Sunday, August 25, 2013

Off The Grid


Since selling myself into indentured servitude a few years ago after a charlatan took me for nearly everything I had, I have not taken much time off.  Last week, I went to Texas to help Equusearch bring awareness to the cause of the Nina.  The schooner went missing on June 4th, 2013.   

I figured, since I was in Texas anyway, maybe I should take a few days to check on old problems lingering in Texas.  I had been delaying my trip to Texas for a very long time.

 After the conference was over, I got a late start out of Houston after visiting the Fry's super store.  If you have never been to Fry's, it is like Radio Shack on steroids!  Well, it used to be a super store, until they built a highway blocking easy access.  Long waiting lines have transitioned into empty shelves and cranky sales managers at the location I used to visit.  In fact, I was so turned off by management hassling a customer who was trying to return an item, I didn't buy anything.,  I sure wasted two hours, though

Earlier in the day, I had a nice discussion with John Glennie, author of 119 Days Adrift, about the joys of getting lost.  It is one of my favorite things to do and John agreed.  After all, both John and I have found some of the best territory when we get lost.  We would never have seen the many great places we have visited in our independent travels were it not for getting lost.

On the route

The only problem is, after you get lost in the same place enough times, it is hard to get lost as much.  You start to recognize old pastures even though you are lost.

"Heck, I recognize this place from the last time I got lost here," I thought to myself.  "Looks pretty much the same, except for the new highway!"

  I would have driven right to Fry's if it had not been for the new highway.  So getting lost in the same place is not as much fun, especially with new highways being built. It is still a lot of fun!

Along the route

After visiting Fry's, my next job was to get to South Padre Island, Texas.  I like to take the scenic route, since I am a sailor and navigating roads is as hard for me as navigating rivers, lakes and oceans.  Did I tell you, I ended up in Port Isabel, Texas on my way from Galveston, Texas to Belize?  We never made Belize, the gale took care of that dream.  See, I have excuses, too!  At least I am good at one thing!

Along The Route

Give me some credit, though,  After all, I did pilot my Tayana 37 down the Colorado River to the Gulf of Mexico, starting in a little trout stream high in the Rockies.  We even ported it through treacherous Glenwood Canyon, what a nightmare!  If you believe everything I am saying you are probably not from Texas...or Colorado!

So here I am today, working at getting good and lost, on my way South.  I was so lost, I had to ask directions. Again.


Me: "Excuse me, ahhh, can you tell me how to get to Corpus Christie?

Her: "Texas?"

Me: "Yea, I think it is in Texas."

Her:  "Ohhh....I done lived here all my gal durn life but I can't tell you how to get to Corpus Christie...let me see...ain't that up there nar armadillo?"

Me:  "You mean Amarillo?"

Her:  "Yeah, but we always pronounced it Armadillo, maybe that's whys we can't never find it..."

Me:  "Thanks, I'll head that direction."

I was just trying to be nice.  Every one knows Amarillo is in Mexico!  Hey, at least it used to be in Mexico, didn't it?


Then there was the convenience store clerk from India.  It took awhile to get to the manager in the convenience store heiarchy as I got passed from one Indian guy to the next.

"Hang on," the clerk told me.  "I know someone who knows."

I was only 6 hours late leaving, why should I bitch about waiting a half hour for someone who knows how to get to Corpus Christie?  I wouldn't have waited if they sold maps of Texas instead of Colorado in that store. Finally, an old bald haired man appeared.  He was very kind.

"You have a long drive ahead of you," he said after I explained where I wanted to go.  "Finally!  Someone who knows!  The wait was well worth it after all!"  I thought to myself.

"Why, my man, you have at least a three hour drive ahead of you," he told me.

Last time I checked, it is at least 8 hours from South Houston to Corpus.  Heck, it has been 5 years since I have been to Corpus Christie.  Maybe things changed.  

"Maybe they moved it," I thought to myself.  "For sure they have not taken down any traffic lights, so they must have moved it if it is only three hours away now!"

The manager from India pulled out his trusty high tech telephone.  They call them "smart phones".  The manager typed in the two cities and then looked bewildered.

"Let's see, we are right here not too far from Alvin, and you want to go...hmmm..." he murmured as he scrolled down and down and down...on his smart telephone, all the while scratching his head.

"Why heck!  You have an 8 hour trip ahead of you, my man!"

"I'll be a Colorado mule," I thought to myself. "I guess they didn't move
Corpus Christie after all!"

By now, it appeared the conveinece store manager had adopted me.  Well, at least I felt wanted!  I could tell the new adopted son was only going to warrant x amount of attention before the manager decided to get back to work.  That manager and I had a rare meeting of the minds, I could tell exactly what he and I were thinking at the same time.  It was going to take my new dad an hour to write down the complicated instructions on how to get to Corpus.  My new dad looked pretty worried and I probably did too.  Or maybe he just liked scratching his head, but he looked worried.

"Most people print this out on their computer," dad offered.  It was pretty keen of my new dad to know I had a computer after meeting me only once!  But heck, how he thought I was going to fit a printer into my little rental car I had no idea!  At least he got half of the prediciton right!


"Sorry, I don't have a printer," I told him.

"Well, don't you have a smart phone?" he queried in an increasingly worried tone.  I could tell he was not going to let his new adopted son go until the manager was convinced I was going to be safe.  I guess he does not know my history as navigator.  This was one time I wish someone would not really care, but this guy was determined to help a lost dude from Colorado.

"Sure, I have a smart phone.  Well, thanks.  I really appreciate the effort!"

Yea, I have a smart phone.  I never did figure out how to use the thing and it is half worn out.  It does not seem to be very smart to me, That is, when it works.  Those who try to reach me can attest, it does not work often!  I am pretty good at these excuses!  But I didn't tell him that.

As I walked out of convenience store #2 a little dazed, I recognized FM 2002 in front of the store, a rural road spanning about half of Texas.  This looked just like the same place I got lost last time.  It was the beginning of recognition!

It turns out I spent a lot of time being worried for nothing.  I started to recognize all of the places I had been lost before and just followed those to Port Lavaca, Texas.  As soon as I knew I was lost, I knew I was on the right path!  This time, though, I didn't stay lost for very long.

The photographs are some photos of the trip so far!  

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