December 3rd – 9th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

Date: December 3rd

Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 40 min.
Miles: 28.29
Avg. Speed: 7.6 mph
Max Speed: 16.0 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,590.29
Weather: sunny, very windy, warm 73 degrees (I-10 Exit 166) to (Van Horn, TX)
Time of Departure: 9:35
Arrival Time to Van Horn, TX: 2:30
Repairs: 2 tires have slow leaks.

Texas owned us today. Lock, stock and barrel. We left our campsite at exit 166 (Baracho Station) just before 10:00. Our goal was to make it to Van Horn which was about 27 or so miles. The tent blowing in the early morning hours let us know that the day may be tough.

Tough is an understatement. The wind immediately had an impact on us. For the day we averaged 7.6 miles per hour. Our normal mph is around 11. If the wind wasn’t enough, yes there were more hills. Yesterday we were pedaling in the foothills of the Davis Mountains. Today we were pedaling in the foothills of the Van Horn Mountains.

The climbs are not the steepest but long. Some near 3 miles. The elevation of Van Horn is 4,047 feet. We climbed it one hill at a time. Sometimes a half of a hill at a time.

The scenery is spectacular. Davis Mountains, Guadalupe Mountains and the Van Horn Mountains surround us on all sides. What’s more, is that you can see 30 miles or so in several directions. This makes us able to see what we’ve done, and what is yet to be conquered.

The wind was steady the entire time we rode. At times it was pushing directly at us at 20 plus mph’s. Challenging. Another challenge is that being low on tubes we have just been filling our tires as they need rather than changing out leaking tubes. That is working out well enough, but we are a bit under pressure on 2 bike tires and 2 trailer tires.

We first headed to the Plateau Truck Stop at exit 159 to use proper restrooms. We visited with some new found friends, ate breakfast, and encouraged one another. Then, we hit the road.

Our next official stop was the rest area at exit 146. We can’t quite figure out why there is a rest area just a few short miles to Van Horn. The next one on I-10 is close to El Paso. It seems folks may not really need a rest area when it is only 4 miles from town. The town of Kent could use one, as several folks got off the exit in hopes of finding something. Either way, we were glad the rest area was there for us to rest at before tackling the rest of our ride.

We laced up our boots for the remaining 6-7 miles we had. We pedaled into Van Horn having left it all on the road. We hit the Subway right off the exit at 140. We slouched and ate. Our food intake to that point entailed one granola bar each and some trail mix.

We decided to stay at the Economy Inn because of the low rates and clean rooms. As you probably well know, they aren’t always synonymous. The awesome owners even allowed us to use their personal washer and dryer. Thanks so much!

Economy Inn in Van Horn, Texas

Economy Inn in Van Horn, Texas

Dakota and I walked to the Dollar General and the local grocery store about a half of a mile away. We needed some food for the next leg of our journey.

Sidenote: I started paying Dakota to read when she was 5 or 6. I would give her a nickel for a book with so many pages, a dime for so many, and up from there. She about broke me.
She has a notebook somewhere with hundreds of the titles written down. She would bring the notebook to Daddy, and Daddy would go to the bank for a loan (Luke is on his way to taking what’s left). I’m thinking now that it may have been better to have had them pay me.

She has read well over 2,000 books.

Then, there are the scales, triads, Bach, Chopin, and Mozart to contend with. Eleven years of hard work, growing, and learning an instrument in a way that few have. Denying the frustrations the victory by applying more effort. And then, more effort.

Dakota has never been as challenged physically and mentally as she has been on this trip. She never was on a sports team of any sort.

I’m amazed when I see my baby girl pedaling against the wind and up hills with a loaded trailer. No tears, no complaining. That won’t get the job done.

Just effort will and has. She has given that.

I couldn’t be any prouder of my little girl who isn’t so little anymore.

Gail and I are busy catching up on what you are reading and seeing. Dakota catching up on postcards (and Disney). Luke catching up on the Kindle (and Disney).

Good night friends.

Q & A: We Are Over Halfway…

Q: Has it been as hard as you’d thought it would be?
A: Yes and no. Mainly yes. Nothing is too difficult when talking about it. I knew that we weren’t in shape ahead of time. I also knew that we weren’t ‘cyclists’. You can’t appreciate the hills and winds by hearing about them. They must be faced. I also knew that we were a stubborn and gritty bunch. We were committed. That has helped.

Q: What has been the hardest part so far?
A: The heat in Florida, the hills and wind in Texas. The flat tires.

Q: What has been the best part?
A: Watching my family grow as a unit and independently. I have watched my daughter pull a loaded trailer across more than half of the southern tier. She complains very little about anything. She is an optimist. I’m proud of her. Luke makes it a point to encourage Gail up the hills. He insists on pedaling the whole way. He is growing into a man before my very eyes. My wife has toughened mentally. She was the least in shape before our journey and has plugged away the entire time.

