Saturday, December 31, 2011

Messin with Texas: Smellin like Cajun

It's been one whole month, and I have been in one whole state the entire time.  Yes, seems the rumours are true, Texas is a large place.  Half of my time was spent in west Texas, a solitary desert where the towns were far apart, the people few, and the skies burdened with clouds.  The landscape, and the weather, thankfully turned when i entered the hill country of Texas, located somewhere between San Antonio and Austin, at least the part I rode in.

Two days up and down in the hills got me to the city of music, the capital of Texas, Austin.  For 5 days and nights I roamed the bike friendly city streets, enjoyed the trailer park food, the loud music at Emo's, the local beer, the ridiculously large whole foods, and the over priced Mellow Johnny's bike shop.  But Austin was a nice break from Texas, and the day I left the sky was semi clear, and the blazing sun which I hadn't seen for near three weeks was a sight for sore eyes.






The hills petered out as I rode eastward, through ranches and farms, burned pine forests and shoulder less highways before finding refugee at a longtime warmshower host with her barn bunkhouse amidst a wonderful ranch land.  warmth and sun followed me as I spent several days on the back farm roads in the ever flattening landscape of south east Texas as I made my way towards the Gulf of Mexico.  I passed through the old capitol, West Columbia, and spent a night on a touring bus in Angleton before finally reaching the sunny and greasy shores of the Gulf.  The land, even flatter than before, spread out along the sandy Galveston island where the houses practice their circus acts by walking around on stilts.  But a summers day in the winter is always nice, so riding along the seawall, keeping an eye for man-o-wars as much as little kids running in front of me, i made my way to my couchsurfing house.

And so, as the month, and year, come to a close, my time in Texas does as well.  From here, it's about 2 days ride before entering Louisiana and the bayou, oil fields and cajun cooking.  Maybe I'll have some craw fish, maybe some alligator, maybe not.  If you want to send mail, send it general delivery to New Orleans (see my last blog post), see the wondered beauty of Texas at picasaweb.google.com/bingleadventure, have a wonderful new year's, keep pedaling and see ya'll in Nawlnz.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

On the coming of a new year...

Time comes and goes like the tides in a river or ocean, as the fish swim to and fro.  With years passing by, with months and states and seasons passing by, I often can't help but wonder inwardly about what my role is in all this wonder?  

O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities fill'd with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light--of the objects mean--of the struggle ever renew'd;
Of the poor results of all--of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest--with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring--What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here--that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Messin with Texas: The Great Slog East

I have been, on this journey, in many of the geographical regions of the United States. The wooded and hilly northeast where it all began. The central plains, where the endless grasslands spread before me like none other. The northwest, from the high deserts, to the glacier covered Rockies to the fog covered Pacific coast. Next came the south west, with its many forms of parched deserts, basin and range, eroded lands and native reservations. But then something happened. A state happened. Texas happened. Texas has desert for sure, it has ranch land galore, but it too has farmland, piney woods, rivers (mostly dry), stupidly big cities, etc. It's a bit southwest, its a bit central plains, it's a bit southern, but its 100% Texas. And it's intense.

Few states have started the way Texas began for me. To begin, it was freezing cold and I spent the first night at a roadside rest stop where the lights shined bright deep at night and every lonely traveler seemed to stop to use the bathroom. The morning mist, as I cycled towards the Guadalupe Mountain National Park, froze to me (my beard, hair, clothing) and of course to Eddy (his brake levers, his brakes, his panniers). A heavenly cup of coffee offered by the park staff warmed me up enough to finish the slight climb through the park before a chilling downhill where I left the main highway and began my first great slog in Texas. From entering Texas, it would be 85 miles before making the first town, Van Horn. It was a loooong, cold, windy, rear flat kind of day. The land was barren, flat, marked by typical desert shrubs, prickly pear, and the loathsome goat heads. As such, the slog continued through towns that had actually once been towns but now are more ghostly reminders of a time that once was, towns like Lobo, Valentine, Marfa. Though Marfa does have a Prada store to its credit. A few days slog and I arrived in Alpine, a long sought destination as Chris' girlfriend would be arriving to meet him. Snow and ice welcomed us for two days. Needless to say, this was not normal weather, nor welcome.

Waaaaay south of Alpine lies one of the last National Parks I will encounter. Big Bend National Park encases not just more desert land, but beautiful Rio Grande landscape, canyons, and an island of mountains. The weather didn't permit me into the mountains, but I discovered the canyons, was serenaded by Victor, the singing Mexican, and hiked through a Cape Verdean-esq landscape down to the river. The Park was extremely devoid of human life, only a handful of cars passed me in the 3 days I cycled there, twas pleasant. The gusting headwinds weren't, but hey, when in Rome.

