March 24 - April 12: Texas

3/24 - El Paso (68 miles 931 total)
68 mi from the hampton inn in la mesilla/las cruces, NM, to the comfort inn in el paso, TX
it wasn't near as cool this morning as it's been mornings recently. maybe the upper 40's. after breakfast in the motel's breakfast room, we left just before 7, following a busy road for a while but quickly turning off onto a rural road. within a couple of miles we came upon the historic section of la mesilla, a charming area that felt & looked like the early days of new mexico.
here's a photo of the beautiful church in this old section of town. bikers in front of the church, from left, are marilyn dehaan, bryn, caroline (with the slow-moving warning), vicky, karen, & donna.
we left the church & pedalled south thru many more groves of pecan trees. spring is settling in around here; i've seen redbuds & forsythia blooming. & many of the trees are a lovely lime green as their leaves start unfolding. irrigation is a common feature of this landscape....tiny little ditches along the fields to larger canals. once in a while we see a small grove of pecan trees that's flooded....with a short, maybe 8-in high, levee all around the field holding in the standing water.
at around 30 mi we pulled into canutillo. lo & behold...we were in texas. to celebrate, several of us stopped at a tiny little mexican-food spot along the road. i had 2 tamales--one "chili colorado con puerco," the other "chili verde con pollo." both were absolutely fantastic. a sign in the eatery advertised a dozen tamales for $9; if i hadn't been on my bike......
at about 32 mi we began the climb up the transmountain highway. partway up i took this photo looking upward toward the road we'd travel; it's that light-colored line near the base of the mountain. it goes thru the notch between the 2 hills. that's loralee taking a breather, too.
very near the summit i looked back toward the expansive lowlands from which we'd ridden. in the foreground are laura & kathy. notice we had a nice wide shoulder to ride on; the road itself was four-lane. traffic was quite heavy, including lots of trucks.
at the summit was a vista point. quite a few bikers had congregated there, but they soon took off downhill. i usually wait 'til others have left, because i don't want them all to have to pass me, especially in heavier traffic. i brake all the way down hills. it was about 5 mi to the bottom.
as i coasted down the other side of the mountain, i noticed the ground was bright yellow for miles in every direction. california poppies were in bloom everywhere. here's a photo taken from near the bottom of that hill looking back up toward the road we'd taken downward. notice that the sides of the mountain itself are yellow with poppies.
the landscape was sand & scrub brush for miles in every direction. since somewhere up on the mountain, we had been riding through Ft. Bliss Military Reservation. it was sunny, hot, & windy. fortunately, the winds were from the west, so provided us a good push most of the time. coming down off the mountain, however, the winds were gusty; one had to hold tightly onto one's handlebars to keep from getting pushed here & there.
finally, after skirting a residential/commercial area for quite a while, we had to turn westward for 4-5 miles. turning into those strong winds made it a very tough ending to a biking day. & the road along which we were traveling was heavily trafficked. it's no wonder that i fell by the wayside....when i saw a TCBY sign. i shored up my energy with a small dish of chocolate frozen yogurt, then back on the bike.
what a thrill it was for me to pull up in front of the comfort inn just as my friend sari was arriving from the airport on the motel's airport shuttle. she flew from her home in san diego to join our group here in el paso & ride the rest of the way to st. augustine.
her first order of business was to put together her bike friday. i must say that things looked a bit iffy at this stage (see photo). but soon the bike was perfectly assembled, & sari was out test-driving it around the motel parking lot. sari has been practicing hard on the bike assembly the past couple of weeks; she was very relieved that the assembly went so smoothly this afternoon.
at the map meeting this evening, michelle said that tomorrow's route is only about 48 miles long & is flat. we deserve a break like that! there are several early missions along the way not far into the day's ride; some of us will make a stop or 2.
also at the map meeting we said good-bye to deb. she has to go back to work, but says she may see us again in florida. & we said hello to sari. & we celebrated the fact that anne has now ridden further on this southern tier x-country ride than she has on either of her previous 2 trips. last year her hip dislocated at the motel here in el paso & she had to go home. she's now past the "hump."
here's a photo of, from left, deb, anne, & sari.
&'s the recipe for those trail-mix cookies we enjoyed the other day on the road. vicky's friend jean warren emailed me the recipe.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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