Q: What is your favorite memory (memories)?
A: I have too many to list, but I won’t leave you hanging. Taking in the land and scenery at Carol Montgomery’s will never leave me.

Q: What is the first place you would go back and visit? Why?
A: I can’t choose one. Like the route of our journey, our lodgings were not planned ahead of time. Staying at Sharon and Ed’s in Pensacola was fantastic. Pastor John and Pearlington, MS is at the top of the list. Livingston, LA and Darlene and Roy are also at the top. The Burleigh family in Ragley, Louisiana.

Q: What is the most beautiful thing that you have seen to this point?
A: I mentioned Carol Montgomery’s place already. We were on the Mobile Bay Ferry heading to the Alabama side. There were dolphins jumping and the sun was setting.

Q: Has there been any point where you wanted to quit?
A: An adventure of this sort will have many thoughts going through your head. My goal of crossing this country with my family on bicycles has never changed. My wife was upset because Dakota and I wanted to do more miles in Austin (after we had already done 36) and she just didn’t have it in her. We all stopped. She apologized for quitting. I told her she hadn’t quit, but rather just stopped pedaling for the day.

Q: What has been the biggest surprise to this point?
A: Strangers going out of their way to be kind and encouraging. That has left a lasting impression upon me. I must also admit that I thought we would raise a lot more money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We have just barely topped $100. That has come a dollar or two at a time. The largest donation to this point has been $20 for the Foundation.

Q: What has been your favorite meal?
A: The dinner we had at the G & J Drive Inn was delicious, and we were treated to Bayou stories by Roy. Darlene (Roy’s wife) and the rest of the staff bought our dinner and even dessert. Wonderful all the way around.

Q: Was this the best time of year for you to take the trip?
A: So far it has been. We have avoided 100 plus temps, and so far, have avoided below freezing temperatures. The truth is that we had this time open up in our lives that may never be there again, so we decided to take it now rather than, maybe later.

People wonder about us ‘missing’ Thanksgiving and Christmas. We haven’t missed Thanksgiving and don’t plan on missing Christmas. Our children will never forget eating at Denny’s in Fredericksburg, Texas while pedaling across the US of A on bikes. Also, the Howard Johnson we stayed at ended up crediting our stay back to us (how awesome was that?).

Sometimes stress can be part of the holidays. Not for us this year. Even if there was, it would be pedaled out fairly quickly.

This is one holiday season that will never be forgotten in our family. It would be nice if we could say that about each one.

Luke turned 8 on the first day of our trip. He will always remember that. We will, also. Many have asked, “How long have you been on the road?” Our reply, “The day Luke turned 8, October 11th”.

Nothing is ever perfect. We could have waited for a lot of things to be just right. Then, like so many things in life, they fall by the wayside. Ever have that happen? Us, too. We decided to do this on purpose and intentional.

We are so glad we did.

Anything else?
Definitely. The people we have met have been inspiring in a big way. There are several men and women that make this country a better place and we have been privileged to meet them. Edye and her generous heart. Chrysa and her caring heart, Carol Montgomery and her brilliant life story.

The men that I have met have left me feeling inadequate in ways. They are the men among men.

I will start with Gil Wagner. He has been with us every step of the way. He has done this a couple of times already and has lived a full and adventurous life, and he has just begun. He has been an encouragement with calls, emails and comments. His information is priceless as it has come from first-hand experience. Gil has gone out of his way and we have felt his presence upon our journey since our very first communication. I want him to know what an impact he has had on us, especially me. Thank you so much.

Pastor Jon in Pearlington, MS is one of the most humble and patient men I have ever spent time with. He is the epitome of grace. Yes, he is the one who wrestled an alligator. We look forward to spending more time with Jon and his family.

Roy and Darlene turned a rough day of pedaling around into priceless memories. We share them and our time in Livingston often.

Corey Burleigh is comfortable in his own skin. That is a serious compliment. He is genuine. He has a wonderfully dry humor. Luke and I treasured the time we spent with him.

Thanks to each and every person who has touched our lives. You have made our journey wonderful.

Date: December 4th

Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 10 min.
Miles: 33.50
Avg. Speed: 10.5 mph
Max Speed: 22.4 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,623.79
Weather: sunny, cool 63 degrees (Van Horn, TX) to (Sierra Blanca, TX) winds were in our favor all day! Yippee!
Time of Departure: 12:00
Arrival Time to Sierra Blanca, TX: 2:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: 2 tires have slow leaks.

Leaving the Economy Inn in Van Horn, Texas

Leaving the Economy Inn in Van Horn, Texas

We didn’t know when our day began that it would be so fantastic. We left the Economy Inn at about 11:00 am. We had to first stop at the grocery store to return the spoiled chocolate milk we had bought the day before. We needed to get some bread anyhow, so that worked out just fine.

While Gail was inside I tightened a clamp on Luke’s pedal to make sure we were ready to get some miles in. I met a woman named Jodie and spoke with her for a few minutes. As it turns out she lost her husband to cancer a short while ago. His name is Danny Artum. He must have been a wonderful man because Jodie clearly misses him a lot. She teared up as we talked. Thank you for sharing with us Jodie.

