I’m in a Sanderson and am having a rest day, maybe even two, despite the fact that it’s a tiny town and there is not much to see or do here. But more about that later.
Charlie and I left Camp Wood, heading towards Brackettville. We were pretty sure that we would not make it all the way in one day, and planned to camp somewhere along the road. It was a long hot day but it went well and in the afternoon, Casey came out on his motorcycle to check that we were ok. He was amazed that we had made it as far as we had already! It was also interesting to see him in his “colors”.
Just as we were starting to look for a suitable campsite, a car pulled up alongside and asked if we were ok, if we needed water or something? It was Anita and we explained that we were ok but would always welcome cold water! Anita continued on into Brackettville and said she would see if she could find us on her way back. A short while later a truck pulled up next to us. It turned out to be Anita’s husband, she had called him and asked him to bring us some water.
We talked for a while and in the end we were invited back to the Kennedy’s home, to camp next to their house. Another example of the incredible hospitality we have been experiencing here in Texas. Instead of eating packaged food and camping next to the road, we spent the evening eating pizza, drinking beer and tequila, and having a great evening with our wonderful hosts.
The next day, sunday, we were back on the road and made it into Brackettville, were we spent the afternoon having lunch and watching the world cup final on my MacBook Air. We were at the local Subways and the wi-fi connection was not very fast, but we could at least see sort of what was happening.. Not that the result was much of a surprise, I have been tipping Germany to win from the beginning.
After lunch we continued along highway 90 towards Del Rio. About 45 km from Del Rio, it was starting to get dark and we had not really seen any good places to camp, so we decided to try our luck under a bridge. It was ok, but there was a bit of noise from the road during the night and I once again heard a wild hog outside the tent during the night. This time it was on the other side of the fence, but he stayed around for a while, snorting and making noise.
We had a hot walk into Del Rio on monday but knew that we were heading towards a couchsurfing host and would have a place to stay. We had a late lunch at a Thai restaurant before we finally managed to reach Greg, our host. Oh, and we repaired the Emu a few times, like usually twice a day.! But it did make it to Del Rio and as that was going to be the end point for Charlie’s walk with me, that was enough!
Greg was a great host and before long, he had offered to take us shooting on his ranch, outside of Del Rio. As we were in Texas it seemed to be the right thing to do!
We fired a shotgun, first with birdshot and then with buckshot, an M4 rifle and a 45 caliber automatic handgun. Boys will have their toys and it was fun! Then back to Del Rio to enjoy some home made chilli. We were definitely in Texas!
The next day we visited Mexico. Just a short crossing into the border town to have a look around and get some lunch. It was pretty dead, with not a lot happening. It seems that all the “problems” lately has really affected the amount of people visiting and a lot of bars and restaurants were boarded over.
Getting into Mexico was no problem at all, but getting back to the USA was not quite as easy. We had stopped at the USA border to make sure we had all the right papers before we went into Mexico and explained what we were doing. Despite that, it took a long time to get back in and we had to answer some really strange questions about why we had visited Mexico. The concept of never having been there and wanting to take the chance to visit seemed to be completely foreign to them. Nether the less, we were eventually allowed to return.
Greg picked us up and after a short rest we all went to a real Texas BBQ. Texas BBQ’s are ok, but give me a real Ozzie one any day!
On wednesday, it was time for Charlie to return to Austin and in the end we (or he) hired a car to get there, it was the easiest and , strangely, cheapest way in the end. I drove and we covered the distance back to Austin, that had taken us 14 days to walk, in 4 hours.
We met Palmer, who Charlie was going to stay with before his flight the next morning, and I headed back. Driving back, especially when motoring along the same roads that we had walked, I was acutely aware of how boring the landscape zipping by outside the window was. The strange thing was that it is not as boring when you are walking. It must be because you have time to see all the variations and differences when you walk, where as when you speed by in a car, it all blurs into a big sameness. It had never struck me as much before that paying even more attention to something that appears dull and boring, can bring out all the details and differences that are there, bringing on a whole new perspective and adding new insights.
