Marfa and its mysterious lights must have had an effect on my camcorder. That morning I took the battery out and put it back in and, wallah, it worked again. Sometimes electronics just blow my mind. I may never know the reason why Ojo the camera took a day off, but inside I’m slightly happy to have him back. That meant that as I left Marfa and headed to the New Mexico border, I could at least get some better shots. Cell phone pics just aren’t up to snuff for this sort of travel.
The plan for the day was a 195 mile dash north to the border that would finally get me out of Texas. There’s nothing wrong with the giant state. I just like the feeling of something new. The people I’ve met have been top notch all the way. One thing is for sure though, I couldn’t have experienced more dreary weather while there. I’m starting to forget what a clear sky looks like. I took a short drive around Marfa that morning before exiting via 17 north. It’s a pretty little town worthy of some pics, that’s for sure. About 35 miles north of Marfa sits the worlds 5th largest telescope at the McDonald Observatory. The elevation in the Davis mountains near the telescope reaches 6,000 plus feet and I knew that everything in sight would be suffocated by the fog. To get to the telescope, I took 118 north thru the Davis Mountains state park. Despite the poor visibility, I had a freaking blast shredding some corners on the Goose. The rolling foothills provide an Appalachian mountain like feel to the road with the only difference being the ubiquitous yellow/blonde grass. It covered everything for most of my trip that day. As I was riding by pasture after pasture, I couldn’t help imagining that it was fine blonde hair. I guess being on the road this long has its effects on a person. Finally I made it to the Observatory and the telescope. Like I imagined, it was completely engulfed in fog. The door to the display area was open and I was the only nit-wit there visiting the telescope on a day with such low visiblity. That’s just how it works out when you float around with no particular plan. The business end of the telescope is visible from the inside of the display center via a glass wall. One can see the 91 mirrored plates that work in unison to collect light from far off objects. Just like a camera, the bigger the lens/mirrors the more the light it will collect. I left there very impressed with the openness of the exhibit and the capabilities of the equipment.
The next leg of the trek would take me to interstate 10 east, 20 east to Pecos TX, 285 north to the border of New Mexico. This area of west Texas is desolate. Big Bend NP is a pretty remote place, but it still has three stores, a post office, a nice restaurant, and abundant wi-fi. In this part of Texas, it’s hard to find wi-fi, the land looks completely useless for great distances, and there is more than one town just on the verge of becoming a ghost town. I rode by a small Texan town on 20 east called Toyah and couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Everything that makes a town, a town, is there. The problem is that it looked completely dilapidated and empty. My guess is that only a few residents are holding on to what they have. I could see that the High School was boarded up and most of the houses had their windows broken out. No signs of movement could be found. The place honestly looked perfect for the set of a horror movie. For whatever reason I’m fascinated by the hardships that the people must have endured to turn a town into a complete failure. About 20 miles later I arrived in Pecos Tx, the home of the worlds very first rodeo. I wasn’t there to stick around though. A quick stop at Subway for lunch and wi-fi was the plan. Good ol’ Subway had lunch, but no wi-fi. I wasn’t surprised. After wolfing down a 12 inch meatball sub I found 285 north and put the hammer down. 285 north from Pecos is a two lane road for 52 miles that’s completely flat and has absolutely nothing going on unless you are an oil field worker. The view is a drab brown uninviting piece of earth. Oil pumps and drilling sites litter the area and are about all there is to see. 75mph is the speed limit and I kept the Goose at about 95 the whole time. It’s so expansive and flat that even at 95 mph it still feels slow. It even felt slower after I wicked it up to 130 mph and backed down to 95 again. At one point I counted a 94 car train and could see the whole thing as I was riding along. Back home the only way to see a train with 94 cars, all at once, is to get a view from some sort of aircraft or google earth lol. Sure enough though, Texas couldn’t last forever and the border of New Mexico appeared on the horizon. I did the usual touristy thing and stopped for some pics with the state line signs. I was greeted by the small, green New Mexico sign with a sticker on it that says “Don’t mess with Texas.” Man I was brought to tears laughing about that sticker. Texas and Texans are like the big, independent, bullies of the continental US and seeing that sticker on the New Mexico sign is the equivalent of Texas marking its territory like a dog does when he pees on a fire hydrant. I’m laughing right now as I write this. It felt good though, to be somewhere new and I look forward to my New Mexican adventures. 33 miles later, I found a really crummy, cheap room in Carlsbad NM.
Before bed I just had to find out why Toyah TX is the way it is now. Well in 2004 a flood came through that area and destroyed more than a few homes. They’ve also had to deal with tornadoes and one of their biggest companies moved from town, taking with it, a fair number of jobs. In its heyday Toyah was home to a few thousand folks. Now the number is unknown. The only info I could find on the population was from the 2000 census which stated 100 residents. I bet there aren’t anymore than 40 there now, barely hanging on.