Monday, December 30, 2013


It's Nov 26th and it's taken me longer to get to Brownsville from Austin than I anticipated. I get Mexican car insurance for 6 months. The difference in price between one month and six is only $9. The dear old lady that sold me the policy suggested I not cross at Brownsville and go out of my way to cross at Mission, TX. Since it was past noon at this point, I elected to wait and cross in the early morning. With some time to kill, I went to where MTV used do crazy SPRING BREAK broadcasts.... South Padre ISLAND.
had it been mid March, this spot would have been jumping

instead of drinking tequila from bikini clad navel's, I ate a pomegranate on the beach
I was up early and on the border getting my tourist permit by 7:30am. I twiddled my thumbs til 8am when the bank opened & was able to get the temporary vehicle importation license. By 8:30am I was on the road and officially in the Mexican morning traffic of Matamoros. Right about 8:33am a white SUV with TEXAS plates comes around on my right at a stop sign. The driver has a balaclava pulled up over his nose, concealing his identity. He's maddogging me and looking at my front license plate. Once confirmed that I do have CA plates, he starts motioning for me to pull over. I wave him on, uncertain of his intentions. He pulls over just past this intersection, and I drive past them. Immediately they pull back into traffic and tail me up the on ramp. They pull alongside me, now on my left and start making jerking motions with the car like they are going to ram me if I don't pull over. I can now see the passenger who is not wearing a face mask. Both men appear to be in their early 20's and look plenty sketchy. I try to make little eye contact because I'm just waiting to see one of them flash a gun at me. Luckily we come into more traffic and they are forced to get behind me & eventually get far enough behind that they give up chase. I take a minute to catch my breath and make the left turn that I needed to get the road out of town and book it south. Perhaps their intention was to simply rob me, but being abducted was my first thought after all the horror stories I'd been hearing from people once I told them I was getting ready to drive into Mexico. It's tough to tell & I'm quite thankful that it was just a "little scare" and not a full blown incident.

I get my first bean tacos of the trip at this roadside stand

I'd really enjoyed my tacos and driving through the rural countryside of NE Mexico. The 1st major town I had to negotiate was Tampico. I got a little turned around, but felt like I was on the right route through town. Traffic slows down and all of a sudden what appears to be a cop is waving my vehicle to the side of the road. My Spanish is decent, and this cop starts speaking rapidly at me. The best I can understand is that oversized vehicles such as mine aren't allowed to take this road directly through town. He is talking about a 8000 peso fine that I'll have to pay tomorrow. I was semi prepared for this sort of crooked BS and start asking if I can pay something now. He's pestering me about how many US dollars I have with me. In the end after going back and forth, he took about 1100 pesos off me, returning 50 so I could pay the bridge toll on my way out of town. People had forewarned me about these sort of bribes. Everybody said it would only cost $5-20 USD. I'll admit I'm not the best negotiator, but I think the prices have gone up. I dreaded having to deal with this sort of thing in every half way large town.
the bridge out of Tampico - where the crooked cop gave me back 50 pesos of the bribe to pay the bridge toll
If rule #1 was to cross the border as early as possible and get past the frontera region quickly, then rule #2 was never drive at night. Be off the road and know where you're going to sleep well before the sun goes down. One this fine day, I kept driving and looking for a decent spot to car camp. Nothing materialized and it's dusk, so I pull over at a turn out in the hills and park the van off the road as best I could one what looked like long abandoned property. Very wearily, I locked up and got in the back and read. Didn't sleep to soundly that first night in Mexico on the side of the road.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Austin revisited

close to sunset on a warm day @ Barton Springs
 I was in Houston a few days after Make A Wish and realized that with my postage delay, I should drive back to AUSTIN to spend my extra days there vs Houston. I went right to In.Gredients then to Barton Springs for a swim.
ended up sitting next to Betsy from the INTERNET SHACK at the springs

taco night at Casa de Luz

mighty compost load leaving Casa de Luz

Thanksgiving sandwich special @ Counter Culture

was cool to see this film in TEXAS - matthew did a great job

saw this one night on the way to the Alamo Cinema
went to Ladies Night for a screening of Nine to Five! better than I remember as a kid
the blissful chef treated me to some treats at Capital City Bakery

Kristen the owner was wearing an INSIDE OUT hoodie!!!!
figured I'd get another snack at the Yacht
felt sneaky eating the freeto burrito in the library

rad wheatpaste across from the yacht

the postcard on the side of a building
Whitley and my new pal Tarzan!

read it

Margaret Nee asked about the white tree so I did some research

looking the other way from the white tree is a ghost bike w/ a train rolling across the lake
another wonderful night at CASA - Brann & Brent - I met Brent at Barton the same day I met Betsy aka Chelsey

Saturday, November 23, 2013


When I was last in Austin back in spring of 2012 I was fortunate to get a tour of In.gredients before in opened for business. Being back in Austin this month, I got another tour during their 2nd year in operation.

not a large store, but a beautiful footprint

lots of outdoor seating and onsight gardens

the bulk section is on point

lots of local and non packaged eats in the cold case

nut butters to be placed in your own container

kale bunches sit in glasses of water to prolong freshness

mushrooms in bulk

the produce selection is small, but 90% local

lots of greens grown on their grounds

and I imagine most of that 3.2lbs is from customers waste

roasted locally, but not grown locally

well maintained tare station
Their model has evolved over the last 16 months, and a lot of the packaging offsets come on the side of their vendors. A local egg producer utilizes reusable cartons upon In.gredients request. Lots of the bulk items come in buckets vs plastic bags.

Friday, November 22, 2013


EZ7 was my 1st stop - one of the most legendary ditches in the world

1st skated it in 1991 with Brodie Ryan

I didn't have much for it, but a smooth front rock

back tail snap

there is now a prefab park 40 feet from the ditch

graffiti at the skatepark
used to be all vegan, but it's still radical

I splurged & tried the guac

then I saw that they use KLICH's motto

my 1st arepa - think the merging of a tostada & a torta

it was my 1st time to wear shorts and flip flops in what seemed like months

I asked this outreach worker what it was like to be sponsored by the devil
Duke  poolside in Houston

my Houston host and my dad's college roommate - James
James took me on a tour of Galvlston - this mansion survived the 1900 hurricane

oil wealth

watermelon coasters at OASIS

tasty sandwiches at this quaint little OASIS

the pier & the seawall

the Johnny Romano skatepark

the Satori School - craig sends them promo

a giant trumpet near where the cruise ships land
stopped off at NASA on the drive back

that's a fake space shuttle - James wanted it to be real

RADICAL EATS version of the torta - it's got nothing on POKEZ~