Can You Spare A Square?

“The worst job in the whole world must be recycling toilet paper.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I always stop at a handful of Little Free Libraries on my bike rides around my ‘hood. I don’t pick up books (though I look to see if there is an especially interesting one – there hasn’t been) – rather, I drop books off. That helps me deal with my natural bookish hoarder tendencies.

Today, at one near my house, I spotted this extra addition.

Little Free Library near my house – with extra goodies.

Little Free Library near my house.

Six rolls of precious toilet paper tucked in among the tomes.

So if you live on the east side of Richardson, and are desperate for a roll, contact me and I’ll give you the location.

Right Round Like a Record, Baby

All I know is that to me
You look like you’re having fun
Open up your lovin’ arms
Watch out here I come
You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round
—-Dead or Alive, You Spin Me Round

Carnival, Tulane Campus, New Orleans

Oblique Strategy: What wouldn’t you do?

I remember getting sick at a carnival. The rides can’t be designed to do anything but make you sick, really. The fear doesn’t come, like it does in a huge roller coaster at a big theme park, from the stretching of the bounds of physics. The fear comes from the rickety old equipment, dripping grease, and the dirty meth addict running the ride. You assume he put the thing together, did the safety checks.

The smell of a small carnival – popcorn, rancid grease, and ozone. The sound of the rides, the screaming of kids, the pops of the rifles shooting at paper targets.

It is all a relic of a bygone age. A carnival – I think it’s a predecessor to the video game, without the score. The lights, the sounds, the movement… everything just slightly surreal. I’m surprised that there are any left.

I think I need to try and track one down.

A Full Moon, Gravel, and S’mores

“Great artists make the roads; good teachers and good companions can point them out. But there ain’t no free rides, baby. No hitchhiking. And if you want to strike out in any new direction — you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction

The moon rising over cyclists and the Dallas skyline. From the October Full Moon Ride. (click to enlarge)

Oblique Strategy: Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group

The moon rising over the Dallas skyline and the pond at Trammell Crow Park. From the October Full Moon Ride.

My Cannondale road bike at Trammell Crow Park. From an early part of the October Full Moon Ride.

There is a monthly bike ride held at dusk on the first day of each full moon. It starts in a park in Downtown Dallas and heads out into the wilds of the Trinity River Bottoms where we can watch the moon rise over the city.

I had a blast on the October ride and was looking forward to the next one. It was a little more ambitious. We would head out on the gravel roads that line the levees along the river. Because of the crushed rock, I wouldn’t be able to ride my vintage Cannondale and would have to use my heavy, fat-tired commuter/cargo bike.

My heavy Commuter Bike with Dallas skyline in the background

We would ride ten miles to an abandoned golf course where we would have a campfire and make s’mores before riding back. I was a bit concerned – twenty miles, much of it off-road, is a long way for me to ride on my heavy, thick tired repurposed mountain bike. Despite all my despirte fanfaronade I am the world’s slowest bicycle rider, especially on an inefficient vehicle. Even riding the best of bicycles – the engine is old and worn out.

I rode the DART train downtown, as the sun was setting, met up with about a dozen folks, and set out. The gravel wasn’t too bad, but it was jarring and a job to control the handlebars, especially in the dark. I have a good headlight on my bike and the world was reduced to a pool of small rocks moving toward me while all around was invisible, inky blackness. It was fun. I slowed to the back of the pack and realized that if I cut my speed a little bit the ride became smoother.

The gravel road in the Trinity River Bottoms
(click to enlarge)

So, I was slow, but not too much. There is a bridge about every mile through the river bottoms and we would stop so everyone could catch up. We made our destination on time, and the s’mores were delicious.

Roasting marshmallows for s’mores. (Photo from Bike Friendly Downtown Dallas)

The only hitch was that I didn’t get any photos. I had brought my camera, a small Gorillapod, and a remote shutter release. I spent too much time having fun, and had to rush setting up my camera. I put the tripod on an old air conditioning unit, and before I could shoot, the release fob slipped out of my hand and disappeared inside. I took that as an omen, and packed it all back up.

We rode concrete back – by then the traffic was light. Only when we neared the American Airlines Center (the Dallas Stars were playing hockey and the game let out at the same time we passed) did we run into angry, aggressive drivers.

