December 29 – December 31.
One thing land travel has afforded us that traveling on water hasn’t is the ability to visit old friends. From New Orleans we next traveled through Texas. I have a handful of Facebook friends from my teens and 20s that live in Texas, so I made a little status of our intention to cross the state. And I got a bite. A high school friend, Tom, sent me a note, “You know you have friends in Texas.”
I had also contacted an old punk rock friend, Austin. Austin lives in Houston. Tom lives in Dallas with his wife and two kids. After several missives back and forth with each, I mapped a route through both cities. But then we decided to stay in New Orleans and house sit for my niece while she went away for Christmas. Austin was going to Austin (the city) to visit his mother for the holidays, then on to spend a few days on the family ranch in Menard, TX, and Tom would be celebrating Christmas with his family on the 26th, then off to Houston for work. Hooking up with old friends was more complicated than I thought it’d be.
We decided to skip Tom (unfortunately), head for San Antonio for some sightseeing, and then hook up with Austin at the ranch. Meanwhile, I was also corresponding with Mary, a woman from one of my Facebook van groups. She and her husband, Preston, were in Austin, but they were leaving about the same time we would be driving to Menard. I looked at the map and saw that we would be crossing paths in the middle of nowhere. Mary had a lunch place she wanted to check out conveniently located in Fredericksburg on our route to see Austin.
Meeting other travelers is interesting. You never really know if you are going to click with them or not. There is always lots to talk about at first, your rig, where you’re going, how you got started in this traveling life, while carefully trying to avoid divisive subjects like religion and politics. We had a good lunch with Mary and Preston. We would see them again in Arizona, but really didn’t get a chance to spend much time with them. But perhaps maybe our paths will cross again?
I met Austin somewhere in the punk rock scene in St. Louis some 35 plus years ago. Austin was always this very intense person, which perhaps made him a little crazy, which of course made him fun in a punk rock sort of way. Of course we were all a little crazy back then, we didn’t fit in with the norm, we perused the different, the shocking, and the unusual, we danced to a beat we felt like we were inventing as we went along. Back then, when we were so young, I only really thought about the present. I never really thought about anyone’s family or their childhood. I never really thought about where they came from. And now, here we were, so far in the future, parked in my friend’s past – the ranch that his grandparents owned, where he would spend summers as a boy.
Neither Fredericksburg or Menard were on our list of places to visit, but besides from making new friends and catching up with an old one, they both actually had some things to offer. Near the lunch place in Fredericksburg we visited a state park where millions of bats roost in the summer and in Menard we visited an old Spanish fort and tromped through a historic Texas graveyard. Sometimes our detours have the best surprises.
**** All pics are click to enlarge.