Day 19-20 – The Long Haul

Fredricksburg, TX – El Paso, TX

513 miles

Today I successfully traversed the reminder of Texas, which is really a lot bigger than you think. I know that you think you know how big Texas is, but it’s honestly bigger than that. Trust me.

To get to El Paso in one day, I would have to put on some serious miles. Today wasn’t the day for scenic highways or winding roads through National Parks. I was headed for the freeway right out of Fredricksburg and drove it straight west for the next 7 hours.

I liked this photo as I fueled up in Fredrickburg. Note TWO Texas flags and ONE American flag. Good to know where your loyalties lie.

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Interstate 10 is a transnational highway that stretches from Jacksonville, FL straight across to Los Angeles, CA. What makes the Texas section a little different is the sheer distance between exits. It was the first time that I started to get that whole ‘long highway stretching out into nothing’ vibe.

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I was warned by another rider to always fill up on fuel whenever you get a chance. Now, the bike I’m riding (R1200GS Adventure) has an exceptionally large fuel tank, and I can get a range of 400 miles when topped off. But I could easily see how some of the smaller bikes I own could get caught running out of gas between exits. Given the heat and the desolation, this didn’t seem like an appealing option.

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The only word I can use to describe the scenery along side this long, barren highway is prehistoric. You just see these old rocks and weird desert plants stretching out as far as the horizon. I keep expecting to see a brontosaurus plodding off in the distance. Of course, if a brontosaurus was walking around in the deserts of Texas, it would promptly be killed, cleaned, and barbequed in a semi-sweet mustard based sauce on low heat for 36 hours.

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There really wasn’t much to see at all while driving on I-10, but in a way, the emptiness was a spectacle in itself. I watched a dust devil form just off the shoulder then dissipate into nothingness. Vultures and hawks circled around carcasses in the distance. But despite the monotony of the drive, there were some highlights and records broken.

First 500-mile day

First time I broke 120 mph on my motorcycle (actual speed 127 mph)

First Highway with an 80 mph speed limit

Highest Temperature Recorded On My Bike: 111 Degrees Fahrenheit

My First Dairy Queen Ever (this may not be entirely true, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I was)

This was lunch today. Not bad. Not great. I’m not in Luling anymore.

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I pulled into El Paso around 8:20 in the evening singing Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo in my head. This is my first time in El Paso and I’ll be spending an extra day here to get some work done for my podcast, The Leviathan Chronicles. The city feels like such a “frontier” city. Decidedly western, the only restaurants I have seen are either Mexican or Steak. The city just…sprawls…and seems to be unbelievably well suited for road travellers. All the major chains, all the major stores and hotels are right off the 8-lane highway. Everything seems to be designed to get you whatever you’re looking for, take your money and get you back on the road as quickly as possible. It’s not really a bad thing. It just strikes me as a city meant more for travellers than the actual residents.

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One of the other odd things that struck me about El Paso is how the city is built along a ridge that looks down directly into the Mexican city of Juarez. I guess I kept imagining all the Mexicans having to constantly look up (literally) at the United States and see the opportunity and the shining lights of El Paso, and yet have it be so far away. Made me a little sad.

The next stage of the trip will be the riskiest. I’m headed offroad to run part of the famous Shadow Of The Rockies Trail that starts at the bottom of New Mexico and finishes in Wyoming. It’s not inherently dangerous except for the fact that I’m going at it alone. I have no one to help me if things breakdown and no way to get back to a main road without doing some serious walking. I’ve been told that the New Mexico portion is really not much more than standard dirt roads which would be fine in my book.

I’m excited for the adventure ahead.

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WHAT I LEARNED / DISCOVERED TODAY: Like anything, sometimes you just have to put your head down and work hard, even if its unglamorous. Slogging through I-10 felt a bit like work (ask my sore ass) but I still felt lucky to be seeing a new part of the country even if it’s a little empty. I was this close to a hissy fit!! Ice cream is too important in three-digit heat to be messing around.

Comments

  1. 111F? Have I mentioned that it hasn’t broken 65F here yet and it’s june? I wore a down vest and jeans today. How messed up is that?

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