Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Mexico, New Friends

The glorious state of New Mexico has shown us amazing beauty in just one week... In the past 6 days we have climbed various mountain passes including Guadelupe Mountain, the highest peak in Texas. The stalactites and stalagmites of Carlsbad Caverns enchanted us and took us to another world hundreds of feet beneath earth's surface. We stayed with Diane, an Apache woman (who made us the best pancakes ever), and climbed up to 8,800 ft elevation, to Cloudcroft, which greeted us with snow on the ground!! We camped in the bike shop owner's yard in the 30 degree night, careful to drink all of our beer lest it explode in the night. The next morning a maddening and amazing 16 mile descent took us to the dunes of White Sands National Monument, which is like pure white beach dunes with no ocean!

White Sands brought us our first real "misadventure" of the trip: getting lost in the desert- at night. Very scary and very cold... After wandering around for almost an hour where everything looks exactly the same, i panicked for a second, and we gave one last desperate shout of "Hellooooo?!" out into the deadly-still air, which we had no hope of being heard. But just then someone did answer. hot damn! We walk towards the voice only to meet a professional fire-breather and his wife, illegally camping in the parking lot. They helped us re-orient ourselves, and we navigate back to our campsite. The temperature was plummeting, and Emerson was only wearing his cycling clothes, so the man lent him an XL knee-length white faux-fur coat that fit him perfectly! Navigating the desert with this pimpin' style made the experience that much more surreal.

After that harrowing experience, everything in life is that much sweeter, especially the beer we had stashed at camp: the "Happy Camper IPA" made by the Santa Fe Brewing Company, complete with a New Mexico flag on the can. Oh Yeah.

Thanksgiving night we are in Las Cruces, NM, staying with some folks we met at a campground in Texas, Lorenzo and Anna. Actually, we just met Lorenzo. And they have opened their home to us in the most amazing way; they left a key out for us and dinner in the oven, wine on the counter. They are in El Paso celebrating with Lorenzo's family, and Anna made us coconut soup, chicken, and potatoes... So we just ate a Thanksgiving feast that a woman we have yet to meet made for us. Wow.

We are constantly impressed and amazed by the genuine generosity of the people of this country...

We're headed up to the highest pass of our trip, emory pass, then to the Gila hot springs. The next few days promise 20 degree nights with chilly days but ZERO percent chance of rain! :)

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, we sure did.

faux fur, foxes, and fire breathing to you,

Hollie and Emerson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

White Sands National Monument

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We'd like to thank everyone who has made this trip possible for us, our lovely families the Ernests and the Fullers and all the rest, our amazing friends, and all of the people we have met a long the way. You have all provided a sustenance that no meal could offer. We are in good health and good spirits. It's hard to want much else. We send our best to all of you this Thanksgiving holiday and hope you all find a small adventure on this day. Live your lives to it's fullest, we sure are!!
- Hollie & Emerson

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Mexico

Today we parted ways with Texas. We had developed quite a strong relation with this state, but it was time to move on. So far New Mexico has been beautiful, we spent a noteworthy afternoon at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We are making our way to White Sands in the next few days, and hopefully Las Cruces for the upcoming holiday!! Whoop!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yee Haw, and Howdy Partners...

"Weee din weee din wee din,  weee ohhhh weee ohhhh,"  I hear this chant outside from Jillian, a Trinidadian mother of two, who lives at the hostel/farm/ community we stayed at in Marathon, TX...

It's been an interesting ride to say the least.  West Texas hills were some of our favorite riding, and are amazing in their remoteness; The scrubby desert is full of various browns- khaki brown, coffee brown, caramel brown, tan, dust, and oak brown. The vegetation is dark green and at most about the height of Emerson (approximately 7ft for those of you who don't know him). We often ride 50 or more miles with no services, no water sources, no signs of human existence other than the road we are on.  After many Blue Ridge Parkway-style hills, you come through a small "town," which is an intersection with an almost-closed gas station.  "Heck yes!" we say, never being so excited to come upon a burgeoning metropolis of 400 people.  We don't care, we just need WATER. Without trees lining the road, there are mountain views for 360 degrees, and almost no traffic;  It is a cyclist's dream, until the headwinds come!

The other day I was almost brought to tears. Kind of embarrassing, but I'll emphasize the word almost.  The days previous we had done 70 miles, 65 miles, 70 miles, then 80 miles.  Then I had a 55 mile, 8.5 hour ride, all uphill with steady steady headwinds, as I wondered, "who thought this cross country thing was a good idea?! bollocks! Ughhhhh"  Well, the tears didn't come, I pulled it together, looked at the scenery and pedaled on. I realized even with headwinds that I am one lucky gal, and Emerson and I continue with our low-responsibility lives... :)  Okay, low point documented to you all, and now moving on...

Entering the desert the other night, we rode into Seminole Canyon as the full moon and the sun shared the sky for a minute, then traded places.  The bright pink and serene blues were pin pointed with diamond-like stars. Every single plant seem to have thorns, pricks, and needles sticking out from them, getting stuck on everything from our down jackets to our bicycles tires.  The desert, we realize, is harsh.  We've been cooking tacos in the full moon every night, watching it wax once again.  Our favorites so far are: yellow pepper-cilantro-fried egg, and then mustard green-local pickled jalapenos tacos-rice-cheese. Yeah tacos!

In a few days of desert riding we've been slowly gaining elevation, and the plants up here are even cooler.  There's more cacti and a wildflower called a "Buffalo Bur"!!!!And another called a "wooly paperflower."  We got to see the "Law West of the Pecos" saloon/courtroom, and we've slept in one tiny guest house with Lady of Guadalupe paraphernalia EVERYWHERE.  We stayed in Marathon, TX two nights in a hostel/farm/community (They let us stay inside for the price of camping - sweet!)  We took a tour of the farm, with its various out building, gardens, dogs, chickens, art 'projects' strewn about, and general commune feel.  Chilled out, and ate dinner with the folks that live there, concluded by a Queen dance party!  Dancing in the desert to Bohemian Rapsohdy is pretty fun with clear skies and stars shining bright.  Everything seemed to settle down when we decided to watch a movie on their projector, until one of the hostel workers/travellers came in with a newly-opened, nearly-empty bottle of rum, missing, of course, his pants.  He sat down with us to watch the film, and Emerson finally had to walk him to his bed....Well, we tried to smooth that one over, and left early the next day to pick up our packages from the Marathon Post Office (thanks Emily for my headlamp, and to Douglas for the COOKIES!), and pedaled to Marfa, TX. 

We got to Marfa last night, and it is is cool, hip, full of art, and neat eats.  Last night I rolled in to find Emerson waiting for me at the Beer Garden, which was closed! BUT,  what do you know, he'd met the owners outside and they bought us a beer each. Oh yeah. Later today we'll climb up to 6,800 ft elevation to the McDonald Observatory; we'll try to gaze at the cosmos in the darkest sky on the clearest night.   If we see aliens we will totally let you know.

cheers, chanting, chilliness, and chorizo to you,

Hollie and Emerson

our typical kitchen scene

Texas history in short.

Sister Creek winery. Lunch time winery tour!

Hill Country. We are so high up.

A touch of fall. This one's for you, Doug Parker.


Cheese-stuffed jalapeno with bacon wrapped around it. You know it.

moon rise

sun set

sun rise

moon set

Desert sun rise. Beautiful.

Seminole Canyon

My buddy on my front rack. "Yee Haw!" he says

spikes. watch yourself.

Saguaro! Actually native to AZ and CA

Texas sky. very big.

cactus: the Langtry Rainbow

no-spine cactus

the hostel/farm