Day 38: Fort Hancock, Texas

Elevation gained: 1,262 ft/Miles: 69/Total Miles: 1,841/Total Fast Food: 15

Today, I was on the road by 9am after downing a couple of belly bombs at McDonald’s and doing my laundry. Rather than the hot windy conditions of yesterday, today was cool and…windy. Unfortunately, the beautiful scenery of the county roads traveled over the last few weeks is giving way to a more urbanized landscape. I rode on the shoulder of I-10 the entire day, being buffeted by big rigs speeding past.

After thirty miles, I stopped for lunch in Sierra Blanca a town whose claim to fame is that it was once home to the nation’s largest sewage sludge dump courtesy of New York City. After Congress banned dumping sewage into the ocean in the late 1980s, the Big Apple had to come up with another method of disposing its waste. Eventually, Sierra Blanca was selected as a site. Over a six-year period, New York transported 250 tons of sludge each week to this little town of less than 500 people.

The town, like many others I’ve past through in the last weeks is nearly dead. Only a few businesses are still in operation. One of them is a local eatery called “Curly’s BBQ”. The décor of this place can best be described as “1970s junk”. The interior is adorned with old license plates, framed law enforcement patches, (two) plastic Frankenstein heads, stuffed animals, wind chimes and other assorted items. Reverently displayed on one wall is a neatly framed, autographed photo of country singer Reba McEntire.

I decided to have lunch here and pulled up a seat at a table adjacent to five other men who had stopped in on their lunch break. One was a Border Patrol officer and the others were local mechanics. They immediately started asking me about my ride prefacing each question with “Sir”. I assume this was on the account of my Mennonite elder status (cf. previous blog) or it could just be that polite respect is a way of life here.

It was interesting speaking with the Border Patrol officer about his job and operations in this area. The Border Patrol has over 200 officers assigned to the region around Sierra Blanca – almost four times the population of the town. The violent drug cartels in Juarez (directly across the border from El Paso) are causing Mexican citizens to flee for safety in the U.S. As a result, the Border Patrol is being kept very busy at the moment.

For lunch, I tried Curly’s Special consisting of five roasted poblano chilies covered in shredded brisket and melted cheese. It tasted far better than I expected when I walked in and the heartburn it provided helped to keep me warm for the remainder of the ride.


Filed under Biking U.S.

6 responses to “Day 38: Fort Hancock, Texas

  1. Cuz Lisa

    Mike –
    We are visiting Mom and Dad in Florida and she told me about your ride and blog. What a great trip! I do have a recommendation though, if you need more Desitin and can find a drug store, try Bourdreaux Butt Paste. I don’t know how it performs in the saddle, but Oscar gave it two cheeks up on the changing table!
    Keep up the blogs – we are all starting our day reading about your adventure.
    Take care and be safe!
    Lisa and the boys

  2. Polish Super Hero

    Brother Mike,
    That lunch sounds great…in fact, I better it literally sounded great! I look at that sign “80 MPH” and think “how many times did a big rig blow Mike off the shoulder of the road”. You have quite a set, sir…I mean Brother Mike.

  3. David Stabler

    Holy Sweet Mother of Pearl!

    I-10 in West Texas–riding beside 60,000 lb. missiles moving at 80 MPH–PSH is right–Double XL Set.

    Hope there is a scenic byway in your future soon.



    Best of Day 39:

    Mennonite Status R E S P E C T

    Words of the Day

  4. Hi Mike:

    Love your blogging. We just recently learned about it from your Mom.
    Your photos are great and glad to see you are so visually aware of birds,
    animules (I want to see a javelina!) and landscapes (what else is there when you’re on a bike?) Thanks for generously sharing those observations with us.
    Is it all right to pass along this blog cite to others?
    Take care. Our best, Mal

  5. Virginia W

    Wow – you learn something new every day! I always though NJ was NY’s sewage dumping ground. ;o)

    Hope you get some of that wind at your back in the coming days!


  6. Yo, Mr. Mike!

    I’ve been enjoying the posts since I can lurk without actually having to make the ride. Did a nasty workout this morning, but that was 45 minutes, and not the bulk of my day as it is for you. Love the photography of the buildings and businesses on the way you’ve posted – reminiscent of the Route 66-bygone era, eh?

    We were in Arizona (Sedona) for spring break with the kids last week, and while my accommodations were far sweeter (we rented a fully loaded 3-bedroom house as our homebase, nestled right into the Red Rocks), I’m with you on the javelinas! I’m a light sleeper and the colors of the canyons are so cool and mercurial at night, so I would regularly take a breather out on the back terrace when I couldn’t sleep – on three different nights while out there, a pack of javelinas came through the yards … the first time it happened, I was a total city girl, and ran into the house and locked the door. We had ribs and pulled pork for dinner that night so I regained by natural superiority again by nightfall. 🙂

    But the next few times, when they came round the corner, we had a bit of a communal experience (luckily, i wasn’t considered a course in their meal hunt and obviously, they recognized much of my shared porcine qualities), and we just kind of enjoyed each other’s company, but at a respectful distance – never more than about 20 feet, but clearly close enough to show they weren’t worried about me. Couldn’t decide if they were closer to pigs or dogs, if you know what I mean – they had this pack behavior that was fascinating to watch. Guess my experience was tempered by the fact that the bed was still back inside the house (the one with the doors to keep them out!), and not on the picnic table.

    Hope you’re enjoying the ride today and that the winds subside. The trucks, I’m sure, won’t be so cooperative. Stay good!


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