Tandem, An American Love Story

We are getting sunburned and even more brown riding south into the sun. I love it. We run into so many people who comment on how healthy we look, even though I think we must look tired and dirty!

We seem to be getting more and more support from people we meet going this direction. They are vociferous in their praise. It’s a little uncomfortable when some hard-as-nails looking cowboy or drill-platform worker says openly that he admires our courage, and that he could never do what we are doing. We just look at each other and thank him. We don’t feel we’re doing anything that special anymore; we’re just lucky to be able to be doing exactly what we want to be doing.

That is the thing that attracts people. They can see it in our faces. Joy. Love. Appreciation for what we are able to do. I believe everyone has a dream, at least one wild and crazy dream, that they wish they could do, or had done, and we represent that to them.

Some feel that they are too old or poor or have some other impediment, but others may be inspired to do that thing, live that dream. I hope so. Life is not a dress rehearsal; this is the real thing and it has an end, and we don’t know when that end will be. God expects us to live our dreams. We’re so lucky to be doing it.

We spent some time this morning talking to the East Indian man who owns the motel where we stayed last night. At least half the motels we have stayed in have been small ones owned by East Indians. It is a preferred way (next to becoming a doctor) of immigrating to this country. They always have clean motels with modest prices (something we prize), and are eager to please. This man spoke of his strong desire to rise above his comfortable school-teaching job in India and to go through the difficulties of immigrating to America. He believes strongly in taking risks and following one’s dreams. It was nice to be able to sit and drink coffee with him and listen to his dreams of traveling to the mountains of the West and of his business plans.

From the beginning he has been a contributing member of society. We need more like him and his wife. As a people, they are always intelligent, with beautiful bright eyes and a smile for those who stop to talk, to listen. I sense that they are somewhat isolated in America. Part of it is racial, they are brown; part of it is cultural, the women stand out with their distinctive (and lovely) dress.

We camped by Lavaca Bay, a large estuary about half-way down the Texas coast. Birds are everywhere and we are finally able to identify some of them with the help of interpretive signs. We watched some blue crabs from a boardwalk for a long time.

Dinner tonight was a recent invention; cabbage leaves slathered in chunky peanut butter and rolled up, and a raw yam, and apples.

Next morning at breakfast, a Texas couple asked the usual questions about our trip and experiences. He was in the service at Moses Lake, Washington years ago. He seemed nostalgic about either the time or the place or both. When they got up to leave, he picked up our check and said he was going to pay for our breakfast. “Washington people were awful good to me.” These Texans are something else.

Had a headwind during the day that was somewhat discouraging, but the worst news of the day was discovering that the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was closed because of an ornery congress and president. We have been thinking about stopping there for a long time, and were almost there when two men in a pickup stopped us to let us know, saving us another 10 miles of wasted effort. We did see some sandhill and whooping cranes as we rode along one side of the refuge. We also saw three caracara, a tropical raptor; very striking in black and white.

We found camping at Goose Island State Park; a beautiful beach and marsh and a long fishing pier, lots of birds, including a raft of white pelicans who hang out at the boat dock for bait.

But the mosquitoes make it hard to appreciate. They are thick and huge, huge huge! (Claire squished one in her journal to remember). They hurt when they bite and itch like crazy. DEET wears out on them in about an hour.

However I can’t complain about the high 70’s and sunshine again today. I rode almost all day with no shirt. November 15, and no shirt. Oh my.

We walked on the fishing pier and met a man who winters in Mission, Texas. He told us there is big-band dancing in that area (Rio Grande Valley) all winter. We’ll be there in a few days.

Claire talked to another fisherman who told her about a group of men he volunteers with; they go around the country in their RV’s building churches for small congregations. He sounded very excited and fulfilled. What a great way to spend some of your retirement.

Dinner at a place called Jambalaya, just outside the park; shrimp Creole, hot, and good, with some of the best corn bread I’ve ever had. We rode home in the dark; I could only aim for the bright spot of sky between the trees, and hope. Unseen speed-bumps were a thrill. Claire thought it was fun! She is the perfect stoker; trusts her captain even when she shouldn’t.

We could hear the mosquitoes trying to get into the tent — singing us to sleep. Not my favorite lullaby. But there was also a great horned owl serenading from a nearby oak.

Next morning, on the road to Corpus Christi, we saw a not-so-old black man pulling a little red wagon full of aluminum cans, recyclables. He was bent over and walked with a severe limp. Pulling his burden along the road shoulder, stopping to pick up trash, or treasure. It was heartbreaking. Why are we so lucky?


Tandem, An American Love Story — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories, and the update on your own adventures. That last few days back to Sequim was bitter-sweet after more than a year on the road. We’ve never been the same; a good thing.

  2. What a marvelous and beautifully descriptive article about a simply amazing woman – Karen Landis. I’ve had had the serendipitous experience to create and nurture a friendship with Karen after I underwent a hip replacement and three hip fractures and realized I needed to request the local “Meals on Wheels” service. And of course, if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Karen serves the Chino Valley community two days a week by delivering meals to people in my circumstance.
    I loved Karen the first moment I met her. And when we started chatting I knew I had met a soul mate. I’ve been looking all my life for a role model, a hero, an amazing example of humankind. I don’t know if she realizes what an outstanding example she is of a strong, independent, intelligent, talented woman. Sometimes as women, we have a dentency to undervalue ourselves. But Karen, I want you to know you are the real deal. You are just so beautiful in your authenticity. And I a so appreciative of the value you have added to our environment by caring for the land and the animals under your watchful care. Your abilities and strength simply boggle my mind. And thank you for your loving service to me these past four months. You rock girl!

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