What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we had winds pushing us all day and today it was just the opposite. We left Del Rio at 7 am heading north east and spent most of the day with light head or crossing winds as we began the climb toward the famous Texas Hill Country. Despite some sore legs and lagging energy after yesterday’s effort I still managed a ride of 100.5 miles with Louise’s diligent support, which puts us about 18 miles short of the halfway point of the trip. In addition to the wind and gradual climb, I encountered coarse road surfaces, which really puts a continuous vibration through the bike. As a result, I’ve had to tighten screws on several bike components over the past two days that were loosened by the constant vibration.
The sights of the day were fairly monotonous, although it was interesting that we started out in a fairly green and lush environment around Del Rio, which is at a lower elevation. They’ve had fairly heavy rains apparently, which has been great for the growth of grass. As our route moved north into higher elevations the scenery grew a bit more brown, but still more thick with plant life than is typical for the area. Louise was eyeballing all the mistletoe in the mesquite trees along the road, but so far hasn’t found any to cut to bring home. Much of the day we rode past ranches with exotic African game, as well as cattle, sheep and goats. The Texans love their hunting farms and their hunting style is a bit different from what I’m accustomed to. They have feeding stations where they dispense “deer corn” and then have hunting stands nearby to shoot from. In most other states this form of hunting with bait piles is not allowed. Along the route there were a large number of deer killed along the road. This is sadly a normal condition in this part of Texas, as the rural road and highway speeds are very high and the deer are attracted to the grasses growing along the roads.
Other sights today that we noticed included a large array of about 20 or more acres of solar panels and also a few wind turbines on the horizon. With all the sunshine and wind in this part of the country, those are great options to provide power to rural users. While in ABQ with our son we noticed that he had recently added solar panels to his roof and will soon be diminishing his power bills. It surprised us as we traveled across AZ and NM that more homes didn’t have solar panels. We have friends in OR who recently installed panels and despite the lesser sunshine they have dramatically reduced their commercial power use. Would expect to see more homes in this part of the world with solar panels. Why don’t they have them?
It is interesting to see that this is clearly a Republican state, with all the Trump/Pence posters in front of ranch entrances and on many vehicles. I’ve been curious about why there is such a strong support for the President-elect here and surmise it to be a mix of the fact this is a consistently Republican-voting state, but also might include the issue of border security and federal tax structure that is burdensome for small businesses, such as the ranches out here. We’ve both noticed the huge presence of border patrol vehicles all across the southwestern states and think about the cost that represents. Sad but necessary I suppose. Having a Political Science undergrad degree I’m always curious about the motivations of different segments of our population, so would love to have some conversation with a few locals to find out exactly what their concerns are and why they supported Mr Trump over some of the other Republican candidates, such as Jeb Bush or their own senator. As a segue, I wanted to mention that our daughter, who is in the Air Force, told us the military sent out an order the other day for military members to cease making comments on Facebook, etc., about the election outcome, as the UCMJ (military law) prohibits troops from making derogatory comments about the commander in chief.
This morning we passed Laughlin AFB just outside Del Rio, which is and has been for a long time, a flight training base for student pilots. As we moved away from the area we still heard the sound of aircraft flying overhead and when we carefully looked into the sky we could see single and two ship groups practicing some of the basic maneuvers of flight. It reminded me of my short stint in pilot training at Williams AFB, AZ 40 years ago when I had 39 hours of flight training up through several hours of solo flight in a 2 engine jet trainer. Unfortunately, physiological problems kept me from completing the training (puked in the airplanes too much), so my career turned to flight support and Louise and I were both pleased with that option.
Well, that’s enough chatter for today. Our attention has shifted slightly in the last 24 hours, as we’ve found out that Louise’s mom is having a bad spell. We hope she will regain her vigor quickly and ask for your prayers for her rebound.
Here are some images from our day. First is a shot of two primary flight training aircraft from Laughlin AFB, then mistletoe in a mesquite tree, several shots of me going up and down hills, a deer crossing in front of Louise, sheep watching her drive by, and several exotic animals on hunting ranches.