October 2, 2001

10/2/01 Dryden, TX

74.7 / 8769 miles

For the last few days, I thought I was just being lazy, getting up so late. But now I realize that the days are getting a lot shorter. I have over 50-miles to go today before I even come across any town, so I better stock up.

Bought snacks for lunch plus two bottles of Coke. Add that to the five liters of water I'm carrying and I should be OK hydration-wise. But before I left town, I had to stop at "Shirley's Burnt Biscuit Bakery." It was a very small shop but Shirley Rooney herself was hard at work in the kitchen out back. Now, I kind of consider myself a donut connoisseur-of-sorts, and I have to tell you, these were the best glazed donuts I've had in a long while. Looks like Lamar's Donuts [www.lamars.com] in Kansas City has some competition.

Today's ride was through the cowboy-Texas of my imagination. Here were the buttes, mesas, canyons and gullies of every western seen on TV. A few trucks passed me by, but most of the day my constant companions were vultures. Hundreds of them! One of their shadows seemed to cross over me very thirty minutes. I think I disturbed them a lot as the roadside was littered with dead deer, fowl and even a wild pig.

With the light headwind, I still made good time as I lost a least another thousand feet in elevation. I'm into a rhythm, stopping every ten miles to walk around a bit, drink a sip or two of Coke, then back on the bike. Felt pretty good as I rode into Sanderson.

Sometimes people say the strangest things. I figure the temperature is in the mid-80's but the high school girl behind the gas station counter asked if it was too cold to bike. "Too cold?" I said. "It's perfect!" Got a sandwich and headed back out.

The town is situated where a lot of canyons draw together, which just seemed to intensify the wind. I think I need to call this trip "Headwinds Across America Tour." But with the end coming closer, I'm actually enjoying the challenge of battling with The Winds.

A few miles out of town, the scenery took another change. Gone were the mountains, replaced by mile-after-mile of barren range-land. No trees, a few stunted bushes and cactus, but not much grass either. I just couldn't imagine what it was like to cross this on horseback or even a horse-and-buggy.

My stopover for the night is hopefully Dryden, TX. I was more afraid everything would be closed and water unavailable for the next forty miles tomorrow. The map said camping was behind the Dryden General Store but it was boarded up, long gone by the looks of it. The only other business in town was across the street.

Paul had bought the Dryden Mechantile about 14-years ago to keep himself busy after he retired. "I could still do a bit of cowboying but this place does OK." he said from his corner chair. "Mostly nickel and dime." While we sat in the cool air out of the wind, a few kids got off the school bus for a quick snack and a drink. Another family popped in to use the restrooms and asked about my bike trip.

Camped out back behind the store

When I mentioned TWU, Leilani Mojarro's eyes lit up. "My grandmother, Lillie Abbey (b 1890), ran a girls dormitory there back in the 30's." she said. The state had wanted to take her ten kids away from her because she was a single parent. But she refused and started a girls boarding house for the university students in Denton, TX. Leilani's husband was the first person to ask me "What's it like out there on the road?" It would have been nice to talk more with them, but they were headed to Belen, NM, for a funeral. They said they might see me again on their return trip back home.

Paul decided to close up early and head back home in Sanderson. "We practice roping calves a few nights a week," he said with excitement. I wonder what his wife thinks of all that at his age.

So, I'm camped out back behind the store. The water faucets work and Paul left the outhouse unlocked. Thanks Paul! It's so windy, I might have a little trouble cooking tonight. I can't believe I'm only two weeks away from Denton. Yippie!