This part of my journey is dedicated to the memory of Dwayne's parents. His father died of natural causes but his mother and sister were both killed in suspicious circumstances in a house fire while Dwayne was visiting his father a short distance away.
Great side view of Dwayne with a drilling rig in the background
The Harley - just a few of Dwayne's toys
My Favourite was his Colt 45
I liked Dwayne's large gun collection including a set of beautiful Deringers still in their original case
I am sorry but I am coming to the conclusion that to continue the blog each day is becoming near impossible. There is so much to write about and to try to get online affects my progress.
I think it best to summarise the past few days of what appears to me to be a surreal experience.
The night before I left Kermit a biker named Jerry heard of what I was attempting and decided that he ought to hold me in prayer for what I was about to attempt. He is a pastor who uses his bike as a tool to deliver the word of God to people. Thanks very much Ray as he must have heard your prayer.
Thank you Ray
Thank you Jerry for offering to pay for a motel for the night. He couldn't understand that I wanted to camp outside and not because I was broke!
I left Kermit with Dwayne in the early hours of Sunday morning after having a fine breakfast from the girls at the Huddle House.
We made our way to an oil field that Dwayne and his team had prepared for production. I was astounded that the pressure of the oil at the surface registered 2,200 psi on the gauge. I felt quite priviledged to be allowed to stand there - but you know what they say 'it's not how much you know but ..........'
Dwayne & I
The well was over 8,500 feet down according to a colleague of Dwayne Robert who is a pumpman and was by chance in the ghost town of Orla when I arrived.
The General Store closed when the oil business died in the 80's
I said my goodbyes and headed off into the desert for what was going to be a 200 mile journey over the Guadalupe Mountains at over 5,700 feet. As the morning wore on I started to experience 30 mph headwinds and combined with a gradual climb my speed reduced to only 5mph. During one of my rest stops I realised that my photo transfer cable had been left at Dwayne's house. I tried to text him as my camera memory card was full. At one point I even climbed up a hill by the side of the road in order to get a weak signal on my phone but eventually got a message to Dwayne and he responded saying that he would drive out to bring it and also supply me with more provisions as my expected journey time was going to increase by more than 300%. Fortunately while I was waiting a chap called Bobby drove up to me in his huge RV and asked if I needed help.
He owns an oil business and was one of the very few vehicles that I had seen during the journey to that point. It turns out also that he had colon cancer and we got to talking about this aspect of the illness. He also gave me a refreshing cool Dr Pepper which was the best thing I have tasted in the circumstances.
There is plenty of real estate for sale in the desert!
Any takers as I am the agent!
Eventually Dwayne arrived and brought me plenty of chocolate bars (candy) and the cable and he also said he would keep Karen informed of my progress. For some reasong Verizon who are my service providers had blocked international calls.
I do hope that Bobby reads this as I unfortunately lost my voice recorder along with his contact details.
I then headed off but the wind grew ever stronger and I was only managing 2-3mph!
As if I needed warning!
I ended up camping by the side of the Carlsbad to El Paso road and my GPS showed that my Cyclocar was in Texas and I was in New Mexico. I also noticed a sign at the side of the road indicating that I was also on Mountain Time so in effect I had to put my watch back one hour.
I then headed off on the more tortuous climb up to the pass next to El Capitan but the wind was now 45 mph and was almost blowing me off the road. I met several people who gave me more water and snacks so when I eventually arrived at the top I was relieved to see the Ranger Station and I felt like I was back in civilisation. Unfortunately they had no facilities but they did have a tuck box and I once again filled up with candy and an apple and banana from one of the tourists.
I then felt I was ready for the next section but was so relieved to find that it soon became a fabulous downhill run to the salt flats where Dwayne had told the Salt Flat Cafe that I would be arriving very late. The downhill section saw me achieve long steady speeds of 40 mph plus. Such a wonderful relief after the trudge on the upside. The relief I felt at arriving at Mrs Richardson's Salt Flat Cafe was palpable.
Unfortunately she was closed but Dwayne had passed on the message to knock on her door and she would give me sustenance. I felt dejected as there was no reply but the sound of a dog barking in a nearby unlit house gave me hope. I then knocked on that door and hoped a gun would not be poked through the opening. A guarded figure did appear and to my relief they firstly checked who I was and then with a big smile I saw the face of Benny. He was the son of Shirley and his wife and daughter Mckenzie were visiting for Thanksgiving.
