14degrees off the beaten track
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February 20th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,USA (Texas)

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Today’s distance / ???????: 27 miles / 43km
Average speed / ????: 6.9mph / 11.1km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 3h 54m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 2770mi (plus 266mi) / 4458km (plus 430km)
Ascent / ??: 170m
Descent / ??: 190m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: n/a

Smart boy, Rob. I stopped yesterday on the crest of a small hill. A short downhill slope to start the day is always preferable to an uphill.

I felt much better after a good nights sleep. I set the timer on my wristwatch to 20 minutes. I started early. 7:30am. At about four to five miles an hour, I should make it at least to the beginning of the next county by lunchtime.

About 2 hours into this process, I began noticing what seemed to be freshly raked dirt roads along side the main road. At the ‘beginning’ of each of these roads, were large tractor tyres.

Mystery things on roadside between Brackeville and Del Rio, Texas, USA

Curious…the tyres were attached to some sort of chain and pole setup.

Mystery things on roadside between Brackeville and Del Rio, Texas, USA

Further down the road, I see a Border Partol vehicle rolling silently and slowly along the side of the dirt road, with the driver intently scanning the dirt for something. Footprints. Yes, these dirt ‘roads’ are actually a device for tracking possible illegal immigrants into the US from Mexico. I guess if the Border Patrol agent sees any large disturbance in the dirt, they can assume that a group has passed across the main road during the night. Once the patrol has checked the dirt, the dirt is ‘raked’ again for the next day.

Mystery things on roadside between Brackeville and Del Rio, Texas, USA

Simple, but must be effective. These areas span for tens of miles, and if they continue past Del Rio, I would imagine hundreds of miles.

One Border Patrol agent told me that once I get into the next county, the road surface changes and it becomes much smoother. I took this information sceptically. I cannot believe or rely on anything anyone tells me about the roads here. It is very difficult for anyone to imagine what it is like to be traveling on a skateboard. A person will tell me that there are no shoulders when there is plenty of room. Another will tell me that the road is good asphalt, when really, it is rough chipseal. A person told me, “Yeah, all the roads in Texas are asphalt.” I pointed to the pavement in front of us. “Yeah, like that.” It was chipseal I was pointing at, not the asphalt concrete that I was referring to.

True to his word, however, four hours of slow progress was rewarded with the smoothest, silkiest asphalt I had every skated on…at least that’s what it felt like after the last couple of days.

Smooth at last (US 90 in Val Verde County, Texas, USA)

“By hook or by crook, I will make it to Los Angeles by skateboard!” I yelled. Why? Who the heck cares?! No one has done this on their own before, and that in itself will be worthy enough reason. In the immortal words of Sir Edmund Hillary, “Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.” Adapted to my situation, I certainly am not traveling the way I do for any higher reason than to have a go at it. Any other offshoot of the adventure (entertainment, awareness for Lowe Syndrome, cultural awareness, the sport of skateboarding), is just that, an offshoot.

Letterboxes approaching Del Rio, Texas, USA

Elated, I arrived in Del Rio at around 2pm. I stocked up with supplies at the local HEB supermarket, and got a hold of Mes Morgan, an Air Force trainee at the Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, and also a local Couchsurfing.com host. We arranged to meet at 5pm at the public library.

Wes met me in his truck, still wearing his flight suit. This guy flies airplanes. An amazing thought. He was flying an airplane today that costs 6.5 million dollars. On his own. He admitted that that thought was just as crazy when he did his first solo flight.

With the tortillas I had bought at HEB and some chicken and other goodies in his fridge, he cooked up enchiladas for dinner. Great stuff.

Wes concocting some Enchilada goodness at home on the Laughlan Airforce base in Del Rio, Texas, USA Wes concocting some Enchilada goodness at home on the Laughlan Airforce base in Del Rio, Texas, USA

Wes’s flatmate Travis is also a pilot in training, but he also rides a longboard. A very nice Fibreflex board.

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    Permanent Link     Comments (5)

Comment by Seljuk DEMİRCİ — February 22, 2008 @ 1:11 pm | post a comment

The greeting , *Robert…It* sent I am taking themessages.*Siteden, *De

Comment by Aunty Jenny — February 22, 2008 @ 2:28 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob

Going back to your Sir Edmond Hilary quote, Nigel thinks you must be a 'chip' off the old block! I know ….. groan material and way too much like something your Uncle Peter would say!!! If the horrible roads keep up, you will be a long time in Texas. I am very aware that it is a very big state, having spent about 12 hours on a train without the scenery or the state changing!

Comment by Mum — February 22, 2008 @ 8:30 pm | post a comment

See what I mean? Endure the bad with hopeful patience and the good is just out of this world amazing!!

Comment by Aunty Les — February 23, 2008 @ 3:47 am | post a comment

What speeds can you get up to on the nice smooth roads now that you've developed big muscles with all the pushing long the chip seal?

Comment by Uncle Peter — February 23, 2008 @ 7:33 am | post a comment

Hey, if you'd learned a bit more when you were in Asia you'd realise you usually go away a happy man when these slightly embellished truths are what you wanted to hear. This skepticism has its downside. Don't worry, be happy!

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