April 12, 2001 - Hondo TX 113.3***

For the third day in a row, I have done the exact planned route and distance. Today, Del Rio to Hondo, had a headwind all day, incline out of the Rio Grande Valley to Bracketville, rolling hills to Uvalde, relatively flat to Hondo. Cline doesnt exist. Knippa and Sabinal (and Uvalde) are cute little towns with supplies.

Since it was not a picturesque or eventful day, some digressions.

Texas is different. In the low desert, farther west (of Texas), its either a)irrigated and farmed; b) dry sand, scrub brush and cactus; or c) high desert- no farming, just low scrub desert and rock. In west Texas, the desert, at least in April, has some grass on it in addition to the scrub. They ranch. Lots of ranches. They get water for the cows (round here they probably all them cattle) from windmills (according to Jamie, the UP RR worker in Langtry, they need 250 acres per cow). You see dozens of windmills a day. Some are not operational, others still standing but functionally replaced by electric motors.

All ranches come with entrances (the windmill is south of van horn, 2 days ago; the ranch today, just east of Bracketville).

These two photos show the differences between west Texas (of Del Rio) and central Texas (east of Del Rio (basically today). Texas went like this:

1.      Up to Marfa: mostly like around the windmill. Low scrub, flat.

2.      Marfa to Sanderson: what they call Mountains (hills and valleys, ranching, desert, low scrub)

3.      Sanderson to Del Rio: Not recommended for bikers. No flat. Its either moderately big up or down. Low scrub.

4.      Del Rio east: High scrub, trees, lots of green, like the entrance to Gun Hill Ranch. Manageable ups and downs. (Green in April rainy season)

The daily weather pattern is also different. It used to start cold, warm up, and then the wind would come mid-day. Now its already kind of warm, and windy, when I get up. Here is the forecast for today and tomorrow:

Saturday Daytime: Mostly cloudy. High 87. Winds SE 10 to 15 mph.

Saturday Night: Considerable cloudiness. Low 68. Winds E to SE 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday Daytime: A mix of clouds and sun. High 89. Winds E to SE 10 to 15 mph.

This is not good if youre heading E to SE on a bike. Wind is worse than hills and rain. It slows you down and theres no payback.

In any case, I left Del Rio at 7:30, amidst heavy mist and drizzle that lasted until noon. Headed to Bracketville, Uvalde and then Hondo.

Missed the Del Rio sign last night, probably in the darkness. Got this in the AM. 12 miles or so outside of Del Rio, Historical Plaque 1, outside Laughlin AFB.

10 miles more, #2. Out of the frying pan, and into the Comanches.

Just kept riding.

The above photo is meant to demonstrate a) distances between towns, b) all the yellow flowers along 90 in Texas (they must seed them), and c) the rain. At a rest stop, I took a picture of me:

Im wet. I made Bracketville at 11 (4-1/2 hours, 32 miles) because of the incline out of the Rio Grande valley, the steady headwind, and the rain. Early lunch at the Burger and Shake on the US90. When I came out the rain had stopped. Good news. Hauled to Uvalde. Got refreshments in Uvalde (arrived around 4) at about the 20th of these drive through beverage stores they have all around here.

Some VP of the USA came from Uvaldi. Whos the President?

The camera actually used its auto flash on this, it was still (intermittently) so overcast.. 44 miles to Hondo. Kept riding.

(Ill explain this picture some other time.)

To Hondo at around 7:30PM. I get sick of the little green signs that show population, and hope the towns have some character – like the above. Now, Ive just finished dinner at Herman Sons Steak House, and am going to bed. The immediate view.

Through San Antonio tomorrow, Easter Sunday. Things will be closed, which leads me to Open, an inconsistently used and understood concept in the USA.

Some of us understand it to mean open for business – that you can, while the business displays the word open, conduct transactions of the designated kind. Out here open sometimes means – we are open, but not now, come back some other time. Mostly though it means, we were open at one time, maybe 50 years ago, and the word is here to remind you of that fact. Open is a permanently painted or affixed word to any business, not removed when they go out of business.

Finally, I want to know why it has rained and drizzled half the day for the last two days, but they never forecast this precipitation.

Happy Easter.

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