So, now I’m looking forward to next month. I need to put my nighttime photographic, time exposure kit together and practice, so I’ll be ready.

He Believes in Miracles

“The Warrior of the Light is a believer.

Because he believes in miracles, miracles begin to happen. Because he is sure that his thoughts can change his life, his life begins to change. Because he is certain that he will find love, love appears.”
― Paulo Coelho, Warrior of the Light

Warrior on the wall of Bowls and Tacos, Dallas, Texas

Taken on the Friends of the Santa Fe Trail Pub Ride.

Oblique Strategy: In total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly

Snippet – from “The Death of Xaco” by me

The yellow vapors poured down the slope, choking the men. They all had rough masks made from torn T-shirts, but that offered scant protection. The decades of working in the toxic sulfur cloud did not give them any resistance – corrosive is corrosive. The men coughed and shook their heads, struggling to breathe. After a thick cloud passed by, Buelo pulled his hand across his bit of cloth and scraped off the yellow crystals that had condensed there.

The men depended on a network of crude ceramic pipes to channel the molten sulfur down from the vent so it would cool and solidify before it caught fire and burned – then they could break it up into chunks to carry down the mountain. The pipes were always breaking or plugging up and it was a harrowing, awful, dangerous job to climb into the even-thicker fumes and do the needed repairs. Xaco was the only man left crazy-tough enough for the job and Buelo could see his sharp eyes and wild yellow-crusted hair peeking out here and there, now and then, amongst the yellow clouds. There were three tugs on the rope and Buelo tied another section of replacement pipe on and tugged back three times. The rope jerked and the pipe rocked, then disappeared into the fumes.

After a few minutes Buleo could make out Xaco hefting the heavy pipe onto his shoulders and struggle upslope before the drifting clouds hid him from view again. Buelo smiled thinking of Xaco from their childhood. He had known Xaco since his earliest memory, from long before they had known or understood that they would all be sulfur miners.


Photo taken during the Stop and Photograph the Roses bicycle ride.

I had seen the Dallas Eye Before – but have never been able to stop close by it in the daytime. We rode our bikes from the Arts District down to the little side-street Stone Place – a little known oasis in downtown. A long time favorite spot of mine – I remember it from when I first moved here. It, like everything else, has been up and down many times since then.

Unfortunately, we could not cross the iron fence that surrounds the orb. I guess they are afraid that if the uncontrolled public were allowed in, the unwashed masses, things might get out of control and someone might get poked in the eye.

The Dallas Eye, Dallas, Texas

The Dallas Eye,
Dallas, Texas

River Bottom Bicycle Route

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

I have been struggling with a nasty something – maybe nothing more than a stubborn cold – since Christmas or so. I took a look at my notes (the good thing about obscessive journaling – I have notes going back decades) and realized I always get sick on the days between Christmas and New Year. Maybe it’s an allergy to not going to work.

At any rate, since I have been unable to breathe (that oxygen addiction – a nasty habit) and the weather outside has been frightful I haven’t been riding my bike. I really miss it. Yesterday, I was able to get out and ride around the neighborhood. Though I was obviously out of shape and unused to the saddle, it was fun. So today I decided to take a longer ride.

A while back, I went to the Nasher for a lecture on Nasher Xchange – an ambitious art installation that involves ten varied works all across the city. During the lecture, the artists and organizers repeatedly emphasized the size of Dallas, how it is all spread out, and how much driving is involved in getting to all of the sites of the exhibition. One inspiration for the Nasher Xchange is the Skulptur Projekte Münster – which is held every ten years. Munster is so much more compact that Dallas, however, and they talked about how much different it is to have a similar exhibition in a car-based city like Dallas.

This is all true, of course – but I take exception to the whole car thing. By combining a bicycle with the DART train, you can move all over the city – a little slower, of course, but in a more interesting way – without a car.

So I decided to visit the Nasher Xchange sites without use of a car. Some of them are not really permanent, so it may not work out, but eight at least are doable. The thing will end February 16 – so it’s time to get crackin’.

