not put my bike gloves back on. I had placed them in my pocket, and forgot that I was not wearing them because I was also wearing knit gloves. My pants pocket zipper had worked its way open from the bulk of the gloves and fell out at some point. My right glove has been in rough shape since the accident way back in the beginning, so of all the things I’ll need to replace, it’s not so bad that I have to replace these. I should get full fingered ones this time. It will have to wait until I get into Roswell, though.

I stopped in Plains hoping to find a decent place to eat, but I was only met with the Texas standard fast food joint of choice – Dairy Queen. I went inside to charge my phone and ate some deep fried things called Jalitos. They were jalapeno peppers, I think.

I saw the library as I was headed out of town, which my gps had told me was fifteen miles in some other directions. I went inside and used their internet for a bit, since I was making better time than I expected.

I ate my real lunch afterwards and was disappointed to find that I was now met with some headwinds. The only good thing about headwinds is it covers up the constant petroleum smell. Thankfully, they only lasted about an hour, and they calmed down. The sun began to peek out as I passed over the New Mexico border. Yeah! I yelled out with all my lungpower I was so excited. I have been looking forward to this state. It’s going to be a little tough sometimes with the long distances between towns, but I can’t wait to see how beautiful it is.

Another thing that made me excited was the fact that Andy Partridge ushered me into this state. Yay!

I also crossed over from the Central Standard to Mountain Standard time. This meant that I had an extra hour, and could also visit the library in Tatum. Tatum is a nice little town. It’s also a popular boys name in Texas and maybe New Mexio, too. Tatum the town made me feel like I was now in New Mexico, and that New Mexico is different from other states. It is their centennial year, which is pretty cool.

The internet was down at the library, so I stayed and typed until they were closing up. Then I went to the State Police station next door to inquire about staying at the park that night. I barely finished asking when the woman I spoke with said it would be fine.

I set up my tent near the bathroom, which was a real bathroom. But, alas, the doors were locked. Ah, well. I could have gone back to the police station to see if they could unlock them, as it wasn’t far at all. But I don’t really need a bathroom. It was chilly again, but cooking by the little fire made me a trifle warmer.

As I got in my sleeping bag, it was apparent this was the coldest night yet. I woke up several times because I was cold, and had to reposition myself to get warm again before falling back to sleep.

 

I washed up this morning inside Oneita’s, and ate a bowl of Raisin Bran with her. We had a nice conversation about the grandchild she was going to visit today, whose name was also Oneita. She is a proud grandma for certain. She lamented that she didn’t let me sleep inside last night after I told her about the clanging noise, but I reassured her there was nothing for her to worry about.

Honestly, if she had asked, I would have declined. It seemed to me that her family might be upset with her for allowing a stranger to sleep in her house when she lives alone. They might not be, and I did meet one daughter who didn’t seem concerned, but it was no bother. I got to take a shower, and I was perfectly comfortable outside. This might surprise some people, but I really do enjoy sleeping in a tent.

My riding day was perfect. The headwind varied from light to nonexistent, and it seemed that for now, my hill climbing was over. Nice and flat roads, and the weather was quite nice. I got to see some cotton fields, and there was also cotton littering the sides of the road, most likely coming off the bales of cotton on the back of trucks. Today I saw a lot of farmlands, actually. Texas truly has some of the most varied scenery I’ve seen in any other state. I am so glad I chose to ride on route 380. I am sure it is varied on other roads as well, but this was my path.

I was able to get to my day’s destination by three-thirty. I wanted to buy a fleece, and though it was Sunday so nothing was open, there was – take a guess – give up? A Wal Mart. I also went into a clothing store that was open next to it. Neither store had fleece in the men, women, or children’s departments. Still hanging on to that sweatshirt. But, I was able to purchase a pair of pants that will replace my heavier “comfy” pants. So that’s at least something.

I ate the salad bar at Pizza Hut. Yum, nutritionally lacking vegetables! Beats no vegetables at all. I really did want pizza, but I don’t like Personal Pan pizzas, and wasn’t prepared to haul a whole pizza around. I will do that when I am low on food, which I was not.

I had seen a sign for the local park, and the sign mentioned that there were free RV hookups. I figured, well, if RV’s can park there for free, they must be okay with little ol’ me staying for the night. I headed to the park, which was big, and the grass very dry. The campers were tucked in a little corner, and I wasn’t sure if I should find someone to ask. There were plenty of people in the park, but no one knew who I could ask. I walked around the park for a bit. I try to do a little walking when I’m done biking for the day, and stretching too. Keeps lactic acid buildup at bay, which prevents soreness. But it was still early, and I wanted to see if I could use the free wireless at the McDonalds up the street.

I ordered an orange juice and asked if I could use the inernet, like the sign told me. I’m officially a paying customer of McDonald’s folks. I was told they did not have any more free cards available, so I would have to pay if I wanted to use the net. Oh, McDonalds. Thanks for nothing. I drank my OJ and typed instead, then when it was getting dark, headed back to the park.

I found a good spot near the bathrooms. It was now pretty chilly, and the wind was whipping. It took me quite a bit longer to set up my tent, as it really, really wanted to blow away and hang from a tree. I ended up cooking dinner in the bathroom, which was a toilet and a sink and no electricity. Hey, at least it wasn’t a porta-potty this time.

I cooked with a different type of fuel today. Usually I cook with Denatured Alcohol, which is a clean burning fuel. It only comes in one size, so I wanted to try switching to something cheaper and lighter, and someone who uses the kind of stove I do had said he cooks with Isopropyl Alcohol. So I purchased that and used it as a trial. The flame is not as hot, and it left soot residue all over my pot. Of course, I could not tell because I was cooking in low light, and got this black stuff all over everything. Sighness. I don’t know if I want to keep using this fuel if this is what I have to deal with.

That wind was pretty intense, and kind of scared me. I figured if it was this bad, I didn’t want to know what it would be like to bike in tomorrow. It rained a little, but not too bad.

Today was my last full day in Texas, and I’ll say it now, it was a pretty decent last day.