Langtry, Texas

Well, we got a surprise: wind from the east. I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to live in the Willamette Valley, where an occasional breeze slides through the treetops. Here, the wind is howling all the time. Lucky for us—at least for now—it’s howling down our strip of asphalt. And so we traveled at great speeds.

Yesterday in Del Rio, Steve spoke with a security officer at one of our grocery stops. Leo, after being complained to by Steve, promised to steer the winds in our favor. After thoughtful silence, he whispered something and blew into a cupped hand and managed some other mystical hand gestures. He assured us that it would do the trick. And I guess it did. I feel like I ought to believe it anyway, or the winds will resume their attack on us. Leo saved the day with voodoo or black magic. Or something.

The hills flattened out today. We headed towards Langtry, home of Justice of the Peace Roy Bean. The town is empty except for a small store and a visitors center. Our maps indicate the store being a grocery store, which was good because we were out of food. Unfortunately, the store sold souvenirs, one bag of potato chips, and several stale sandwiches. Disappointed, we bought two sandwiches, which were nothing more than a slice of cheese, one piece of meat, and spongy bread.

The visitors center was just closing, so we would investigate it tomorrow. We made for some old community center building to set up camp. We were hungry. I knew prickly pear cactus, which has been a common sight for the past several hundred miles, was edible, so I set out to cook some up for us. In the grocery store, the large green pads are called nopalitos and are plump and green. The prickly pear I found were water-starved and grayish green. I sliced the healthiest pad I could find and started to peel it. After gouging my fingers several times on the sharp spines, I succeeded in removing the skin. I tasted the bright green flesh inside. It was awful. Bitter and fibrous. We ate stale sandwiches.