Florabama Gulf Coast

We were a little disgusted to learn that Alabama does not allow dogs on beaches at all, anywhere. Luckily Hops does not care for water (though he likes to run in the sand); I’m just glad Ritchey was not here to see this. So we crossed another state line.

We stayed a couple of nights at the Bear Lake campground in Blackwater River State Forest, which was lovely but not so cheap; I had work to do and it turned out to be worth it to have a stable base for a bit. We hiked and I rode my bike, but I apparently fell down on the picture-taking. Maybe because my mind was on work.

hiking Bear Lake

Next we drove down to visit Destin/Fort Walton, where I’ve heard the beaches are lovely. And they were – beautiful white sand – but it didn’t seem an area too well suited for vandwellers with dogs. We moved on fairly quickly. I could see myself enjoying this place when I had some human company and a dogsitter, but this will have to wait for another trip.

Fort Walton Beach

So we turned north again…

And saw the sights at the state line, a lovely little park.

From here we’re headed inland.

Texas round-up

Foxy and I are preparing to leave Texas for the first time together, friends. It’s a momentous occasion. It’s been over two months since I started this little jaunt – I can scarcely believe it! – and I have several times been thrown off the track I expected to take. But it’s all good. I’ve been having the most amazing time, astonished by the freedom of total spontaneity and having no one to answer to but myself. The beauty of the world, and the joy in discovery. I’ve loved riding my bike, of course; but I’ve been equally pleased to hike with Hops, who is as crazy for trails as I am. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the generosity of people everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve overcome a few challenges along the way, and I feel ever more ready for the next.

More than two months just driving around Texas! (Well, there were interludes.) It’s a big place, of course. I estimate that I drove through 80 counties, of the 254 in the state, and I carefully counted 14 state parks/sites and 5 national parks/areas (the state and national parks passes I purchased have already paid for themselves, and then some). I have been hosted by some 13 friends & families, in one form or another (laundry! showers! toilets! warm indoor haunts!), and Ritchey’s ashes have flowed away in 7 bodies of water (I’ve been remiss, actually, and missed the Rio Grande). It all feels like a promising and auspicious start on my journey. As Foxy crosses her first state line (with me, that is), we’re hopeful about the future. And looking forward to seeing Delaney very soon!

Onward with joy and (as Jerko says) deep peace. Cheers, friends.

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.

who & where from

My name is Julia and I’m a freelance writer & editor. I’m originally from Houston, Texas but have lived in Washington state and a few Texas small towns. I’ve been a bike messenger, librarian, and bartender.

My copilot is Hops, a ten-year-old Chihuahua-pug mutt who loves both hiking and lounging.

Traveling with us in spirit is Ritchey, who died a few months before our departure, at age sixteen. He would have loved the adventures but would have been impatient with the hours cooped up in the van.

And finally, Foxy the van came to me from friends. Kyle and Portia and dog Townes traveled the country before passing her on to me. In their honor, here’s a lovely picture from their time with Foxy (read more about their adventures here).

We’re setting out from the Texas Hill Country in December 2018. Thanks for following along!