This morning we left beautiful Lake Buchanan and Rainbow Hearth after a wonderful week that combined work, leisure, and the making of a new friend. It was simply a treat to work with Mariah and assist with the running of Rainbow Hearth, and we leave a piece of our hearts behind at that special hilltop sanctuary where we are certain to return.
Diving back into Babylon, we made our way to Pflugerville, a semi-industrial and most un-picturesque suburb of Austin, which is the only place for miles in any direction where we could have a sorely needed wheel alignment on our rig. Noticing that the tires on our third axle were showing signs of wear and dry rot, we also elected to have those two tires replaced, bring to eight the number of new tires that the rig now enjoys. (For those interested in such things, we have four wheels on our drive axle, and two wheels on the front and rear axles.)
Walking around the working class neighborhood off of Interstate 35 behind the garage after dropping off the rig, we noted a community of modest homes---some more ramshackle than others---many of which sported chain-link fences behind which small feisty dogs yapped as we walked by with Tina. Interspersed among the homes were empty trash-strewn lots, several churches, car repair yards and other small businesses. Many of the homes, businesses---and even churches---were actually double-wide or single-wide trailers plunked on a small piece of scrubby land, some more cared for than others. It was an interesting mix, to say the least, and we have learned that many Americans of modest means call such trailers home, although some of this neighborhood were rather worse for wear.
Meandering down one nearby street, a Latino mechanic from the garage drove up beside us, telling us in broken English that the manager of the shop wanted to speak with us. After chatting with him in his native Spanish, we called the shop only to learn that a front ball joint would need to be replaced before the alignment could be done, a delay which would mean a return tomorrow for yet another round of escalating repairs. With a somewhat sinking feeling, we agreed for the ball joint to be ordered, and resigned ourselves that another day in Babylon would be needed.
These transitions from lovely spots of natural beauty back into the world of commerce and American ugliness---"Babylon"---can be difficult, and we often find ourselves wilting under the pressure and tumult of the world at large. Still, humor and levity do sometimes spring forth amidst the difficulties, such as a chuckle being had when we came upon these two vehicles along our walk, vehicles which Mary felt might be pictured right alongside our rig as jalopies worthy of our consideration:
The double-decker pictured above is actually a 1950s London diesel bus, and we imagined retrofitting it for our purposes. Just imagine, a two-story piece of "wheel estate"!
Mary also gave us a laugh by personally demonstrating that everything is bigger in Texas, even the cans of beer found on the side of the road.
So, after a dinner reunion with Mary's consistently kind and generous parents, we returned to our noisy campground off of I-35 for a night of sleep before returning to scenic Pflugerville for one more round of mechanical repairs. Luckily, Tina will have doggie daycare tomorrow with Mary's mom, allowing us to go to a movie while our rig is in the shop.
The return to Babylon is not always easy, and we go to sleep this evening with the dull roar of the interstate to lull us into dreamland, where we may very well hope to hear the gentle lapping of the water on the shores of Lake Buchanan. Meanwhile, the ceaseless traffic on I-35 flows on.......