December 15, El Paso, Texas. The good news is that we got to ride 300 miles in one of those huge RV’s we’ve been seeing for over six months, from Stillwell Ranch to here. The bad news is we never got to Big Bend National Park, one of our primary destinations. We were within three miles of the entrance and never made it.
Our wheel was not fixed when it came back to us. We were at the Stillwell Ranch for a week and waiting as our wheel went 400 miles to San Antonio and came 400 miles back. The bike mechanic there took it apart, cleaned and lubed it and thought it was fixed.
It worked until we put a load on it and then the wheel acted as if it had never been touched. We have Federal Expressed a new hub directly from the importer to a bike shop here in El Paso.
Dave and Joellyn Berres from Lakeshore, Minnesota were at the Stillwell Ranch RV park for a few days seeing the park, and when we found the wheel was not fixed, offered to give us a ride to El Paso where we could find a bike shop. They are pretty much full time RVers, having sold their primary home in St. Paul, keeping a small house on a lake in central Minnesota where they spend a some time each year.
Their Itasca motor home is luxury on wheels and at 37 feet something of a land yacht, very comfortable. It has everything the fussiest housekeeper could want to keep busy with. There are ovens and a large refrigerator and three televisions, and a bathroom with shower and tub. The furniture is tasteful and comfortable. It was a treat to sit up high and watch the landscape roll by at an incredibly rapid (to us) pace, though Dave drives at about 55.
We were able to load Zippy and all our stuff in the back of the pickup they tow. We had an enjoyable day visiting with them and hearing about their careers and family. They invited us to grill steaks with them on arrival and delivered us to the bike shop the next morning. They have even offered to take us on to Tucson with them tomorrow, but we’ve declined. Our legs are going to atrophy if we don’t do some pedaling soon. We did walk over six miles back from the bike shop yesterday, but it’s not the same.
El Paso is in a beautiful place, but suffers from air pollution and urban sprawl to a high degree. Also their bus system is minimal and pedestrian facilities almost non-existent. It is too bad that the automobile is designing all our cities by default, and doing a very poor job.
In a couple of days, the new hub came and we picked Zippy up from the doctor, fit and rarin’ to go. So were we. Someone here in the RV park office said snow was expected.
The politicians have managed to screw us up again. We were trying to get back to Big Bend, when they closed the park. This is the second time we have been locked out of federal lands this fall. I’m not happy with any of them.
The mountain that spears downtown El Paso was white with snow the morning we rolled north. It was cold, cold, cold. It rained during the night and we packed up wet and went into the recreation room to warm up before taking off.
A man was there working on his laptop computer. We talked for awhile and discovered he and his wife and young son, have been traveling the country for 10 months (motor home) looking for the best place in America to live.
Most of the places with all the good things he wants have already been found and are growing too fast for him. He keeps looking. He likes Alpine, Texas (we do too) and Port Angeles, Washington (near where we live) and an area in rural Wisconsin among others.
I liked his methodical and logical approach to choose a place to live. He’s considering all sorts of things, like schools, medical facilities, recreation, climate and economic health. He comes from California. The Golden State sure seems to be spawning a lot of seekers these days. Like most of our problems, theirs stems from too many people.
We wished him luck and headed north in the cold. We run into all kinds of seekers on the road.
On the way out of town we received many encouraging beeps and waves. Even in a city of this size Texans are still friendly.
At one stoplight, a Santa selling newspapers came out to talk. Hearing about our trip, he shook each our hands and said, “Well, God Bless you, my prayers go with you,” and then he squeezed my hand with real emotion. A big smile creased his black face hidden deep in his fake white Santa beard as the light changed. Wow. Santa’s prayers! Now that’s a Christmas gift!
We met Bob and Claire on the Team Northwest Tandemonium ride over Sauvie Island mentioned on page 92.
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.
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!