Yesterday Tessa cooked us a delicious egg breakfast with the leftover bean soup from the night before and it was amazing. We said adieu and parted ways around 9:20. She was about to climb her last hills while mine have just begun. I'm a little jealous. It's kind of like starting this tour all over again, legs straining and getting used to a new kind of riding.
I rode the 70 miles from Leakey to Bracketville through an increasingly dry landscape, a tough day in heat I am not used to. I pretty much ran out of water when I was still 10 miles out, a lesson I am glad to have learned in such close proximity to a town. In a couple of days I might not have been so lucky. I'm about to cross barren stretches where it's 55 miles between towns and temperatures are hovering right around 100 degrees. Time to get more water bottles!
The posts in this fence were covered with boots for a long way
I finally rolled into Bracketville around 5 and made a beeline to one of the few restaurants, Crazy Chicken Cafe. Only, I didn't have any cash, they didn't accept cards and my card didn't work in any of the ATM machines near by, so I had to settle for gas station food for the time being.
I was hanging out charging up my phone before I started making my way over to the Church of Christ to camp in the back yard when Ray Melton came and sat down at my table. I liked him right away. He started asking me questions about my bike tour and when he found out I'm from Kentucky, he started telling me stories about the Hatfields and McCoys and his time on the Tug river in his youth. You wouldn't think it by looking at him, but Ray is a walking history lesson. And it's way more interesting than any history class. Because he is such a natural story teller, his accounts of historical events make you feel like he was really there, almost like it could've happened the day before yesterday. I couldn't believe I was so on the edge of my seat to hear about the Buffalo soldiers stationed right there in Bracketville at Fort Clark (which he and his wife took me to see before second dinner) and how they were the ones who fought back the native Americans in Texas. Before I knew it, I was back on my bike riding towards their 50 acres right outside of town to have a shower, a root beer, and a real bed to sleep in! With air conditioning!!
After I showered, ray's wife, Sharon, came in and we chatted for a while until Ray got home from church. Oh yeah, turns out he is the pastor at the church I was going to sleep behind. Small world. Or maybe just a small town. Anyway, they hadn't eaten yet so we went back to crazy chicken and got salads. Yum! Several members of the congregation were there too and they were all very interested in my trip. It was lovely to chat with them about it.
Afterwards, we headed back to the house and Ray told me stories about ranching and ranching politics in Texas. Very interesting! Ray and Sharon have a 6,000 acre ranch about 25 miles north of town but they lease out most of it. Sharon takes care of their ranch almost full-time and also substitute teaches at the school. Ray works on another ranch doing rangeland restoration work. It actually sounds like a job I would love to have someday. He basically cuts down cedar trees and encourages the growth of native grasses. He told me, "there's two things I hate: Plastic bags and invasives." Amen.
And then I slept wonderfully.
I was sad to leave these two beautiful and kind people but there is much distance to be covered in the next few days. Sharon cooked us a wonderful breakfast of farm fresh eggs, sausage, and toast and then headed back to the ranch. Ray had some business in town so he stuck around a little later when I left, which was around 8. When I went to put my shoes on, I found 50 dollars inside. Sharon Must've stashed it on her way out. Thanks so much to these wonderful people!!
The ride today was mostly down hill for the first 30 miles and the wind was also at my back so I was cruising. I was in Del Rio, halfway done, by 10 am. On my way into town, I rode past Laughlin Air Force Base, where fighter jets were landing over top of my head. It was awesome!! I swung by the bike shop and got another new pump. The one I had picked up in Bastrop just wasn't cutting it. Then I had lunch in the shade just outside of town.
I rode across the Amistad resevoir, when the wind started blowing in my face. Whaaaat? It was supposed to be out of the south and I was riding northwest. But wind does weird things around water.
The water is out there somewhere!
The last 30 miles went by rather quickly. With about 6 miles left, I ran across another rider heading east. His name is Don and, get this, he is 71 years old. But you wouldn't guess it. His wife is also following along in an RV so he doesn't have to carry any gear. Must be nice!! He told me I have another 1,200 miles. Believe it or not, that doesn't seem that far to me. It's only 17 riding days if I stick with 70 miles a day. But I will most certainly need some rest days in there somewhere.
About a mile down the road I had to go through an immigration checkpoint because the Rio Grande is only about five miles south of here. I also figured out the reason our government is broke: I saw more border patrol cars than civilian cars. I was passed by one about every five minutes it seemed. But it's actually pretty nice to have them around. This is the only stretch of the trip I was concerned about, as far as safety goes, with all the border talk in the last few months. But it's well-patrolled, I can assure you. It was pretty weird to go through an immigration checkpoint in my own country, even though it was really laid back. I basically just chatted with two very interested patrolmen about my trip and then they suddenly and hurriedly asked me the required questions: "are you a citizen of the united states?" And "where were you born?"
I couldn't help but feel a little ridiculous since we had just talked about how I am from Kentucky. But I went along with it and was back on my way.
Comstock is a little dot on the map and that's about it. I got a cheeseburger and fries at the only restaurant in town and hit up the accommodations across the road, which is actually a very, very nice motel room, with the 50 dollars I found in my shoe. Thanks again Sharon!
Long day tomorrow to Sanderson: 86 miles. My cold is waning, thank goodness. But my legs are sore. Brennan McOlive is coming to ride along for 10 days on the 11th. It's gonna be awesome. Can't wait! But until then I gotta hustle through west Texas and get as close to New Mexico as possible. I'm about ready to get out of this state. 400 more miles to El Paso and the end of chip seal roads!!! And that, friends, will be something to celebrate. Nighty night.