After several weary hours of sitting down with no food, I stepped out of the Dallas Love Field airport. It was hot. I unzipped the legs off my hiking pants and waited. A woman called out to me, speaking a tribal language I couldn't come close to recognizing. She was acting like she had never seen an airport before. I did my best to communicate that I couldn't understand and got the attention of an airport worker. He couldn't understand her any better, but appeared to be able to handle the situation better than I could. At one point, she balanced her suitcase on her head and started walking off. A few minutes later, her son arrived and picked her up.
My mom is not an early riser and hadn't had breakfast yet by the time she got to the airport, so we went to an IHOP. Breakfast in America! I managed to put away my entire big honkin' omelette and three pancakes...and half of hers.
Spent most of the day sleeping, decompressing, and setting up my new replacement phone. That was short-lived, however, once my brother arrived the next day, and my cousin the day after that. The next few days were a whirlwind of errands, big meals, a Texas football game that was one of the most exciting I've ever seen in person, and a 30th birthday celebration that involved enough dancing and good beer that even I had trouble keeping up.
Oh, and I rode Invictus every day. It was like catching up with an old friend. Some things about it felt weird; I felt like I was going to just break the rims at first. But other things didn't seem strange, and I think that's because I expected it. I assumed it would be easy to accelerate, and that the handling would be sensitive. And it was. I think it's not always the little things that get you, like a lot of people say. It's the things you didn't expect.
The weather was unseasonably cool, making the weekend, especially the rides, rather pleasant. I even wore long sleeves on one ride! Technically, it was still summer, in Texas! Weird...
The Dallas Cowboys' stadium is kind of impressive, but not a great place to watch a football game, especially not a college football game. It's great if you wish most of life was more like going to the mall. Everything is polished and slick and clearly indoors. You find yourself watching the live action on the big screen at least as much as on the field. And since it's a domed stadium, whenever the band plays, you hear a deafening jumbled roar. Forgive me, I like the fall sunshine, the colors, the pageantry, the band, the live mascots, the real grass. I love clapping along and singing songs that have been echoed for over a century. This was more like watching the game at home, but at the biggest game-watching party of all time, with overpriced drinks ($8.50 for a beer, $5.00 for water). But the place is big, and it looks good in a modern way, I'll give it that.
My last two days I mostly had to myself, and spent that time taking care of the last few things I needed to before leaving. I had it in my head that I'd break out my Spanish book and review some verb tenses and irregulars that have been giving me trouble, but that worked about the same as planning to start studying for finals over Thanksgiving break.
A week of sloth and gluttony was just what I needed. It was nice to sleep in a bed, use toilets that flush, go anywhere without listening to cars honking. It was nice to be able to communicate without concentrating. And grocery stores, my goodness, you don't realize how wonderful they are until they're gone.
All the same, by the end of the week, I missed the ride. The adventure, the challenge, the independence. I guess that's a good sign. The days will soon start getting longer again. Once in Peru, I'll be in less populated areas, increasingly so as I head south. And I feel more appropriately supplied now, ditching my heavy U-lock and jury-rigging a pair of rain knickers. I'm ready for a whole new half of the planet. But I already miss breakfast tacos.
To my family, thank you everyone for giving me a thoroughly enjoyable week off in Texas. Matt and Shaughn, I had a blast living it up with y'all. And especially thank you to my parents for taking me in and stuffing me full of comfort food for an entire week. And thanks for the new water jug and tires, Valeria approves.