I’ve been to three so far. I’ll write blogs about them when I’m done. I’ve been thinking about dear sunset by Ugo Rondinone and how best to visit it by bicycle. It’s a multicolored wooden pier jutting out into Fishtrap Lake, in West Dallas. There is no train station nearby, so a substantial bike ride will be needed.

Another thing in my “Things to do” list for 2014 is to organize a bicycle ride. An idea turned over in my head – organize a bike ride from the 8th and Corinth DART station, down the Santa Fe Trestle Trail and then north along the gravel roads in the Trinity River Bottoms to Hampton Road, on to Fishtrap Lake, and then back. It’s a six and a half mile route, one way, thirteen miles total. Not too far for a recreational ride.

Trinity River, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Trinity River, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

The only thing was, I was not familiar with the route at all. There’s a lot of construction down there, and I wasn’t sure of the condition of those roads – would they be muddy? Too rough?

So I decided to do the ride today. And it was a blast. The roads are bumpy in some places (they are actually paved in a few) but nothing a fat tire bike couldn’t get through. The route is, of course, flat, and the scenery is pretty impressive. If you’ve never been in the Trinity River Bottoms, it’s a surreal mixture of vast open floodplain with giant city skyscrapers looming up on the horizon.

Trinity River Bottoms (click to enlarge)

Trinity River Bottoms
(click to enlarge)

The only negative was that it was very, very windy down there. Thirty mile per hour southerly winds made it a struggle going one way (though I barely had to pedal going the other). I was pretty worn out by the end. But that’s… well, if not rare… not an everyday condition.

So I think I’ll go ahead and set a date, start the thing in motion. Next weekend is already spoken for, but I’ll see if I can find a Saturday in there sometime.

Hope the weather is good.

My commuter bike along the gravel road in the Trinity River Bottoms (click to enlarge)

My commuter bike along the gravel road in the Trinity River Bottoms
(click to enlarge)

Black Friday Ride(s)

I spent a few more minutes sweeping the bridge over the Trinity River than I had intended, so I had to rush out. Bike Friendly Richardson was doing their annual Black Friday Ride at 1PM and I only had twenty minutes to get out to Beltline and 75. It shouldn’t have been a problem, but this was Black Friday and my GPS showed a dark red streak at 75 and Northwest – folks were backed up trying to get into Northpark Mall. Nothing to do but wait it out.

So often when I’m in my car these days I wish I was on the bike.

It wasn’t too late when I arrived… I was able to put my old Technium together and ride out with the group, no problem.

It was a very nice, easy ride – a ten mile tour of the “other” side of Richardson, across 75 from where I live. I said, “It’s nice to ride around Richardson and not look for sculptures.” We stopped at the Pearl Cup for some coffee and then rode back. The weather was perfect – not a breath of wind… maybe a little cool when stopped, a little warm when pedaling.

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride (click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride
(click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride (click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride
(click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride (click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride
(click to enlarge)

Waiting for a flat to get fixed.

Waiting for a flat to get fixed.

After the ride, I should have stopped in for some beer at Haystack, but this was only the second of three bike events I wanted to do. This was the last Friday of the month – so it was best that I head home and get ready for Critical Mass. I was worried about the weather, but shouldn’t have been – it was as nice as it could be.

Usually I am a stickler about leaving my house on my bike but today I thought it prudent to drive to the Forest Lane DART station and leave from there. That way, if I missed the midnight train home, I could ride to that station on the White Rock and Cottonwood trails.

The Critical Mass rides are getting smaller now that the winter is here, but there were enough hard-core fans to make it fun. One interesting thing about these rides is that nobody knows where they are going until they get there. The Black Friday route looped through downtown and then Deep Ellum, ending up on a winding path through Fair Park.

Riding through the fairgrounds with a big group on bicycles after dark was pretty interesting and a lot of fun. We wound through the art deco buildings, past the wonderful murals that loomed overhead in the gloom of darkness, and around the sculptures gleaming as best as they could in the murk. Finally we looped past the bright lights and giddy crowds of the Chinese Lantern Festival which was a riot of bright color thrust above the opaque night.

Pond at Fair Park

A pond in Fair Park. The red paths are part of a massive sculpture by Patricia Johanson. I have always loved those red paths running through the water, weeds, and turtles. A neglected jewel in the city.
– it was a lot darker on the bike ride, of course.

