Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tom Joad - Day 14, mile 3,462.6, Happiness is Seeing Texas in Your Rearview Mirror...

Texas, in its self, is a black hole for unsuspecting travelers. You enter it with the intention of navigating to points of interest, visiting famous landmarks, or just passing through to a destination somewhere on the other side of this state. Traveling through the state of Texas is probably the largest contributor to wayward travelers having to change their trip itinerary because they didn't consider the enormity of the state, and the time required to traverse it from end to end. I learned this the hard way. Again.

I had been to Texas a few times in the past, and I thought I had a well-informed view of what to expect trying to travel across it, but this is the first time I had actually ridden across it. Big mistake. I'm now thoroughly convinced that all of my Atlas World Maps were wrong in scale, and that Texas is actually bigger than the whole continent of China is land mass. My ride in was long, but relatively interesting because I had never seen this countryside first hand. I mentally noted points of interest as I traveled farther into the state, keeping me somewhat occupied during my trek in. Going out is another story.

I departed Pecos, TX this morning at 6:00am, before sun up, to beat the heat I expected to encounter entering New Mexico and Arizona. First, I should mention, Texan highways are terrific. Nice wide lanes, the pavement is well-maintained, mostly straight line travel, and they allow high speed travel, (80mph), through lightly populated areas. Even at high speeds, the scenery is dull, rarely ever changing, and crossing one mile seems to take one hour, even traveling at high speeds. So, this is how my day went, hour upon hour, still in Texas. Four hours later, I'm passing through El Paso. Great! El Paso is near the New Mexico border. Pass through El Paso, still no New Mexico border. Still in Texas. Keep riding north. More sagebrush, more dust and sand, a couple of tacky tourist traps. Still in Texas.

Finally! A brightly colored sign off in the distance... Welcome to New Mexico! I was never so happy to see such a sign. It's amazing, just across the New Mexico border, everything seems to change. Plants look different, no more tacky tourist traps, (well, maybe a lot less anyway), and the scale seems much smaller. As I crossed New Mexico into Arizona, as expected, the heat did indeed go up. Not only did I strip off my heated gear during the afternoon, but I started opening all of the ventilation zippers in my riding suit upon entering Arizona. I rolled into Tucson, AZ to a toasty 87 degrees, (unusual for this time of year, according to my cousin Linda, who's lived here for quite some time). All I could think about during my trip in was imagining myself sunning by a pool, working on my tan and sipping a Pina Colada with cool Calypso music playing in the background. Forget about Spring Fever, I had full-blown Summer Fever. As most Pacific Northwesterners crave, I need more sun! Tomorrow, I meet my cousin Linda for breakfast and try to catch up on the last 30+ years within an hour or two. Then I depart for Los Angeles again. Los Angeles will be the end of my westward trek, where I swing due north and to home by weeks end. As usual, more blogs as they progress.

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