Day 402 – Fort Davis, TX

On my last night in Marfa as I was riding from the Hotel Paisano back to El Cosmico something shattered followed by the sound of metal scrapping on metal.  Wow…that’s a sound I haven’t heard before!

Upon close inspection I found that my rear disk break pad had shattered after 5,000+ miles of faithful service. With many more hills coming up I made it a priority to get a new one and with no bike shop in town I put in an order at Amazon and had a new pair, plus disk rotor overnighted to Fort Davis, where I am today.

I had previously ordered food in addition to new tires and tubes for the trailer – a total of 4 boxes were supposed  to be delivered to the post office, but I got a text in route saying they were rejected. When I called to find out what happened, the lady on the phone said she wouldn’t make any money off the shipping so wouldn’t receive them for me.  An asshole move in my opinion (it is USPS, not a private business), but she was nice enough to call up the UPS guy, Brandon, and have him re-deliver them to the motel. So thanks for doing that.

When I got up this morning I decided to check to see if my brake pads had come and saw the UPS truck on the road and got a chance to meet Brandon in person (see pics). Really nice guy.

I spent a few hours working on my bike in the serenity of the morning next to a hammock that was beckoning me to lay down. I stayed strong and on task, mostly, and got the tires mounted and brake disc and pads installed. While I was doing working the owner of the motel, Randall stopped by for a chat. He is a native of Fort Davis and in addition to running the motel, he is in the editing stage of a self funded TV pilot about the RV lifestyle. I said I would be more than happy to take a look when he is done and give my feedback.

Randall also introduced me to his friend Conner, who was having lunch with some friends that had just gotten back from a trip to Israel. This peek my interest so I said I would stop by and chat when I finished up with the bicycle maintenance.

But before I did that I met Dr. Loren and her student assistant Katie and found out that they were doing field research on bats in the area. They were driving around recording the echolocation pings that bats use to navigate around in order to figure out the species and their distribution in the area. Dr. Loren actually co-authored a book on the bats of Texas and showed me a plot of two different bats – the very common Mexican-free tail (millions live under the Congress Street bridge in Austin) and the more rare silver-haired. Check out the pictures – they are really different calls both in duration and frequency sweep.

After I got everything packed up I stopped by the deli, that Randall also owns, next to the hotel and had a lovely conversation with Conner his wife Celeste and Craig and his wife Jan (they are the ones that has recently gotten back from Israel). They were all very interested in learning about my trip and then I asked Craig and Jan about their trip. It turns out they have gone on several trips and are building a relationship with an Orthodox Jewish community, which caught my attention because they are Christian. I very much enjoy hearing about how people of varying faiths get along and what the experience means to them.

This is because I believe that one of the fundamental problems that we humans face is accepting the right for others to practice their beliefs as they see fit. That is, actively making room for each and everyone of us to realize what our beliefs are and then protect that space from the intrusion of others. This is incredibly challenging in a multi-cultural society and the reason I think our founding document explicitly states in the 1st Amendment that

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”


Back to Craig and Jan – they are part of a contemporary Christian movement referred to as Hebrew Roots. There is way to much to include here, but to briefly summarize – it is a move back to the Torah, first 5 book of the Bible, by understanding the time an context it was written in. Read the actual Wiki link above to get a better sense and also this link to Craig and Jan’s website as well. I should add that I assume Conner and Celeste are also part of Hebrew Roots and that Craig and Jan’s friend Terri also joined the table a while later and had a lot of add to the conversation.

Of course I was soon asked what I believed by Celeste and I told the group that I am an atheist – that is I believe there is no God, but also a humanist – the belief in agency and critical thinking based on factual evidence. They all seemed to take it well and we continued on having a fulfilling conversation about our beliefs, their meaning and importance in our lives.

I think it is important to have meaningful discussions about religion and politics and I know that goes against the type of polite conversation we are told to have. Things can get heated quickly, but in this case they didn’t and I felt respected and felt I was respectful in turn. Obviously it’s hard to gauge how everyone truly felt in the short amount of time we spent together, but we all hugged and I am very sincere when I say how much I enjoyed speaking with all of them.

Celeste gave me a copy of Christianity Reconsidered by Warren L. Bowles. It’s a small book and I’m always interested in receiving heart-felt information from people. Thanks Celeste and thanks to everyone that shared in our conversation today. Please feel free to add your comments to my blog – agree, disagree, correct the record, what ever is on your mind.