We also met one of the guys working at the grocery store. He had just survived a brain aneurysm.  He was smiling ear to ear. The new lease on life wasn’t lost on him. It radiated from him. What if we all lived like that everyday? How long do we have anyway?

We said goodbye to Van Horn and pedaled toward the mountains. At once we were feeling better. We had a tailwind! For the first time in some time, we had a tailwind.

We had to climb a bit to get up into the mountains. We stopped at the scenic point and hiked up to the peak. The view at the top was definitely scenic. We got to see what we had been through, and what was yet to come. It was exhilarating for all of us.

Scenic Overlook just a few short miles west of Van Horn, Texas

Scenic Overlook just a few short miles west of Van Horn, Texas

Van Horn Mountain Range from the Scenic Overlook

Van Horn Mountain Range from the Scenic Overlook

Eagle Mountain from Scenic Overlook

Eagle Mountain from Scenic Overlook

Devil Ridge Mountain Range from Scenic Overlook

Devil Ridge Mountain Range from Scenic Overlook

Beach Mountain from Scenic Overlook

Beach Mountain from Scenic Overlook

An old homestead at the base of Beach Mountain

An old homestead at the base of Beach Mountain

Sierra Diablo Mountain Range north of I-10

Sierra Diablo Mountain Range north of I-10

Stopping for a snack and drink at mile marker 117

Stopping for a snack and drink at mile marker 117

Devils Ridge in front with the Quitman Mountains in the distance

Devils Ridge in front with the Quitman Mountains in the distance

Sierra Blanca Mountains

Sierra Blanca Mountains

The pedaling was much easier with the wind aiding our journey. Our goal wasn’t too far down the road. We were headed to Sierra Blanca which was only about 30 miles away. We chose that as a stopping point because there isn’t much after that before getting to El Paso.

We passed a Mountain Time Zone sign. That was nice. It helped us to reach town before 3 o’clock. We found lodging for the night on the south side of I-10. It wasn’t hard as it was the only motel in town.

We dropped our trailers and gear and took our bikes to tour the small historic town a bit. The town was mostly empty. There were a few stores that were open, including a gas station with a Subway.

We stopped in and talked to the workers for a few minutes. I asked about the buildings in town and was told that the county jail was over 100 years old. I asked if anyone famous had been locked up there (thinking along the lines of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, etc.). They assured me that famous people had been locked up there. I wasn’t too impressed with the rap stars they named. Not exactly what I was thinking about.

We visited a couple of interesting shops that sold a little bit of everything. We took some pictures. We parked our bikes at the motel and walked to a small restaurant to fill our tanks.

We spent our evening working and relaxing.

Our first stop in Sierra Blanca, Texas

Our first stop in Sierra Blanca, Texas

This is not a tree to mess with!

This is not a tree to mess with!

The County Seat at Sierra Blanca, Texas

The County Seat at Sierra Blanca, Texas

Second Transcontinental Railroad Historical Marker

Second Transcontinental Railroad Historical Marker

Historical Marker - The Killing of General J.J. Byrne

Historical Marker – The Killing of General J.J. Byrne

Date: December 5th

Time Pedaling: 5 hrs. 19 min.
Miles: 60.76
Avg. Speed: 11.3 mph
Max Speed: 23.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,684.55
Weather: sunny 69 degrees (Sierra Blanca, TX) to (Fabens, TX).
Time of Departure: 10:45
Arrival Time to Fabens, TX: 6:15 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: 2 tires have slow leaks. The tire with the four goat head thorns and a wire in it, went flat today. Rob used a 27″ inner tube and it’s holding just fine. A small screw fell out of Rob’s bike rack while pedaling along I-10. Fortunately we found it and put it back in.

The screw that braces the bike rack on the tandem.

The screw that braces the bike rack on the tandem.

We left Siera Blanca this morning after eating our instant oatmeal in the room. Our goal was to make it to El Paso in two days. In order to do that we needed to get about 45 miles or so.

Americana Inn in Sierra Blanca - the only motel, reasonable, clean and pleasant!

Americana Inn in Sierra Blanca – the only motel, reasonable, clean and pleasant!

Heading out after a comfortable nights sleep!

Heading out after a comfortable nights sleep!

The wind wasn’t much of an issue today. That was good news for us. The riding was made easier by the breath taking scenery all about us. Ahead of us (although we didn’t know it at the time) was a magnificent mountain range (Sierra Madre Oriental) in Mexico. Our path took us almost to the base of those mountains before heading north along side of them.

We took a break atop a bridge after we pedaled up the incline. From the vantage point of the bridge we could see what appeared to be a town ahead. We decided to cut our break short and take the rest of it in town.

We love the mountain ranges.

We love the mountain ranges.

More mountains!

More mountains!

These mountains are in Mexico.

These mountains are in Mexico.

