Sunday, February 13, 2011

1st Impressions

1.) They don't know how good they have it down here. Leaving in an ice storm that locked up the entire Northeast made this even more apparent. It is temperate and comfortable down here. Downright beautiful compared to the miserable winter I left behind.

2.) I know absolutely nothing about the flora and fauna down here; especially in Texas. My second day in Raleigh, I rested at a lake on the NC State campus and watched the birds. Other than a few mallards and Great Blue Herons, I didn't recognize any of them. There must've been six different kinds that I saw. Now in Texas Hill Country, it is painfully clear that I am in a foreign land. All through the Northeast when out and about, I remained enthralled by my surroundings, but was rarely surprised. Down here, the trees, the birds, the dirt, the general geography, is all so different. Are there bears down here? What are the major predators? What should I look out for? What plants should I not touch? Which ones can I eat in a pinch?

3.) Where are all the bikes? On the entire drive down to Raleigh, then Athens, then Houston and now up to Austin and Marble Falls, I saw maybe five bikes on cars. In Raleigh and Athens I barely saw anyone riding. It wasn't until Houston, on the bike paths in between homebase and trails, did I see a number of roadies and tri riders. This goes back to numero uno I think. Most cyclists are probably still hybernating.

4.) I'm not sure what the general environmental ethic is down round these parts. The trails I rode in Houston went alongside what they call a "Bayou". I would call it more of a hybrid between a stream and a canal. The Houstonian's must think "bayou" is French for "drainage ditch". I rode over countless culverts, dumping fluids of all sorts. One rivulet appeared to be flowing with a mixture of Windex and Simple Green. I can't imagine it's all that different in Texas compared to Pennsylvania. I suppose I'll learn in the coming months. The contrast really was that of a rural area like State College to an urban, sprawl of a city like Houston.

5.) I stick out! My red half-ton pickup with two bikes prominently posted on the back. PA plates. My cycling cap and sandals. I probably sound funny to 'em too. Yea, I get stares.

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