Day 31: Comstock to Dryden, TX

Distance today: 70 miles
Total distance: 1,981
Temperature: supposedly 96, my cyclometer said 111 and I'd believe it.

I finally did it! I finally pedaled myself into heat exhaustion. I was wondering when that was going to happen.

I left Comstock at 7:30, with a lofty goal of riding the 90 miles to Sanderson. No dice! The day started out lovely, sending me rolling up and down desert hills and across the beautiful Pecos River. I was making good time and had covered the 30 miles to Langtry by a little past 9:30. Temperatures were in the high 70s then.

In Langtry I bought a giant Gatorade and topped off on water to cover the next 41 miles of barren desert until Dryden. I also had the privilege of visiting the Judge Roy Bean museum to brush up on my history of the "law west of the Pecos." how neat! I am proud to say Mr. Bean was a Kentucky native. His rule over west Texas was a mixture of his own brand of law, humor, and corruption. You can't help but love the man. Plus, despite his reputation as a little noose-happy, there's actually no proof he hanged anyone.

Judge Bean's pistol

Aside from being a judge, he also ran a saloon, yeah, in the same building as the courthouse, which was also his home. The original building is on the original site, which I found really neat. It's nothing more than a two-room cabin a stone's throw from the Rio Grande. It is said he named the town after his idol, English actress Lilly Langtry, whom he corresponded with over the years but never met in person. But others claim it was after the engineer who designed the railroad bridge across the Pecos. Regardless, it is undisputed that he named his saloon after her.

His brand of justice went something like this: in spite of assurances from the Texas Rangers that gun control was best, Judge Bean thought every man should have the right to bear arms. When a man was brought before him on the charge of carrying a concealed weapon, Judge Bean used the following logic to throw out the case: "that charge won't stick. If he was standing still when he was arrested then he wasn't carrying weapons because he wasn't going no place. And if he wasn't standing still, then he was traveling, and it's legal for travelers to carry weapons.....case dismissed."

As much as I wanted to stick around and learn more about this colorful character, I had to move on before it got hot.

Mission: failed. The next 41 miles to Dryden, my next water stop, were rough. It got hot fast. There were times when it felt like I was wrapped in a blanket of heat and someone was pointing a blow dryer into my face. It was enough to take my breath away. My cyclometer thermometer hovered around 110 for most of the afternoon. I pretty much gathered right away that I wasn't going to make it 90 miles today.

Around about 2:30 was when I started feeling faint. I thought I had been drinking plenty of water but I guess it wasn't enough. I kept forgetting the name of the town I was riding towards. I wanted to fall asleep on the bike.

Finally, salvation!! I stumbled into Dryden, a town that consists pretty much entirely of a grocery store/post office/restaurant. I pulled in and bought a Gatorade and a bottle of water and chugged them both. I had been drinking hot water for the last two hours. There's a tv inside the store with a table next to it. I figured I'd sit down for a spell and take a good rest before I decided to try and tackle the last 20 miles. I fell asleep in my chair watching some lifetime movie. Darn that heat.

After it became apparent I couldn't go on any farther, Tina, the owner/postwoman/cook, offered up the store as a camping spot for the night. I gladly accepted. And then she cooked a delicious spaghetti dinner and invited me to join in. I was more than happy to oblige. Sure beats the heck out of tortillas and peanut butter, always a miserable plan B.

And now It's gettin about time for the sun to go down. A man named Stewart just came into the store. Talk of the town, like the rest of the country, is the imminent government shutdown which is apparently being held up by a debate on abortion. Stewart was quick to point out the real problem lies with our tax money going to fund NPR's liberal, off the edge agenda. I couldn't help but think of Ira Glass's children going hungry. No more Click and Clack? A tragedy! Did I mention Stewart is a federal bankruptcy attorney? Anyway, I wonder if I will still have a job on Monday. Any word on how the Forest Service will fair?

Aye carumba. Another long and hot day ahead tomorrow. I'm gonna try and hit the road way early, maybe 6 or 6:30, and see if I can't knock out the 74 miles by 1 or 2 when it really starts to heat up. I only pass through one town, Sanderson, which is 20 mikes from here, so I will have to carry 55 miles worth of water. Bring it on. Actually, on second thought, don't. Nighty night. Hopefully America still exists when I wake up tomorrow.


P.S. I keep forgetting to do this. Thanks so much to Mr. Orin Pierson for donating!! He is a fine gentleman.

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