June 22, 2009

I took a much needed vacation with two friends of mine, Connor and Bret, last week and spent most of the time in Leakey, TX. Theremight be a better place on the planet, but to get to this paradise (notparrot ice) I don’t have to get on an airplane, or cross an ocean, or leave my country, or even leave my time zone. A car ride there only takes a couple of hours from Houston. If I lived in a state smaller than Texas I would stress the fact that Leakey is in Texas, but so are Amarillo and El Paso, and both of those destinations are about ten hours from Houston by car. I digress. The point of this vacation was simple: to ride bicycles as much as possible in the most tranquil and challenging areas of the Texas Hill Country, to swim in rivers, and to relax. Mission accomplished.

No good vacation is complete without running into a new character, and thankfully this met the necessary criteria. We stopped in San Antonio on the way out to pick up a pump since we collectively forgot to pack one, and when we arrived at the shop we received a relatively unabridged and wholly unsolicited autobiographical lecture from what must be Texas’ best ever bicycle racer. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t Lance Armstrong from Texas, and hasn’t he won the Tour de France more times than anybody else in history?” He is, and he has. BUT, has he ever won The Killer Diller? I didn’t think so. This guy set the course record… with downtube shifters, on a 90 lb. bike, in the hottest summer ever. What’s the Killer Diller you say? Only the most important non-sanctioned race on the planet. And according to this guy, ol’ “Vance Legstrong” didn’t want a piece. “Vance Legstrong” was too busy “twinkle toe”ing up Sestriere to do areal race. So, this guy told us that he got tired of racing against his reputation, and having a target on his back, and living like a monk, so he quit racing “because it’s all about the pussy.”

When we arrived at our accommodations we were greeted by this quaint and inappropriate indoor birdhouse:

The accomodations were great; kitchen, laundry, DVD player… everything necessary for relaxing after riding. And there was usually a dozen or more deer hanging out at the back porch. They were really tame, and really annoyed with each other. Louis C.K. is really funny and HERE is what he has to say about them. And below are the deer that we saw:

There was one ride we did from Leakey to Camp Woods. It was really challenging, and totally fun. When we stopped in Camp Woods to refill our bottles we met a nice man. He was wearing a garage shirt with the word “Lonesome” embroidered on the right breast, and a patch with three crosses on the left breast. As we sat on the curb hydrating he asked us where we’d just come from. “Leakey,” we told him. “Y’all from thayre?” he asked. “No,” I replied. “At’s wheyre Ah growed up,” he said. We told him how much we were enjoying it, and occasionally he brandished his rodentile-three-toothed smile. He kind of looked like a beaver in winter; he had very large yellow front teeth (and like, one more tooth as best I could tell), chubby cheeks, and a big round belly. We mentioned the name of the subdivision we were staying in, and he told us that his brother lived there and stated his name like we would recognize it. He went on to let us know that his brother used to “run th’ water sistum thayre. He’d take cayre of it an’ do all kine o’ tess on it. He lives in Youston now though. About therdee fahv years.” Then he let us know that at his age, and with all the pills he takes, he’s got to find a bathroom quick when he needs to go.

The subdivision we stayed in has a private park on the Frio River. We found a pretty good swimming hole there with about a ten foot high bluff to jump off. The three of us enjoyed this swimming hole exclusively for about 15 minutes before some badass little redneck kids showed up. One’s name was Dolan, and he was bad. For a solid three minutes he was throwing rocks down into the water from the bluff as hard as he could. Then at the bluff from the water. Then at a plant from the bluff. The kids had been fishing and were spotting fish in the river. “Look at that one,” and “Aww, see him?” and “There goes a catfish… yellow cat.” Dolan’s dog, Shooter, was the coolest thing about those kids, even though he pissed on my bike a little.

Last time I was in Leakey I saw one of these:

It’s a rock squirrel. He was HUGE! Like, the size of a cat with short legs. I was coming down a hill, and he ran across the road and toward me. The entire sighting lasted only 2.5 seconds, tops… he was in a big hurry. By his coloring, and size, I had no clue what he was, but I got a good look at his face, and he was definitely a squirrel. I was holding my breath in hopes that I’d see another one this time around, and I did. A much smaller one, but I saw one, and so did Connor and Bret. We saw it as we left Garner State Park– which was gorgeous, and scenic, and full of shitty, fat, trashy, leathery, dumb worthless people.

We went to a race. Meh. Went to Austin, it was fun, and a good way to ween ourselves back into Houston. I’d like to thank Bret for driving, and Connor for pulling. And I’d like to issue a series of photos to give you (the other three people who read this blog that weren’t there) a fraction of an idea why the Texas Hill Country is so great, what makes it so hard to leave, and why it’s become a growing obsession.











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