Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Seems it's always how a thing ends that sticks in your mind. So much has taken place over the past few days - visiting new places, meeting new people ... the western half of Texas provided enough wind to literally blow most of those memories away. I asked a couple people if this was normal & most said "we get a few days like this a year". A few days ... I just happen to be on a bike on one of those few days... Most people would bring it up when they saw me roll in before I even had the chance to ask. The tumbleweeds blowing around provided for some classic views however.

I had spent the previous night in New Orleans. Wasn't sure what the place would be like since Katrina ... sure enough, it bears the scars of that storm. Driving into the place is amazing ... the bridges seem to go on forever. There's a huge construction effort south of the city where a new road is being constructed over the water. Once off the bridges, building still half-stood that show no evidence of attention since the storm. Partially collapsed structures stand weakly next to piles of rubble from other previous structures. Life goes on right in the midst of this. Pulling off the freeway into downtown revealed an urban environment similar to San Francisco or New York at first blush. The most noticeable difference of this place actually came from my GPS - I was looking for a place to stay and following the directions provided - arriving at the address for the first two hotels revealed only vacant lots or piles of rubble. A quick trip around the superdome and I decided to look for a place just outside of downtown.

Getting on the road I had some miles to put in - the US is much bigger in person that on a map. I thought I was making great progress until I realized by the HUGE bridge up ahead that I hadn't yet crossed the Mississippi.\

An interesting aspect to travel via motorcycle - at least this type of travel - it's actually easier to camp in a tent that use hotels. Pulling up to a hotel requires you register & such, then unload the bike, bring stuff in, unpack, repack, reload the bike, etc... camping means you park & leave everything on the bike. Pitch a tent next to the bike & you've got everything you need right there. I was on a mission to find a campsite next to a river. Being on I-10 through Texas didn't really lend itself to that, so a quick search online found some campgrounds with hopeful names. I took a gamble on one - 40 miles off the 10, but fortunately not out of the way at all as I 10 happened to curve in the same direction as the detour to this camp ground in the hills. After pulling off the road I was getting a little concerned that the listing was old or wrong. Saw a couple massively unappealing places to camp, but soldiered on - when I got near to the supposed location of this campground it turned out to be the entrance to a residential neighborhood. There was an extremely faded, partially legible sign, indicating evidence that a campground may have once existed there. I was already here, it was getting dark, might as well investigate. I pulled into the housing tract & there were no more signs for the campground, just a bunch of older houses. After hitting a few dead-end streets, I rolled down a long hill & the houses started to dissipate ... then I saw a sign for a boat-launch - a hopeful development. Sure enough, at the end of this long road was a sign for a campground. $10 for primitive camping - exactly what I was looking for. First thing the caretaker said was "people seem to have a hard time finding this place".

No kidding.

Perseverance sometimes pays off however...

I had also been warned about deer on the roads ...

I awoke the next day with a serious mission at hand - wanted to make Tucson - just shy of 800 miles away - before dark. In go the plugs, fire up the XM ...

Then the aforementioned wind happened.

My fuel economy was literally cut in half.

You'd get used to the buffeting of the wind to a certain degree - the occasional tumbleweed across I-10 or folded-up semi served as reminders to stay on one's toes. Plus, Texas is big. The plan was to get through El Paso before traffic - didn't realize at the time El Paso just isn't all that big. First time I'd seen the Rio Grande. Interesting that this knee-deep river & a chain link fence is all that represents such a drastic line of division between the two economies.

I pulled over just outside of El Paso to consider my options...

The KOA in Las Cruces had pretty much everything I was looking for - laundry room, free WiFi, and a place to pitch a tent. I pulled in, set up the makeshift office, and tried to get caught up before what is looking to be the final few days of this trek.

From an amazingly windy campground in New Mexico - this is Jon signing off.