Characters of the Southwest
We have lots of hours to watch the same treeless mountain peaks come closer as we pedal westward. The landscape is big and raw, wild and dangerous. If I did not have the ribbon of highway to follow through this terrain, I would be doomed to die of thirst. Everything surrounding us has thorns or prickles. The sand blows into dusty mounds around any bush defying grass to grow. We have not seen any wildlife except a lonely buzzard circling us which can be a little nerve-wracking. How did the pioneers make it through here?
The people we have met as we cycle through are what has made this place come to life. Let me tell you about a few of them.
She saw us coming out of the grocery store and stopped us. After the usual questions about our journey, she said, “I own Jerry’s café so come down tomorrow morning for breakfast and I will feed you before you leave.” We took Jerry up on that offer and the next morning we sat with all the locals and ate heaping plates of pancakes, eggs, and sausage. The judge and a county commissioner sat at the next table and Jerry pulled up a chair to visit as well. Lots of encouragement was dished out to us as we left for the road.
After ascending 2000 feet in 20 miles against a headwind, Bruce and I pulled into the campground. Campgrounds do not take reservations, so it was first come, first serve. We hustled to get to the campground host who was most accommodating, but after walking around with us found that every site was full. We were near despair as we did not have any energy left to keep cycling. A man named Jim at a nearby site walked out to meet us and offered to share his campsite with us. He had done a lot of cycling in his life. His wife had just passed away and he was journeying alone. It was fun to hear of the many adventures He and his wife had done. We cooked our dinner, visited and then had coffee in the morning before we set off on another day of riding. We are so thankful Jim came to our aid.
We contacted Fran through our Warm Showers App and she offered us a place to stay. She is a hippy in every sense of the word and lives off the grid in the middle of nowhere! She has lived much of her life in a bus but now lives in a concrete house she made herself. The bus is parked nearby and that was where we slept for the night. There was a thin film of dust on every surface, but that must be the way life is in the desert. We were given a hose to shower from and there was an outhouse outback. Fran was so gracious and sat on the bus steps to visit with us for a while. She pointed out the deck on the roof of the bus for us to enjoy in the morning sun. The next morning, she came out to greet us and showed us around her house and yard with pride. We left her place knowing that we had just had a wonderful adventure experience.
He owns an RV park in west Texas. He didn’t have tent sites but agreed to let us set up our tent on a patch of grass. Then he offered the use of the cabin’s shower and bathroom and set us up for a wonderful night. Later that evening we got a text asking if we wanted to join other guests around the fire pit for the evening. What followed was a great time of meeting new people and enjoying good wine. We were treated like old friends traveling through town.
The kind face behind the donut counter that morning was Anna. She was so happy to have cyclists stop in and asked us all about our trip. Anna was from Cambodia and was not sure that she really liked Texas yet. We ordered our donuts and then she came out with a bag of extra donuts for us to take with us and enjoy on the trip. She came outside on the porch and waved to us as we cycled away.
So, life is full in the southwest with the many encounters we have had with amazing people! The winds may blow, and the dust may swirl, but the people here in the southwest are strong and resilient, generous, and happy to be part of our adventure!