To Richards 101km
To Carmine 116km
To Austin 35km (70km Hitched)
I stopped for a break at the "Thicket" General Store. The owner was a lovely guy, and came and sat with me to drink his coffee... "So this is Texas, and we're surrounded by a bunch of small, insignificant satellite states, called the United States.... What are your feelings about our elections?" I wished him and the USA luck.... "This is the worst choice I've had in 50 years of voting. I'm going over to that church on November 8th, and voting for Trump. Then I'm coming back here to my store, and drinking mouth wash, cause I'm going to have a mighty bad taste in my mouth." I'm meeting some lovely people, and they're talking to me, and it's great. And I'm getting some interesting impressions of "the south". It's certainly a very different USA to that I've experienced before. Impressions include:
The people are friendly, and interested. So many don't know where NZ is......"Where'd you ride that there sickle from?" NZ. "Where you riding it too"? LA. "Ya'll riding that there sickle from here to California......Oh my Lord...."
There are soooo many overweight people.
There are soooo many grossly overweight people.
There are motorized karts in supermarkets for the overweight people.
The choice in supermarkets is huge. Whole aisles of cereals, all incredibly sugary. There is little choice in service stations. Either sweet or deep fried, or both. On the "shootings" issue. Blame Obama. Blame ISIS. Blame the Democrats. Blame Muslims. Don't mention "Gun laws".
There are some amazing "plantation mansions" that are preemed and groomed like golf courses. In fact many houses have areas the size of half a dozen rugby fields, that are immaculately groomed, and next door are trashed up hovels, surrounded by junk. Both are being lived in. The huge number of people who live in relocatable homes.
You can rank the extent of "Red Neckness" by someone's truck. Big wide wheels..... redneck. Big wide wheels, and huge muffler....dedicated redneck. Big wide wheels, huge muffler, and vehicle jacked up to expose pretty coloured suspension.....extreme redneck.
Gallons, fluid ounces, Yards and Miles, weight in pounds and ounces...... it's not easy..... But so many of these folk are lovely, keen to chat, and pass on the time of the day....
Maybe it's the heat. It slows everything down. No one is in a rush. You just get hot and sweaty, and trust me I know about that. I'm struggling to cycle 100km a day. I lay on my mattress in the tent, dripping in sweat, not sleeping. The other night, at midnight, I was still not asleep. There was a huge moon. I packed everything up, and cycled for two hours, until the moon disappeared. It was very cool compared to the day time, but I was attacked twice by dogs.... damn. I made 30km, then repitched my tent until dawn. Trouble was, it stuffed my rhythm for the next day. I was knackered.
I had a rare chance to clean and groom myself up the other night. For several weeks, I've noticed a couple of moles, growing fast, one on my shoulder blade, and one on my calf. A careful look at them reveals, not moles, but ticks. Oooops. I enlist the assistance of a "National Guardsman" staying at the same motel, to help extract them. Fire and Brimstone. And Ticks. Welcome to the "South"
. Over two years, I've had as few as six punctures. Then the other day, I got two within an hour, big ones, a huge piece of shreading glass, and a pinch, going over a rail line. I spent some time repairing both. But, I'm not sure whether it's the heat, the glue, or my patching skills, but both tyres keep blowing the patches off. Yesterday, I'm 50km from Austin, on a major highway. It was very hot. Within a couple of kms, I had three flat tyres. Result..... I'm out of patches, glue and patience. I stick put my thumb. And now we see the "true south". In India, Nepal, Myanmar, Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, and more, there would have been people stopping to help me before I had my tool kit out. In the South, where over half the vehicles roaring past me are "trucks", with empty decks, it seems everyone is too busy, or too afraid of their own shadows, to stop and help what is obviously a cyclist in distress. For over half an hour I stood in the beating heat, before three "angels" turned around and picked me up. I cried. I also cried when they took me to a bike shop, and bought me two new tubes. And I cried a third time, when they drove me to the door of my host's house. Thank you thank you thank you, Angels Lisa, John and Mike. You restored my faith in "The South".