Howdy everyone! I'm in Austin, Texas and am absolutely loving this city so far. I am pretty sure I'm going to move here whenever I next feel like being semi stationary. I've been staying with friends and couchsurfing, so I figure I have no excuse for not doing an actual update on the trip.
I've been in Texas for quite some time now-- takes a looonnnngggg while to bike across this state-- and have been really enjoying pretty much everything about it. People are extremely friendly, and everyone does exactly what they want: it's a really great blend of hospitality and fierce independence, coupled with a healthy dollop of straight up quirkiness. To give you an example of what I'm talking about, Texas is the first state I've been in that has a sense of humor with it's roadsigns. Instead of just the usual "Don't litter" highway signs, Texas has signs that say things like:
Don't mess with Texas-- don't litter!
Keep taxes down-- don't litter!
Wouldn't this money be better for education?
Littering is unlAWFUL
It's a small touch, but Texas is full of things like that. Also I have seen way more roadkill armadillos than I ever needed to. They sort of look like broken eggs, because their shells remain intact but the inside is just... umm... pulpy.
Anyways, here are a bunch of pictures not at all in chronological order.
Roadside memorial. I have seen well over 100 of these. It's a little sobering, but some of them are also really beautiful.
Abandoned gas station sign.
These. Are. The. Bane. Of. My. Existence. So many flats from these guys. I was SOOOOOOOO happy to get out of thorn country.
Another abandoned gas station. For some reason I really love abandoned gas stations. Something about the decay of roadside Americana gives me chills and inspires me.
Crossing over the edge of Lake Amistad after weeks of completely parched desert. It was shocking to see so much water in one place, it seemed like such an excess of what I realized I've been starting to think of as a rare commodity.
Best car ever.
I love the way the desert weathers metal.
More worn down metal.
Hood of a car.
Big Bend National Park! Looks like an alien landscape, right?
More Big Bend.
More Big Bend. That's my friend Ben standing on the ridge. I'm kind of mad at him right now because we got to talking about the weird songs that get stuck in our heads while biking, and it's his fault that now every time I have to do a hill climb, I start singing George Michael's "Faith"
More Big Bend .
So I ended up on a crazy commune in Marathon, Texas. There isn't really anyone in charge-- just one person who technically owns the property but refuses to really own up to that fact, and encourages people passing through to do whatever moves them. I told him I was an artist and he said I should paint something while I was there, and that I should pick a surface that spoke to me, and this very large wall was just calling my name. I had an amazing time getting off my bike for 4 days and painting and hanging out with a bunch of fascinatingly crazy people, and I hope to go back to this place.
Handprint for the road.
Yet another abandoned desert car.
It's hard to really see what's going on here, but this is a meditation room. There's a dome built on top of it, and then the chamber is dug into the ground.
Can sort of see more what I'm talking about in this picture.
Finished mural. I didn't paint the right side because the roof was sketchy there.
This is pretty much what my days look like. Just me and my bike and an enormous horizon. It's awesome.
My kitty navigator. He gets me where I need to go. And keeps me company.
This pass was absolutely crazy beyond all point of reason. If you look closely you can see that the road up the mountain is a series of switchbacks. So steep. I had to really coax myself up this one, lots of pep talks/cursing/making up silly stories to distract myself. But the view from the top! So gorgeous.
Silver City, NM was full of art galleries! It was awesome!
Yay street art.
Gee, another abandoned roadside cafe.