I came pedaling in to the Bastrop State Park late in the evening. The night air was as thick as custard. To the south, through the fire scarred trees, I could see the dark storm clouds being illuminated by strikes of lighting. Within a matter of moments, the cracking thunder came rolling in and the rain began coming down, sheets of clattering water on the roof of my tent. Jo laid there silently, beside me, his long chin flat on the floor, one eye open.
Leaving Austin should’ve been much easier than it was. I was moving slowly, feeling weakened from allergies and a sinus infection; telling myself that I’m strong, and getting stronger. The collection of pills and syrup I swallow bring some relief but also present their own batch of symptoms.
Sweat beads up and drips from my forehead as I pedal out through the countryside, the toxicity of the city now leaving my body one drop at a time. A ranch road with a smooth four foot wide shoulder leads us through grazing land. Lush tall grass and a million shade trees provide the landscape. The city disappears behind me through my small round rearview, a calm feeling coming over me.
Jackie is a dreamer. I met her at the Bastrop Producers Market on the outskirts of town. She and her husband established the big red building that houses the harvest of many local farmers. I find a number of nutrient rich snacks as I stroll the aisle, taking a good stock of rations with me. We sit out front for an hour, Jackie sharing her story about the challenges they’ve faced keeping their doors open through a recession and a declining number of people who are are able to afford to eat a real food, healthy diet.
There’s a wide bridge that crosses over the Colorado River. The sun was beginning to set as I pushed my bike down a dimly lit gravel pathway that curved through a small rustic village. I leaned my bike against a tree and gave Jo a pat on the head, telling him to keep an eye on our rig.
Inside of Neighbors Kitchen and Yard, The Happy Horse Band isn’t horsing around. They arrive and break into song, the folk music they sing compliments the good food and provides a pleasant backdrop for a few happy conversations with the locals.
Down the street on the back patio of Gracie Miller’s Restaurant, another band, this one electrified, pours songs out onto Pine Blvd. All of the tables are occupied by gaggling groups of lively tourist that tap their toes and sing along to a sped up version of Counting Crows, Rain King.
The day came to an end after a total of forty (s)miles through beautiful Texas, arriving at the campground under the cover of darkness and with the exciting threat of a severe storm.