This is a "double-episode", two entries combined into one post.
[May 17th, Fort Stockton, TX]
I'm cooking quinoa in a tent on a camp stove. I just swam in a pool, then took a walk to look at cactus. This morning I woke up surrounded by mountains in a vast New Mexican valley and now I'm in Texas (in a good way). I motorcycled 300 miles today through an empty beautiful desert, and despite running out of gas (again) and almost setting my motorcycle on fire it's been a pretty good day. My spare gas tank got dislodged earlier and rubbing against the wheel it sprung a leak, which I tried to repair with a combination of super glue and duct tape- turns out these things do not want to be friends.
I'm in an RV park in Fort Stockton Texas. Totally random how I chose this city and location, but super happy about it- I've been unwittingly indoctrinated into this culture of "RVing" (even thogh i'm techincally "tenting"). Staying in this park is kind of like staying in a hotel (pool, cafe, free wifi, laundry, showers, etc) except its only $17.50 per night. How have i not done this before??!! AND you get to camp. So it's literally the best of both worlds.
[May 19th, Austin, TX]
Yesterday was a crazy day- woke up in Fort Stockton with 350 miles between me and Austin. First event of the day was finding a black widow spider on my tent, the first time I've seen one in real life. After being excited about the discovery, I then realized I had to do something about it, seeing as it had claimed the door of my tent and I was wearing flip flops. I tried to kill it, but it got away, and I was left thinking I would either find a black widow in my luggage later on, or if it was indeed dead, I might get the mother of all bad luck.
Well what do you know, about an hour into my ride the engine died- and this time I was really up the creek cause I was 50 miles out from Fort Stockton and 64 miles to the next town, Ozona, on the endlessly straight and intolerably hot Interstate 10. There were no signs saying "next gas station, 110 miles", and though I did pull into the last gas station before entering this expanse of doom, it was out of service. (Another cyclist pulled over after I had broke down, saying he was about to run out of gas too). After some nervous phone calls under the ever-oppressive Texas sun, I managed to get the number for a mysterious "Jimmy" character who lived about 30 miles away and was known to help out with breakdowns. Jimmy said he'd be right on his way, and an hour later a leather-skinned, shirtless, death-metal-tattooed man hopped out of his SUV with his partner, Cassie, and they got me going again. They were the nicest people, and even offered me a couch, BBQ and beer the next time I was coming through the area. Thank you Jimmy and Cassie.
The sun was nearly set by the time I rolled into Austin, tired, sore, and ready as all hell to get off the damn bike. But I'd made it, and once again felt extremely grateful to be arriving in one piece at my friend-of-a-friend's apartment, where I was sure to enjoy such novelties as air conditioning, shower, and couch sleep for the first time in 5 days.