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First Trip
Summer 2007


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Butterfly and Eye.

Upon arriving in El Paso we first went to a park which we frequented. There we attempted to find Air America on the radio but found only oldies music in itís place on the dial. It turned out that El Paso no longer has Air America. There is also no Community Radio station or Pacifica Network and the local public station is sadly lacking. The only two choices for talk radio most of the time are two right wing stations.

In the past I have only been capable of listening to right wing wackoes for about ten minutes at the most before wanting to puke. On this day, however, I managed listening about 4 hours. But I put that time to some good use by beginning to write my observations which may someday be formed into an essay.

TV also is sadly lacking in El Paso. The only stations available are the basic major networks: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and PBS. This doesn't matter too much during the day as we are usually busy. But during the evening there is frequently nothing on worth watching.

This is where one of the right wing talk stations actually comes to the rescue by airing Alan Colmes from 8-11 PM weekdays; the one progressive oasis in this right wing, red neck desert.

We remained in El Paso making money as possible and kicking in the park working on craft items until may 29. On that day we set out towards Austin.

Instead of leaving on I-10 we went to the south side of El Paso and got on the border highway. The main reason for our using this route was so that we could locate a casino. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, by the time we had located the casino the weather was too hot for leaving Tony in the van.

So we continued on the border highway till we connected with I-10 about 40 miles south of El Paso. Though we then were forced back onto I-10 we got off it again a little over 200 miles south.

At that point we got onto highway 190 (which runs through what is called the Hill Country) to north of Austin. As it happened this was the wildflower season in the Texas Hill Country, which made it one of the most scenic drives we have taken.

The ground was a carpet of colors: mostly orange with splashes of yellow, blue and purple as far as the eye could see. Especially notable was the occasional Prickly Pear with itís large, bright yellow flowers which poked up from the orange carpet. We would suggest this or a similar drive to anyone.

In planning this trip we had noticed a town called Marble Falls and that said town had a Wal-Mart. We would change from highway 190 to Highway 29 at Menard. Taking 29 across Buchanan Dam we would catch 281 south to Marble Falls.

As it happened though, 29 doesn't go across the dam. The drive was well worth it anywhere. There is actually water and some relatively large trees in this area of Texas.

We found the Wal-Mart in Marble Falls and stayed the night. The next morning we looked around town a little and found the visitor info center. We learned that there is free camping at a place on the river about five miles east of town.

So we found it and camped for a week from May 31st until June 6th, going into town a couple times to look around and to get supplies. There will be pictures on our "The View From Our Front Porch" page.

Butterfly noticed that, for a town of only 5300 people there seemed to be a lot of traffic. Almost as if everyone in town was on the Road at the same time. None the less Marble Falls is a very nice town with a good feel.

From there we went to the south side of Austin to a Wal-Mart we had stayed at before. We hung around that area for the next week making enough money to survive but not enough for our needs.

One day we happened to park close to a federal building of some sort. We chose this spot for the thick shade trees and probably didn't realize it was a federal building. A security guard totally freaked out thinking that we might set off a bomb. Never mind it was a Saturday and there wasn't anyone around but her and us. She made us move about a half a block down the road.

Austin is better than El Paso for both TV and radio. Not only is there the five basic network stations there is also CW and My Network. On the radio there is both a Community Station and Air America.

For those who are not aware, during the Reagan administration the CIA was smuggling cocaine. They created a dummy air cargo corporation which they called "Air AmericaĒ as a cover for this activity. Therefore it is quite appropriate that the Austin area Air America station has as its call letters KOKE.

We spent quite a bit of time under a freeway overpass in a park next to the river. It seemed to be a favorite sex spot. Perhaps owing to our dark tinted windows they couldn't see us and assumed that there was no one in the van. Or maybe it is something people just do there; I don't know.

We met a home garden, named Carraba who showed us around some parts of town we hadnít been to before. One of the places he showed us was a very nice swimming hole called Barton Springs.

It is in a large park not far south of downtown and in the sixties was a hangout for bohemians and intellectuals.

As we looked around the park we sat down at a picnic table. A squirrel in a tree a few feet above us began chattering loudly in our direction. Butterfly started tossing pieces of granola bar up into the air. The squirrel attempted catching it several times before finally succeeding. She continued tosses pieces of granola bar to the squirrel for some time.

Another place Carraba showed us was a town called Pflugerville, just north of Austin. We found ourselves liking Pflugerville so much that we decided to remain there instead of returning to south Austin, at least for a while.

The first or second night that we were in Pflugerville it rained. While we only got a couple of inches, Marble Falls, about thirty miles away, received 19 inches. Had we still been camping out side of Marble Falls at the time we would not have gotten out and would have been washed away.

One day while we had nothing to do I decided to do some herb hunting in a vacant lot. This turned out to be a big mistake as I ended up with over a hundred chigger bites from my toes to my beltline.

If you have never experienced chiggers let me just say that they are miserable. The itching can be unbearable. And they last for up to two weeks.

But I did take advantage of the opportunity to do some experimenting. Neither alcohol nor any of several essential oils were able to relieve the itching. I also learned there are certain essential oils that you don't want getting anywhere near certain areas of the body. And I discovered that Mennen deodorant does temporarily relieve the itching.

To be continued.
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