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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 30 (27 riding): Total overall distance: 1943.87mi Total distance today: 69.60mi Total time: 6.26.25 Avg speed: 10.8mph Top speed: 28.0mph

Random thoughts of the day:
-Riding through the Texas desert at 4am under a full moon and awesome
-Silly gas station man thought I rode 30 miles a day...hey buddy, it's 6:30am and I've already gone 31 miles!
-This scenery is unreal gonna be brutal
-Yup...that was brutal...hardest thing I've ever done physically

Well today was certainly an interesting day. It started with me leaving the hostel at 3:45am after a nice breakfast of muffins and orange juice. It was really cold out but I had a ton of layers on so I stayed fairly warm. It was so peaceful to ride by the moonlight for the first 3+ hours of the day. I barely saw any cars and didn't need any lights because the moon was so bright. I went 30 miles by 6:30 on flat roads Then I went up a little but had still gone 50 miles by 9:30 when I stopped for breakfast. I then slowed down just because I was thinking of what lay ahead: a mountain to climb. I stopped at a rattlesnake/creepy critter "museum" in Fort Davis and stopped to take a whole lot of pictures along the way. I was killing time because I was dreading going up that mountain to the McDonald Observatory. The rain that was expected disappeared so it was actually a pretty nice day, just a little chilly.

I finally got to a spot where I could see the observatory...and cringed. I was at 4,000' and had to get up to 6,300' and it was only 10 miles away. That meant a lot of climbing and a bunch of steep climbing. Oh joy. The trip up that mountain was absolutely brutal. I honestly had doubts that I could even make it up at all. As everyone knows, I don't exactly have a touring bike, and that means I have a bike with a lot less gears than other bikes. I had that thing down to the last gear for the whole trip up and I barely made it. It was unbelievably difficult. However, I accomplished my goal of getting there not only before the rain (which never came) but in the daylight so I could view the sights and get a tour from my warmshowers host John. I arrive at his house at the observatory at 1:45 and took a fantastic shower and was given a nice lunch. After a short while of hanging out with John and his family, we headed to the telescopes where his office was and where he was going to give me a tour. He was a wealth of information and I learned a ton while getting some unbelievable views from on top of the catwalk. We had some great conversations and a great afternoon.

Later on, I was given a great spaghetti dinner and we talked about my plan for tomorrow. I really want to be able to look through a telescope here and that is only possible during a "star party" an they are only held on Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday nights. So again I missed out on perfect timing but this time I am going to make it work by staying here tomorrow night as well and attending one of those parties. The only question is do I look through the little telescopes for $12 or a pretty big one for $50. When in Rome...I'm gonna try to get in on the $50 one because I really want to but if they are sold out, I'll do the other one. Either way, I'm excited to look through some legitimate telescopes at some really cool things picked out by professionals. My legs could use the rest after today anyway.

I am going to post the pictures I took leading up to the observatory today and will post the pics from here tomorrow. The views are awesome!

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