I broke camp fairly early and said my goodbyes to my new friends. After several days off and not much miles under my seat I felt a need to do some bigger miles today. The goal was to get around 50-60 in, which in the flats is not a big deal, but here the elevation is on a one way ticket up. As the morning progressed I realized that this was going to be a really hard day. The sun had come out early and it was bright and intense, adding heat to the equation of exhaustion. By noon I had struggled up the hills and was in a full blown sweat. Heat exhaustion was a real fear.
Unwittingly I had sent back my lone long sleeve shirt that was not wool and not black. This I realized later in the day was to be a very bad mistake. My bike shirt is sleeveless thus exposing both my arms, and shoulders and that ever so delicate portion of your lats. Well by early afternoon the sun was really taking a toll and I knew that I was turning a bright shade of red. That combined with the layer of sweat and dust made for a very uncomfortable feeling on my skin. It was like this noxious combination of stuff on your arms that at the touch felt gritty and left a slight burning sensation. I knew that night time was going to be painful because I was officially fried.
The hills continued and I had my second flat of the trip. I rolled over two of those prickly branches that just pierced a 2 inch spike righ through my tire. These things were so tough that when I went to repair the flat I could not pull them out, but instead had to 'push' them through. I guess short of slime, there is no defense against these things because they are just mean. I will attempt at all costs to avoid them in the future, but they are incredibly difficult to see on these chipped roads, which are a combination of black and gray/white rocks, so the thorns just blend right in.
By around 5:00 I was spent and found a picnic area to relax and figure out my camping plans. This would be my first night of real desert camping which creates a whole new set of issues. One thing is for sure, the Border Patrol is incredibly active, so in addition to worrying about being on someone's land I also did not want to be anywhere that would cause them angst. As I sat at the picnic area this very interesting guy stopped, with his female Pit Bull, and they hung with me for a while talking about immigration, border control, Kansas, and mostly guns. It turns out that he was ex military and was always locked and loaded. When travelling he carried multiple handguns, rifle, shotgun, AK-47, and more handguns. He was wearing shorts and was still packing underneath them. I admit to both being intrigued and a bit worried about this guy but in the end he was harmless.
I ended up circling back a couple of hundred yards to a side road and made my way about a half a mile out into the desert. There I waited until dark and made camp, cooked and passed out from exhaustion. What seemed like a very short time later I was awaked by the sound of goats trying to figure out who or what I was and why I was in the middle of their pasture. Once I realized what it was, it was easy to dismiss it and just go back to sleep. I woke later that night to do my business, and upon stepping out of my tent was greeted by a brilliant display of stars. Having lost the last of the Del Rio night pollution this was a real treat for my eyes.