Trip Log – Day 215 – Alpine, TX to Marathon, TX

To MarathonJanuary 29, 2016 – Sunny, 65 degrees

Miles Today: 31

Miles to Date: 11,027

States to Date: 28

West Texas was sunny and bright today, the desert jagged and brown, the people as varied as any I’ve met during my trip.

f4f109a2-f07c-46ce-9163-3eb3feda7969I started at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, where I had a conversation with Andy Cloud about the archeological work of the Center for Big Bend Studies. By the time I rolled downhill from campus the day was already warm, almost summery. Ten miles out I met Georgia, Mark, their two dogs and over 200 pounds of gear, including a dog trailer, on a 10,000-mile trip with a route as circuitous as mine.

IMG_5706 IMG_5713

IMG_5696U.S. 90 parallels a major railroad line, Half-mile long freight trains pass several times a day, an Amtrack Silverliner slithers by daily, and I hear train whistles all night long. Giant snakes of containers stacked on the flat beds; often bright blue, red, or green; move across the monotone landscape like cubes of modern art. Of course, due to the Marfa effect, there are also conscientious pieces of landscape art here, the most recent being the Target outside Marathon.


IMG_5718I pedaled into Marathon a few minutes before three. A woman sitting beneath the covered walk that connects the storefronts flagged me down. “Oasis Cafe closes at three. Get in there for the best burger in West Texas.” Of course, I complied. Phoebe, my waitress, is one of the most patient people on earth. “I’ve got plenty to do here. Enjoy your lunch. Use our Internet. Take your time.” By the time I was finished Phoebe was mopping up. “You can move outside, our Internet works there as well.”

IMG_5717I checked in at San Rosendro Crossing, a collectibles shop next door. JJ, the proprietress, said, “Sit here as long as you like.” In a few minutes Carol came by with a pair of longnecks between her fingers. “Its beer-thirty, want one?”


Suddenly, I was in a group of eight people, including Carol, JJ, Phoebe, and Phoebe’s cowboy friend Howdy drinking beer and smoking Marlboro’s along Main Street. The conversation probably doesn’t vary much from day to day: the merits of the candidates running for Sheriff, a murder in the IMG_5720next town, a local brush fire, Border Patrol hassles, how to draw a red circle around Marfa and delete it from the state of Texas. Carol’s husband Charlie stopped by. “Lord, I cannot hide from that man.” I reminded here she was sitting smack dab on Main Street. She got up and gave the guy a kiss.

IMG_5721 IMG_5722

IMG_5724When the sun slung low I pedaled to the locally famous hostel, La Loma del Chivo, a remnant of hippie days that welcomes itinerant cyclists. Hostels are odd places; purposefully disorganized. La Loma has a wonderful, warm host, Ingrid, aka Goat Queen. The gestalt of the place probably changes every day. This night, a profoundly quiet German couple kept to the edges while Tom, an obese former lawyer fresh from a Wal-Mart grocery run who claimed to be a long-distance cyclist filled the silence. He was engaging until I distilled he’d been drifting within a hundred miles of here for nearly a year. We were a disparate group of guests. Nevertheless, I enjoyed strolling around the bizarre place, taking in the perfect sunset, followed by amazing stars. Since the longer-term guests had claimed the bunks, I slept on a comfy sofa beneath heavy quilts.

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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2 Responses to Trip Log – Day 215 – Alpine, TX to Marathon, TX

  1. David Gibson says:


    When do you anticipate completing the 48 states?



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