Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6 (Day 126) - Birding on the sun, 5 new species, fears in remote areas.....

Whew - it is smoking out there today! This did not come as any great surprise to me as the forecast today called for temperatures even higher today than yesterday. I figured I could get my 60-mile ride in before the worst of the inferno set in. I left the Best Western in Ozona, TX at 6:30am to head west to Iraan ("Ira-ann"). This town of 1,200 people would be my home for tonight and my springboard for my ride west to Fort Stockton tomorrow. I managed to make it into town around noon. By that time the temperature had already reached 93F. It is 99F right now.

60 miles today from Ozona to Iraan

I did make one significant birding detour today. I looped off of I-10 for around 20 miles to check a spot from which Gray Vireo was reported a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I did not really have sufficient information in hand to bird the area efficiently. As a result, I did not stay very long, and I left without even a whiff of the bird. I could not afford to hang around the area any longer because of the quickly rising temperatures. However, this detour was still very productive from both a bird and a scenery standpoint. I was able to flush both Lark Bunting (#357) and Scaled quail (#358) from the roadside of Route 290. I managed a few serviceable looks at each, but I hope to find a few more cooperative individuals in the next few weeks. I also managed to add 3 other desert species in Bushtit (#359), Pyrrhuloxia (#360 - pie-roo-locks-e-ah), and Bullock's oriole (#361). All 5 of today's new birds were added from the bike on my detour along Route 290. I wish I had had more time to search for the vireo, but bypassing it to avoid the punishing heat was the smart decision. I will have more cracks at this bird in Arizona and New Mexico. Once I get out of this heat I will try to take and post more bird pictures. Right now its all about making miles west. Here's a leftover Lark sparrow from 2 days ago.

Today was also the first really spectacular scenery through which I have passed this year. I did not realize that I had spent the morning riding across one of the flat topped plateaus until I suddenly dropped off of it into the Pecos River Valley. From there I snaked around more plateaus until I reached Iraan several hours later. I think I should see more of the same tomorrow on my ride to Fort Stockton.

Sign at the gas station in Sheffield (a town through 
which I passed today). $4.05? I could care less!

This scenery, however, does serve as a sobering reminder of just how far from significant civilization I am at the moment. I certainly experienced a very real sense of vulnerability today, and the ever present heat just serves to remind me of how precarious a position into which I have placed myself. There is not a large margin of error at the moment, and I must continue to carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits of any decision I make. I know that I can always flag down a passing motorist on I-10 should any immediate problem arise, but this does only so much to assuage the fears that I have when I am away from I-10 like today. This is part of the challenge though, and my handing of difficulties to this point suggests I should be able to manage what problems might arise under my present circumstances. Life is largely about how we handle challenging and often scary situations, so I know that ultimately this experience will prove valuable beyond 2014. I will be on I-10 for most of tomorrow, so hopefully this will serve as a nice security blanket for what will be a challenging ride.


  1. Yes, once-in-a-lifetime adventures are *not*all beer and skittles - not if they're truly challenging adventures. Congratulations on persevering. And on making intelligent, well thought out choices. And thank you for allowing us to follow along on your adventure!

    upstate New York

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