Archive for June, 2008

New traveler with Socks Galore (at least for 3 days)

Hi! I’m Kelly’s sister, Cassie, and this week I’ll be blogging instead of Elly and Kenny. I traveled to Austin between semesters on the 17th to partake in the wonderful journey of team Socks Galore for a few days. They are currently at Big Bend National Park in Southern Texas, and I am sure will be back to blogging before you know it. So after journeying from Michigan I arrived in Austin at 11 PM and quickly passed out in the car, due to the Dramamine. When I awoke, we were at Gardner State National Park, the busiest national park in Texas. Since it was around 3 AM, we set up camp in a secluded part of the park and quickly went to sleep.

In the morning, we went tubing down the Rio Frio, where Kelly and Kenny used their extra tube technique from Austin tubing travels. Around the first bend of the Rio Frio we met new friends from Austin that also were informed of this extra tube trick and our day was spent relaxing and chatting with them. That evening, I tried my first chicken fried steak, and was mildly impressed, while Elly struggled to find veggies to eat in the South. But the mashed potatoes were great as was the company. That evening we went to Gardner State Park’s evening dance, which has been a nightly tradition since the depression when spirits were lifted at the dance. Boy oh boy, we were in way over our head at the dance. We were told that everyone from Gardner went, which ended up being about 300 people. The children and teenagers were the majority of the dancers, but the strangest thing was that they all knew a dance to every song. We had no idea if it was the two step or line dancing or a combination of the two, but we had no idea how to do it. So, naturally, we decided to do our own interpretations. Kenny should have been the most envied guy in the pavilion, dancing with two girls and all, but instead we got awkward looks and stares from the natives of the dance. We ended the night with a coyote (or maybe a wild pig… who knows?) scuffling outside our tent and Kenny doing an ant dance when they infested the tent in the middle of the night.

The next morning, Elly and Kenny got me to go hiking which was a feat in itself. I was comforted by the ice cream and movie we went to afterwards. On Friday, we packed up and went to Bandera, which is apparently the Cowboy Capital of the World. The main street looked like an old western movie and we off course had barbeque for lunch. After some failed attempts to go horseback riding (all the cowboys were getting ready for the rodeo), we visited a ranch and took a look around. Then, off to the rodeo! It was a small town one with about 150 people present. Since we didn’t have a truck to tailgate, the Rav4 would have to do. After some barrel racing, calf riding, and of course bull riding, we went off to sample the cowboy nightlife. The first bar we went to had grown-ups two stepping also so after our other run-in with Texas dancing, we quickly left and found a younger crowd. After an hour or so there, where I quickly discovered politics are probably not the best thing to talk about in the South, Kenny downed a Red Bull and off to Austin we went where I completed my great escapade with Socks Galore.

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Park Rangers

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re not for certain, but we believe that if we play our cards right we may have blossoming careers as Park Rangers. Well at least the outfit looks good with Kenny’s eyes.

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Remembering the Alamo and San Antonio

Oh a relic of Anglo imperialism visited by over 3 million fanny packers a year. The Alamo was our first stop in San Antonio. Here we heard the well versed story of David Crockett and James Bowie, fighting to their death with 189 other brave men and 14 other women and children who were spared by Santa Ana in order to tell the story to the rest of Texas. With little attention paid to what some would say reasons behind the battle (President Polk’s desire to expand US territory, despite borders already set in the Louisiana Purchase) we left the Alamo a little confused as to what exactly happen in this historic spot. It could also have been the tight crowds and less than conciliative syntax used (phrases like “belligerent Indians” and “angelic Anglos” [sic]) which confused us and made this stop a quickie.

From here  we plunged on over to see some of the mission grounds established by Spain and more specifically Fray Antonio Margil de Jesús. These grounds were used in the 1700-1800s in an attempt to spread christianity and Spain’s borders. The many churches and huge buildings on the Mission grounds were built by indigenous populations (hmm… Pharaoh labor?). But along with the word of God, these Missionaries also brought disease and deception to the indigenous population. With over 80% of the indigenous peoples who came in contact with these conquistadors  losing their lives. We again left this spot uncertain as to what really happen. 

Many of our questions about San Antonio’s history were answered in a simple essay written by Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was arrested for refusing to pay 6 years worth of poll taxes, because of his strong stance  against slavery and the Mexican-American war. His essay Civil Disobedience describes his beliefs about about the war, America and slavery. From reading his essay we were better able to understand American sentiment towards the Mexican-American war at the time.         

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Don’t Mess With Texas!

