Terlingua. Now that’s a town I could bug out in for a while. It’s a small town between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park, and has two towns coexisting: the old ghost town remnants and the hippies who moved there to grow old in the early 90s and never left.
When we stopped in Memphis, we met a couple who told us to stop in Marfa and stay at El Cosmico, a spacey tripped out trailer lodge, like a fancy hostel or outdoor hotel.
Since all my bellyaching after riding the Jay Hoggs trails at Georgetown Lake (okay, maybe it was the all the bean tacos I’ve been eating), I redeemed myself to my bike and again feel worthy of owning such a complex yet simple machine. Evan and I nursed our egos with a short, spry 15 mile road ride around the farm towns just East of Austin.
The funny thing about road trips is that the immediate surroundings don’t change all that much. The weather may change, for example, but the temperature is the same. So I didn’t truly feel like I was in Texas until I stepped out of our van onto the field behind our pal Josh’s house and smelled the dry sagebrush and juniper that settled in the air.
Over the past month, our bike riding had declined as we were fully immersed in closing shop in Pittsburgh and preparing for life on the road. We had been staying with a good friend of ours who lived just a little bit outside of town, so commuting by bicycle wasn’t always an option when we were on such a tight time schedule.
After being caught in the rain for four days, Evan and I were happy to drop anchor for the night at Gulpha Gorge Campgrounds in Hot Springs National Park, where we tried to dry out.
Today is Evan’s 31’s birthday. We are both a little under the weather but in good spirits. He’s replacing a part on the van while I take care of some work business. Today’s our third day on the road and we are in Jackson, TN.
All things considered, I want to live. The pain my loved ones would endure is palpable enough for me to never want to die; although I have no fear of death, the love I have for my family—and, possibly more importantly, that they have for me—gives me a firm sense of self-preservation. While I do have a nagging sense of invincibility (despite having never stepped into oncoming traffic, there have been plenty of other close calls), I know eventually my family and friends will have the option to attend a memorial service of some sort in honor of yours truly. Hopefully not for a very, very long time. Hopefully my parents aren’t here to scatter my ashes.
There are so many blogs, websites, and Instagram accounts (oh, Instagram, you cruel mistress!), about living an “authentic life” and living one’s dream, creating the illusion of a dreamlike alternate reality that is all hikes through jungles and naps on the beach. There is even a funny parody account called @SocalityBarbie that works as a critique of that very fabricated so-called authenticity.
I skipped boxing last night because there has been a lot of stress in my little family and I thought it would be nice to take a night off from obligations and just ride around the park in the woods at night with my husband. I’m glad I did it, but when I got caught behind a slow truck on my way to boxing this afternoon and knew I was about to be late, I had to fight myself from turning around. I forced myself to keep driving, and when I got to the gym four minutes late, I made myself walk in with my tail between my legs and wrap my hands. Coach Jeff is as kind (to his students anyway) as they come, while still being directive and authoritative. We talk band stuff, because he used to be in the popular PA band Simon Says who played the college circuit in the 90’s. I missed the jumprope warm-up but caught all the important lessons, and then finished with the jumprope at the end. To skip it is to only cheat myself. I deserve it to myself to put in the effort and make the most of my time. We all deserve it.