We have finally made our exit from Austin. It's a nice place, but we were getting antsy and eager to head out on the road again and see new sights, meet new people, and visit new places.
We spent our last few days in Austin buying gear, changing old chains and gear clusters and brakes for new ones and trying to get our bikes tuned and ready to run. We stocked up on healthy food supplies, including some great sourdough rye bread (difficult to come by in most small towns and roadside food stops), also met some more of Peter and Crystal's friends and cooked up a storm of wholemeal pizza, and trout, and watched Little Miss Sunshine and The Cat Returns, both of which were very enjoyable films. We stayed in Austin longer than expected, but Peter and Crystal were gracious hosts, and we're extremely grateful to them for their hospitality. The weekend weather was sunny and clear and would have been perfect for travelling, but we were still a bit busy getting our bike parts changed and our bags repacked, so we didn't set out until Monday. Almost immediately it became clear that my chain was not behaving, so we pointed ourselves (in some frustration) at the nearest bike shop, and grabbed lunch while they fiddled with it. After many tweaks (shortening the chain, taking a test ride, adjusting the gear cables, taking a test ride, etc...) and finally fitting a new rear derailleur we rode out of town, annoyed that so much of the day had been blown on bike-fixing, but determined to leave Austin behind us. A little after sunset we decided to grab dinner at a Chinese buffet, which turned out to be delicious, and got talking with two different couples about our trip. Both couples offered us accommodation for the night, so we got their addresses and headed to the closer couple (Ken and Rebecca) whose home was only a few kilometers away. They'd warned us that we had to pay for our bed by entertaining them with tales of what Australia is like, so we stayed up chatting for some time before turning in for the night.
The next morning we arose, had brekky in the sunshine in the back yard, and rode out to the home of the second couple (Dan and Sarah) for lunch, stopping briefly en route to look at a Hindu temple by the road. Dan and Sarah have a property near Buda and are working on making their place completely self-sufficient and "off the grid". We were very impressed by their nice open-plan place and the surroundings, which reminded us a bit of the semi-arid parts of South Australia, took some time to fidget with Yana's bike's gears, and eventually wound up staying for the night, giving me a chance to cook up a pasta dish I'd been trying to reinvent for a while, using freshly made coriander pesto (coriander = cilantro, for any north americans reading) instead of the more usual tomato or cream sauces that people put on pasta dishes. We had a nice long conversation about health foods, organic farming techniques, and whatnot. Today we'll be setting off into a more sparsely-populated area, so the tent will probably be coming in handy, and we'll be getting out into more open country. We're both looking forward to the change of scenery and the open spaces.