Mural at Fair Park, taken during the day.

Mural at Fair Park, taken during the day.

The bicycles poured out of the park and everyone split up to go to their favorite night spot. I had a quick beer at Craft and Growler and then received a text that Candy and Lee were with friends and relatives at Rustic, in Uptown. After some thought, I realized I could get there on my bike, so I rode up Exposition, through Deep Ellum, across Downtown, then turned north through Uptown to get to Rustic.

I really enjoy riding my bicycle through the big city at night. The traffic is broken up and I have decent lights, so I feel surprisingly safe. The cool night air, the giant glittering buildings overhead, and the close look at the heart of the metropolis from the saddle is a lot more fun that fighting the traffic and looking for parking spaces.

I locked my bike outside on a light pole and walked past the disapproving stares of the doormen carrying my helmet under my arm. The Rustic isn’t my kind of place, but it was fun to see everybody. One good thing is that it is right next to the turntable at the end of the streetcar line and the long escalator down into the DART tunnel – so we rode that back to my car and home. Taking my bicycle down that escalator was a bit awkward – but it worked.

Candy’s car was at another DART station so I left again on my bike to go pick it up, getting home at about one AM. A nice long Black Friday – mostly on a bicycle.

Santa Fe Fall Pub Ride

It seems longer ago – but it was only last May that I rode a fun bike ride sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Fe Trail (my favorite bike trail in the Metroplex). Today they were doing another one… and I didn’t want to miss it.

For outdoor stuff – this is the good part of the year here in Dallas – the weather can be iffy, but at least there is a possibility of a comfortable day – unlike the killer summer heat or the bitter winter windy cold. It turned out to be almost perfect – a little overcast (but that’s OK) and the temperature flopped around from cool to warm to cool and back again… but it was nice bike ridin’ weather.

I was planning on riding my commuter bike, but at the last minute I switched to my road bike. As always, going out for a day on a bike makes for some packing decisions and I left my Nikon at home – so my only photographs are from a crappy little point-and-shoot. It’s a lot safer and easier to carry, plus I wanted to enjoy myself and not have to think about taking pictures all the time.

The transit gods were kind today and I made it downtown in plenty of time – rode over to Fair Park where the ride started at Switching Gears Cyclery. We rode through Deep Ellum to the Traveling Man Sculpture, for a quick photo op stop.

Bike Riders under the Travelling Man

Bike Riders under the Travelling Man

Dallas Skyline and the Travelling Man's legs

Dallas Skyline and the Travelling Man’s legs

Then we wound through near East Dallas – which brought back a lot of memories of riding the Belmont #1 bus through there when I lived on Lower Greenville and worked downtown. A lot of changes to the neighborhood (most of them good). The best… really the only way to see a city is from a bicycle. Walking is too slow and a car… forget about it.

Next stop was at the Anvil Pub in Deep Ellum. I have never been there before but will be back. They have Temptress on tap… and that’s a very good thing.

Then it was on to the Deep Ellum Brewing Company – a place I have been to many times before. A great time, as always.

Bikes lined up at Deep Ellum Brewing

Bikes lined up at Deep Ellum Brewing

And then we finally hit the trail that the ride was named after. It has so much going for it – an urban hotspot (Deep Ellum with access to downtown and Fair Park) at one end – the greenery of White Rock Lake at the other, with a vibrant urban neighborhood in the middle. Plus, the highest point is in the middle, so you always finish up downhill.

We finished at The Lot – a nice place that has built a bridge over to the trail. It has been an oasis for me more than once when I was riding too much in too much heat and had to stop for refreshments and recovery.

I rode back downtown with some folks, hung out at Klyde Warren for a bit, then caught the DART train back north. The sun was setting for the trip and I was a little worn out. A good day.

Bicycle Brewery Tour

“Good people drink good beer.”
—-Hunter S Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Back in February I went on a bike ride organized by Bike Friendly Oak Cliff that went from Klyde Warren Park to a couple of local breweries. It was a blast and a lot of fun and I was really looking forward to the second edition which was scheduled for last Saturday. This one, The Craft and Growler Bicycle Brewery Tour was more ambitious – five scheduled stops across the city.

