Monday, October 31, 2016

Be the change


I've had a hankerin' for bloggin' lately. Thats the inner Texan in me. That's where I sit, Texas. Van Horn, to be specific. I think I left off somewhere in Silver City. Ah yes, I now recall,  it was in the living room of the Bike Haus.
I'm now in a truck stop, sitting in a booth next to the only two functional electronic slot machines, among four others. Luckily, the trucker pulling the levers has left Steve and I to ourselves for now.

I'll begin with the ride from Silver City to my introduction to Texas. Excuse me if the timeline gets funky. Sometimes I feel like I'm in an episode of the "Twilight Zone," as the days and towns are starting to run together. Thoughts come and go so freely when you're on the bike, it's easy to pedal away from reality.

So, back to Texas. We had a long ride, 70+ miles, to get to the outskirts of the city of El Paso, which is right across the Rio Grande. We took an alternative route to get us there, as we decided it was in both our interests to make better time after our Gila detour. The route took us along the Mexican border for most of the way. The only problem with coming into a city at the end of your ride is everything. Fatigue, frustration, navigation,and anxiety about where you might rest your head that night.

We hit the bridge that would take us over the river and into Texas, and it was under construction. This was only the beginning of our direction changing setbacks and detours. See, the problem with navigating a city on a bike is this: If you go the wrong way, you can't just hit the pedal and turn around. Wait, yes, you can, but with a lot more effort. Making a mistake can cause you a lot of stress in getting across multiple lanes of traffic, miles, minutes, or hours of back-tracking.

We both had errands to attend to in the city, so Steve and I split up. I had to pick up fuel for my stove, and he had a package at a post office. Both fatigued with the whole day of riding, we braved the traffic and the hills of El Paso, which are not part of route. Towards the end of the day, it was getting dark, and we were miles apart. It was at this point when I realized we weren't getting out of the city. I was closer to the end of town, but still far from peace and safety. Steve was at the North end. I found myself at a city park-- Ascata, I think? I was riding around, looking for a guerrilla site to camp at without getting knifed by a meth addict.

I've learned, never take one persons advice to heart and believe it truth. Talk to multiple people and formulate your own opinion. So, as I was riding around, I saw a guy in an sandy colored, mid 90's ford pickup with a bike in the back. Another thing I've come to realize, is that people on bikes are usually friendly, and share some sort of personal investment in their recreational choice. So I pulled up and started some conversation.

I asked how familiar he was with the area, and if he thought it was safe out there. Before long, we had introduced ourselves, and I was sharing my story. Moses, was a kind-hearted guy from the start. He offered me a place to stay at his house 8 miles away, and a ride there. I immediately accepted the offer, not knowing exactly how special that decision would be. I felt a little guilty though, not knowing if Steve was going to find shelter that night.

When we arrived at Moses' place, he had to go in and pitch my story to his family, Carolynne his wife, and Lilly his daughter. They greeted me with open arms and asked if I liked zucchini. After getting settled, Moses gave me a tour of his paintings. He's an amazing painter. With a style like that of Ashcan, but softer, much like his demeanor and voice, he conveys messages of "People doing what they do."

We then were eating the delicious feast Carolynne and Lilly had prepared, I got a txt from Steve, who was finished with his Post Office-tour. He knocked at the door a few minutes later and reunited with a look of amazement in our lucky fate. After some more food and some beers, some poetry reading, and some excellent conversation, we hit the sack. The next morning consisted of much the same. Food and conversation. We didn't want to leave. Their hospitality was flattering. Before this experience, El Paso was to me, only a brand of salsa.

We then set out for the edge of town, and made it. We set up camp in a Pecan grove. Boy, was that a mistake. During the day, the railroad tracks we followed were empty. I guess they run the night trains in Texas. The peaceful grove, symmetrical and constant with it's cool shade and abundant pecans, became a train lovers dream. Every 15 minutes, we would later find out from a Dollar General employee, a train would vibrate by, wailing its cries from miles down the tracks. Needless to say, neither of us got much sleep. We pressed on.

We are now about 250 miles from Del Rio. The next big place of interest on our list is the McDonald Observatory, which we will hit tomorrow night. As Jamie from the Bike Haus explained to me, "You have to break Texas down into Counties and points of interest." After visiting the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, I've become fascinated with astronomy. It's at 6200 feet, so let's hope the climb won't hurt us too bad. After Gila, I think I'll make it.

As far as the Go Fund Me is concerned, It's still going. I had some big donations since the last update. The news coverage is steady, but I'm stepping it up a notch. I contacted Mark Smith from Bikes for Goodness Sake. I've set up an event for when I get into Austin. They have selected a child to help me build a bike in their shop. After helping me build it, I'm going to donate it. I want to get all this on film and post it to my page for the people who have already invested. I think this will also show people how much of a change they are making by contributing. The smile on that kid's face will be so real and tangible, and I can't wait.

Physically, I'm getting strong, aside from my butt hurting. Mentally, I'm feeling the fatigue of the daily grind. Yes, this is fun; I love doing it. I love seeing the gradual change in the plant life, the rock formations, the people. I enjoy the challenge the trip brings into my life. I learn a little bit more about myself every day. This trip is bringing me so many more ideas and creative themes. It's introducing me to all kinds of art, and the artists that make it. People, themselves have made this journey worth while. Stepping into someone's home and learning who they are randomly, and understanding their views, desires, and reasons, has been invigorating.

I think most of all, I've learned to make the best of what you've got in this world. Be happy with your life, and if your not, do whatever it takes to change it to make it better. You're in charge of your world. As my friend Steve, the guy I'm riding with always says (quoting Ghandi), "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Well, it's getting dark, and I want to put some more miles in.

Till next time,


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