The exit sign was for Fort Hancock. Sure enough, a fort was not there, but a town was. We met a man at the gas station and asked a few questions. He mentioned Texas 20 that would save a mile or two off of our ride for the day. We decided to take it as it would get us off the interstate for a while, and for the change of pace. 20 runs right along the border with Mexico.

A historical marker just as we turned onto 20. Marks the original site of Fort Hancock.

A historical marker just as we turned onto 20. Marks the original site of Fort Hancock.

We enjoyed the ride immensely except the flat trailer tire. There is no shoulder on most of 20 that we were on, so when we got a flat we changed it right on the road. It is a 2 lane road and has vehicles every few minutes or so.

The flat had us putting our thinking caps on. We had no spares left and patches weren’t working too well on this tube because it had slime (liquid) in it. We ended up folding a road tube and sticking it inside the tire…and, it worked. It took us a while to try that solution, so we were now fighting daylight. We were trying to get to Fabens which has a motel that we could hole up in for the night. We seem to be staying at a few more motels than usual lately, but we take what we get. I prefer our family meeting people on the road where they are. Camping on the road is markedly different for a man (men), then for a family.

Night fell upon us the last 5 miles we pedaled. We stopped at our favorite dinner spot (Subway) in Fabens. We stopped at the only motel in town at about 7:00 pm.

All told, we tied our previous high of pedaling in one day at 60.7 miles. Only about 10 miles of that was hilly. Taking 20 was excellent advice as it was flat. We were able to see many water birds which at first surprised us. After traveling through much of Texas with dried rivers and creeks, we hadn’t even thought about the living waters of the Rio Grande River.

We plan on hitting El Paso pretty early tomorrow since it is only about 28 miles away. We look forward to seeing a young lady that was in our youth group several years ago, who is now serving in the Army. We also plan on sitting and sipping coffee at Starbucks. And yes, we will stock up on tubes!

Good night.

Date: December 6th

Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 06 min.
Miles: 24.57
Avg. Speed: 11.7 mph
Max Speed: 23.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,709.12
Weather: sunny, windy and 75 degrees (Fabens, TX) to (El Paso, TX).
Time of Departure: 9:40
Arrival Time to El Paso, TX: 2:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: Crazy Cat Cyclery in El Paso took care of ALL of our bike repairs, maintenance and needs. Blowing us away by their generosity and efficient expertise!

Getting ready to hit the road for El Paso!

Getting ready to hit the road for El Paso!

We ate the shredded wheat cereal we had picked up in Sierra Blanca for breakfast. Our pedaling for the day would consist of about half of what they were on Wednesday, so we took some of the morning to catch up on a few things before heading out. I also called Mundo. We had met Mundo in Junction, Texas several days ago. Mundo enjoys riding and seizes the opportunity when the chance is available. As he was leaving Junction he gave me his business card and said to call him when in El Paso. I told him I probably would to get his input on what bike shop to go to (we needed a few things done). Mundo was happy to hear from us and he planned (if possible) on meeting us later that day.

We left Fabens just after 11:00. The ride to El Paso was nothing short of wonderful. I couldn’t stop smiling. We had ridden over 800 miles in the state of Texas. Strong headwinds, gusting winds, strong wind currents, flat tire after flat tire and hills, hills, and more hills knocked us down. We kept getting back up. And now, here we were within striking distance of New Mexico.

We got to the city limits quickly on I-10. Shortly thereafter we began riding on the road next to the interstate because of the increased traffic and the on and off ramps. The road was a bit hilly (rollers, as some of the locals call them). No problem.

We were planning on stopping at Starbuck’s just off of exit 25. We would then get some supplies from the Walmart across the street. We were also planning on meeting a young lady that used to be in our youth group several years ago. She is stationed at Ft. Bliss. Her name is Carrie Baldridge. Carrie was like a daughter to me (us), spending a good amount of time at our house. She was also a voracious reader (like Dakota) and they would spend a lot of time doing just that. She was always a pleasure to have around, and we were looking forward to visiting with her for the first time in three years.

The road we were on changed from 1-3 lanes at different points. There was no shoulder but we appreciated the courteous drivers. We were about 5 miles from our stop when we noticed a truck behind with hazards on giving us an escort. We appreciate that. We needed to stop to secure our load on the tandem, and when we did the driver of the truck got out to talk to us.

His name is John Eyberg and he is an avid cyclist. We had a brief conversation and then he continued to trail us. We were stopped at a light and told us to pull into the Whataburger ahead so that he could buy us lunch. That was also a nice surprise. Over lunch we talked all about our trip and trips that he has taken. He reminds me a bit of someone else we met. John was a Navy guy, works in education, and he rides a recumbent bike, albeit a tandem recumbent (how’s that Gil?).

John is a vibrant and charismatic man. He had many interesting stories to share with us. John is big on bike safety. The card he gave us has the slogan, “BICYCLE SAFETY IS NO ACCIDENT”.

John our escort into El Paso - assuring a safe journey to Starbucks.

