Crossing Texas from West to East. Strange towns, a weird city and finally a great idea on how to continue our trip. Thank you, NASA for the support.
Fredericksburg, 22nd March
We’re on our way out of Big Bend National Park. Some 100 km to the north to the small town of Alpine. Along the roadsides Blue Bonnets in full bloom.
And that’s the time when Prado starts making some strange noise.
Well, we have to admit in Las Vegas some 3500 km away, we had some major maintenance work to do: change the timing belt. Thus, somehow it must be logical that by now we finally have to get busy with the collateral damages the mechanic did at that time.
We open the hood. Immediately we state that a radiator hose is not properly fixed. And thus touches a pulley. No problem, just a couple of bolts and it’s fixed.
We move on. Still this noise. By now we think it could be a loose belt. We check again. Indeed, 1 of the belts is slightly loose. Must be that. No problem, we can surely have it fixed in Alpine tomorrow.
Without any further problems, we
The next morning: we find a mechanic. Of course he tells us that he’s fully booked for the next 3 weeks. Then he discovers that he can have a look at a real diesel engine. Immediately he starts his diagnostics. It’s not the bell, it’s the bearing of a belt’s pulley.
The very same bearing we already replaced in Laos a few 1000 km earlier. We see the bearing. Obviously, someone damaged it recently. Well, looks like collateral damage of the Las Vegas’ mechanic when he removed the belts. A search in the whole town and the spare is being placed. 150 bucks and we’re off.
We’re ready to drive on. To Fredericksburg some 500 km to the east.
Knowing that Prado got all necessary attention we’re optimistic that all collateral damages of this great mechanic in Las Vegas are repaired.
After a few hours drive thru rather disappointing landscape Prado seems to get some fever. The coolant temperature raises. What the hell. Again we open the hood. And again we discover immediately the cause for Prado’s fever: the radiator cap is not properly closed. Coolant spread all over the engine.
Definitely, a collateral damage of this morning’s friendly mechanic. Probably he touched the cap when working on the pulley.
Slowly we drive to a nearby village. No mechanic, but the hell a lot of good and bad advice from everybody present. Finally, we pour some water in the radiator and drive on to
Fredericksburg: what a difference to these lousy villages in west Texas. The town founded more than 150 years ago by German settlers revived its cultural roots in the recent years. At least the remains of the roots have been polished up and adapted to Texan taste in order to attract local tourists.
Thus, German names everywhere – many misspelled. Some not.
Some spelling even reminds us of a certain mix of German and Turkish language.
Authentic German food in all restaurants. Even if this is limited everywhere to the ever same sausage platter, schnitzel with a sauce (American style) and Jägerschnitzer (the way Americans like it).
And many tourists enjoying it.
After all these adventures today we are just heading for some beers. Not German 1s, real IPAs.
The Fredericksburg Brewery is the place for it.
Of course, the next morning we have to search for the next mechanic to flush the radiator. Finally we find 1. As usual the guy is busy for the next 3 months. Well, for a small issue like pouring some coolant into a radiator he makes an exception. 2h later it’s done. The bad news – the mechanic states that we have to organize a new radiator within the next months. It starts leaking.
Then time to discover the surroundings of Fredericksburg. The area is famous for its flowering fields. They consider it 1 of these little Swizzylands you may find everywhere in the world. And the locals are crazy about it.
Back to town we discover some terrible paintings. A kind of a fun house. Can’t imagine who the hell would buy it.
Austin, 23rd March
Enough of Fredericksburg. We need a bigger city. On to Austin. The proud capital of Texas – and renowned as the Weird C
Of course, there’s the capitol. It’s even the biggest of all in the US. You can go inside, see the room where all these intelligent guys try to find the very best solutions for their poor citizens everyday’s pain in the ass.
Visible there are still issues certain categories of politicians ignore totally.
Whatever. There’s much more than this capitol. The murals. Just admire them when passing by. For mural addicts, there’s a website for a systematic explorative 5 weeks 4 days tour (24/24).
Discover the famous historic buildings in Downtown Austin. There are not too many of them …
… squeezed in between not so modern newer buildings. Those constructions every sizable American downtown needs to show its greatness.
Tired of soap operas at the TV or Fox News? Visit 1 of Austin’s famous theaters and cinema lounges. To avoid all risk book some 8 months in advance.
Wanna marry: Austin is the ultimate place for your bachelor party – the American way.
