Charley’s ride across America 18. Little house, big house


Day 31 feb 27. 55 miles 6:30 75 degrees, some wind, hilly, tired legs, end in Round Top TX

Day 32 feb 28.  45 miles 5:00 83 degrees, no cars or dogs, medium hills. End in Bastrop TX

Day 33 Mar 1.  42 miles 4:15. 76 degrees cloudy, not too hilly, lots of traffic,  2 dogs, 2 statues end Austin TX

Day 34 mar 2.  Rest in Austin with sister Karen

Day 35 marv3.  56 miles 7:17 lots of hills and traffic, beautiful clear 75 degree day, flat tire in last mile!! End in Johnson City TX

Total miles 1475  finished 52% finished !!! ( corrected for actual miles)

Dear friends and family,

I had an especially hard ride today with some headwinds and hills all day over seven hours.  Then with less than a mile to go, as I was thinking about that shower and relaxing, the rear tire went flat. I was so close that I walked it to the motel and fixed it in the room at my leisure. Looked like a seam blew out in the tube. Maybe I’m too big.

Yesterday I had a lovely rest day in Austin with my sister Karen, who lives in Dallas and came down for the day. I had a new chain and brake pads installed at a shop, then we spent the day at the very quiet Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower place. Hardly ant flowers yet, so mostly empty but a nice place to walk around and explore the grounds with few others. Relaxing. I haven’t spent much time with Karen in recent years, so thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of good food too.

I found out that riding up to Austin on the east side is all green and grassy, but this west side is dry and brown.

The route I took from Bastrop to Austin was all back roads with no cars, ten miles of dirt roads, only one aggressive dog and two pit bull statues in front yards that had me pull out my horn, but I did recognize that they were statues before I blew it. Paranoid?

Often, when dogs come after me, I can see the owners sitting on their front porch watching, which is very frustrating. Maybe that’s why I got so much enjoyment out of the tables turned. 

On that country road I rode along a fenced in area with a row of pickup trucks with multiple dog crates in the back. Some training or certification was going on as I could see the traffic cones lined up and the orange vests and whistles on what looked like the judges. As I rode by, every single dog broke ranks and started barking and running towards me ( safe behind the fence) and pulling owners on leashes. My presence completely disrupted whatever they were doing. Not exactly sure why I got such a kick out of it, but I smiled about it for a long while.

Small homes:

I spent Monday night at the Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel. It was way over budget at $175. per night, but I have been fascinated with the whole small house living model. I have been studying the shipping container homes for a few years, so it was worth it to experience living in one, at least for  the night.

All of you know that Liz and I sold our house, so we are exploring what could be next. The idea of plopping a container down on some great lot, having instant home, and locking it up when gone, has a certain appeal.

The container unit I was in was well situated to enjoy the sunset and then an amazing star and Venus and Jupiter heavenly body show after dark.

They even had a hot tub just for me since I was the only customer.

The unit itself was decorated with antiques and set up quite well for an overnight rental. I noticed that in a single 40 foot container there wouldn’t be room for clothes, or pantry or a full kitchen. I suppose you could build it with built-ins like a boat to make it more efficient, but it showed me that even for one person a single container wouldn’t work as a living space. I did some research online and noticed most that are set up for a permanent living space use multiple containers.

It was fun trying out a different structure and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

That’s my small house experience.

As I start to ride through Texas, I notice that things are generally bigger here, and one thing surely bigger are the houses. It’s hard to get a good picture because I can just make out these humongous houses set way back from the road on a ranch. I wonder if they are so big because of maybe big families or they have the same ideas I did once when I had a big house.

Back in 1976 I had my first CPA job in Youngstown, Ohio. It was actually a good fit for me in a way, because it was a small town office, but a branch of an international Accounting firm- Touche -Ross.

A couple of buddies, Bruce and Tim and I started talking about maybe sharing a living space to get something better than what we could afford solo. The idea grew from there. What if we let our imaginations loose to see what could be?. Why not? 

Bruce called and said he found something. It was next to the park, was huge, but needed a total remodel.The best part was the  price was only $28,000. It was just under 10,000 square feet, so a real MANSION. Bruce was in the building business with his family so had access to materials and subs. We were only 23 years old ( maybe 16 years old developmentally) and didn’t know enough to be fearful. The vision of living with this lifestyle was intoxicating, and there were no drugs or alcohol involved in our thinking, just that vision.

I drew up a business plan to show a bank how we could borrow money to remodel this house and they would have more equity as security after we were finished. The bank loaned the  three of us $51,000 for the project. 

In six months time, working weekends and evenings with doing all the grunt work ourselves ( including drywall, hanging cabinets, refinishing floors) and subbing out the stucco work, electrical and plumbing we had a gorgeous mansion to live in . Every weekend we had parties. Big parties often. We even went so far as to print out written invitations with our address to hand out to anyone we met we wanted to invite. 

One morning after a particularly crowded evening party, I walked out of my bedroom to get coffee and in the upstairs hall met a very attractive woman my age attired in only the tiniest towel, having just showered in one of our seven bathrooms. I asked her if she was a friend of Bruce Or Tim. She answered that she didn’t really know anyone here, but came to the party with a friend and just stayed over in one of the spare bedrooms. I just realized my vision. I didn’t either smoke a pipe or live in my pajamas, but I learned something about bringing a vision to fruition. 

It took a few years before my visioning took a step up. Ah, youth!

I realized as I pedaled into Austin that I’ve already solo cycled halfway across America. Second half started today. Fifty-ish miles per day, day after day. I’m feeling good about that and also about the second half. Stay tuned.

Thanks always for the feedback and comments.

If anyone want me to quit sending these to you, I’m happy to remove your name.

Sending love, 


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