Shirley made me a lovely cooked meal in the cafe which dates back to 1929 and even had an airstrip just behind. The place is steeped in history and the artifacts and memorablia is definitely worth seeing if you are passing this way.
The evening views are spectacular with the mountains I had just clmibed in the glow of the moonlight. The salt lake looks almost like it is still filled with water as it shimmers in the glow.
They offered to put me up in the house behind but I decided to sleep under the stars and continue with my study of the Constellations. During the night I ended up getting very cold as the temperature had plunged to - 10 Centigrade. Normally I would have been OK but I discovered that my ExPed Downmat had sprung a leak and I ended up lying on the ground. In fact in the morning I discovered that it was peppered with holes and the reason is those small prickly cactus spines so I now had no way of repairing it.
In the morning I awoke early so that I could get on my way as the wind was forecast to be strong from the south west again. Shirley made me a super breakfast and a packed lunch of my favourite - boiled eggs.
Shirley & I
I said my farewells and was now well stocked up for what I thought would be the easy part. I was warned that it would not be downhill to El Paso for some 40 miles but as it was a gentle climb I took the opportunity of stopping at a beautifully restored farmhouse and calling to a chap who was sitting outside working on something. He came across to the gate and was delighted to show me around his ranch where he introduced himself as Don and explained that his sole project was building a wild bird sanctuary. He has been on the project alone for the last seven years. He is a Korean War Veteran and decided to move from Ohio to Texas in order to live his dream in solitude.
I could have spent a lot longer with him but the wind was strengthening again. I continued the climb up to over 4000 feet and eventually arrived at the summit prior to the descent into El Paso. When I reached the reststop I noticed a group of three good looking ladies watching my final slog into the car park. There seemed very excited and explained that they had been watching this strange object as it got closer from some distance away.
Two were in fact glamour models plus their assistant on their way to Atlanta for a photo shoot. They live in Hollywood and although they would not mention names, knew certain stars extremely well. They gave me cookies and a bottle of water which helped top up my reserves so a big thank you to Erica, Brittany and Terri.
Erica, Terri & Britney
I said goodbye and they told me it would soon be a downhill run. They were right as I had around 15 - 20 miles of a fast downhill bobslay run all the way to the outskirts of El Paso. I was so hungry that as I passed through the outskirts I went into a fabulous simple Mexican restaurant where they spoke no English so I tried my Portuguese mix and it worked. The meal came to $5 and was the best value I have had so far.
On the way into the town I was met by the Sheriff who wanted to know where I was going. I explained that I knew why he was asking and that I had had no problems all the way from Orlando. He seemed unconvinced and although he let me continue he must have been watching for me as he turned up outside the restaurant and this freaked out the two girls working there. I explained that it was no problem and that he was a 'friend' which I could rightly say as he had given me his number earlier and said that if I need help just to call him. I went out to speak to him and he said that his boss had given him authority to escort me to the motel some 10 miles away. I thanked him but declined his offer as it seemed a bit OTT! When I set off after my meal he appeared again but once he saw me following his advised route I think he went on his way.
I checked into the motel at close to midnight and slept like a baby with my machine padlocked in an unusual way. I took the cable around the back luggage rack and brought it through the door and then slammed the door so that it was secure. There was nothing else to secure it to nearby and I have used this method several times now.
I awoke this morning and after having a Mexican breakfast for $2 I met a down and out who was shivering after sleeping out during that cold night. I asked him where he was going and he said that he was heading to somewhere warm. He didn't look well and it turned out that he has Prostrate Cancer and cannot afford treatment. I gave him a little something although he didn't ask for anything and hoped he could get some help.
I had to go into the city in order to do some things that were a problem on the trip. First get the broken spoke fixed across the other side of town. Secondly to get my camera replaced as the battery lock was broken although it was out of date for substitution. Wallmart however waived the one month limit due to the circumstances! Thirdly to get a new voice recorder which I lost somewhere in the desert. Fourthly to get the phone that was with it!
