March 24 - April 12: Texas

3/25 - Fort Morgan (48 miles 979 total)
48 miles from the comfort inn in el paso to the ft. morgan motel in ft. morgan, TX
oh what a beautiful mooorrrnning, oh what a beautiful day.
no cyclist could ask for a nicer day. with only 48 mi to pedal, 11 of us decided to slow down & make it into a sightseeing day. so it was a relaxing ride pace-wise. plus the weather was skies, puffy white clouds, temps in the low 70's, & TAIL WINDS! sometimes we could cruise on the straightaway effortlessly at 20 mph.
we're grateful to caroline for organizing & encouraging us to make stops at the missions this morning. here's a photo of all of us (except me, of course) at our first stop, our lady of mount carmel church, founded in 1682. from left are rita, sari, becky, roma, karen, gay, caroline, loralee, patty, & donna. these old spanish mission buildings are beautiful. we took time to visit inside, too.
then we got back on the road & pedalled another 5-6 miles to the socorro mission. it's been under renovation for 2 years. it was fascinating to see the actual renovation work being done. great care is being taken to restore the building to its original condition; it was built in 1842.
here you see adobe bricks being baked in the sunshine out front. they are being made here on the premises from horse manure & straw.
a couple of the workers gave us tours of the site, & provided us detailed background. richard, shown in this photo, explained work being done inside & the painstaking care being given to authentic restoration. he takes great pride in making sure every detail is correct, & that, where possible, every piece of the building will be the original, not a replica.
jean fulton, assistant project coordinator for the socorro mission project, is shown here outside the building. she explained that the type of restoration being done here is relatively new.
in the past, restorationists have simply covered the outside of crumbling adobe walls with cement plaster. but the cement cracks, then moisture gets inside & causes the adobe to deteriorate. jean explained that this project's coordinator & her mentor, pat taylor, has researched 400-year old missions in mexico & found that the lime plaster used there withstands wear & tear over the centuries. so now, here at socorro, the cement plaster is being taken off the adobe & lime plaster being added in its place. it's a painstaking are many other aspects of this work.
jean is a consultant for a restoration organization called cornerstones. more information about the fascinating work they do is available here. further information about the socorro mission can be found here.
as we pushed our bikes out to the road's edge to resume our ride, donna found she had a flat. those who knew how to help helped fix it. once it was fixed, loralee pointed out that she had a piece of glass stuck in her tire tread. we traded opinions on whether it would be better to take it out or leave it in. the consensus was to take it out, so becky did so with a tweezers. sssssssssss loralee now had a flat tire. the same crew went to work to fix it. there was lots of glass along the road today. & we're still seeing plenty of those "goat's head" burrs, too.
another fast, windblown 8 miles & we were at the mission of san elizario. nearby was a museum where a very knowledgeable volunteer explained much about the presidios, or forts, that the spaniards built every 60 miles (one day's ride on horseback) during their occupation of this section of the country. he had a map on which he showed that this fort was one in a series that ended with the fort in st. augustine, FL....where we'll arrive on may 2.
as we gathered outside to decide our next move, caroline suggested we have lunch at the "restaurant" mentioned on our route sheet at tornillo, 6 miles down the road. so again we got back on our bikes & were propelled down the road to our next stop. we had to scout around the town a bit to find a lunch stop, but ended up at a mexican cafe where most of us enjoyed platesful of mexican food & some delicious chips & green salsa.
after lunch, sari & i lagged behind the rest as we gazed at the landscape & stopped to photograph it. this photo shows one of the irrigation ditches we encounter so often. you can also see the flat, straight road we traveled, & those blue skies & puffy white clouds i mentioned earlier.
along the road sari & i were noticing fluffy white globs of something that were attaching themselves to everything. we thot it looked like cotton...but no, not around here. but we were wrong, because we started spotting cotton plants along the drainage ditch. each one was covered with bolls of fluffy cotton. then i saw a sign, "farm for sale: hay & cotton." i guess cotton is grown around here after all.
at one point as we pedaled along, a large bird lifted up from the irrigation ditch on our right. i pointed it out, & sari exclaimed, "a great blue heron." what a majestic bird.
ft. morgan is a town that's 2 blocks wide; it stretches from state road 20, which we followed much of today, & interstate 10, which we could see about a mile to our left all afternoon. once here, i took this photo of sari's & my new biking socks, which we both wore all day....purple ones with butterflies. they're a present from sari's son erik.
erik knows i have a special fascination for purple, so he sent my pair along with sari when she met us in el paso yesterday. the socks are not only pretty, but being coolmax, they're very comfy for hot weather. (yes, those are the birkenstock sandals that i bike in.)
tonight's dinner was scrumptious: grilled salmon fillets, green & red peppers sauteed in a teriyaki sauce, mushrooms sauteed the same way, but separately, cooked rice, & a huge salad of field greens & fresh tomatoes. oh my we're spoiled.
at tonight's map meeting, michelle warned that tomorrow's ride is 78 miles long & spends quite a bit of that time on interstate 10. there's a shoulder, but she doesn't remember it being especially smooth. & we could see today that there are many trucks on the interstate. we also have a climb. tomorrow's ride shows no signs of being near as idyllic as today's.
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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