Quite a few amazing things happened today. But first let me backtrack. A few days ago, some fellow runners sent me an email. They had run across the country three years ago and had found my website and wanted to share their experiences with me and see if there was anything they could do to help out. They had run on nearly exactly the same route that I am running through Texas, and so they sent me a list of contacts they had made along the way who had helped them out, hosted them, etc. They ranted and raved about how hospitable Texas was, and so far I cannot agree more.
So, to start off, today I reached Texas!!!!! Three states down! And adios to the big mountains! I really can’t believe it. The second big milestone is that yesterday I reached one-third of my way across the country!! Huntington Beach to Tatum, NM, roughly 1,000 miles. Again really hard for me to believe. Certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve been on the road this long, although at the same time it is getting harder and harder to imagine life as I knew it back home.
Anyway, I reached Texas in the middle of a windstorm. 40 – 50 mph gusts of wind, knocking me down the highway. Luckily they were mostly at my back, but I was jumping along dodging tumbleweed and looking a bit hesitantly at all the dust on the horizon. My parents and I stopped at the Texas state line to take some photos, and a man stopped by to ask us if we were having trouble – we were out dillydallying around in the middle of a windstorm after all. So we got to talking to this man, and he introduced himself as Tommy Burrus. I thought for a moment and realized I recognized the last name from the contact list that the other cross-country runners had just given me. Low and behold him and his wife were on the contact list and had hosted these runners back in 2008. Tommy immediately invited us in for lunch, and me for the night. My plan was to run 16 more miles to Plains but he told me that was a very bad idea because of the winds and the tumbleweed flying across the street. I think that there are signs everywhere, guiding you through life, and if meeting Tom Burrus today wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is. It was no coincidence. So I took him and his wife, Sarah, up on the offer, and here I am at their ranch, with a fully belly and clean hair.
And if all that is not enough, Tom and Sarah sat down with me and went over my route, calling ahead to friends they have in towns that I’ll be running through in the next couple weeks. When I left from California, I was pretty nervous about Texas because I had so few contacts and the state is so large. Now, I am overwhelmed by the connections the folks here have with nearby communities, and the friendships that they keep up, which were evident in Tom and Sarah’s phone conversations today. And, I’m staying on a ranch. A real ranch. We ate roastbeef for lunch, and hamburg for dinner. Incredible. I started this trek as a vegetarian, but have come to realize that when you are staying at a cattle ranch and you pass on the meat, you are missing a great opportunity and being insulting. And aside from that, being vegetarian is beginning to feel like a luxury of normal, independent living. When someone cooks me a meal, I don’t turn it down.
Days like this are almost too perfect. Today would have been entirely perfect if it were not for the fact that my parents left and now I am really on my own from here on out. The next level of this challenge begins. There are a lot of emotions involved in saying goodbye to my parents again, and feeling the real real meaning of being alone, but I think I will tackle those in tomorrow’s post. For now I think I will keep it to the story of the Burrus family. When my parents thanked them and asked if there was anything they could do in return, Tommy recounted the story of an old country-western song. A woman gets a flat tire and a young man stops to help her. When she says she wishes there was something she could do in return, he simply says “Don’t let the gift stop here”. Later on, this woman eats dinner at the local cafe, and leaves her pregnant waitress a $100 tip with the note “Don’t let the gift stop here”. Low and behold, this waitress is the wife of the young man who helped with the flat tire.
What an excellent perspective. Don’t let the gift stop here. I am certain I will remember that til I’m old and gray.