When the thing you’re experiencing…

… stops you from diagnosing the thing you’re experiencing :). My last morning in Marfa, I woke up dizzy. Tent spinning, can’t hold your eyes on a reference point, afraid to sit up dizzy. I forced myself to calm down and relax and the feeling passed. It recurred while I was showering a while later and, folks, I was concerned. Was I having some kind of mini-stroke? Had my inner ears decided to betray me? I have a friend who deals with vertigo – not fun.

I’ll bet you’ve already figured out what was going on, but it wasn’t until later in the morning after I’d moved around a bit that the light bulb went on for me. Marfa is at 4830′ above sea level and dizziness is a symptom of mild altitude sickness. Marfa is not high altitude by any means, but getting there by bike, thus high exertion levels, doesn’t help. It’s happened a couple times since; I pay attention to breathing deeply and regularly and >poof< all gone. Moral of the story – mildest possible oxygen deprivation does not make you smarter.

Daily driver


After the episode of dumb, the theme for Wednesday (3/27) was hummingbirds. I saw this bold wee thing just before departure from Marfa.

El Cosmico hummingbird

The ride from Marfa to Fort Davis was flat and short. Once in Fort Davis I stopped by the library, hoping to use some free wifi. It was not to be. Apparently there’d been a backhoe incident with a major cable somewhere to the east, and Alpine, Ft. Davis and environs were down as regards conventional internet access. Ah, well. Lotte and I hung out a bit anyway – it’s a dog-friendly library, so we went in and looked around and then we sat outside,answered questions and received pats. Then, up the hill to Davis Mtns. State Park. I’d started setting up camp when one of the camp hosts (volunteers who make sure folks know what’s up re things like burn bans, birding walks, etc.) stopped by and said hello. Thus began a really delightful friendship with D & R. D asked if I could use some charcoal and lighter fluid that a camper left behind. “Sure!” As he was dropping that off, he asked if I could use a cast-off foam cooler? Also, “Sure!” The cooler arrived with ice and a beer inside. Perfection (and big thanks!). There was only one thing to do – a quick ride back into town to get some grillable vegetables and a steak. As I was cooking, I was buzzed by two hummingbirds, one chasing the other. Well bookended, hummers!

Thursday was all about water. I’ve wanted to swim in the pool at Balmorhea (BALmoray as best i can render it) State Park since I first learned about it a few years ago. The pool was a CCC project, is fed by the San Solomon Springs and is the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world. Who wouldn’t want to take a dip? Lotte and I headed out with an unloaded bike on a 35 mile ride to the pool that was 90% downhill. What a breeze! She wasn’t allowed in the pool area, but I found a nice spot for her just outside the fence and left her to relax while I swam with the Comanche Springs Pupfishes. Strongest possible recommendation – beautiful site and OMG the water!

the pool at Balmorhea SP

On the way back to camp, thunderheads popped up over the Davis Mountains. We did a pretty good job of threading the needle – one had passed us going northeast, while another loomed coming at us from the southwest – until our luck ran out on Wild Rose Pass. First, rain. NBD. Then the rain got a little more solid. Finally, 200 yard from the top of the pass, full blown pea sized hail. I pulled over, got Lotte covered with her blanket and shielded her as best I could with my upper body. A passing rancher pulled over and offered us shelter in the cab of his truck, but by then the sun was coming back out; I thanked him and said we’d be OK. One nice thing about arid climates – you dry off fast! After the long climb back to camp (aside – I was passed by D & R both ways on their way to/from the bright lights of Odessa) I was worn out. The third dunking of the day, in the shower at the park, wasn’t as good as the pool, but it was pretty damn good. Coming out of the shower house I ran into D again, who invited me over for a beer and some socializing. Good beer, great socializing, wonderful people.

Yesterday’s theme was air: too little and too much. I had a route choice: back to Balmorhea or up to the McDonald Observatory and over to Van Horn. Balmorhea would be shorter, easier, but not nearly as interesting and would involve more cycling on I10 eventually – all roads lead to Van Horn. McDonald/Van Horn would be a lot tougher and a long day in the saddle, but so much more fun. Yep, I turned uphill when I left Davis Mtn. SP. A hellacious climb to start the day – grades up to 19% all of which were close to the top (6790′). I felt the altitude.

the climb to the McDonald Observatory

It was worth it though. A lovely spot; Lotte and I had a nice picnic lunch and, of course, more pats for the adventure teckel. The ride from the Observatory down to I10 was rolling for a while, then a nice long descent. As I was descending, I got a taste of things to come – headed north the wind was on my left shoulder – a headwind once we turned west. Holy carp, what a headwind. We got on I10 and I realized that laying low for an hour or two until the shadows lengthened and the wind got less furious would be a wise decision.

We ducked under an overpass and cooled our heels. At about 7:30 I decided to take on the wind again, hoping to eke out a few daylight miles. An hour of hard pedaling, then as the sun set, the wind dropped. On went the lights, and we rode the last 25 miles in to Van Horn.

I’ve declared today a rest day. We’re both behind on sleep, I need to order new tires to meet me in El Paso and these posts won’t write themselves.



2 thoughts on “When the thing you’re experiencing…

  1. Cheers! Been catching up on this tip after finally getting Instagram on my desktop machine. Rah to you. I am glad you made the side trek to the pools if only so I could learn about them.

  2. Lol, that ‘bold wee thing’ looks just like the hummer that perches in a tree in my yard every evening about 6 and announces his presence to all and sundry, like clockwork.

    Sw the post on Balloon Juice. Best of luck on your trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *