Day 14 -- Santa Rosa NM to Vega TX -- Everything is bigger, especially the pigs

Day 14 -- Santa Rosa NM to Vega TX -- Everything is bigger, especially the pigs

Whew, what a long day. I rode 223 km today and managed to hold an average speed of 29.8 km/h. But let's start from the beginning.

It all started when I woke up and found the sandwiches I made last night were stolen. What's up with these sandwiches? Maybe it just isn't meant to be. I think it might have been the neighbor's dog, but she said it wasn't, so who knows maybe it was wild animals. But it was definitely something with little dog shaped paws in the sand. I tried to get breakfast at Denny's, but the waitress said, "just a moment sir," and then gossiped with her coworker for nearly a minute. It probably wasn't a big deal, but my patience was unreasonably short after finding my food vanished, so I left and bought some pre-made sandwiches from a gas station instead.

I hit the road around 8:30 and spent most of the day on frontage roads and old 66, but did follow the interstate occasionally when the smaller roads ended our turned to dirt.

The craziest event of the day (which actually happened in New Mexico despite the title) was when I was riding down a frontage road and saw what looked like an animal on the left. It was far away, so I wasn't sure what it was, but it sort of looked like a horse or cow, or it maybe just an old shed. As I got closer I determined it was definitely an animal, and I didn't want to scare it so I slowed down. As I passed it I became increasingly scared as I realized it wasn't a horse or anything I had ever seen before, but it was a pig that was taller on all fours than I was standing straight up! It looked at me right in the eye and kept on walking. It was really quite friendly I guess, but it was so massive and unfamiliar that I was genuinely scared. When I was a safe distance I snapped a blurry indistinct picture of it. It will probably end up with all the other blurry pictures of Bigfoot, Nessy, etc.

When I reached Tucumcari I stopped at the Alco for some granola bars, gatorade, and a bottle refill. Everyone there was very nice and helpful, and they even told me where to expect the next few water stops. As I cruised through the next few hours with the wind at least partly behind me, I met several interesting people. First were two motorcyclists who were riding the route from Chicago to LA, and about 100 m later, a Swiss couple who were bicycling the same thing. They even let me look at their route 66 map that showed where the original route still existed and where I would have to take the freeway.

I didn't have a specific destination in mind for the night and figured I'd make a camp somewhere near the state line, but when I reached it it was still early, and I figured there was no point setting up camp just to stand in the sun for a few more hours, so I kept going.

I had seen signs for Stuckey's pecan shop all day and decided to press on the additional 30 km to see what it was about. When I got there I had a "famous" pecan log and a strawberry milkshake. The pecan log was fine, but the shake was amazing partly because it helped cool me off. The temperature reached 36 degrees today (body temperature is 37 for reference) so it was easily the hottest ride so far. While I was at the pecan shop I asked the clerk if she knew anywhere to camp expecting her to say no, but she had a place in mind and even called them up to make sure they took tents. It turned out the campground was another 25 km down the road, but I had time and energy, so figured it would definitely be worth the shower.

I decided to rest at the pecan shop for a while before tackling the final stretch, and that's when I met the final interesting person of the day. An Englishman who had flown to Chicago to drive the route to LA. He told me about his various trips to the states, and we chatted in general for quite a while before going off in opposite directions.

The final stretch to the campground wasn't too bad considering how far I had come, and it felt good to rest at a picnic table when I got there. It felt even better to rinse off all the caked on salt from the day, and shave again.

Some general reflection: the days and sights and mesas and campgrounds and rest stops are starting to blur together a bit. It actually didn't feel like I've been out here for two weeks already. Earlier today I talked to my mom and she asked if I was enjoying the trip and my answer was a little wishy washy. But as I thought about it more throughout the day I thought back to the brutal first day, the Joshua trees, the London bridge, the couch surfing, the graduation party in Flagstaff, Phil's clocks, the ridiculous amount of intrastate highway that I've bicycled, and all the people I've met along the way, and I realized that I really am enjoying it. I hope I have the endurance to make it to Boston, and I hope the next four weeks are as good as the last two.

Today's distance: 223 km
Average speed: 29.8 km/h
Trip odometer: 1840 km

Joshy Orndorff Fri, 05/17/2013 - 23:16