I had a few doubts when I woke up Saturday morning. After my nighttime ride the night before to the video production on the Omni Hotel and the fireworks on Reunion Tower a powerful cold front had blown through North Texas. There was rain predicted and a cold spitting wind was cutting across the land. Still, I didn’t want to wimp out so I packed my rain gear onto my commuter bike and set out.

“right’ i said. ‘but first, we need the car. and after that, the cocaine. and then the tape recorder, for special music, and some acapulco shirts.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

I have been enjoying the idea of riding completely carless – leaving my garage on my bicycle alone. Since the city is too large for my weak biking skills and so much interesting riding is in distant neighborhoods I utilize the DART train. The Arapaho Station is two miles from my house – which is a nice test ride… if my bike is having mechanical problems I’ll know it before I get too far from home.

The last few rides I have made the mistake of being a minute late – seeing the train pull out as I’m buying my ticket. One minute tardy turns into twenty minutes late as I have to wait for the next train. I didn’t want this to happen again so I rode hard into the wind and caught the early train. Because of this, I arrived at Main Street Garden Park an hour ahead of time… I was the first one there.

For a few minutes I wondered if nobody would show… it was cold, windy and sprinkling. But soon enough, some folks I knew came riding up and then, more and more. By the starting time there were… I would guess close to a hundred riders.

“Turn the goddam music up! My heart feels like an alligator!”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

At Main Street Garden Park

At Main Street Garden Park

At Main Street Garden Park

At Main Street Garden Park

At Main Street Garden Park

At Main Street Garden Park

We set out on the familiar route down Main through Deep Ellum then along Exhibition to the Fair Park area and Craft and Growler.

If you don’t know, a growler is a container – usually glass – that holds fresh keg beer. It’s a great way to buy local brews. Craft and Growler (I’ll write an entry on this place soon – it deserves its own) has thirty taps with mostly local brews – specially adapted for growler filling, though they will also sell you a glass or a flight of samples. It’s a great place.

I have bought a stainless steel vacuum growler – especially for bicycling. It will keep liquid cold (or hot) for a day or so and is nice and strong. I have already used it to carry ice water for bike rides on hot days. I found an old bag that used to carry an ancient Colorado Tape Backup (250 Megabytes!) and hooked it up like a pannier – the growler and two plastic glasses fit inside perfectly. At Craft and Growler I bought a glass and a growler full of The Chosen One toasted Coconut Ale from 903 Brewers in Sherman… and the day was on.

“We can’t stop here, this is bat country!”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Bicycles outside Craft and Growler, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycles outside Craft and Growler, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

After a lot of fun at Craft and Growler, everyone piled back on their bikes and rode the short distance to the Deep Ellum Brewing Company. They were having their Saturday tour, which is always a blast. I had forgotten how good their Double Brown Stout was.

There are so many things in life – things that you are really looking forward to with great, anxious expectation. It always turns out to be a disappointment. Nothing is ever as good as you think it is going to be. Except good craft beer.

It is even better.

“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the “good life”, whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman

Live Music at Deep Ellum Brewing Company

Live Music at Deep Ellum Brewing Company

The crowd at Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Dallas, Texas

The crowd at Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Dallas, Texas

“The highways are crowded with people who drive as if their sole purpose in getting behind the wheel is to avenge every wrong done them by man, beast or fate. The only thing that keeps them in line is their fear of death, jail and lawsuits.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels

Then, it was decided that it would be a good idea for everyone to get something to eat, so we rode to Klyde Warren park and the food trucks there. After food, we kept riding on down to the design district and Community Beer Company.

Tour at Community Beer Company

Tour at Community Beer Company

The tour there was interesting. One of their big fermentation vats was going strong – a vent hose ran into a drum of liquid which was bubbling and foaming like crazy. The power of yeast…. Community has a Mosaic IPA – one of the best of the local IPAs. It was recommended to me by a Community brewmaster at the Alamo Draft House movie party, and he wasn’t wrong.

It was time to move on and the brave souls that were still going rode off across the Trinity River on the Commerce Street Bridge to Four Corners Brewery in West Dallas.