After all this, you haven’t seen what you’re coming for. It’s simply the 6th Street. And all is about sipping some beer and listening to music. All a little rough, maybe not exactly your mother in law’s distinguished taste.
Galveston, 25th March
On to the next adventure. NASA Space Center in Houston. As Houston is pretty famous for being rather boring, we directly head for Webster – a suburb of Houston with some malls and motels. Well, what else do we
On the way a look at a few of these tiny Texan villages lost somewhere in the big flatlands (Smithville’n’Fayetteville). Villages looking quite deserted and no longer really functional.
The next morning to NASA’s incredible Space Center. Of course, our prime interest is not to see these historic Apollo astronauts greeting the man in the moon, or some heroic Russian cosmonauts cuddling their American counterparts in Skylab orbit station.
No, we definitely head for something more important. It’s all about our future once we’ve reached Ushuaia, Argentina. And then we’ve driven once around the world – at least more or less.
Thus we need to define the next step of our journey. Of course it must be more spectacular than the current trip. Something probably out of this world. So NASA cannot be the wrong place.
Arriving at the space center, immediately we develop a 1st idea: There’s a huge Boeing 747 packet with a Space Shuttle. After a few inquiries with NASA’s competent staff at the entrance boot, we already develop the 1st ideas. Soon later – and thanx to the latest IT technology only available at this place we already have a pretty clear picture on the continuation of our trip. And how to get Prado away from earth gravity. Great, isn’t it?
Remains the question about our ultimate final destination. NASA speaks a lot about Mars and these greenish men on this planet. For Monika it would be ok. Martin would not object Venus instead.
After having solved this all important question we visit the center.
Of course, the visit of the Mission Control Center. Sexy senior citizens among our distinguished readers surely remember the distorted voice of the controller Houston calling Apollo 11, can you now describe the man on the moon. 5′ later Neil Armstong’s nearly inaudible answer: not sure, the guy looks like Santa Claus? Well, it’s a long time ago. Only later we came to know that the Soviets confused the poor astronauts with their latest X-Mas Holographic Space Laser. Maybe it was slightly different. Who knows. We were kids at that time.
Of course, nowadays the ancient mission control center of Apollo flights has been replaced by some more sophisticated and colorful stuff.
On to admire the rockets launching these guys to the moon. They even have an original Saturn V in a hangar – a leftover from the NASA’s Apollo Program.
On to the Space Museum. You can touch a small peace of stone from the moon. Fells like stone. Slightly greasy from all these unwashed hands touching it.
Also, you can see how small the capsule that carried the of the guys to the moon is. They really must be very fond of each other.
Of course there’s also a lot about later programs – Skylab, Space Shuttle and the ISS. Looking at all these exhibits it’s astonishing how much emphasis is given to practical aspects of daily astronaut’s life.
Finally a visit to this huge complex where NASA develops all kind of innovations. Looks a little bit like Her Majesty’s Lab to fit out James Bond for his next adventure.
As far as we understand there’s currently a top priority on NASA’s research program: how to handle criminal astronauts on a long haul space mission.
As we’re in Texas only 1 penalty may be
Poisoning the delinquent. Doesn’t work as astronauts tend to mix up their regular food with the poisoned one.
Shooting is considered to dangerous in a spacecraft. Who knows the bullet’s trajectory without gravity.
Finally, hanging seems to be the most appropriate way to guarantee law’n’order. Even if 1st experimental hangings were not a full success. Without gravity the poor delinquent was just floating around at the gallows. Thus currently NASA develops gallows with an integrated gravity chamber to be built in every future spacecraft. We love you guys.
And then we’ve seen the NASA’s Space Center. Definitely worth a visit. And by now we know much better how to continue our trip once we’ve reached Ushuaia.
In the afternoon we’re on the way to nearby Galveston at the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. what a difference to the desert a few days ago. A walk along the beach.
Lafayette, 26th March
The next morning a look at Galveston’s famous historic downtown. Unfortunately again not much life in the streets.
Nevertheless, there’s the 10′ Shop. The ultimate place to get extremely nice T-shirts.
After this experience we drive on. Some 300km to Lafayette in Louisiana. Crossing the lagoon on a small ferry, …
… further along the Gulf of Mexico to finally reach rather nondescript Lafayette in the afternoon. Simply an overnight stop on the way to New Orleans.
And that’s it. Enjoy reading and wait for the next post to be published soon.