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Day Two - Van Horn to Alpine: 95mi/150km
Total Distance - This is going to be an uphill day - a gradual incline until Marfa, then (mostly) downhill to Alpine.

Van Horne Alpine

MILE 1 - The Road Ahead - Break of dawn, uphill and with a headwind - pedalling into the wind will make it a long day.

leaving Van Horn

MILE 5 - Sunrise - the Davis Mountains - a nice silouette

Van Horne Sunrise

MILE 10 - looking southwest to Mexico and some pretty barren land


MILES 20 - More of Mexico - clouds casting shadows on mountains

after Van Horn

Mile 50 so I'm pedalling along, and in the distance I see this building - it takes me over 10 miles to reach it. As I approach, I think it's a fruit stand, but it's too modern and solid looking. Big thick large windows, stucco walls -

It's a Prada display case, filled with shoes and purses and other accessories. It's miles from nowhere in all directions.

Prada Store

A tiny sign says Prada merchandise is available in Marfa (over 30 mi away) - I can hardly wait.

MILE 55 - LYING DOWN - Traffic being non-existent on this highway, I lay down on the center strip to take this shot:


MILE 60 - Desert Life - Well, it may seem barren for humanoids such as myself, but I see all manner of mammals, birds and insects, notables being antelope, road runners (just like in the Bug's Bunny cartoons), dragonflies, flies, beetles the size of my thumb, and arachnids such as this one:


A closer look is in order:


It's the Texas Brown Tarantula, about 2.5 inches across, and they are on the highway by the hundreds - these earnest males are seeking out mates, and they're crossing highways to find 'em.

As I watch this one, a semi rolls out of the distance and roars over the spider, missing it with all of its big loud wheels. Long after the truck passes, the spider is still frozen, gripping the highway like Earth was a big ball - power structures seemed reversed.

I get tired of waiting to see the spider move - I squirt him with gatorade. That gets his attention, and sends him scurrying across the tarmac.

MILE 75 - MARFA - I refuel with water and other liquids - I don't find the Prada store (I was so looking forward to buying high heels to pedal in - oh well).

An ominous development - Thunderstorms had been forecast, but I didn't think storms would develop today given the light mix of sun and clouds. Well, in very short order:

marfa storm

Given that I am still battling a headwind and the clouds were behind me, I thought I could out-run the storm:

marfa rain

No such luck - it's like the storm is sucking in all the white fluffy clouds in front of me and soon I'm surrounded by darkness and crackling thunder.

The skies open and rain comes down in sheets.


Several things happen along the last 25 miles of the day. One is that the wind was now behind me. Another is that the highway slope is now downhill.

The third is that I catch up to another cyclist, Michael, (his Blog here) who is on a mission to cross the USA in support of Habitat for Humanities and Katrina victims. We spend the last part of the day together, and ride into Alpine going close to 35 mph (55kph) in the gusting wind and driving rain, along with semi's setting up the occasional blinding spray as they hiss past.

We check into a pretty sketchy motel in Alpine - As we head out to dinner I lock my bike to a piece of room furniture - if anybody breaks into the room, they were going to have to make quite a racket to separate my bike from the desk.

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