Friday, April 8, 2011

Valley of Fires, New Mexico - Brownfield, Texas

Saturday April, 2nd, I was all excited about this day because all that was ahead of me, I would be riding through Capitan, the place where Smokey the Bear was found and then buried, Lincoln, the historic western town were Billy the Kid roamed, and then Hondo, where I would meet the Chavez family.

In Capitan, I stopped at the local museum dedicated to Smokey. It was pretty interesting I suppose, being in the area he was discovered and learning more of the history. I spent a few moments there and pushed down the mountain to Lincoln. I rolled into town and was looking for the museum and stopped at the Murphy Dolan Store, the building that Billy the Kid was being held in when he made his escape from town. The first person I met was Beverly, she was inquisitive of the bike and flag and I explained what I was doing and also mentioned that I was going to see Steven Chavez's parents, Eddie and Novelda, later that day and she told me that she was Stevens teacher back in the day. I was a bit surprised, it was like I was meant to run into her. She gave me a park pass and was trying to contact the newspaper in Roswell but didnt have too much luck. The amount of history in the town was awesome. I was walking through the Murphy Dolan Store when I first started talking to a couple, I later met officially, Worley and Camelia Pace. I was eating lunch at the Wortley Hotel when they walked in, my bike was parked outside and Worley asked if I was the guy biking for the fallen. I suppose Beverly mentioned it, since she seemed pretty excited about the whole thing and was probably telling everyone who would listen. I said yea and he paid for my lunch, it was great, thanks! The hotel owner, Cathy also had given me a free dessert, chocolate cake...if you dont know yet, im a huge fan of chocolate cake and this was pretty good.

Smokeys Grave


New Mexicos awesome green chili cheeseburger

Me, Camelia, and Worley

Chocolate Cake!

I roamed town a bit more and ended up getting on the road to make better time. I arrived in Hondo and found the house I was looking for. It was right off the freeway and when I pulled in, Eddie was outside getting ready to start laying more concrete on a flagpole base that they had built in memory of Steven. I told him who I was and why I was there and Novelda came outside and I told her as well. She gave me a hug and went inside and came back out and gave me a donation and a St Micheal figurine for me to carry. We went inside a talked and Eddie told me a bit about Steven while Novelda made me some awesome food and burritos for the road. Eddie asked me when I started my ride, I told him March 14th...coincidentally that is the same date that Steven was killed in 2007... It was nice meeting them, both are wonderful people and before leaving, they loaded me up on water for the next 40 miles to Roswell. I took some pictures of the memorial they were puting together, it all looks really good. I promised Novelda I would call when I reached the ocean, so she should be getting a call within the next 3 or 4 weeks.

A few miles down the road, my rear tire went out. The tube got cut right below the valve stem so it was unrepairable. I had one other tube that somewhat held air but some is better than none so I didnt have much of a choice except make it work for me and it did for the most part. Lucky for me, the wind was in my favor for the next 35 miles and got even better when I rolled out onto the plains. This tube was the last one I had so I needed to find one in Roswell so I could have spares again. 15 miles outside of Roswell I called Casey up and left him a message letting him know I was almost to town. At the rate I was going it would take me less than an hour to get there. I rolled on and was coming down the hill into town when I called him back and talked to him. He gave me directions to a gas station where he would be able to meet me and pick me up so I cruised 5 more miles in that direction. On the last mile, the rear tire lost most of the air in it but I didnt want to slow down and raced into the gas station parking lot, called Casey and pumped it back up as much as I could. He said hed be there in a few minutes. Before he showed, a transient looking fellow on a bike started making small talk with me about where I came from, where im going etc...his name was Danny. Well, Casey showed up after a few moments and we loaded the bike up and drove over to his apartment. As I was about to get into the shower, I realized I couldnt find my phone. It wasnt in the truck, it wasnt on my bike, it wasnt in any of my packs. I thought it may have fallen off my bike seat when I set it down after talking to Casey at the gas station or Danny may have taken it when I wasnt looking. Well, to save time, (we were about to head out soon) Casey went to look for it at the gas station while I took a shower. It turned out not to be there and I decided to look in the truck again. This time I combed the bed of the truck while I was leaving Mom a voice message telling her to cancel my I was doing this, I found a AA battery, then my tire pump...then the phone. It was in the handlebar pouch that had fallen open in the bed of the truck and some of the things had dropped out. I was happy it turned up. It definitely saved me alot of trouble. That night turned out to be awesome. I went with Casey and his lady to a gathering of all his high school friends if I could call it that, and met them all. Definitely very entertaining to say the least. Something I should mention about Casey, he will bend over backwords to help someone out and he's the type who will give you the shirt off his back. Awesome guy. I took Sunday off, the bike shop in Roswell was closed and would open up the next morning so I spent the day relaxing and patching up my bike tubes and then Sunday evening I went with him to Applebees to meet up with his buddy Joe and their friend Christina. Joe is with the Army Special Forces, stationed in no other than Okinawa Japan. My old stomping grounds. Christina is married and her husband is currently deployed. She is awesome, I guess Casey or someone told her something about a guy riding his bike across the country for the fallen and when she found out that was me, she was quite intrigued. She ended up buying me dinner and extending the invitation to stay at her parents house in Lubbock, Texas. I was hoping to make the ride there the next morning so I took up the offer.

Christina, Casey, Me, Joe

8 patches, 4 not showing in 1 tube

The next morning, Monday the 4th, I was itching to get on the road. Casey said he would contact the bike shop and see if they had the tubes I needed and if so, he would drive them out to me. If not, he had made contact with Christina's dad, Jerry, and asked if he could look around in Lubbock. Jerry said he would. It turns out the bike shop in Roswell did not have what I needed but Jerry was able to locate some. The ride from Roswell, Nm, to Lubbock, Tx, was approximately 180 miles and I was very optomistic about making it. Until I stepped outside and started riding into the wind. For the next 3 hours I could barely keep my speed above 9mph. Even though the distance I covered wasnt that significant, it still drained my energy quite considerably since even maintaining that slow speed in 30mph winds still takes alot out of you. Well, the day dragged on and I reached Tatum, Nm, 70 or 80 miles later sometime in the mid afternoon. I kept pushing on and reached the Texas Stateline and then Plains around 6pm local time. Brownfield was another 30 or 40 miles and at the pace I was rolling at and the time I had left of daylight, it wasnt going to be until late that night when I would be reaching Lubbock. Night fell and I rolled into Brownfield around 9, still 45 miles left to go until Lubbock. I made a pitstop at a gas station to water-up, get snacks and re-energize before rolling out. Well, the tires were holding up but still had to be topped off with air every now and then and the back tire was losing a bit of air. As I was sitting there at the gas station, I proceeded to fill it back up. Well, this didnt turn out too well. The tire suddenly went flat on me. Oh boy...hopefully only a patch wore loose or its something that can be repaired...nope. The same thing that happened right outside Hondo happened again here. The tube was cut right below the valve stem. I was stuck for the evening. I couldnt really complain at all. I honestly really didnt want to keep biking but that had set me back a little bit. I let Christina and Jerry know what had happened and arranged for a tube delivery from Lubbock in the morning. I went to the hotel, got a room, a shower and had an awesome sleep.