To Texas and Back, a 3 Day Excursion

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Checkout of the Aspen Leaf Motel, Main Street Lyons, wasn’t until 10am, but I had already had a morning Bhakti and cigarette and the boy was loading the last of his traveling worldly goods into the bus by 8:45am. The bus would sit undisturbed for the next three days while he and I barreled non-stop to Marathon, Texas to organize our previous life into boxes and goodbyes. Some model of a KIA, a little silver whip of a thing that was everything the bus wasn’t–fast and with great handling, small, comfortable, heated and immensely unsatisfying to drive without a clutch–would send us from Longmont, Colorado to Marathon, Texas in about 12 hours, including an hour lunch break and the various other gassing up, snacking up, coffeeing up delays that come with roadtripping. Google Maps said it’d take 13 hours 45 minutes of pure driving time. I figure we cut that down by more than 3 hours. Google doesn’t understand that New Mexico’s two laners haven’t seen an officer of the law since Billy the Kid was killed.

We slept in the car the night we arrived, Texas still a warm still of a night kind of place and Tristan was already asleep when we got there, so why bother with the hassle of waking him up only to sleep in a similarly uncomfortable cheap motel bed. My eyes closed somewhere just before midnight.

6am, Texas time. I wasn’t trying to adjust to the time zone, my old time zone but somehow Texas didn’t feel like home at all anymore. I thought of the brief moments, maybe only days or maybe a month or so, when I thought I’d be a Texan. Austin maybe, or Marathon, complete opposite sides of the big state and completely different lifestyles but the desert, the hill country, it was all so pleasing to me. Finding myself pleased, I laughed, was probably my downfall in that whole situation. Comfort is comfortable, sure, but complacency is dangerous and I’ve worked too hard to dodge it to allow it to suck me up into it’s too easy to do belly at this point.

Tristan beamed and the two of them walked around the sleepy, miniature version of what modern America would consider a small town, this more of a wide spot on Highway 90. I tried to fit our old life into as few boxes as possible, the KIA had great trunk space but whatever I took would eventually need to be slimmed down again, and probably again, Goodwilling the excess. But I wanted to complete the task, get a few minutes of Marathon in for myself, and get back to Colorado.

Prior to buying our bus, I had never had a real desire to get to Colorado before. It’s one of the most gorgeous, lavish states but I always saw it as a drive through on my way to other destinations. Under that beating, suntanning desert sun though, it was the only place I wanted to be.

My scooter, Stella, had blown over in a wind storm but was more or less fine, save for a busted reflector on the front tire well. I started her up and the one mile ride into town was over in only a minute. Marathon was awfully sleepy for noontime, only a few locals were wandering the streets and barely any of them the more socially open types I’d come to find as more friends than acquaintances. A good friend who makes tacos at the only coffee shop in town was in Austin sorting out some new venture, but the shops owner, a woman with many names of which I prefer “Boots” the best, came out to chat and fixed us up breakfast like I certainly couldn’t complain about. She offered to let me park Stella at her place for a couple of months until I could sort out what I’d do with the old blue girl.

And then it was over. Tristan and I were back in the KIA, 90mph back up empty West Texas roads, through Balmorhea’s lush green hills with black pitch night rock cliffs peaking out, my favorite drive perhaps in all of America, through the Pecos, New Mexico’s long endless desert stretch (something about New Mexico just doesn’t sit right with me…). A $25 motel room, a few hours sleep. A phone call from my lady in Colorado assuring me that everything was grand, good and going as planned. Wake up, drive some more. A phone call reveals that my laptop, a MacBook Pro which serves as the bread winner in our little bus living, was too broken to fix at the Mac Shack, a local Apple IT type fix it shop, and would need to be sent in to Apple proper to get the repairs done. Five to seven days around the holidays means I won’t see my computer, or a paid work hour, until 2010. I panicked for a moment, stopped in at the first Apple Store I could find on my way home–Colorado Springs in a massive, busy-as-the-holidays mandate strip mall–and applied for credit. Denied. Damn medical bills and my inability or lack of inclination to pay them.

No big deal, though, I thought. In an hour we’ll be back in Loveland, back at the bus. In four hours we’ll be up the mountains and Tristan, myself and our lady friend sitting around a pot belly stove of a fire sipping Stone IPAs and smoking cigarettes over detailing the every minutes of the last three days of our lives spent apart.