Alpine, Texas

It was time to leave the company of the Odoms. We woke up early in an effort to keep the eighty mile day within grasp. Eighty miles straight north to Alpine to rejoin the route. It would be a quick reintroduction to the exhausting work we have been doing for the last few weeks. The day rides were fun, but eighty miles with a full load can’t compare to even the longest ride without the weight of panniers.

We drank our coffee and ate out oatmeal. We packed up our gear, which had slowly expanded and become scattered through the Odoms’ RV. There was sort of a lukewarm “goodbye” by the family, and then we were off. As we rode north to Alpine out of the RV park, a herd of Odoms on bicycle joined us. They rode alongside us for a bit, then turned off.

The hills were steep, but the wind was in our favor. It was overcast. The scenery was repetitive: rolling hills with sparse vegetation. We were stopped by the Border Patrol. We chatted for a bit about the remainder of the ride into Alpine. We all agreed it was hilly.

One more big climb, then a descent into the city. We saw the Sul Ross State University campus laid across the valley, along with some small stores and service stations. We stopped at a natural food store I had read about in Big Bend. I bought couscous and some organic vegetables to cook. Steve asked about lodging and the woman running the store invited us to stay in back of the building for the night. It had a covered area, and a storm was approaching. We accepted.

Sure enough, after we walked up the street to get some coffee from a small cafe, it began to rain. We hurried back to the covered area and set up camp. Lightning could be seen beyond the hills. As I was unpacking my gear, I came across a canister of steel BBs that Gene had slipped into my panniers. I had carted the nearly ten pound container eighty miles over steep hills today. A little retribution for all my trash-talking on the hills in Big Bend, I suppose. Fair enough.