Surprisingly, today was the coldest start I’ve had on this trip at 40 degrees (4.44 for you metric using readers!). I’m in southern New Mexico in Las Cruces heading to El Paso. I started earlier than I would have if I were staying in El Paso, since I had a train to catch. A later start wouldn’t have mattered anyway as it wasn’t going to warm up until 10 or so, and the weatherman didn’t lie. I put on three layers, dug out my headband and full-fingered gloves and started out. Fortunately, while it was pretty cold, the sun was soon up in the sky enough to provide some warmth as I pedaled.

The sky was clear, and the clouds of the heading to this post were figurative. On my way, I got the text from Sue that I mentioned in the previous post. She bid me safe travels and to ride with caution. I always do, but just hearing that news prompted me to pull out the eyeglass mirror that I bought way back in Sacramento. I never quite got used to it, but through some trial and metal bending, I got it to a point where I could actually see what was coming without having it block my forward vision. To say there was a damper on the day would be understating how I felt. I was reliving my short interaction with Martyn and how just that little bit of time made such an impression.

My trip went on, though, and I spent some time at the border capturing “Welcome to Texas” signs AND the “Welcome to New Mexico” sign that I missed when riding the train. When I got to El Paso, I made sure to find the Amtrak station, but then went out in search of the Rio Grande and the border. It was underwhelming and a bit disappointing. A lot of double-mesh 20′ high fences that were hard to look through, some homeless people hanging around the park, and a small trickle of water in a concrete channel where a river used to run. By this point, most of the water has been siphoned off by the farms and cities upstream.

The train was full and I’d have to say a majority of the travelers only spoke Spanish, including my seat mate. It was a restless night as there was a lot of talking and a lot of ignoring quiet hours and a lack of Spanish language announcements from the crew. In fact, they never made an announcement about quiet hours, even in English, and also failed to dim the lights. First time on an Amtrak train where this didn’t happen (guess what’s going on Amtrak’s next survey?!). I have a blackout mask and earplugs, but they did little to help. I had a big, 85+ mile day ahead and a good night’s sleep would have been welcome, but it was not to be. The train arrived in San Antonio at 4:30 am and it was another twenty minutes before we could actually get off. I fetched my bike from the baggage car, reloaded my packs and headed for the station. To be continued…