In the time that it takes me to chronicle the adventures that have unfolded in the last twenty hours, I’ll have happily enjoyed a vinyl treasure, Red Headed Stranger, an album put out by one of my folk heroes, Willie Nelson.
At El Cosmico in Marfa Texas, they hold the annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love. This is an incredibly beautiful place. The compound is dotted with canvas tents, vintage Airstream trailers and plenty of room to throw out an Army of tents.
Here in this lobby, they offer an array of handcrafted goods made by local artisans. The entire town is an artist community. Everywhere you turn there is another intriguing object to take in. I’m left pondering the magnificence of the human mind.
When I missed out of Van Horn yesterday I knew I had seventy five miles to travel in order to reach the next town. The road was strait and lumpy, traveling through no-mans land. The blue bonnets blooming line the Blue Star Highway and the fields beyond the barbed wire.
Ten miles into the day my bicycle suffered a minor injury; a bolt shearing off where my luggage rack and rear fender connect to the rear of bike. The four strips of red duct-tape I had stuck to the frame before leaving home were sufficient for bandaging the wound. At my next stop I’ll have it looked at by a wrench who’s equipped to restore it to new.
Caroline and Greg are traveling by car from Michigan, attending a bike event in far west Texas. At the moment when they pulled up beside me I was cranking some old school rap music. Caroline rolled down her window asking if I’d like a cold-pop. After slugging down their chilly Dr Pepper, roadside, they poured their ice water into my canteen, sending me off well hydrated and with a renewed level of happiness.
Phil and his friend are traveling by car from Los Angeles to Mexico City. When I come upon them on the side of the highway, Phil’s legs are sticking out from underneath his red Volvo. A floor jack props the car up while he replaces the fuel pump that went out in motion. Fortunately he has a spare and he is a mechanic. I ask if I can help. He takes a break and we learn about each others journey as we stand on the side of the road. The words he shared with me were encouraging and heartfelt as we both acknowledged what a gift it is to be the curious and the adventurous, liberated from anything that might hold us back in life.
Prada makes women’s handbags that retail for far more than what my last car was worth. On the side of the roadway, a ways from anything, a display of their products sits behind the window panes inside an old building they maintain. It’s art.
The city limit sign in the town of Valentine reads population 270, but I think they’re over exaggerating. Shoeless Jo and I laid up under a shady awning at an abandoned gas station. The cold-cut sandwich I had packed that morning had been turned into a grilled ham and cheese as we had been making our way beneath the bright hot sun. Behind the building I discovered a non-mechanical bull, a stack of bricks making it easy to mount. The dismount, effortless.
As Jo and I scampered into Marfa I was pleasantly surprised. And I couldn’t wait to dive head first into a plate of food and find something cold to drink. John wears a bright pink shirt and a bandana tied around his brow. He’s the brains behind The Beer Garden, a quirky outdoor joint where the town seems to gather and art seeking tourists from all over the world take refuge. Johns wife made me the world’s best nachos.
Nick showed up, another cycling pal whom I had met outside of El Paso. We sat around a picnic bench getting to know each other. He’s a retired judge, traveling the country by bike and is a genuinely nice man, and a pleasant conversationalist.
It was well after dark when I headed into the night led by headlamp arriving at the El Cosmico campground. Wedding music was blasting throughout the compound late into the night, which I actually enjoyed. Shoeless Jo was so tired a basket of bacon couldn’t have woke him from his sleep.
This morning I hosed off in a primitive, somewhat outdoor shower house. I rinsed my only set of salty stiff clothes in the sink and hung them to dry in the tree.
A bowl of the most amazing Straw Propeller Organic Oatmeal will see me through until lunch. And the two instant coffee packs that Nick offered me, perked me up.
I have exactly what I need when I need it; nothing more, nothing less. Each new day is a mystery, unfolding one (s)mile at a time. I sit here in silence looking out these windows at the road ahead of me, feeling grateful, believing that I’m as free as I’ll ever be.