So it only took us five and a half weeks, but we finally made it west of the Mississippi River. Wahoo!!!! What better place to explore the West than the great state of Texas – where they constantly remind us that they are called the “Republic of Texas” and the “Lone Star State”. Sounds to us like they might be the independent one in the family (love you parents!) Instead of making a bunch of small trips from New Orleans, we decided to truck it to Austin all in one day. This was a great decision for me personally, as I was able to meet up with two of my best friends from Ann Arbor: Dan-man and Martinez. It felt like it had been forever since college, but I quickly fell right back into the lifestyle (no complaints here). Southern hospitality did not disappoint on this leg of the trip either, where Spencer, Jackie, and Dan were great new friends throughout our stay in Austin. The Texas weather was beautiful, but don’t underestimate that 104 degree heat. That will really make you appreciate your good ol’ air conditioning. One day we kept cool by floating down a river for four hours. The best part of this journey was the extra inner tube we took with us that held the cooler – perfect for our shotgunning breaks every hour or so. Elly and I explored Austin on foot another day to see what the city was all about. From the beautiful campus to the vintage shops to some of the familiar chains, we were constantly reminded of our past four years in Ann Arbor. One big difference though was the monster State Capitol building that is larger than the federal building in Texas. Although Congress was not in session while we were there, we still got a chance to explore the chambers by ourselves. While looking at the pictures of each year’s House of Representatives, we noticed that they put photos of their grandkids on the plaque along with their own (weird). What’s even more strange is that they proclaimed one of these grandkids king or queen over all the others. By looking at the last names, we weren’t surprised to find that these “chosen ones” were the heirs to the Speaker of the House. I honestly don’t even know what to say to that. As always, the nightlife in Austin did not disappoint. All the things we heard about 6th street were true – it contains blocks and blocks of bars and pubs that shut down the streets on the weekend. Because this past weekend was biker weekend, the sights were even more outrageous than usual. While I jumped from bar to bar with Danny and Martinez, Elly found a nice jazz club where she happened to meet the trumpet player from Sublime. Needless to say, I was quite jealous when she recounted this story to me later. Another highlight of our stay here was meeting up with Emily, one of Elly’s close friends from Thailand. On Saturday night, the three of us made our way down to 4th street to witness the Pride Parade. For the first time in the trip, I seemed to show Elly up with my sailor’s outfit. Although she may disagree, I definitely took the cake for getting checked-out the most. We ended up having an absolute blast with Emily – who I am so glad to have met and I know Elly was so glad to have gotten to see again. With a week in the books, it was time to move on and we made the short journey to San Antonio to see what this Alamo deal was all about.

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Oh The Mess!

Yes, we may be vile individuals but the mess and smell of Kenny’s Rav 4 has finally gotten to us. Living out of the back of a car ultimately leads to poor hygiene, but thankfully we have just landed in Austin and will be able to clean ourselves and the car off. Fabreeze can last for only so long.

Pic is of Kenny in disgust of either the smell of his armpit or the dirty cloths stacked behind him.

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Hobo Jim

Our brief collisions with people over the past 5 weeks have taught us so much about ourselves and the world, but Hobo Jim taught me about the beauty in just living. I ran into Jim while walking down the riverfront, he had a basket of crawfish and offered me some. I had never had the things before, and after having such a hard time sucking the juices out of them, I can’t imagine I will be eating the little guys again. But he offered me some, so we dined. We sat by the river talking about the places hes been and the honesty of the human soul. Jim taught me how far kindness really goes as he told story after story of the great things people have done for him ( and he for others). Like the couple that found him injured in a church and kept him for a week, before buying him a bus ticket home. He told me about the difference between a Hobo and a Homesteader (a street person) and how a Hobo will always do something to help people out. There are Hobo camps set up in most cities where only Hobo’s are allowed to stay (though he promised he could sneak us in). There is always a camp overseer who cooks the meals each night, and the only rule that a Hobo lives by at the camp is that they must leave some sort of food for the next Hobo when they leave. As Jim and I talked he would stop to say hello to everyone that walked past, and sure enough small crowds would congregate around us for awhile and then be on their merry way. I randomly (ok not so randomly) ran into Hobo Jim the next three nights by the riverfront. On the last night Jim and I talked about making decisions in life, and how whether right or wrong, the act of making decisions keeps us moving.

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$200 for holding 2 signs for 5 hours.

Most amusing job ever.

Passerby (and small margaritas) made this a pretty entertaining gig. Plus our boss said if we’re ever in the area, she’d love for us to work for her again. Count it.

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