John our escort into El Paso – assuring a safe journey to Starbucks. Thank you John!

I almost forgot to mention that we had another surprise as we pulled up to Whataburger. A woman in a van approached us and told us that she was Pat’s (Pat and Glenn from the rest area) sister-in-law. She said she had read about us on Pat’s Facebook and figured there couldn’t be 2 familes biking across the country wearing bright yellow/green (chartreuse) shirts.

She quickly offered us a place to stay for the night. They are also homeschoolers, but of 5 children. It turned out to be a bit out of the way so we didn’t accept the hospitality. It was still neat to meet one of Pat and Glen’s relatives.

After eating, John told us he would trail us to exit 25. That was well appreciated. The hills were slow going on the frontage road.

We turned into a Walmart parking lot just before hitting the exit. As we did a vehicle approached us and the man inside the vehicle asked how our journey had been. It took me a minute to realize that it was Mundo. Unbeknownst to me he had emailed and said we could meet at Walmart (quite a coincidence).

We decided to pedal the 2 blocks to the Starbucks and game plan. We essentially had 2 trail cars (John and Mundo).

Upon arriving, we introduced our old-new friend Mundo, to our new friend John. John left but not without our heartfelt thanks.

We talked to Mundo about our journey from Junction and how good it was to be in El Paso.

Mundo gauged the situation and being a man of action, did just that. I must admit that we gave him no advance notice other than that morning that we would arrive that day. We weren’t even sure. No matter, Mundo pulled out his phone and laptop and got busy.

Sidenote: We were only expecting Mundo to advise us on the best place to take our bikes for repairs. He had different ideas.

Mundo used his own personal points to book us a room at the Holiday Inn Express about 2 blocks from where we were stopped.

That was an awesome surprise. There were more to come. We pedaled to the hotel to unload our gear so we could get our bikes worked on. Mundo called the Crazy Cat Cyclery (1 of 3 in El Paso) that was closest to our location. He has been a customer for several years and was confident they would be able to take care of our needs. He called them from the hotel and they actually sent a truck over to pick our bikes so we didn’t have to pedal anymore that day.

We  were warmly greeted at the bikes shop (even with Walmart bikes!). Belen is the manager of this location and had her guys working on our bikes in a matter of seconds. We were sure that we would have to come back the next day for our bikes as it was late already.

Belen and a couple of the guys from Crazy Cats Cyclery!

Belen and a couple of the guys from Crazy Cat Cyclery!

When Moe and the other guys work on a bike, it has been worked on. Moe had all of my gears working within 10 minutes. They hadn’t been working since Florida.

The Cyclery replaced leaking tubes, adjusted gears and brakes, and replaced the rear cassette on Dakota’s bike. This was all done in less than an hour. Belen, who will be competing in a triathlon soon, handed us a bag as we left. In the bag were spare tubes, water bottles, etc.

It wasn’t just the generosity of Belen and the Crazy Cat Cyclery, it was the professionalism and friendliness of everyone there. It is no surprise that there are three of these stores (that began as one).

Thanks Belen! Thanks Guys!
Thank You Crazy Cat Cyclery.

Mundo had one more surprise up his sleeve. He drove us to Red Lobster and handed us two gift cards before pulling away.

Mundo works internationally for Novamex (think Jarritos soda). It is clear that he is a man that gets things done, even on short notice.

Mundo next to Belen at the Crazy Cat Cyclery!

Mundo next to Belen at the Crazy Cat Cyclery!

We can’t thank you enough our friend.

We left after eating and walked the short distance to the hotel.

What an awesome day in El Paso.

Thank you Texas for the bumps, bruises, and generosity. Thanks El Paso!

Date: December 7th

Time Pedaling: 1 hrs. 18 min.
Miles: 12.85
Avg. Speed: 9.8 mph
Max Speed: 19.8 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,721.97
Weather: sunny, windy and 72 degrees (east side of El Paso, TX) to (west side of El Paso, TX).
Time of Departure: 12:20
Arrival Time to west side of El Paso, TX: 3:15 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: None

We spent most of this day with Carrie and Eric.

Carrie and Eric met up with us at the Holiday Inn Express in El Paso.

Carrie and Eric met up with us at the Holiday Inn Express in El Paso.

We had a filling breakfast, packed our gear, and then Carrie and Eric arrived.

We were actually planning on making it to Las Cruces but time flew as we reconnected with Carrie.

We had a wonderful time with our middle daughter, we are very proud of her!

We had a wonderful time with our middle daughter, we are very proud of her!

Carrie’s friend Eric was nice enough to trail us through the busy streets of El Paso. We were told that this was the slowest he had ever driven his BMW for more than a 6 second span.

Eric is also in the Army. He is a nice guy with a terrific sense of humor. Our time with them was fantastic.

We pedaled about 12 miles (while being trailed) and then decided we might need a place for the night. All of us stopped at McDonald’s so we could get on line to see about lodgings.

