People sometimes ask me “how come you stay so skinny when you do bugger all and eat burgers all day?” Well, I can tell you this traveling lark isn’t as easy as it may appear! Long days in the saddle, fighting against the wind or the cold or the heat, loading and unloading, packing and unpacking, climbing up mountains (and falling down cliffs) etc. etc., all take their toll in calories. In fact, I am eating like a horse and just can’t seem to pile any weight on. Below is a perfect example of how my day-to-day activities sap me of all potential weight-gaining carbs – lifting a 215 kg (474 lbs) bike out of the sand is no mean feat! It is also a pain in the bottom, as it involves unloading all the luggage to make it lighter, and then loading it all back up. BUT – it is worth the fun riding off the pavement as much as I can.
Leaving beautiful Big Bend National Park I took the winding 170 NW along the Rio Grande and the US/Mexican border. On the way I passed through the sleepy ghost town of Terlingua, a once prosperous cinnabar mining town (from which mercury is extracted) now famed for its 2 annual chili cook-offs, including the World Chili Championships. It is also famed for its local somewhat ‘hippy’ inhabitants and visitors with an air of mystery about them (who may or may not be ‘hiding from something’), many of which hang out on the local ‘Porch’ daily, drinking beer and playing music all day; not a bad life!
Upon reaching the windy, dusty border town of Presidio, the only real road out of the area is US 67 which heads straight out NE into the barren Chihuahuan Desert. Being the pretty much non-existent planner I am, I thought I’d keep riding until I found a suitable place to stop for the night on my way to New Mexico, such as a motel full of Swedish beach volleyball players (female) giving away free beer. Unfortunately I must have ridden right past that, because I found nothing until reaching Fort Davis (still in Texas) several hours later.
As it turned out, Fort Davis is a pleasant (if very small) town in the Davis Mountains, famed for the McDonald Observatory (which at one point had the second largest telescope in the world) and local rattlesnake collector Buzz Ross’ ‘Rattlers and Reptiles Museum’ (his very interesting & self-professed Largest Live Rattlesnake Exhibit on the Planet).