After many months of camping during “lockdown” last year, much of it dispersed and remote, Marilynn sets the rules straight for this year. “It was a great summer, but I’m burnt out on camping,” she says. “The last thing I need to do is get remote. It’s time to go out and splurge!

I could not agree more. Let’s get “vaxed-up” and hit the road. Our preliminary plan goes from Phoenix to Florida to Ohio and back to Phoenix for a duration of about two months. We shall see how it works.

Feels good getting on the road again. I miss the high winds and semi-tractor-trailer trucks blowing my Tacoma pickup around the interstate. Have not traveled along the southern route across the USA in a long time.

With no burning desire to spend the night in El Paso, Texas, we find a gem of a motel at “Sierra Blanca Historic Lodge” for only fifty-six dollars. Built out of local carved stone back in 1938, General Patton, Elvis Presley, and John Wayne once stayed here. So did we, enjoying the recent room renovations.

It feels awkward to emerge into a hopeful, post-pandemic life again. Everything is different. Even for those who claim that their lives have not changed this past year. Y’all know what I mean, masks/no masks, social distancing, etc., and I find myself constantly looking for social cues about how to proceed with polite protocol.

A visit with family in San Antonio gives us a semblance of normalcy. The simple act of sitting and chatting in the living room over coffee with folks we have not seen in many years brings joy.

Okay, here comes our first splurge. We be “walkin’ in Austin” after booking three nights at the downtown Fairmont Hotel. These upscale hotels give nothing away, not even coffee in the morning, but the comfort and view make up for it. Getting comfortable around crowds of people will take more time getting used to, though.

It is refreshing to see lots of people out and about. Here in Austin, masks and Covid conscience protocols are still in place despite what the Texas governor says, making the transition easier, albeit complicated.

A walk down Rainey Street greets us with many outdoor venues chock full of food, drinks, friendly folks, and some live music. This feels fabulous. We indulge (big surprise), and soak in the vibe of being around strangers. After a few drinks, glimpses of normalcy make more appearances.

Sixth Street houses the true blues clubs. Unfortunately, most legendary artists have not emerged into this different world yet, but good food comes easy. We find delight in everything from authentic Texas barbeque and Detroit style pizza to Voodoo donuts, as well as healthy fare.

Speaking of health food, on Easter morning the Bunny serves us Mimosas (health food in my book) while we listen to a percussion band.

This is the first time that the band has played in public in over a year, and they rock the outdoor venue. They must have jammed a million times together the past year.

While things are more active here than in past months, we realize that now is not the time to form a fair impression of the musical, booming city of Austin. We will need to return when things have found a new, post-pandemic normal.

Our final stay in Texas greets us with a reunion of old friends in the Hill Country outside of Austin.

Marilynn and Julie were best friends back in college. I met her once, about thirty years ago, when we crashed on my previous Harley down in Tucson. She housed my beat-up bike until I could retrieve it. Now, she and her husband put us up and took us out. What a blast! Julie and Marilynn picked-up after thirty years as if no time had passed. Closest we have felt to being normal in way too long.

Thank you, Abundant Universe!

Stay tuned as we continue to travel on, emerge, and splurge.