Carrie and Eric hung out with us as we checked the possibilities. It didn’t take long as we returned a call that we had gotten the previous day.

It was last minute, but called Aaron Blackley. We were on the west side of El Paso and thought we weren’t too far from the Blackley home.

Within 15 minutes Aaron was at the McDonald’s picking us and our gear up in his truck!

Our host for the night Aaron Blackley!

Our host for the night Aaron Blackley!

It turns out that Aaron and his wife Bree had a dinner party in a short while, yet he fit us into his schedule.

Bree is a pediatrician that took a job recently in El Paso. Her and Aaron are from Buffalo New York. They have both spent much time backpacking.

I rode with Aaron and the rest rode with Eric to the Blackley house.

We all went in and got settled and met the Blackley family.

Sidenote: Aaron is the kind of guy you want on your side no matter what you’re doing. He has a quiet confidence about him that is comforting. Dakota and I stayed up until about 1:30 in the morning talking with him.

Eric wanted to show us a scenic point in El Paso, so we piled into his car and off we went. The scenic point was wonderful but with all the kids around Gail and I were unable to kiss much.

After the scenic point we sat down at Pizza Hut, laughed, ate and repeated the process.

It was hard saying goodbye to our precious girl Carrie (and even Eric!). But alas, every dog in the neighborhood was barking.

Eric and Carrie drove away as we entered the Blackley home.

Gail read Luke to sleep and then turned in herself.

Dakota and I talked with Aaron until we thought it best to take advantage of the sleep that we could salvage.

Date: December 8th

Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 21 min.
Miles: 40.27
Avg. Speed: 9.2 mph
Max Speed: 14.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,762.24
Weather: sunny, windy and 67 degrees (west side of El Paso, TX) to (Las Cruces, NM).
Time of Departure: 12:45
Arrival Time to Las Cruces, NM: 6:15 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: None

After nearly a month in Texas, we entered New Mexico with little fanfare. No signs. No bells and whistles.

Just memories. Our memories.

Aaron was a wealth of information and a great cook. We got up this morning and were treated to a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, french toast and pastries.

Aaron drove me to Walmart after breakfast to get a few recommended supplies. The nights are getting colder and will be in the 20’s this week.

I finally broke down down and bought some self inflating bed rolls to get us off the ground in the tent. Also, Aaron told me the air was a good insulator. I also took his advice and bought some emergency heat blankets.

We left the Blackley home with Gatorade powder and a box of Cliff bars both courtesy of Aaron and Bree.

We started pedaling around 1:00pm because of the supply stop at Walmart, and also because Aaron had to make two trips to get us and our gear to the spot he picked us up at yesterday.

We had to deal with some traffic getting to 28. Drivers were courteous and some were even encouraging.

Sidenote: Many people (especially children) look in awe when they see us pass by. Much of that is because of the tandem. They aren’t too common, so many haven’t seen them. I make it a point to smile and wave (and have Luke do the same).

Our stop for the night was in Las Cruces just over 40 miles away. The wind pounded us from the get-go. Fortunately the terrain was almost entirely flat.

Within 10 miles we were in New Mexico. Every trial we had faced in Texas was now behind us. The hills and wind that threatened our goal could now be officially added to our experience.

We had been warned by people back home and strangers, starting in Florida. They wondered what we would do with the state of Texas. We found each concern to be right. It was true.

Texas is big. The hills are brutal. The winds are fierce.

In the end, we handled Texas the same way we handled every other state; one pedal stroke after another.

We owe Texas our deepest gratitude for teaching us about ourselves. For showing each of us where we stand independently, and as a family.

Even with the wind hitting us at 18 mph at times, we still made 24 miles until we took a break. We stopped for about 20 minutes for a snack and bathroom break. We had 16 miles to do and the sun would be down in about 40 minutes. It got colder quickly and we pedaled on.

We rolled into Las Cruces and our host for the night after 6:00pm. Our host for the evening was Dodie Marrufo and her family. Dodie runs her own daycare and is warm and hospitable. She fed us a wonderful dinner of spaghetti with a salad.

We enjoyed meeting her family and spending time with them (especially her 82 year old Mother).

Our Hostess, Dodie. Thank you Dodie for a wonderful evening.

Our Hostess, Dodie. Thank you Dodie for a wonderful evening.

Dodie brought her Grand Nieces over to meet us!

Dodie brought her Grand Nieces over to meet us!

This is Tobias, folks call him Toby. But, that is just his middle name, his real name is Matthew. Who are you really?

This is Tobias, folks call him Toby. But, that is just his middle name, his real name is Matthew. Who are you really?

This is Toby's dad Mike. He is also Dodie's husband. He lives across the street from Dodie. But they are happily married.

This is Toby’s dad Mike. He is also Dodie’s husband. He lives across the street from Dodie. But they are happily married.

We caught up on what we had the energy for. We rested.

