Beach time

From Goose Island I headed south to Padre Island National Seashore. We took a boat to get there:

Hops and Foxy on a boat

and we had a great spot just 100 yards or so from the water, up across the dunes, so I could hear the surf while I slept.

Unfortunately had to get a move-on the next morning to find a public library (for wifi) to get some schoolwork turned in; but it was a lovely short stay. I had my first experience with “the community,” several ladies with dogs stopping by to ask about my lifestyle, whether permanent and for how long, and talk about Hops’s behavior (none of us is done growing yet, though, are we, alas).

On the road again

(as always, click to enlarge pictures.)

Sorry for the long break in action here, folks. I got so excited about getting back out again; and then wifi was scarce… all good things, though.

It took a good week and a half to get Foxy sorted again, and although this is an ad-free site, I need to give my thanks to Lone Star Glass for being the ones to finally come through for me. To avoid extra body work to the van, we put fiberglass in to replace the busted window. It’s functional.

I think Foxy’s just the slightest bit less photogenic after this experience, but not everyone agrees. In the neighborhood where I was staying in Houston, a little wizened, bent-over Asian lady stopped mid-crosswalk and just… stared at my van. Five, ten seconds later, as I’m still waiting for the intersection, I finally called out, “Hello!” through my open window. That broke the spell, and she broke into a wide smile. “Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!” Her arms spread wide as she gestured at Foxy. I think I got 5 or 6 beautifuls in a row. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” She was on the driver’s side, too, where Foxy got bumped. It’s good to know she’s still beautiful.

Our first stop out on the road was Goose Island State Park, where Hops and Foxy and I spent two lovely nights (although the second was mosquito-ridden. Wtf, December in Texas?). I found an oyster bar! It had been far too long. Hops has entirely mastered the art of sleeping in in the van.

We took a hike to see The Big Tree:

The Big Tree

which is one of the largest coastal live oaks around. Her trunk is 11 feet in diameter and 35 feet in circumference; she is 44 feet tall and 89 feet across her crown, and approximately 1,000 years old. A remarkable tree is always worth my time.

Also I finished up the last of my stock of my favorite beer (in three flavors) and am anxiously awaiting a resupply from my friends at the brewery!

Wrapping up for today, I will just say that vanlife is delicious, and thank you Peggy for this yummy guajillo sauce which is sweeter than I expected (?) but delightful on, well, everything so far.

See you on the other side!

the Menil Collection

Making the best of my time in Houston by visiting one of my favorite art museums. (As always, click to enlarge.)

No photography allowed inside, but I especially appreciated Yves Klein’s Blue Rain, a few paintings by Joe Overstreet, an untitled piece by Ruth Asawa, and as always the Michael Heizer outdoor sculptures, like this one, where Ritchey used to run and chase tennis balls under the oak trees.

Thanks, Tobin, for the tips.

live music and an exercise in patience

I’ll know where I’m going when I get there
…And I’ll know what I’m doing when I’m done

Todd Snider at Main Street Crossing, a lovely little venue in Tomball, Texas: I had a beautiful time with a dear friend. I’d never seen Todd live before and I enjoyed his storytelling and performance.

I got up the next morning, walked Hops down to White Oak Bayou, and put a pinch of Ritchey’s ashes in. That makes his fourth waterway so far, because we visited Canyon Lake, the Guadalupe River, and the Blanco River before we left our central Texas home. I’ll be scattering him in all the waters we find on our trip that he would have loved to swim.

White Oak Bayou (see tiny Hops at left)

And then I met an old friend for coffee, and he told me that a small thing I’d done years ago had large and positive effects in his life; he helped me top up my oil and check a few other fluids, and I popped back into the coffee shop to use the bathroom before hitting the road for Big Bend. And when I came out? A big truck had just hit Foxy and was in the act of fleeing the scene.

So, for my first exercise in patience and flexibility, just days into the adventure, Hops and I are stuck just hanging around in Houston while waiting for Foxy to get fixed up – most importantly, to get a new little window installed so we can sleep warm at night (and keep the rain out). The good news is that this is my hometown and it’s the place where I have the most people willing to put me up, and it’s giving me a chance to see a few more friends before I’m gone. The bad news, of course, is that I was anxious to get out to the desert; I’m impatient with the delay, and frustrated that Foxy was hurt (and that the bad guy ran – accidents happen, but the running was bad).

On the whole I am remaining philosophical and hope to be rollin’ again soon.


I am writing this on Thursday night. These words will post on Friday morning, as I remove the final items from my rental house (toilet paper, cleaning products, the one folding chair) and do the final clean sweep, lock the door, and turn in the keys. The first day will be an easy one, travel-wise: I’m just headed a short distance north to the brewery where I worked until recently, to have a few last beers with my friends there. I will park Foxy at a friend’s house nearby, or who knows, maybe even just stay at the brewery for the night. Saturday morning I’ll say a final goodbye and drive a few hours to Houston, my hometown, where I’ll see some friends and stick around for a concert on Monday evening. I have a few hours’ work lined up for Saturday afternoon, because I am lucky to have a few clients sticking with me during this time of change. I am grateful, for example, for a certain fly fisherman/distiller/blogger who trusts me with his words and says nice things about my work.

It’s a time of change… I have liquidated so much, packed much more into a little storage unit, and jam-packed the rest into a twenty-four-year-old teal-and-white van. I will be living differently. Every piece of garbage I create I will have to find a way to dispose of (not a bad thing, to be so cognizant of trash); I will have to work to find places to shower, do laundry, cook, and poop. I will depend on the kindness of strangers to a certain extent, and I will depend on myself and my own decisions. I will be learning a great deal, about myself and the world. It’s tempting to wax on like this, but truly I have no way of knowing what the future holds, and anyway I’m tired. The sun has gone down and I live in a van, so I’ll head on towards bed now.


Starting points

Before we head out on the road, I wanted to share a series of images of the places I’ve been. Hopefully this post informs you a little bit about where I’m coming from, inspires me in where I’m going, and starts us all off in the right spirit of travel and adventure.

Click to enlarge.