Day Forty-eight, Date Friday, April 17, 2009
Time in Saddle: 8:17
Distance for the Day: 84.77 miles: From El Paso To Cornudas
Accumulated Trip Distance: 2073.6 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 4303’/4116’, Highest: 5559’ Accumulated: 3028’
Speeds: Avg: 10.2 mph, Max: 37.9 mph
Weather: 53° clear, cool in the AM, becoming slightly warmer
Got up late (6:45am after sunrise!), no big surprise, after going without sleep the night before, but nobody discovered me, and so I packed away quick like a bunnie. Unfortunately, my Thermarest mattress was flat, again. The patch on the first puncture seemed to be holding, okay, so I may have another leak, Demitol. Oh, weird thing: as I unzipped my starboard seat pannier to start loading my gear into it, a shiny black spider fell out. I looked inside, and it had started to spin a web inside my pannier. I grabbed one of my sandals and flipped it over to see the red hourglass on its abdomen. Damn! The last time I had that pannier open was in the field behind the airport in Deming. I have no idea where it came from, or how it got in my pannier, but I gave it a quick whack with the sandal – didn’t want to leave a widow next to the church’s tot lot, cleaned out the webbing, finished packing up, and left. I went up the street to a Burger King to get a quickie breakfast ($7), and to consult my StreetAtlas for how I should proceed. I left at about 8am, but still had a little trouble navigating through El Paso getting to northeast bound Hwy 62, but not too much. I got another flat tire at 1993.8 miles while still in the Coronado Hills area, and pulled in at a conveniently close gas station to fix it. As it turns out, I had to replace the inner-tube with one of the two spares I carry. I then continued on at about 10:06 am. I stopped at another gas station mini-mart to get some supplies ($7), and an Ace hardware store to get another spare inner-tube to replace the one I just used ($8). I also got and ate the first half of a footlong Subway sandwich for lunch ($6). While El Paso didn’t seem to have much to commend, I wasn’t accosted by desperate drug dealers or junkies, and indeed, left my trike unattended for ten minutes while getting the inner-tube without having it stolen or robbed. It seemed like just another American city with a heavy Mexican influence (more bi-lingual signage, lots of Mexican food restaurants, etc.). Still, I was glad to find the highway out of town, and get out into the clean, congestion-free regions to the northeast. Had a nice tailwind to push me along, too. I love that.
After leaving town, it became just road and desert; not much to comment on. I whiled the hours away by watching my favorite movies in my head. Today’s selection was, “Joe vs the Volcano,” with Tom Hanks and Melanie Griffith. If you haven’t seen it, yet, see it! And be sure to look for the zig-zag lightning symbology throughout the story. It’s pretty cool.
I hit probably the toughest grade available in all of Texas today: the Guadalupe Mountain pass. It wasn’t really all that high, but it had a rather long, steep segment that really got my attention. I had the other half of my Subway sandwich at a rest stop along the way up, and finished the grade by mid-afternoon with a nice, fairly strong headwind to help slow me down. I hate that.
At around 7:34 pm, when I found a nice side road to get a little bit away from the traffic noise of the highway, to stealth camp (N31° 44.763' W105° 17.062' ). I bedded-down and got to sleep a little after sunset. My Thermarest mattress continues to go flat during the night, indicating a slow leak. Demitol! I’m going to have to do something about it – probably do a water test of some kind (to spot bubbles). Not sure exactly who I’m going to manage that. The stars out there are pretty fantastic, and I found constellations, deep-sky objects, and planets, to help me get to sleep.