After making the long ride out of Big Bend, the little ghost towns seems like giant cities, or they did for the first 5 minutes as I was able to refill my food and water, a tricky business in Big Bend. Days of heavy wet fog, cloud upon cloud, drizzle and dreary all accompanied my slog eastward. Sanderson, Langtry, Del Rio. Each long day in fog, or drizzle, or both, but the sun did not shine. Del Rio I was able to get more food, and upon leaving knew that I was leaving behind more than just a dirty town. Del Rio sits along the Rio Grande, where migrating birds from the south and north come to, as it's the terminus for many due to the mild climate and abundant waters. It is also the edge of the desert, as the ranches start to fade and the farms start to shine. The prickly pears became few and trees started to line the road and fill the dry creek beds. Even the little towns changed, as after Del Rio they weren't dead, nor did they have populations under 50. I ceremoniously poured out half my water reserve, knowing that from this point on, so much has changed.


But more than the towns, the scenery, the landscape has changed. I have been cycling through these states for almost 8 months, over 12,000 miles. I probably have lost some weight, and my famous sculpted muscular body has become more of a thin, scrawny pre-teen body. My luxurious flowing hair got all kinds of knotty, and I gone did pulled out all the knots. My deep dark tan is starting to fade as more often I am wearing long sleeves, leg warmers and, sigh, socks. It's Winter. I left Vermont at the start of Spring. My third season on the road. Sometimes, yes, I feel weary. Sometimes, yes, I wish I had a warm bed, night after night. My desire to continue each day cycling stays strong, my desire to explore, to see the new, to not know my destination that night, where I might sleep, what the land has in store for me, stays strong. I know that in any path of life, there are always, ALWAYS, some bumps along the way. Some bigger, some smaller, but bumps all the same. And man oh man, I love those downhills.

It occurs to me that there are aspects to the life of a bicycle tourer that some may not know, either due to complete ignorance, or more likely, because I ain’t never done said nothing about it. So, let's take a little break from Texas and talk about some of the constant things that occur in a bike tourer's day and life no matter where they are. For starters, there is food. And hopefully, a lot of it. I can burn, on average, about 600 – 1,000 calories an hour. Most days, I cycle about 4 -6 hours, so this can be more than 3,000 calories burned a day. Them needs replacing. So whats do I eats? For breakfast, I eat cereal. Bagged cereal because they say that I am saving the environment by buying bagged cereal, so that’s pretty good. I might have a snack a few hours later, like a grapefruit, or a powerbar, clif bar, or what have you, something small. Lunch is pretty consistent at a tortilla wrap with: peanut butter, nutella, honey and a banana. Yum factor 5. Between lunch and dinner, I might eat another of the aforementioned snacks, might not. Dinner is usually some tortilla with beans or refried beans, with as much vegetables that I can carry: kale, tomato, avocado, onion, etc, and hot sauce if I have some. Dats it. Oh, and lots and lots and lots of water. And gum, I'm really into gum right now.

Something else I get questioned about is, “ Well boy, where dang do you gon sleep tonight?” Sleep, an activity I like to preform each night (though sadly not as well as I'd like) comes in various forms. Sometimes, it happens on the side of the road if conditions are right. At times, in national or state parks. But they have these funny rules where they want money for you to sleep on the earth, a right of my animalhood in my mind, and I don’t like to pay to sleep on the earth. Stealth camping happens in city parks, on the sides of Walmart, in little nooks and crannies where you can be lost during the night. When I'm not camping, I'm most likely staying with one of the many warmshower hosts that I have had the privilege of meeting and staying with on this trip. Combined with couchsurfing, there is a network of people across America and the world willing to open themselves and their homes to fellow humans.

San Antonio, one of the bigger cities in America, and all I care or know about is the Alamo. Thanks to Pee Wee Herman I also insanely need to see the basement which I have been told very much does exist by my father. But the highlight in Texas as we all know, is Austin, the live music capital of the country. I will spend a few days cycling, listening, and probably drinking local beer before heading off once again. This time, towards a body of water I have never been privy to touch before, the Gulf of Mexico. Somewhere along the way people will celebrate Christmas, and New Years. As the new year begins I will be entering the bayou world of Louisiana on my trek to the party in New Orleans. Stay tuned for the much anticipated second part of “Messin with Texas: Smellin like Cajun”, send me mail general delivery style to:

