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North Texas

To Austin, Day 1

My host in Waxahachie wouldn't be available until 5:00 PM, so I took a late start, around 10:00 AM. Not such a bad thing; meant it was a little warmer outside by the time I started.

I'd spent a fair amount of time plotting my route through downtown. Managed to stay mostly on smaller roads without making too many turns, all the way to the White Rock Trail. Took that to the lake, around it, and to downtown, navigating half of a large city without dealing with traffic at all. Success!

At around noon on a Friday, there wasn't too much traffic in downtown either. Only a few turns later, I was out of central Dallas and on my way out to Waxahachie.

It was only about half an hour into the day that I shed my jacket and thicker gloves. After leaving Dallas, my undershirt went too. The sun was out and it felt a lot warmer than I'd expected. I might've been able to ditch the arm warmers at one point, but I thought better of it.

The ride from south Dallas to Waxahachie was mostly uneventful, into a light headwind. Still made good time, getting into Waxahachie around 3:00 PM when I'd expected to be done a little after 4:00. I sent a text to my host, took a few pictures of the town square, and settled down on a park bench with my book.

"Robert?" I turned around. Dana was only a couple years older than me, a couple inches taller, built thick, and with a full beard. Somehow, based purely on his voice on the phone, I was expecting a tall, middle-aged guy. But then again, based on his name, I'd previously expected a woman.

We walked back to his apartment, only a block from the town square. On the way there, we passed a barbecue joint and a "tobacco shop."

"Look at that truck!" I exclaimed. "Gee, I wonder what they really sell?"
"Yeah, you see high school kids going in and out of there all the time," Dana explained. "Only they never park out front. They always park at the barbecue place, or at my apartment next to it. So if their moms drive by and see their car outside, they can say, 'Oh, I was just getting some barbecue, I wasn't at the smoke shop!'"

Dana's apartment was in an old brick building that used to be an auto dealer. It had a warehouse feel to it. Inside, the hallways were narrow, and for some reason, another guy had a human-sized nutcracker standing guard outside his door.

"Whoa, I just saw that outta the corner of my eye and did a double-take. That thing's kinda scary!"
"What was scarier was when some guy decided to stand at attention right next to it, just to freak people out.

Inside Dana's apartment, there was a ton of space. He was just starting to move out, to a new place in Dallas, so it was a little empty. Cool bike storage area off to the side. Dana is a helicopter pilot, and had previously ridden from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh, almost entirely off-road, on a cyclocross bike. An off-road tour. Now that's pretty awesome.

Having recently read "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," I'd remembered my towel for a short trip this time. I took a shower and we hung out for a little while in his apartment, then headed to a local pub for burgers. Dana seemed to know half the people there. It wasn't even 6:00 PM yet, but I was hungry. The burgers were pretty darn good.

"Looks like most of my friends are at this other bar. Wanna go hang out with them?"
"Sure! I don't exactly have a schedule."

We walked over to another bar, just on the other side of the square, where a few of Dana's friends were hanging out. On the way, Dana explained that since he'd gone to pilot school, not a four-year college, he'd missed out on the normal stage of making friends your own age as an adult. As a result, all his friends are middle-aged and married.

"Good to see you, doctor!"
Dana nodded. "Doctor."
OK, that's weird. Maybe this other guy's a doctor, but Dana's a pilot.

We hung out and ate chips, talking about bike tours and small-town gossip. At one point, they pointed out a guy across the bar.
"What do you think his profession is?"
I turned. The guy looked to be about 60, with scraggly gray hair in a ponytail. He was wearing a leather jacket. I could see him picking a guitar.
"He's an orthopedic surgeon." Doctor said. "Ours."

They referred to each other as "doctor" again when his friend left. Dana finally explained it. Apparently they'd taken a "Which Simpsons character are you?" quiz online and they both got Dr. Nick (Hi, everybody!). So now they greet each other as "doctor." This has occasionally led to people overhearing, then approaching one of them and asking about a bad shoulder or a rash.

We got our bill for four beers. $8.50. It wasn't happy hour. I like this bar.

As we strolled out, Dana asked, "What do you wanna do now? We could go to my private bar..."
"Private bar?" I asked. I had never heard of such a concept.
"Yeah, let's head over there." We started walking.

We wound up at what looked like a beat-up house, again only a block or two from the square. Dana unlocked the door and flipped on the lights. Inside, it was mostly one large room, containing a large bar, a pool table, unfinished walls, and a small stage-like area with a pole.

"I'm not married, but all my friends, this is basically the room we all wanted in our house, but our wives wouldn't let us have. So we pooled our money and bought a house."
"I see." This place was AWESOME! "The pole ever get used?" I had to ask.
"No. Well...not really, no." I was curious what that answer specifically meant, but I didn't pry.

We flipped on the TV, cracked open one more beer, and found half an ice cream cake in the freezer. Just hung out in there, talking a little more about bikes, enjoying a good beer and some ice cream, though not quite at the same time. Headed back to his place after that and got some good shut-eye on a comfortable air mattress.

Dec 27, 2013
from Austin New Year

I am a carbon-based life form.


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