DAY 41 – April 10 – Alpine and Marathon
Last night we camped at a picnic area south of Alpine. The evening cooled rapidly from the high of 99 on our ride north from Big Bend. When we left the truck this morning it was 38 degrees. It’s all about elevation. A 40 degree difference in one day is not unusual.
Alpine is a college town with a good feeling about it. They take a lot of pride in the historic district and have some interesting murals on buildings. Sul Ross State University claims Dan Blocker, aka Hoss Cartwright, as a graduate. It is home to the Museum of the Big Bend. It is a small museum, but has really engaging exhibits. Here the exhibit on the Buffalo Soldiers was really well done and did a good job of honoring their service.
The Rider did another 50+ mile day and I picked him up east of Marathon, TX. We set up camp in the Marathon Motel RV Park in mid-afternoon. After supper, we went over to the White Buffalo Bar in the Gage Hotel, another TripAdvisor find. This place is a destination hotel-spa. I wasn’t sure if it would be casual enough for us, but no problem. There we met Ron and Natasha Riedel from California. They are a father-daughter team riding east on the Southern Tier Route. They are self-supported (no support crew or vehicle) and traveling as light as possible. We had a great time talking with them for the evening. Brenda and Dave from Houston joined us and it turned into a party.
DAY 42 – April 11 – Marathon to Sanderson, TX
We woke up to even colder weather, a dark 36 degrees. I really give The Rider a lot of credit for still being motivated to get an early start. I didn’t even want to uncover my face this morning inside the truck. I tried to talk him into a warm breakfast at the bakery in town, but his position was that it really wouldn’t make much different and was mainly psychological. Psychologically speaking, I would have felt better if he would have conceded, but no….. So I went back to the Burnt Biscuit Bakery for coffee and ended up eating breakfast with the Riedels. I believe those cyclists were thinking right.
Marathon’s slogan is “where there is nothing to do”. They are also the gateway to the Big Bend. The keystone of the town is the Gage Hotel, built in 1928. The hotel deteriorated until it was purchased and restored in 1978 by a Texas oilman who loves art and local history The hotel owns several properties in town and one of the residents told me that it is what keeps Marathon going. It appears to have plenty of guests, a well-known restaurant. And we can attest to the White Buffalo’s ambience.
The garden paths held a surprise for me. They were all sparkly in the bright sun. When I looked closely, I could see multiple colors of finely ground glass mixed in with the small stones. Great recycling idea. And a refreshing change from all the broken glass we’ve been seeing along the roads. People seem to think nothing of throwing bottles out of cars, even in the rest areas. Roadside trash has advanced to pet peeve status for me!
The Rider racked up another 50+ mile day due to favorable winds and terrain. We met up with the Riedels again at the Sanderson Café, where I had my first hot dog of the trip. We are “dry camping” again in a picnic area. This one thoughtfully has a little stepladder built over the wire mesh fence around the perimeter, presumably to make it easy to exit the immediate area for personal needs. Texas version of a maintenance-free bathroom???? It’s actually very peaceful and another solo campsite.