I was awoken by the shuffling sounds of a man praying. Too early for God. Too early to bike. Too early for anything. I rolled over and went back to sleep. About an hour later my alarm clock reminded me of the task at hand. Get up! You’re Texas bound baby! I collected my things and left the church.
As I inched ever so closer to the border, I reflected more on my time in New Mexico. This area represented a point of confluence where numerous cultural groups intersected. This American West. It was a crossroads for warfare, trade, and settlement. If you ask some, they’d say that’s still the case today. I asked some. They said it was still the case today. I came into this state on a cold, snowy night. I left under the brazen heat of the midday sun. I entered confused, and left even more so. Exactly as I planned.
Texas fulfilled my unacquainted ideologies of the state within the first ten miles. I saw an excessive amount of oil fields, and a man named Ray stopped me to give me a beer. I sat in an abandoned grocery store, nursed the Bud, and stared off into fields of nothingness under the Lone Star’s sun. I had stumbled into a Cormac McCarthy novel. A man could die out here and nobody’s know for weeks. I think I’m going to like this state.
I believe people gravitate to oceans not only because of their sandy beaches and cool water, but mostly because they can look out and see for miles. The ocean represents the vast openness of potential. There are no obstructions, just horizon meeting possibility. That is West Texas. It’s so hauntingly vast yet begging to be embraced by any fool. It found one. For a moment, I understood the answers to all of life’s questions, but was too distracted by the sheer beauty of the landscape to retain them. The calming nature of this scenery delicately absolved me of all my anxieties. Then a semi zoomed by and demolished my tranquility boner. I tried too hard to reactivate it. All the mind Viagra in the world wasn’t bringing it back. Oh well. For the rest of the day I thought about how funny dogs look when they wear sombreros until I reached Pecos.
Pecos is one of those places that forgot to check the LIFE and FUN boxes when filling out an application to be a city. I’ve been to many like it, but none as bad. Dilapidated house after dilapidated house forced me to ask the employee at the barren library if a tornado swept through town recently. “No” was all she could sigh. “It hasn’t always been this way”. I sat and listened to this old woman tell me about Pecos. Behind the banquet of racist undertones, I gathered that this town used to be an oasis for farming, particularly cantaloupes. Then, with the G.I. bill, swarms of families came to Pecos looking for similar success. Mismanagement of water dried up the farms and effectively dried up Pecos. What’s left is the shell of a once promising land.
I definitely sense a distinct divide between Hispanic and Caucasian in Pecos. The tension is thick here. So is the police presence. It was made clear to me that attempting to set up my tent anywhere in town would not be an option. As a result I’ve sought refuge at the library. I plan to sleep on the ground behind a tree which will hopefully provide enough cover from the road. I would leave town to set up camp, but there is literally nothing outside of Pecos. No trees. No life. I figure this isn’t the worst place I’ve slept so why not? There are an abundance of dogs in this town and all of them hate me. Hopefully they’ll leave me be for the night.
Total Ascent: 651 ft.