Day 39: So… This is Texas…

Ugh, I got off to a late start today and am just not feeling it. Usually the morning 30-40 are my favorite and go really smoothly, but not today. I don’t know if it is my physical and mental exhaustion, the terrible roads, all the trucks, the headwinds, the rolling hills or a combination of them but I feel like I’m dragging. I had to take a break after 20 miles, which is pretty rare at this point. I don’t think I’m going to make it to New Mexico like I wanted. With towns getting more sparse I have to make choices like today. I can ride 100 miles to Logan today or I can go 30 today to Dalhart and 70 tomorrow to Logan. I think I’m going with the latter, there is a state park and a lake I Dalhart and maybe a half day would do me some good. Oh, I saw my first tumbleweed today.., so I kind of expect to see a gunfight between two guys in cowboy hats with revolvers soon.

I forgot to mention that yesterday I did a water test to see how far I can go with the water I carry with me. I got about 95 miles with flat roads and moderate temperatures. Not too bad, I’ll still want to carry a little bit more with me as I head west though.

Anyway, I’ve decided to stay in Dalhart today and let my body rest a bit. It looks like there is a state park on the lake with “primitive camping”* nearby. When I got here I realized I just wanted to rest, explore the city a bit, and do some writing so I’m going to do just that.

I find it really fascinating to read the Wikipedia pages about these small towns, they have some interesting histories that I get to kind of see. My travels through these little towns have highlighted some interesting patterns. For example, there are more Subways in small towns than McDonalds, at least on the route I’ve taken. Also, if there is a Pizza Hut it is probably right across the street from a Subway. It’s baffling, I have no idea why those two chains are always within a block of each other. There are also usually a surprising number of hair salons. We need more economists to float through small towns and investigate this.

Also, in almost every poor rail/truck stop town the city hall looks great and so do most of the churches. The people can be living in trailers with trash blowing in the breeze and roads that haven’t seen maintenance in years but City Hall and most churches have manicured green lawns and well paved parking lots. Banks also tend to be pretty nice too but a lot of towns don’t have banks. Also, every town has at least one lawyer, the lawyer also tends to double as another profession in small towns. The guy who did the maintenance on Harmony yesterday was also a lawyer, I give it better than even odds that the bike shop was a way to get money off the books though. I’d do that… Accept cash for things, call it “bike maintenance” so that there is no real inventory… Hmm…

Whenever you enter a town they usually have a sign or banner bragging about a relatively insignificant event or person that happened years ago. Maybe the governor from 1910-1918 was from the town and he will have a big sign commentating him or the high school football team won the state championship in 1967. There are also a lot of signs celebrating rodeo stars here in Texas as well as in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Here in Dalhart they have a museum and a festival every year to honor the XIT Ranch which was the largest cattle ranch ever but was dissolved in 1912…. 100 years ago. Hmm, it’s almost tempting to hang around until this years rodeo and reunion to see how you celebrate a century of non-existence. It looks like they have a beauty competition which could be fascinating. The town only has 7,000 people after all. I’m not sure how a city that has mostly shuttered businesses pays for a three day rodeo and festival but I imagine the money could go to more productive places.

The day ended on a great note. Jake met up with me today and we should be doing the rest of the ride together. We stayed up pretty late talking about our rides sp far and just catching up. It was great to have a real conversation. Also, there was a little playa magic, Jake found my sunglasses that i lost a couple days ago at the Texas border. Tomorrow we map out our route to Albuquerque and see what New Mexico has to offer.

Hmm, I kind of just realized these posts might be weird to read at times. I write them throughout the day but use present tense all the time. When I talk about doing things later on it is often quickly followed by that actual thing but I never put in anything to show that time has passed.

* Unnecessary Rant: I find it incredibly annoying that parking an RV is considered “camping” when I search for campgrounds online. Several times I’ve found a “campground” online and rode to it only to be told they don’t allow “primitive camping” and only allow RVs. When did RVs become the camping norm? You can’t have a campfire in an RV. And why is using a tent “primitive”? I’m not hunting saber tooth tigers with a stone and sticks. I’m not using handmade arrows and tracking wildebeest. My tent is plastic and aluminum and I get 3G cell signal… It is far from primitive. Ugh. /endrant

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