Days 91 (2016-11-25): Exploring & Riverwalk Parade
I wake up, stomach rumbling, and waste no time in preparing peanut butter, banana, honey, and cinnamon toast. Jacob.walks by announcing his intent to “wake and bake” so I am unsurprised later when I walk out to see a bunch of dudes sitting on beat-up couches smoking. We chat for a while and I play with the stray kittens that call this area home. Jacob and his friends disappear, and I hop on my bike to explore.
It’s quiet today – probably because it is Black Friday and everyone is at Best Buy and Wal-Mart. I discover The Pearl, a recently revitalized neighborhood sporting swanky shops and high-class cuisine centered around the culinary school. Compared to the surrounding neighborhoods it is busy, and I pedal slowly through taking in the sights. I continue onto downtown, not really worrying about where I go or how I get there. Downtown is far more vertical than I have seen recently, with several 20+ story towers. It’s a far cry from El Paso too – I actually see people! There are shops, restaurants, and plenty of people wandering the Riverwalk. I pass by for now, continuing west where I discover the Market Square and an ongoing outdoor market with live music, vendors, food, and tons of people milling about. I walk through, noting the people and the art. I feel like I am in a real city again!
The market is only a few blocks from the Riverwalk, all part of the main downtown area. I walk along the Riverwalk, squeezing behind rows of chairs. Apparently, there is a holiday lights parade on the Riverwalk tonight. Noted. The central downtown area is tight with all the chairs so I detour to surface streets and return further north. The Riverwalk is gorgeous – lush, green, and bordered by a mix of restaurants, arts, theater, and more. I follow it all the way back past the Pearl, hunting for a cheap lunch. The place I choose is closed (holiday) and I end up paying way too much for fairly good but unfilling tacos at La Vida Taco. Back to the house now to relax, eat second lunch, and wait for the parade.
I ride back into town, still enjoying a comfortable ride despite increased traffic. Plenty of guys on fixies and no helmets are out, the prevailing trend so far. I take up a spot along the Riverwalks’ upper terrace and await the parade. I watch for about an hour as small decorated barges, mostly sponsored by local businesses and organizations, float down river blasting a variety of music. It is an extremely slow process, with several minutes passing between each barge. Neat to see, but not exactly exciting. I head back to the house, which I have all to myself tonight, and make dinner while having a solo dance party with the remainder of my boxed wine.
Day 92 (2016-11-26): Spanish Missions
When I travel I expect the things around me to change, but what I learn is that what changes most is not the things, but how I perceive them.
I spend Saturday out and about again, first visiting the library. Whenever I visit a new city I like to visit the main library. On this trip libraries are a major source of water, bathrooms, internet, and a place to relax where I don’t have to buy something or risk the scorn of an employee. I can usually even snag wifi from outside when they’re closed – a major boon on weekends in small towns. Plus, the library says a lot about a city – what materials does it have? What kind of programming? What type of people use its resources? What styles are in the interior and exterior design?
Next I ride 10 miles south of downtown, along the river, following the Mission Road to 5 historic Spanish missions. It’s a beautiful ride, mostly on river trail with some segments on bike lane. By this point in the trip I am pretty tired of museums and similar learning experiences, but I do really enjoy looking at the old architecture and imagining life back when Spanish missionaries sought to convert native Americans to Christianity. It blows my mind sometimes, how far we have come since then, and how far we still need to go…
Back at the house I make burritos for dinner and nap for a while, knowing Jacob is planning a party for the evening. When I awake I join in for the firepit, mostly keeping to myself as I become increasingly put-off by the experience. This is a drug crowd, and I don’t just mean weed. They talk about tripping on acid, eating shrooms, taking Molly, and waking with a bottle of wine to take the edge off. It’s not just consumption either – as I doze on the outside couch I listen to a bunch of guys talk about their production schemes and making more drugs. It’s not so much the use of drugs that bothers me – although I’m certainly not a fan – but the obsession with drugs, the integration of drugs into all things. No thanks.
I listen to my host talk about a ridiculous “Pizza Gate’ conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton, some pizza shops, and child abduction and trafficking. He believes it is real – the evidence is clear. The media are just trying to cover up Hillary’s mess. He read all about it. I look it up – yes, there is a conspiracy theory, but it is a wisp of a story with false evidence easily disproved by looking at the supposed source material. Sorry, “reading all about it” does not mean flipping through Reddit. Nice try. His Pizza gate story leaves me unable to believe a story a time he got real fucked up and about his ex girlfriend came to him, talking about being a “fammond” and seeing his “daemons” and taking the evil out of him.
Okay, I’ve decided I am leaving tomorrow instead of Monday. The one upside – really cute stray/neighborhood kittens.