Day 15 – Llano, TX to Alpine, TX : 300 miles
The frustrating thing today was to be so close to the Rio Grande most of the day and not to be able to see it. I could occasionally see the cliff edges of the snaking river, but never the water. I did, however, cross small and large tributaries.
Day 16 – Big Bend National Park : 250 miles
Two nights in a hotel in Alpine, TX allowed me to visit the Big Bend national park (but not the adjacent Big Bend state park) on this day. The most remote state park in the USA, the interesting part – the Chisos basin – is almost a hundred miles from the nearest town or gas station. The rest of it is desert, which I love, but we have that in Arizona.
I looped clockwise, from Alpine, TX to Marathon, TX, then into the park with lunch high up in the cool Chisos basin (originally a volcanic crater) then out and back to Alpine for the last night away from home.
Day 17 – Alpine, TX to Tucson, AZ : 500 miles
Although the last day was again long, it was surprisingly easy thanks to light traffic. A hundred miles to reach the Interstate, then four hundred miles on I-10 all the way home. It surprised me too that the temperature ranged over nearly 50º Fahrenheit – from the mid-fifties on the West Texas plains in the early morning to the mid-hundreds in Southern Arizona. From a woolen undershirt to a water-soaked evaporative wet vest. I got home mid-afternoon on Sunday after seventeen days in the saddle.
If you ever travel on I-10 between Arizona and New Mexico, get off at Deming and visit the truck stop. It has a desolate, run-down look to it, but it houses an authentic Punjabi Indian restaurant, with a lunch buffet to die for. There was even cricket on big-screen TV! (Lord knows what the truck drivers make of that.) It is a toss-up whether barbecue in Tennessee or curry in Deming was the best meal of the entire, fantastic trip.
- Miles ridden = 4,850 in 17 days, an average of 285 miles per day
- Nights camped = 12, nights in a hotel = 2 x 2 = 4
- Number of gas stops = 45 (I was cautious, OK? I hate running out of gas)
- Gallons of gasoline used = 127 US gal. at a cost of $397.27 (seriously, who counts to this level of detail?) and an average of 38 mpg
- Most seen stores, everywhere I went = Walmart, and DOLLAR GENERAL (in bold black capital letters on a banana-yellow rectangle)