Charley’s ride across America 23. the Baptists, illegal aliens


Day 45March 13. 54 miles 6:00 67 degrees, tail wind, gradual uphill, gorgeous! End in Marathon Tx

Day 46 March 14. 31 miles 3:40, including one flat cool, sunny, like I imagined, end Alpine TX

Total miles 1920

Dear friends and family,

Once in Sanderson, we knocked on rectory of the Baptist church and introduced ourselves. I’m the one who called. Mike the minister showed us into the building next door, brought our bikes into two rooms with a big couch. Bathroom here, kitchen stocked with food to help ourselves to. In the morning they pick eggs from their chickens and give them to us to make ourselves breakfast. They were clear they didn’t want money for this.

Sunday school is at 10, so we have to be out by then. We took showers in their house next door and washed all our clothes in their washing machine.

I attached a picture of their US map with pins showing all the bikers who stayed at the church in the last two years.

The ministers wife is also the local judge. She’s now cooking dinner. He calls her Miss Kelli.

I asked mike if his wife, the Judge, conducts court with alcohol like judge Roy Bean. 

“Nope, Sanderson was too mean for Roy Bean”

Turns out that the other Baptist church in town used to be Roy’s bar and courtroom. The other bar owners in town felt like Roy had an unfair advantage so one night they broke into Bean’s place, dumped out all his booze and replaced it with turpentine. Old Roy left soon after. Too mean for Bean.

I was wondering if the Baptists there maybe used old Roy’s ideas and combined the Bible and alcohol to attract their parishioners.

Back at “our” Baptist church dinner was at six. Miss Kelli promised steak, Mac and cheese, and a salad. Turns out we had a big steak each, with brimming plates of the other fixins. Yes, we were hungry after this hard day, but sure didn’t expect a feast like we had. And followed up by Miss Kelli’s signature dessert.

Kelli IS the local judge. She takes care of traffic court, small lawsuits, and inquests. Most inquests are illegal aliens entering over the Rio Grande and dying in the dessert. Unfortunately, there are several.

 This area of border is a very popular for crossings, with a highway close by and lots of vegetation to hide in while crossing.

With Kelli being a judge and Mike a former deputy, they have much experience with people trying to cross the border here into the US. They told us that most weren’t even Mexicans, but Iraqis, Iran, Guatemala, and Honduras. These are the people who either tried unsuccessfully to emigrate legally or are prevented from the system due to criminal history.

The usual system is to pay a “Coyote” about $10,000 to pick you up on the American side or even bring you across. The “coyotes” look similar to the Central American aliens, so if th3 group gets caught, they cannot be singled out as the leader. There is pressure from the cartel to deal with the family back home of anyone who rats on them. If you are unable to pay this fee, you can cross with a backpack of fentanyl and take your chances. We saw many border patrol security cameras, agents and even witnessed an arrest at the side of the road.

In most cases, since all the US courts are backed up and jails are full, they are carted back to Mexico and dropped off.

We were clearly told to make sure we were locked inside our building at night because the Rio Grande was just outside town. Quite an intense place to live!

Since we both (Gregg the Wheelman- his bike moniker) and I needed a recovery day, we were invited to stay and extra night. We explored Sanderson. Lovely hip coffee shop, a hardware store filled, and I mean filled, with Mexican crafts and pottery, actual hardware and more knives, hatchets and swords than I’ve ever seen in one place. You could get lost in their aisles.

A Barbeque lunch and a nap rounded out our rest day. Dinner again at six, chicken fried steak with all the fixins. This conversation was about thei practicing their ministry. When Pastor Mike gave his first sermon here, about six years ago, he announced from the pulpit that was neither Baptist, nor Catholic, nor Protestant, he was a Christian and a true Christian is how they live thei4 life and what they do. He did say he could feel a powerful nervousness from his flock, but they have since come around to see how he and Kelli live their lives in this community. 

They do live as Christians, not only helping the bicyclists who come through, but team up to help people in need in the community and even run their version of a food bank, getting product from big vendors like Walmart. 

There was a couch in the classroom I slept in. Since I wanted an early start, I set my phone alarm and when it went off I couldn’t quite reach it, I rolled off the couch onto the floor. Not on a goblet.

In college sophomore year, I and three buddies rented an off campus house. The day we moved in we cleaned the whole place and then poured ourselves a big beer in some big goblets we found in the kitchen. My roommates were toking up that night, I was happy with beer. As I laid on the couch I realized that the living room carpet seemed pretty plush and rolled off the couch to try it out- right onto my beer goblet!

It stuck into my side and as I stood up, fell out and a voluminous amount of blood poured out.

“Shit, I need to go to the hospital, can one of you take me ?” I questioned.

“Nope, we are all too high and could get arrested if we tried driving” they said as a group.

“ How about we patch you up to drive yourself” one suggested “ it’s only about a mile”

So, I took off my bloody shirt and held my arms above my head as they took most of a roll of paper towels and circled my middle it it. Then I put an a clean t-shirt that draped over it.

I drove carefully, not leaning back to get my shirt bloody, and walked in the hospital emergency room.

The receptionist barely gave me the time of day. This was an inner city hospital used to shootings and serious matters. 

Finally she said “And what can I do for you” expecting the poor college boy probably bumped his finger.

I pulled up my t- shirt and by now the paper towels had soaked completely through making it look like someone attempted to cut me in half with a chainsaw.

This was the first time I ever heard “Stat” as they got me on a gurney and wheeled me to a station. A quick temporary clamp stopped the bleeding, but they needed to call parents since I was under twenty one.

After they spoke with my mother, they handed the phone to me.

Mom asked “ Were you in a knife fight?” Because that what I usually did on Saturday nights.

Yes, permission was given and ten stitches later all was well.

So: no rolling off couches ( or check below first) AND no more knife fights on Saturday nights!

I enjoy your comments.

Sending love,


We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.