Ross Guberman
General Delivery
New Orleans, LA 70113-1912

check out the growing picture gallery at picasaweb.google.com/bingleadventure, enjoy whatever holiday you may or may not celebrate. Smile at a stranger, because they aren't a stranger. Help someone out because they too are someone's child, someone's brother or sister, father or mother. See someone in a new way, that they are part of your family. We all of us have hard days, hard times. Times when all is cloudy and it seems the sun will never shine. But above the clouds, it's always sunny. People, almost every single day, have helped me. I am a stranger to them, but after wards, not. I am their son too. So many fences, so many private property signs, so much divides us, puts fear and gold and gods between us. This new year, join me in relearning how to love and live. Be well, and keep pedaling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Phase 2: Complete

Like the moon, phases come and go. And so it seems, another doth gone for me. Yes, twas a long time ago that I was declaring Phase 1 complete. Well sir, seems yet another phase has come to an end, the infamous, mysterious, the fabled Phase 2.

Starting from Portland, Oregon on September 8th, I ventured forth with many. We two quickly became three (that same day I became 2) and even quicker became four. We traveled the well trodden coasts of Oregon and California. At San Francisco, we lost half our troupe, and Eddy and Dog were left to their own devices. We continued south, seeing just how big Big Sur was (pretty big). Tearing ourselves form the big rock in the bay in Morro Bay, we crossed the great irrigated, monotonous valley of California before heading into Yosemite to cross the Sierra Nevada and wham bam, we were in desert country. Feeling a bit spicy, we headed to Death Valley, crossing the basins and ranges at 3am moon riding and entered into the city of demise, Las Vegas. We left the crazy state of Nevada only to enter the crazy state of Utah, where those LDS'ers went above and beyond trying to be nice to us. Weird. Seeing amazing landscape after amazing landscape (Zion, Grand Staircase, Glen Canyon), we traversed north to south of Arizona, seeing big gaping holes (Grand Canyon), getting snow, rain, cold, suns and guns, and everything in between. Big old cactus, old west graveyards, and a taste of old Mexico. New Mexico was next, promised enchantment, we felt much was to be desired. A few moments of bliss (Black Mountains, Hillsboro, White Sands, the climb to Cloudcroft), a few of not as much bliss, one hell of a cavern (Carlsbad), and we entered the grand daddy of them all, Texas. And that's where I am now. 89 days after leaving Portland, 219 days since Burlington. Let's look back on some Phase 2 stats with a little bit of total stats thrown in helter skelter style:

  • Miles Cycled: 4, 210 (11,230 total)
  • Average miles/day: 54 (61 prior)
  • Days Cycling: 89 (217 total)
  • Zero mile days: 1 (8 total)



Naturally, with Phase 2 ending, many would assume Phase 3 would begin. Well, your right. Phase 3 begins as of December 6th, 2011 in Alpine, Texas. Where it ends though is still up for debate, but probably somewhere in Florida. Our great Texas adventure has us heading south to Big Bend, our last national park for a long long time, and then coming back from there in an eastward setting to San Antonio, then north to Austin, and then sorta diagonal towards Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico before hugging the warm waters into Louisiana. Keep checking out the growing pictures at picasaweb.google.com/bingleadventure, be sure to read the lies and exaggerations at Chris's blog (reallylongbiketrip.blogspot.com), get your copy of the best book ever written since the beginning of written language ( http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2714286), and of course; live each day, truly, LIVE, be alive, love yourself and others freely and without hesitation, keep your heart alive with freedom of your soul and actions. What's the point of the greatest thing ever known in the universe, life, if you aren't living it?


Thursday, December 1, 2011

And on the 8th Day...

So there she was.  God had gone all crazy and created a whole bunch of stuff in just 6 little days.  She then made one whole day just to plop her feet up and take a rest.  But that wasn't enough it seems, as she got a bit bored.  And so, on the 8th day, God create the single greatest work of literature to ever fall upon the hands of mere mortals, words so powerful, so inspiring, so spelled correctly that some have fell dead on spot from their power.  Here are a few early reviews:

"I thought an alligator wearing a hat was the cats meow.  Well sir, I was mistaken.  This here book takes the cake."

"Book?"

"I'd like 2 cheeseburgers and a side of fries.  What?  What kind of restaurant is this?!?"

"The best book I ever wrote."

But don't take their words for it, find out for yourself.  Go I say go here: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2714286 and get yourself the last book you'll ever have to read.  If you happen to be friends or family of the author, which I fathom you are, email me and I can send you a coupon, though that's a little sacrilegious if you ask me.