Date: December 9th

Time Pedaling: 17 min.
Miles: 2.45
Avg. Speed: n/a
Max Speed: n/a
Trip Odometer: 1,764.69
Weather: sunny, very windy WSW 34mph gusting to 40mph and 62 degrees (Las Cruces, NM) to (Las Cruces, NM).
Time of Departure: 11:30
Arrival Time to Starbucks in Las Cruces, NM: 12:15 (Mountain Time Zone)
Repairs: None

Dodie was kind enough to offer us breakfast in the morning. We took several pictures with her, and her family. Mike and Toby made sure we were heading in the right direction before we left.

I mentioned to the family that we could stop at a Starbucks if there was one. We had stopped at the one in El Paso, but never went in. It was windy and chilly so when we spotted one within a couple of miles, we pounced.

We caught up on some work and had a few friendly conversations. We talked with one man who mentioned that he wanted to pedal the Pacific Coast Highway with his daughter. We encouraged him to do it. Luke even added, “Don’t prepare too much, or you’ll never do it”.

The winds clearly were picking up as we sat there. The winds were gusting as high as 40 mph. We talked and in the end decided it would be wise to spend another night in Las Cruces. It wasn’t just the wind but the temps were dropping and would reach the high 20’s over night into the early morning.

We considered calling Dodie but didn’t want to inconvenience her and her family with another over night. Dakota got on the phone and tried some churches and a warmshowers host, to no avail (no answers).

She called several hotels and we decided on the Drury Inn. They offer an evening meal and a hot breakfast with the price of the room. They also had an indoor pool and hot-tub.
The price of the room was $84. The room was excellent. The dinner and breakfast was good quality. Heated pool and whirlpool. The staff was especially friendly. We usually stay at less expensive places, but chose them after considering the meals.

The Drury Inn is a family owned business and maybe that is why we seemed to matter. They were definitely worth every penny we spent.

We played Bananagrams in the dining area, and then Marco Polo in the pool. We relaxed and watched some TV and slept.

Thank you for bookmarking and shopping through our Amazon link. It helps us pay the light bill. 😉 You can find it on any page of our site. Just look for the Amazon Search box on the right side of the screen.


22 thoughts on “December 3rd – 9th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

  1. Hi,
    I’m wishing you the best. Got to play catch up the other day on the story. All I can say is that you are an amazing group.
    And you make me remember what a family can do if they just stay together.
    This is a sad time of the year for me and Roy. We both lost our Moms just six months apart. It is my third year with Mom gone. And his second.
    Then, I read more of your story and know how my Mom would have loved to meet you.
    I pray you have a safe trip. I know you have angels watching over you and they are our Moms.
    God Bless

    • Hey Darlene (and Roy),

      Sorry to hear about your loss, and we definitely appreciate them looking out for us. You are right about the power of a persistent family and what team work can accomplish.
      You are a downhill with a tailwind for us. Thanks for that.

      A warm smile from us to you,

      The Adelphia’s

  2. We finished our journey in Hilton Head on Nov 17 but continue to follow your journey regularly. We loved meeting you in Alabama. You have frankly defied all odds and are doing amazingly well despite wind, hills and flats. May God continue to watch over you on this journey and always.

    • Hey Guys!

      Wow, thanks for the encouragement. It was wonderful meeting you and Jeff and hearing your first hand accounts. We wondered how long the trip had been done for you (now we know). I was on the crazyguyonabike site and read some of your journey (the Texas part was humorous). We feel you.

      The question is, “What is next for you?”

      A Big Congratulations From Our Family To Yours!

  3. HI Gail, Rob, Dakota and Luke! I must admit that I just saw this today when I saw a note to Henry from Dakota that we should check this site out. Keep reposting it so I can remember how to see it! I am far from tech savy! I don’t know how you guys are doing it-Wow! I am so out of shape I couldn’t do it! Scott and I and Wyatt and Hunter joined a health club right before Thanksgiving so I hope Scott and I will lose weight and get in better health/shape! Wyatt is an avid runner and Hunter could use the exercise too so it’s all good (Soli even gets to play at a cool play area!:) ). Julia has gone along once or twice on a guest pass and she may join too. I will be praying more specifically as I read these journals! Take care, stay in the Word my friends, with our love, Gennifer, for the family

    • Hello Johnson (Gennifer) Family,

      We are doing it one pedal stroke at a time! We have met with the most wonderful people and have seen a stretch of this Country about as intimately as one can. The hills and wind has been a challenge but with a bit of elbow grease, we have gotten the job done so far.

      Remember the days at the Y in Hammond? Good times. Glad to hear you guys are getting back on the horse.

      Thanks for visiting and touching base, it’s been a while.

      Love from the road,

      The Adelphia’s

  4. Glenn and I returned to San Antonio, from our trip to Ruidoso, on Monday the 3rd. As we were driving we thought about you and wondered how you were doing with the winds. Glenn admitted that driving was tough because they were blowing really hard. However, we realized it couldn’t have been as tough as what you and your family had to pedal through. May God guide gently through the rest of your journey! I know you said you had friends in Ft. Bliss, but if you need a place to stay or help in any way, let us know somehow…I was born and raised there and my parents, 1 of my brothers, and my whole extended family all live there, as well as MANY friends. I’m sure we can get you what you need!

