Day 25. 400 miles from Austin to Pecos.
Austin has been good to me. My visit in Austin was extended by three days, not my original plan but not a bad place for plans to change. Audre (the scoot) was shipped home from Urban Moto last year and I barely remember it all through the haze that comes after 3 months on the road. My host Jazmin and her boyfriend Fernando, are incredibly warm, thoughtful people. They allowed me a 6 night retreat; my own room included and two dogs to love upon.
Jazmin is a new scooterist, although she’s thrown herself into it; accessories, modifications, gear. It’s such a pretty Buddy that we had an impromptu Buddy photo shoot. She’s still breaking in the engine and honing her skills. Austin might be intimidating for a new scooterist, though not as bad as some- it’s big and traffic is heavy. Austin is a wonderful town though and Jazmin went out of her way to make sure I had fun.
I might have disappointed her by laying low most nights, but honestly, blogging and running this ride alone takes a lot of work. I’m still making plans as I go along. Your offers for places to stay are definitely helpful and appreciate. sI enjoyed a lot of good eating; my favorite places were Mr. Natural and Whole Foods. The global headquarters for WF is in Austin and it is a perfect spot to feast, on food and people watching. WF supplied P.E.A.C.E SCOOT with a gift card and sadly, it’s almost gone.
My favorite day aside from the BBQ hosted by Urban Moto was the day at Barton Springs. Me and Jazmin scooted over there for an afternoon in the cold, clear waters. Barton Springs is an aquifer, it supplies the town with its water and relief from hot Texas days. The temperature is always 69 degrees. Although it was a nice reprieve from the 100+ temps, it was a little too cold for me.
The time in Austin presented an opportunity to catch up on work and get to know my new friend Jazmin. I contacted the Peace and Justice Center in Austin but it wasn’t until my 8th call that someone finally answered, the day before I left. Sometimes it’s frustratingly difficult to contact Peace organizations, out of 100, probably 10 contact me back.
On Sunday I decided to visit San Antonio. I’ve seen most of Texas a this point and didn’t want to leave it out. Steve Guzman suggested the perfect route, one where I could mostly cruise at 45mph.
I passed many motorcyclists, rode on Purgatory Drive, visited a bonsai garden, and photographed people tubing down the Guadalupe Rive. Within the first few minutes of arriving downtown, I met Tim. I only had two hours to visit and he decided to hang out with me and play tour guide. We had a great time together on the riverwalk and I hope we stay in touch. Tim led me out of town and showed me a fair amount of San Antonio that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
Early this morning I woke to heavy, wet grey skies. The plan was to make it 300 miles out of town. However, I set my new record, 400 miles. But I only beat it by 20. That’s a lot on a 125cc. I only wore the rain suit a brief stretch, the sun eventually burned off the grey.
It’s hard to be a scooterist here. Standard speed limit on the byways is 70 mph. They say everything is bigger in Texas, I must be the exception to the rule, on my scooter. I’ve had very many harrowing experiences, but no real danger. What is most stressful is that drivers forget to offer me the same room as they would a car when passing. And they need to refrain from blaring on the horn. You can honk all you want but the scooter won’t go any faster.
Traffic was sparse after the holiday and I had most of the back country to myself. Towns were positioned just close enough to avoid running out of gas. The only food available has been fast food or truck stop vittles. I’ve been surprised by the Hill Country. Texas is not just flat and brown. The terrain dipped and curved, cutting through canyons. There were many ascents where a huge panorama welcomed me at the top, then introduced me to a steep descent. The Interstate is the preferred way to travel around these parts. The roads I was on seem to be used mainly by oil companies, cattlemen and residents. Although I didn’t see many houses. They were probably way back from the road, surrounded by 100’s of acres.
I spent most of the day honking at vultures flocked in the road, preying on roadkill. I know it sounds gross, but the amount of roadkill in Texas is astounding. All day hawks flew gracefully overhead. 200 miles outside of Austin the terrain began changing, eventually flattening out.
I noticed a pungent smell reminiscent to a perm. At first I thought it was the juniper brush which had replaced the tree lines. Then I realized it was the smell of crude oil. The next hundred miles passed with nary the sight of another vehicle, only oil rigs pumping the earth were visible. The heat had risen only about 300 miles into the ride, late in the afternoon, and I was right in the setting sun. Otherwise temperature hung at about 82.
I had a brief moment of panic when the only fueling station I had seen in 120 miles was closed. A group of kids, maybe 14 years old driving their parent’s truck told me the closest station was 20 miles away. I wasn’t going to make it. The next person I saw, across the street in front of the church, was pushing a lawnmower into a shed. I headed over and inquired if there was any extra fuel I could purchase. She very kindly donated a gallon of gas which barely brought me into town. Fingers of lightning were crashing just northwest of us. For a good hour I raced to stay ahead of the storms and triumphed. The sun was setting as I gunned the final stretch into Pecos, honking intermittently to alert the rabbits and deer coming out for the night.
The final stretch of miles was very peaceful. It was so good to be back in the saddle again after 7 days off. Delirium had settled in; I thought I felt great until dismounting the scoot. I was shaky from not eating since 11am. The scenery was hypnotic today. I had a lot on my mind and so it was soothing to open up and ride; to immerse myself in the landscape.
The sun vanished just as I checked into my cheap Motel 6 room. Apparently the Melrose Place of Pecos, TX, it’s really the friendliest Motel 6 I’ve ever visited. A lot of contractors work in this area, mainly oil work. There is really nothing else. Even at 12:30, people are still running around, swimming and mingling.
Earlier I searched around for some decent cheap food. I broke down and went to Wal-Mart- I despise everything it stands for. My hope was for some greens to make a salad, although there was no produce. Dinner was enjoyed alone in a truck stop diner. The ladies there gave me the salad bar for .99. I sat quietly chewing dinner in the company of about 15 truckers; all seemingly lost in thought after another long day at the wheel. The road definitely offers the time to reflect….
Ryan just told me that his definition of Peace is serenity amid chaos. He also says that if his child asked him what it means, he would say, “you need to discover it for yourself.” That said, I bid you goodnight.