Hello-o-o-o, Austin! Aside from one more glitch, it was a very pleasant drive.

In Gallivan's Travels on March 28, 2019 at 7:29 pm

One of the fun things to do when one travels south at this time of year from New England is to check regularly on the weather at home. Today in Austin the high temperature was 78o. Last night we slept just north of Waco and, for the first time, didn’t need to set the heaters or keep the sleeping bag pulled all night. At home in RI the temp only got up to 51o and tonight will be in the 30s.
I only mention that because I don’t know if we told any of our friends at home yet today. And telling them is another fun thing about traveling south in March from NE.
Texas, it appears is under construction. Route 35 from Dallas to Waco (and I am assuming into Austin) is wide and getting wider. The on ramps and connectors between the state routes and the interstates loop and fly and weave around above and below. In a lot of places, we could see the unfinished ends of bridges and ramps that seem to pint nowhere in particular. It’s a bit like riding through the middle of an amusement park where the roller coaster isn’t quite finished, but they’re using it anyway.
We stopped at an RV shop in Waco this morning (more on that in a moment) and the owner, Ken Bellringer, told us that the Silos area has changed dramatically over the last few years. Much of that is due to Magnolia, the upscale, just-gotta-have-this-if-you’re-going-to-be-somebody, furnishings and accessories made famous, apparently by some Austinites named Chip and Joanne. Everyone knows them and their television show, which is why we looked completely blank when Ken first mentioned them. They have a television show. Home make-overs. That sort of thing. Reality TV. So we’re told.
I am not used to highways quite this dramatic running through the middle of the city. Boston’s 18th century streets and intersecting of I9o, I93, and those tunnels (“My god, where am I and where am I going to end up?”) seem quaint and reasonable compared to the six or more lanes in each direction, flanked by access roads that take you into town and back on your way. Amazingly, we have seen very few slowdowns or other delays. And they must have elves doing the construction in the middle of the night, because it is extremely rare to get pushed aside by a road crew.
In between the cities, the Texas countryside is, with regard to people and human structures, very full of empty from Texarkana to Austin. The plains stretch out on either side, with fields and pastures not yet showing the crops or grasses that will soon be pushing up. The herds seemed to be somewhere else, as we only saw a few examples of the bovine ilk lazing in the sun.
The bluebonnets, however, are starting to bloom, growing from tiny purple dots near Dallas to four- or five-inch young stalks as we pulled into Austin.
As for Ken Bellringer (remember him?), our last couple of days have reminded us that if something can go wrong, just hope it’s something small.
I told in my last essay about the adventure with the oil sensor, the nail-in-tire, and the parking brake, which no one ever uses, but I seem to miss immensely now that I can’t use it. Many popular songs have dealt with this phenomenon, I know, but who listens?
Well, we stopped last night at a Safety Rest Stop near Hillsboro.
An aside, if you’ll indulge me. I know, I have always told my students that one needs to try not to write exactly as one thinks, because our thinking is generally disorderly and our writing and speaking is supposed to give it order. But that’s not the aside.
The aside is a shout out to the state of Texas for their Safety Rest Stops. Several states, not most, however, allow people to sleep in their vehicles overnight at roadside rest stops. Truckers do this all the time, and RVers even have a name for it, dry camping, because you aren’t hooked up to any utilities.
(Another aside within the aside: there is an ongoing dispute within the RV communities whether the term ”boondocking” applies to both camping in places away form actual civilization, not just hookups, and camping in rest stops and parking lots. I have decided to throw in with the boondocking is only in relative wilderness crowd. There, now you know two or three things you probably didn’t know before if you don’t do this sort of thing.)
These Texas stops, however are amazing. Each is designed specifically to reflect the features and history and ecology of its location. There is a main building open only during the day. And another that has 24-hour bathroom facilities. Each stop has a large parking lot for trucks , buses, and large RVs; and a separate lot on the other side of the building for cars, small trucks and vans like ours. In between, surrounding the buildings is a landscaped area with a playground, walking paths, and a stretch and exercise station. There isn’t much in the way of shade, but this is Texas, after all. The only real issue is highway noise, so bring earplugs; and the fact that the parking areas remain lighted, so bring window shades or a blindfold. Otherwise they are secure and comfortable.
Now Ken. Ken Bellringer, remember? Ken runs an RV repair shop just about 4 miles out from the Silos district in Waco. It feels really isolated, though because once the Baylor University campus ends, the city disappears quickly.
When we parked it the Safety Rest Stop last night, we discovered water dripping from something that looked important under the camper. So I went online for repair shops. (Out here, by the way, there are so many RVs that the repair shops actually make house calls. I’ve decided these aren’t really asides, so much as in-text notes to elaborate on or explain things.) I found one in Hillsboro, run by a man named Paul. I explained my situation to Paul, over the phone, and he told me that he couldn’t help me, but I should call on Ken Bellringer in the morning. He also assured me, even though I didn’t ask, that his name is, indeed, Bellringer.
So, this morning, we made our way to Waco and Ken’s shop. Ken and I and his mechanics discussed the situation and he agreed that they would be willing to fix it, with several caveats. If what it looked like wasn’t what it was, he might not have the parts, so I would have to drive it with the thing disassembled until tomorrow, then go back to Waco to finish the job. That seemed reasonable.
Then Ken talked a blue streak about Waco, and where we might want to visit while they were working on Gallivan and suggested that most folks take an Uber into town. That was how we ended up discovering the Silos and Magnolia and another place called the Findery, which had all that stuff I mentioned earlier; and eating a lunch of barbecue brisket sandwich from a food truck over near the park. I would tell you more about that, but some asides are less important than others.
We got the call that Gallivan was ready, we took an Uber back to Ken’s place, chatted some more about changes going on and other random topics, paid our bill, said our goodbyes and have-a-safe-trips, and drove on down to Austin.
Tomorrow night is the start of the HONK,TX festival. The day will be used to meet up with our friends who all arrived by plane yesterday and today, and taking in the sights. It could be a late night, so you probably won’t hear from me again until Saturday, or even Sunday, if it’s as good a time as it should be.
Aside from that.

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