    • Hey Pat,

      I hope your trip was wonderful. The winds were indeed a handful, coupled with the hills…but, alas, the show must go on. We are over half way done with our journey, and just a few days more of Texas.
      We may take you up on the El Paso offer. Our friend is in the military and stays on the base. Another party will be out of town when we are there. So, we are a bit in between and open.
      We should make it to El Paso on Thursday or Friday of this week.

      To the Coast (wherever that may be for you),
      The Adelphia Team

  5. What a fantastic journey! Such a great experience for your kids, as well as a huge adventure for the adults. Memories they will have forever, and be able to share with their own kids someday. It gives me renewed vigor in my own homeschooling life – keep on pedaling!!

    if you are still in El Paso near the Westside tomorrow night, you’re welcome to stay here. I don’t have a spare room, but we do have a spacious living room!

    • Hey Laura,

      For some reason our email to you did not go through. We were looking forward to ducks and milking cows! That is the best sort of (home) schooling available today. Your children are fortunate.

      We will continue to pedal and face the giants.

      We appreciate the offer even if it didn’t work out this time.

      To the Coast (wherever that may be for you),

      The Four the Road Family

  6. Hi, Luke, Dakota, Gail, & Rob–My family & I could’ve been you a decade ago, pedaling from Victoria to Tijuana….! As you know, biketouring is incredibly difficult but going as a family will only make you stronger. I’m very appreciative that you are able to take advantage of what is actually a rare event, that you can have this marvelous experience, especially before the youngsters are off on their own. The skills, thrills, and chills you are gaining on this delightful undertaking are, for sure, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Of course, we always hope for more later.) Daring to be different is what the future takes, and you have first-hand knowledge. Congratulations!

    • Hey John,

      You are a great encouragement to us my friend. We enjoyed the wonderful treat, but more-so, your company. We love meeting people with stories to tell (you have many).
      Our family has strengthened in many ways. We have had our comfort zones lifted, boundaries widened and our trust magnified.

      We hope to see you on the road and maybe ride a few miles together…

      Meeting you has made us all a little better John. Thank you.

      The Adelphia Family

  7. You guys already know how impressed I am that you are doing this. I have always looked up to you and this trip has spoken a lot to me. Trailing you in the car with Eric yesterday and watching y’all bike was impressive and i couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to tackle the rest of the country. You all speak volumes to everyone that you meet and I couldn’t be happier with knowing you
    I pray the rest of your journey turns out well and I can’t wait to see how many more stories you all have once you reach San Diego. It isn’t the story that is important, rather the journey that took you all there. Love from your daughter:)

    • Our Sweet Middle Daughter,

      You have always been a part of our story, and somehow that continues even in Texas! The U.S. Army is fortunate to have you in their employ. Would you believe we are sitting in a Starbucks as I write this? It may be the last one for a while (we are in Las Cruces).

      You have turned into what we always knew you were, a beautiful girl inside and out. We had such a wonderful time catching up and meeting Eric. Let him know we said thanks for trailing us and having a great sense of humor.

      We love you and look forward to hearing more about your stories. Maybe next time we’ll meet in Germany!

      All our love,

      Your Family

  8. Just saw your family outside of mcdonalds on doniphan in el paso…saw your website and love reading about your travels….very inspiring!!! Happy travels to you all!

    • Hey Jenny,

      We seem to keep getting caught at McDonald’s…

      El Paso has been a most hospitable stop on our journey, it must be the water. We were hoping that we would offer a bit of inspiration and are glad to hear that we have. Thanks for checking in.

      To the Coast,

      The Four the Road Family

    • Hey Shannon,

      You were an awesome part of it! We F-I-N-A-L-L-Y made it out of the great and huge state of Texas.
      To us you will always be the greatest Federoff (ov) associated with tennis (wink wink).

      A great big hug,

      The Adelphia’s

  9. I am so touched by the love and kindness you have been shown on this fabulous trip. I’m proud of the things you all have done. It is a once in a life time experience. I feel I know the people you’ve written about. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for being such a huge part of your journey. I love you and miss you all. I ask the Lord to keep His hand on your handle bars and His feet on your pedals. I love you all, Mom

    • Hey Mom (and Grandma),

      It is indeed a great and generous Country we call home. One may have different ideas by eating a media diet. We are convinced that what we have experienced is the true America, buried along the byways and highways. It is hidden in hearts until the right moment presents itself.

      It awaits anyone wanting to find out for themselves.

      Our love to you,

      Rob, Gail, Dakota, Luke

    • Thanks John,

      We aim to. We are pushed along by the warm wishes of the wonderful folks we’ve met along the way. Well, also a little bit of our indefatigable spirit. I have an awesome family of adventurers!

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