Across Continents

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Austin-tacious

Austin had been all I’d hoped it would be. For Christmas that is. I’d arrived late on Christmas Eve, cold and wet. A reservation that’d slowly crept right a few days. The hostel had been very accommodating, but I feared they thought I might never actually turn up. Bit like the navigator in The Ascent of Rum Doodle.

There’d been the usual collection of characters you oft find in travellers hostels the world over. I say that with especial confidence now. Youthful individuals, vibrant. A few yet to refine their social skills. Older types. Usually more seasoned. Stoic. Odd one who aspires to earlier times. All very middle class.

Spending much of my life outdoors, I’d found inside to have an attraction all of its own. Cities per se rarely inspire, preferring the smaller places. Exceptions of course. San Francisco for example. And there’d been plenty to do around the hostel before my return to the road.

Finding comfort in doing stuff – a warming sense of accomplishment – I’d joined a few local volunteers help prepare Christmas Dinner in the hostel kitchen. Stacks of calls on Skype to family and friends to wish all a festive greeting. Catching up on the blog. Eager to keep the writing fresh. Perhaps a bit more edgy.

And giving my trusty steed a quick overhaul – just enough to keep her running smoothly until I reach the Florida coast in about fifteen hundred miles or so. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it…. Hard lesson to learn. And a realisation that this’d be the last decent service I’d be doing before arriving back in the UK.

And I was about to start the final push. Complete my traverse of North America, from top left – Alaska – to bottom right – Florida. Over six thousand miles. Fourth continent. Still leaving me a few hundred back in the UK to bring cycling solo around the world to a conclusion. But I was already beginning to smell the coffee. Putting out tentative feelers for what I might do next. The transition back into more conventional living.

I’d made a little list, as I often did, of things to mull over in the saddle. Some straightforward stuff. Amusing statistics from the last few years. Memorable moments. For better or for worse. That sort of thing. And more challenging questions. What had I really learnt. There’d not quite been any Road to Damascus encounters but I’d certainly a few changed perspectives. For one thing, the World is now a much smaller place.

But if I was ever to get too engrossed in self-analysis, a trip to the local supermarket is often a good cure-all. I’d wandered up to the local ’H-E-B Plus’. Intrigued to see a vagrant decline the offer of some small change from a few passing shoppers. Just when you think you’ve seen most things…. Time now to go and sew one of my boots back together. Been waiting for it to dry out…

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