I got back to Del Rio late that evening and prepared to move on the next day. I had been having a bit of problems with a cough and a sore throat but still wanted to get going, get some kms done.
Next morning, I said goodbye to Greg, who had been an perfect host, and with a slight headache and sore throat, headed west again.
It was a long days walking, actually crossing the Pecos River and moving into the “Wild West” proper. I talked to some of the border guards along the way, both when crossing a control and when they stopped to check on me along the road. They were all were very kind and helpful and before long they were all waving to me as the passed during the next few days. In fact, a couple of times they stopped to give me cold water and make sure I was ok.
I reached Comstock and stopped in the motel there. Spent a night coughing and turning and headed towards Langtry the next day. Another long, hot day and when I arrived in Langtry the motel/store was closed. I was lucky that two other guests/workers happened to be there and could give me a room that I could pay for the next morning.
Another rather sleepless night followed and after some breakfast I headed out, having learned that my next planned stop, Dryden was going to be closed on sunday when I got there.
I spent saturday walking highway 90, feeling spent and trying to eat. I had no appetite, especially for the food I had with me and my go to emergency food, peanut butter, was especially repugnant in the heat. I had no problems with hydration, I was drinking plenty of water, had ample supplies with me and was also taking electrolyte pills. Just as well, after a day of walking, my shirt was white with salt deposits.
I camped beside the road and spent a restless night in the tent, coughing and being slightly feverish. I reached Dryden on sunday, around 1 pm and as I had been warned, the store was closed. No problem, I had everything I needed, so I lay down in the shade of the store for a short siesta before continuing. An hour or so later, a truck pulled up behind the store and a man came round and asked if I needed anything.
“Would love to be able to buy some ice,” I said.
“No problem,” he said, “I’ll just open up.”
Great, I was able to get ice, a cold drink and a snickers bar, about the only thing I could force myself to eat at the moment!
Cold water is so much nicer on a hot day and I continued on in good spirits. I thought I could make it to Sanderson by late evening if all went well, even though that would be a long walk. But with a new stash of ice water, anything was possible!
As the afternoon progressed, I got more and more tired, I just did not have any reserves. The lack of sleep and even the lack of food was really starting to get to me. I had thought that a few days on the road, in the open air would help me with the cold, but I was sicker than ever. I decided to try to force myself to make Sanderson and then I was going to have to take a rest day.
I was glad that I had the hydration issue under control though. That is so important out here in the heat, but that was working just fine.
The sun was setting as the Sheriff pulled up beside me and asked me how I was doing and if I wanted a ride into Sanderson.
“How far to go?” I asked.
“About 3 miles,” he said.
“I,ll walk it,” I said.
Turned out to be a long 3 miles and I was totally wrecked by the time I reached the Budget Inn in Sanderson. The owner there was super kind and even cooked me an Indian meal so that I could get some food into me before I crashed into oblivion on my bed.
I’ve been here for 3 days now, trying to recover from my cold and I hope that I am finally getting slightly better. Haven’t done much, not that there is anything to do in Sanderson, other than short forays out of my room to find food. Haven’t even had the energy to write much.
This is the first time I have been really sick on the walk, not bad considering, but I hope it’s the last!
I hope to get started tomorrow, thursday, again. It’s a 2 day walk to Marathon, then a long days walk to Alpine. Will be very interesting to see how I cope with that tomorrow. For now, I am going to try to get this published and then get some more rest.
You all know that I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts on my walk and one that I listened to just recently was an old favourite. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s a book I first read in the early eighties and have read several times after that but I think the last time might have been sometime in the late nineties. A lot has happened since then and I have worked both as a “creative” and a teacher, both experiences that help me relate even more to the book. It’s a great book and it is interesting how some of the core concepts in the book are become more and more popular in a lot of modern writing. The concepts of quality and awareness are easy to see in the discussions of flow and awareness, of living purposefully and even minimalism that are more and more common these days. A recommended read or listen.
The landscape around me during the last few days has inspired me to download another classic to listen to. Dune. I hope it is as good as I remember , I’ll start listening to it tomorrow and let you know.
Anyway, as always, the important thing to remember is to keep walking!