“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

My commuter bike outside Four Corners Brewery

My commuter bike outside Four Corners Brewery

Outside Four Corners Brewery

Outside Four Corners Brewery

Leaving Four Corners Brewery, with downtown Dallas, and the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in the background.

Leaving Four Corners Brewery, with downtown Dallas, and the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in the background.

I love their branding, which is based on the Loteria, the Mexican Bingo Game. I had a Red’s Roja… and it was good.

“We must ride this strange torpedo out until the end.”
—-Hunter S Thompson

By now it was getting late in the day, but we had been lucky with the weather. Cold and windy, but nothing other than sprinkles. A lot of folks had given up and I was getting tired, but I wanted to get to the sixth, and last, stop. It was a vacant storefront a block down from the Texas Theater on Jefferson Street. It will be a small brewpub – to be called The Small Brewpub. I’m really enthusiastic about the renaissance of Oak Cliff – the most beautiful and interesting part of the city – and wanted to support a new business in this area.

Small Brewpub, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas

Small Brewpub, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas


Looking forward to an opening. I’ll keep y’all informed.

“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
—-Hunter S Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

People that go on bike rides like this are a very diverse bunch… but everybody gets along. The nice thing is that everyone has something in common – bicycles and, today, beer. It makes it easy to talk to complete strangers like they were your best friends. By the end of this ride, of course, all the folk were especially friendly, relaxed, and in a good mood. Five brewery stops will do that.

“Jesus! Did I SAY that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me? I glanced over at my attorney, but he seemed oblivious…”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Now it was time to go home. The sun was setting and, finally, the storm blew in and the skies opened up.

I have always wanted a Gore-Tex rain jacket but can’t afford one. One day last winter, though, I found a nice Eddie Bauer Gore-Tex shell at Goodwill for six dollars. It had a hole burned in the front – it must have been a real outdoorsman because the hole was right where you hold your campfire-heated Sierra Cup – and we sewed a patch over the spot. It looks like hell – but I guarantee that Gore-Tex stuff is a lifesaver when you have to ride a bike across Dallas in the dark, in cold and pouring rain. It’s amazing how it can be wet on the outside, yet dry and toasty on the inside even when you are sweating up a steep hill.

A month ago, I was able to figure out how to install a set of fenders on my new commuter bike. I was glad about that – it protected me from water thrown up from the street. Sure, I was wet from the rain – but there is a big difference between the water that comes down from the sky and the water that comes up from below.

We rode across the Jefferson Street Viaduct. Screaming down the steep back side in the storm was a surreal, fun, and slightly scary adventure. I turned off at the Union Station and caught the DART train back to Richardson.

I had the car to myself as the train worked its way through downtown. I felt ridiculous – an old fat man, soaking wet, sitting there at night holding a bicycle which I hung from one of the bike hooks in the roof of the car. I am, after all, the least cool person on the planet. The car was quiet and empty, until we reached the Arts District Station, where a huge crowd going home from the Texas State Fair was waiting.

I sat watching them fighting through the doors of the train like a crowd of desperate, rabid lemmings afraid the sea will dry up before they get to the cliff edge. I will never forget the near-panicked looks in their eyes. It’s a commuter train! Chill! You’ll get home!

An extended family crowded in around me, the mother shared my bench (I would have given up my seat, but I was sort of trapped back there between the crowd and my hanging bike). We talked about the fair and about my bicycle. I don’t want to be too critical – they were very nice people and I have no reason to criticize them. …but they had bought six VitaMix machines. They piled the big cardboard cases carrying the powerful blenders in the aisle. A low end VitaMix costs what? About four hundred dollars? They had at least two and a half thousand dollars of kitchen equipment on that train.

They complimented me on my bike riding and said, “That’s why we bought the VitaMix machines – to try and get healthy.”

So I felt a little better about myself – there are places in life more ridiculous than mine.

I was able to fight my way off the train at Arapaho Station, zipped my jacket tight, turned my lights on, and rode the last two miles through heavy rain in the pitch dark night. It was magnificent.

It was about eleven thirty when I made it home. I had been out riding the train, my bike, and sampling beer for thirteen and a half hours.

A good day.

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas