Just Like a White Winged Dove | My Austin Texas Transplant

I’d nearly made it through Texas and into Austin without harming anything. Driving nearly 3000 miles with no depressing flattened bunny moments, is a Godsend.

Spewing toxic emissions into the atmosphere is one thing. But death or injury in my vehicles wake is quite another.

Sadly, with my “driving the world” lifestyle, such is inevitable.

Blood Moon
Full buck moon. Picture not my own. RootlessRoutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buck Moon / Deer Lunacy

On this weird, cloudless yet starless night, the full buck moon was bright red. Drawing wild eyed deer to the roadways edge. 

Like packs of starving zombies seeking to sate their ravaging hunger. Suicidal Whitetail await in the shadows for just the right vehicle to drive by.

Deer in forest. Picture not my own
Lurking deer

In my mind I could see them. Pawing at the periphery. Waiting in the twiggy wedge of where the forest meets the road.

Moon crazed deer are the bane of rural Texas roadways in Summer and Fall. But not only deer succumb to the full moons lunacy. On Summer nights like these, a deranged contagion maddens more than the jittery, spindly legged, frantics.

Although unseen, denizens of the Texas wilderness hide in the shadows. Lurking at the brink of the unlit road. Waiting for me to drive by.

I scanned the verge with sharp intent. Hands gripping the wheel in anticipation. Ready to respond.

As Austin neared, the forest thinned and turned to sprawling ranchland. Not out of the literal woods yet, I loosened my grip but maintained a keen eye.

Hello Austin Texas

About about 100 miles north of my South Austin, Texas destination, traffic thickened as it now always does when nearing Austin. I began to relax.

Less than 100 miles from my destination and no casualties. Then something flew in front of the car and vanished. I knew it was a goner.

It was nearly dark, so it could have been a bat. Texas is home to millions of little bats. But I knew that whatever it was, was likely stuck in the massive grill of the Lincoln.

Menacing bug laden grill of my Lincoln Aviator. RootlessRoutes Austin Texas 2018

I’d not seen it do the customary ‘swoop of the dead’ over my hood. So I imagined it wedged between the evil teeth if the Aviators shameless grin.

I drove on.

The sprawling Texas ranchland faded to subdivisions. I drove across Austin through the late evening traffic, so common to this place. Venturing on to my mother’s house in South Austin.

Arriving exhausted, I merely glanced at the menacing grill of the Lincoln upon unloading and saw nothing.

I awoke to take Mom to do errands. It was hot. Three digit hot.

The bug laden grill showed no sign of a body, so I offered the little creature a moment of silence in recompense and went on with life.

The Heat (Heart) of Texas!

The next day was hot. Like the rest of the US, Texas was searing. Daily aspiring to triple digits or close, with just enough humidity to make it soul breakingly bleak.

As I traversed South Austin to help my Mom with chores. Instead of dodging moon crazed deer, I now evaded the blank eyed, soccer Moms, that dot Austins cityscape.

These dough eyed creatures, drive and roam about as if they have no real destination in mind. Such Austin transplants wander the parking lots and shops in a daze similar to the deer.

Swaddled in organic yoga pants and t shirts with ironic sayings, they prance about believing they too are “weird”. Their freshly dyed purple hair, a beacon of their unacknowledged privilege.

I prefer the crazy deer.

The deer are much more competent at blending into the landscape than are this new breed of Austin Moms. Fueled by their vapid superiority, they don’t even notice themselves blocking the way, driving to slowly or cutting you off.

And Ye Shall Arise!

We stopped at Michaels craft supply and walked the length of the strip mall to TJ Maxx.

The heat was better this day, yet too oppressive for my Mom. So I slogged off through the Texas heat, to get the car and come pick her up.

RootlessRoutes 2018 Austin Texas
Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

How could that be?

RootlessRoutes 2018 Austin Texas
Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

There’s no way it could be a second bird right?

White winged dove
White winged dove behind the grill. Rootless Routes 2018 Austin Texas

Yet there she was, screaming her wee head off and waving her wings about. She looked a right mess too.

I opened the trunk and the dove flew out. She stumbled around the parking lot, mimicking the soccer moms and flew off into the expansive Texas sky.

How could that poor little sucker have survived? Eighty miles an hour in front of a searing hot radiator? Three whole days driving around town in 3 digit heat?

There is no way to know how that little bird survived her predicament. Yet, she now too was a transplant to Austin, Texas.

Maybe she’ll dye her hair purple, buy a Subaru Outback and start prancing around parking lots in ironic t-shirts.

Communing with the Coyotes | Idiocy on the Road in New Mexico

RootlessRoutes on Skyline Drive Utah 2018

The night sky is hazy in New Mexico. I turn from I 64 to Highway 550 and head for Madrid, New Mexico… that’s MAD drid, not Ma DRID.

It is getting late and as much as I love to drive, driving late night in unfamiliar, rural territory, yet again, wasn’t my plan. Of course I got side tracked.

Like a gnat in the breeze with only 6 hours to go on my journey to Madrid, I saw the sign from above. ‘Skyline Drive’ and could not keep myself from taking it on.

New Mexico can wait

I knew this would add up to 4 hours to my drive, but give me an exciting road to conquer and there’s no stopping me.

I rode the Lincoln Aviator hard on Skyline Drive. Abusing it as if it were a 4 wheel drive, and not a glorified Ford Explorer, with a big engine, wearing a fancy dress.

A great many of the roads in the yet rather ‘Wild West’ are, well… still quite wild.

Skyline Drive Utah 2018 Rootlessroutes
Dense forestation along the Skyline Drive route

I knew nothing of Skyline Drive before I was unceremoniously drawn into the flame by that sign. It turns out to to be a perfect example of what is left of rustic American roads.

Snaking through, up and down rugged canyons. Alternating from lush green forests to the ragged and rustic arid deserts that dot so much of the American countryside. It is difficult not to imagine a young pioneer’s first experience of America. Long before it was colonized to utter prostration.

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive winding gravel roads, RootlessRoutes 2018
This was worth the detour before New Mexico

The rough side of Skyline Drive (where I started) is 28 miles of course, winding, scenic roadway that is more like an incredibly rocky and treacherous path in spots with huge holes.

The claims of it being well maintained are naught.

After driving it I read it is not suitable for non 4WD vehicles. Apparently no one told my SUV that!

RootlessRoutes on Skyline Drive 2018 Utah
Skyline Drives winding road of wonder 2018 Utah

The drive wiggles, dips and climbs along the top of the Wasatch Plateau, peaking at just under 11,000 feet.

The views are spectacular.

RootlessRoutes 2018 Skyline Drive Utah
Views from Skyline Drive are magnificent. Utah 2018 RootlessRoutes

With tree filled mountains, flower filled meadows, raucous streams and tranquil lakes. Skyline Drive in Utah is one of the highest elevation roads in America and simply stunning.

Admittedly, driving up and descending this extremely rugged terrain, on partially gravelled, winding roads is not for what my Lincoln Aviator was built. But the vehicle handled being forced into submission like a champ.

Her already worn tires, not so much.

RootlessRoutes Skyline Drive Utah 2018
Skyline Drive Utah, elevation 8000 feet.

According to Dangerous Roads Skyline Drive

” It ranks among the highest elevation roads in America. This dirt road (also known as FR150) provides access to forested mountains, alpine meadows and numerous lakes streams and camping areas.

Although many sections are suitable for passenger cars, high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicles are required for tougher parts.” (Unless you’re a driving maniac in a Lincoln Aviator)

Lincoln Aviator on Skyline Drive 2018 Utah
New Mexico can wait. 

Highway 550 / New Mexico

Cruising Highway 550 late at night is like playing Russian Roulette with a blindfold on.

Unlighted, on a starless night makes it look a bit like a video game. Add to that a full blood moon, drawing the deer to the brink of migration insanity and the edge of the roadway.

Swirling around blind corners in the dark of night is ‘steering wheel gripping’ enough. The threat of deer prancing out onto the roadway, adds to the spine tingling effect. Especially with so little light.

At first I thought it must be me. Maybe the window isn’t clean, my glasses need a wipe. I’m bleary from exhaustion? Perhaps my night vision had become weak suddenly?

Then I realised that oncoming traffic had their high beams blazing too. Some turned them off as they neared out of courtesy, others not. Even the truckers.

High beams screaming across the median offers even greater charm to the hilarity of this steep, windy drive at night. Made a mental note to do it in the day. Likely a great piece of roadway … when you can see.

There I was. The drunks, the truckers and I, hurtling along the black void of this high speed roadway, bargaining with our lives at each turn.

After eating up over 2000 miles of roadway in only a few days, I was once more driving into the wee hours of the night.

But I was almost there.

Then it happened.

BEEEP!

“Warning extremely low tire pressure!”

WTF?

No warning of trouble coming, just the threat of doomsday at hand.

Damn, only 26 miles from Madrid, New Mexico.

This is the point that I must pause and mention that I knew there was a nail in the tire and a slow leak before leaving Portland 2000 miles ago. Apparently, I decided to deal with it as it occurred and then completely pushed it to the back of my mind.

Think about what I’ve told you. What I’ve done with and where I’ve been with that car.

Yeah, I’m an idiot. You agree. It’s ok.

Flat tire in New Mexico

I drive the car 9 miles to the first gas station in 100 miles. Thankful this New Mexico town was so close at hand at my time of need. Not allowing myself to think about if this had happened earlier on my desolate highway 550 drive. I’d of been communing with the deer.

I hop out of the the car to have a look… and it’s bad. The nail near the sidewalk is hissing air.

Can’t drive another mile level bad.

I’m fucking tired. I know I should call roadside assistance (I have 3) but it’s now only 17 miles to my destination and I’m an idiot.

With much due hesitation I purchase a can of Fixaflat. I know in my heart of hearts this is bound to go badly. Yet I persevere, as idiots so often do.

It seems to hold, so I drive off, fingers crossed. Knowing full well at this point that I’m an idiot.

It’s about 1:10AM now and I’ve been driving nearly 14 hours straight with just a few short breaks.

Interstate 25 is pretty mild compared to 550. More traffic and towns. I’ll make it. I know I’ll make it.

A little voice in the back of my head that is never wrong, said, “You know you won’t”

Oh Google Maps!You’re such a trickster.

Google Maps decided to once again fuck with me. It tends to only do this in the middle of the night. It turns me onto some crazy side road (A54?) to get to 14 and my ultimate destination, Madrid.

Google maps has done this to me before. But that’s for another story.

Desolate, dark, rocky and craggy. The unpaved, unlit farm road had huge holes and was graveled with the same large sharp rocks as Skyline Drive.

It starts out slightly paved, but as I drive out it gets more and more rough.

I’m already 3 miles in. I know that tire seal shit isn’t going to hold. But I hope.

From what little I could see in the pitch black, the road was flanked by endless scrubby plants, rock and sand.

Like every inch of land in New Mexico, it was fenced.

It’s 1:36am now and I know I’m totally fucked.

BEEEP!

RootlessRoutes New Mexico 2018
Communing with the coyotes in New Mexico. Just miles from Madrid 2018

“Warning extremely low tire pressure!”

“Hello? This is roadside assistance! Are you in a safe location?”

 

 

 

 

Going Nomad | When Nowhere is Home

I’ve gone nomad.

I officially don’t live anywhere.

I guess I am now a wanderer, a vagabond, gypsy, tinker, drifter.

RootlessRoutes The world is my home
Nowhere is home or the world is home?!?

Technically being a nomad means nowhere is home. Or everywhere…

I went nomadic about a year ago with little warning or planning.
Camper life. Fan Lee Liner Vintage camper
1971 Fan camper will soon be my only home.

Dumped my apartment.

Started downsizing.

Purchased a vintage Fan Lee Liner camping trailer (which is not quite ready) and I started to roam.

Routes of the Rootless RootlessRoutes

This move was made not out of need, but of desire.

A desire to live a life as a nomad, means being more in tune with my principals. A life with new and unexpected challenges.  My passion for travel and a dream to be a full time traveler.

When nowhere is home, your construct must change. Overcoming unfamiliar trials and impediments becomes the focus.

As I rely more on myself I hope to become less bound to and less reliant on material things. I’ve always been halfway there anyway.

As adaptable as I tend to be, I don’t know how well I will acclimate to this new way of life. And that’s part of the allure.

A Nomad Travels Light

I’ve lived out of a backpack for long periods of time with no issue. But I always had a home to drop my bag at in the end.

Can I happily travel about the country with my large 16 year old cattle dog and neurotic cat and not go insane?

Am I already insane?

RootlessRoutes backpack
Osprey backpack on train from New York to Norfolk

Almost everything I own held within the confines of 200 square feet?

Is that really what I’m going to do?

Vintage camper
Trial run with dog in vintage camper AirBnB similar to mine

Hell fucking yes I am!

Will the act of living life on the road, be equal to the fantasy?

Likely no, but nothing ever is.

I have no expectations, no preconceptions . I’m just going to take things as they come. Remain as open to my next disaster as eagerly as my next bliss.

I know this is not going to make my life easier. I like  grappling with learning new things. I’ve always seen myself as a wanderer, so a ‘gypsy’ I have become.

My life feels more fulfilling with new problems to work out. New obstacles in my way.

So many people are driven by fear of something different, but security is a scam.

I might lose my fucking mind living in a tiny trailer constantly on the move.

I won’t know until I give it a try.

Nowhere is home to Dew the nomad cat and she hates it
Dew the cat likes to meow mile after mile after mile

Perhaps I’ll lose my shit and drive us off a cliff after the 5000th mile of Dew the cats endless meowing?

Maybe I’ll writhe with glee every time we pick up to head to the next place.

When Nowhere is Home

I’ve driven and flown from Virginia to Providence or Boston 12 times in the past year. Virginia to Austin to Portland and Seattle 4 times in the past 6 months.

I’ve driven over 5000 miles of Scotland, 1300 miles of England, a wee bit of Wales and almost 800 miles of Ireland. I think I’m ready for this life on the road challenge.

I survived the travels across the US, stuck in my SUV with cat and dog while staying at AirBnBs.

Through wild rainstorms, outrageous snowstorms, forest fires, trains jumping off of bridges and traffic straight from the bowels of Hell, and I seem to have revelled in each adventure. I suppose I really do have some sort of gypsy soul. But will being a full time nomad be as exciting to me once living in it?

A Nomad Needs Friends

Saturday I head out of Portland to Austin in the SUV.

I will then make my way to Virginia, finish work on the camper and then off I will go.

Nowhere will be home for real. I will be living a gypsy, wanderer, traveler, nomad life quite literally.

I’m in the thick of my vagabond life now. After over a year long soft launch. The hard launch is nipping at my heels. There’s no turning back.

I have no idea if I will love this challenge or despise it, because it is merely an experiment.

Follow along with me on my going nomad adventure, and we’ll find out together.