I had a lousy night’s sleep. Rather than stay in bed, I threw myself together and at daybreak rode off into the dark mist. The thirty miles to Del Rio were the fastest ride of this trip. I had a nice tailwind and, for a portion of the ride, a roadway like a Brunswick pool table – just smooth and flat. Along the way I saw a scissor-tailed flycatcher with its long trailing split tail. It’s the first I’ve seen. I also saw a number of summer tanagers. A few weeks ago bright red cardinals were everywhere. They have now been replaced by the tanagers. Their flashing red wings are wonderful to watch against the backdrop of the green hues of the desert
Parallel to the length of Hwy 90 heading west is a manicured dirt road. It runs between the highway and the fences of the ranches. In the gray dawn, I saw headlights creeping along it toward me. As I approached, I saw a Border Patrol officer driving slowly with his head out the window looking for tracks in the dirt. This scene repeated itself throughout the day as I saw more than a dozen officers walking or driving the road.
I arrived in Del Rio at about 9:30am. Like most southern border towns, Del Rio is a bit run down, chaotic, with a mélange of cultures expressed in the billboards, storefronts and sounds you hear as you ride by. The only place advertising WiFi was the IHOP. I stopped for breakfast, but it turns out their network was not operating. I suspect that for the next week I will have little or no connectivity, as there are few towns in the next 200 miles. My map advises: “Services are limited between Marathon and Comstock. Carry extra food and water. Be prepared to camp by the road if necessary.” Isn’t that nice.
The remainder of the ride was quick. With a 30mph tailwind, my panniers acted like a spinnaker and I flew down the road and past Amistad Reservoir and toward Comstock. Twenty miles west of Del Rio, traffic slowed for an immigration checkpoint. It was a very extensive operation with five border patrol officers, several sniffer dogs and an array of cameras. After they searched the truck ahead of me, I pulled up, gave them a smile and said: “Just me”. They took a few moments to ask about my route and then gave me the wave ahead.
A couple of hours later, I pulled into Seminole State Park. My campsite is located atop a small hill that provides an expansive view. I unpacked my gear, got the stove ready and then took a shower with my clothes on. It’s called multitasking; a shower and laundry at the same time. A bit later, while enjoying my dinner and the view, this little guy decided to visit. My initial reaction was to go into full “Three Stooges” mode; you know, where they wave their hands over the faces and run in place in panic. Instead, I restrained myself and sat still as my guest took a sniff of my shoes and bike and then moved on.
There are black-throated sparrows all around me in the cactus. Their call is a wonderful auditory backdrop to the vista surrounding me.