Whilst I was heading across the town I came upon a couple with young baby and a dog. They were holding up a sign at a junction saying 'IN NEED OF WORK' I beckoned them to meet me past the junction and when Robert arrived I asked him what his predicament wass. He told me that he was made redundent in Washington State and could no longer support his family and so decided to head off towards Louisiana trying to get a job but with no success. I gave him $5 and told him to meet me at my motel at 6 pm as I could possibly help him.
I cycled across the city some 13 miles but was told they could not fix the spoke as they were too busy! Again when they realised what I was doing they fitted it in. Thanks Hunt.
When my wheel was being fixed I got talking to a chap from Juarez called Jorge and he was fascinated by the machine. His wife works for production of the largest television station in Mexico.
He called her and she asked me if I would be prepared to come over the border to appear on a show. Well Juarez as you might know is claimed to be the most dangerous city in the world even for tourists and I explained my misgivings. They told me that they would ensure my safety and so tomorrow I have to make a decision as to whether to call and agree to make the crossing. Not one person this side has said it is safe to do so and therefore I am in a slight quandry. Is this just media hype or are they really targeting anyone. I decided to sleep on it.
Young Emilio loves bicycles but wanted one of these!
When I was trying to desperately find a Verizon agent for a new phone another Robert nearly ran into me! He tried to help me locate the address but it turned out we were a little too late. Our brief time together made us realise that it would be great to meet again. Hope to see you one day in Portugal.
Robert and his family arrived in a broken down truck and told me such a sad tale that I had to believe it true. The details will of course come out in anything I write sometime later. Suffice to say that I contacted Mike who has a construction company back in Midland who said there was always work there in the oil industry. I put Robert on the phone to Mike and he agreed to help if they could get to Midland. I then put them in a room at the motel for the night as they looked somewhat worse for wear and they seemed somewhat shocked and bemused at an act of kindness like this. All I can say is that between Mike and I, we hopefully have changed someones life for the better. Many, Many thanks Mike and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
El Paso at night
I'm now in one of the safest cities in the USA but only a few miles away across the Rio Grande is what is now considered the most dangerous in the world. The Police/Federales and the drug cartels are embroiled in a war over control and power where life is so cheap that you can have someone killed for as little as $100. Protection rackets abound where just about everyone has to pay something in order to continue their way of life. This war is threatening to spill over into the USA and as if evidence was needed you can see intense border patrols including helicopters and aeroplanes well away inland from the actual border. I can hear gunfire tonight and I have been told that a SWAT team has been in this area. There is even shooting across the border and in one instance a student from Juarez was killed whilst attending the University of Texas but they deemed it too dangerous for the other students to attend his funeral in Juarez.
As I was preparing to go out for another Mexican meal I met a chap in the next but one room who was looking intently at my machine. We got to talking and he invited me to have a drink with him. His name is Daniel but I have sworn not to reveal his last name for reasons that will become obvious below. He looked like he was drowning his sorrows and I then asked him if he had a problem. He was a senior gang leader in the city and has decided to go straight in order to keep the love of his fiancee but apparently you cannot just resign from the family that he is in. It appears that once you know the secrets of the Mexican Mafia or Bloodbrothers you are in it for life. How I end up meeting people like is still a mystery to me but he befriended me and took me on a tour of the city. He then went on to explain how life here in the underworld works. Even dress colours matter. His best friend died in his arms after protecting him a a shootout and he admitted the biggest mistake in his life was ordering the killings of several people including certain family members of opposing factions. The recording that he agreed to do was from the heart and towards the end of the evening he revealed that his mother died when he was five and his father abandoned him. I believe this is one of the main reasons that he took to the streets and when he finally broke down in tears he told me that he feels that his mother would be ashamed of him.
He has invited me to a traditional Mexican Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow with his cousins, aunts and uncles.
I told him I would go providing as a first step on the road to recovery he would consider giving up alcohol. I eventually convinced him to stop and as a gesture he poured all of his stock of alcohol down the sink.
So tomorrow is an exciting yet unsure day for me and if I get time I will let you all know what happens. I am sure that as he is a senior member of the 'family' they will accept a stranger into their midst.
But remember ladies if you are looking for some kind hearted dude - Dwayne is your man!