Day 10 - Lost Maples Park

About two miles away from Lost Maples, I experienced the best downhill cruise to date. I am pretty sure even Brownie enjoyed the flight.

I reached the "headquarters" of the park at about 2pm to find out that a camping spot cost $26! That was an atrocious amount for sleeping out in the cold. I asked the women at the reception if there was a discount for people from third world countries. They retorted, "Even Texas is a third world country!" (They were, of course, joking. Texas has oil. I also remember somebody telling me that Texas was the least affected state during the post-2008 economic slump in the US.) They obviously asked me where I was from and where I was headed. I told them I was biking to El Paso to get into Mexico from Juarez. Richard, a retired police officer (and now holding some office at the park), was also present. He scared me to death about biking to and through Mexico. I gave him a patient hearing. Meanwhile, the ladies offered a tent site away from the restrooms for $16. They even tried to find out if the campground in the nearest city was any cheaper. It wasn't. Seeing me all perturbed, one of them suggested that I could be the Park Host's guest. The one who suggested that was the Park Host. She was living with her family in a bus converted into an RV. That meant I only had to pay $6 (as entrance fee)! I don't think we introduced ourselves to each other. (I learnt much later that her name's Collette.) But she had notified her husband that I would soon be at their bus to set up my tent next to it. She told me his name was Thomas.

I went to the campsite where the bus was parked.

Lost Maples Park. This is the only area where Maple trees are found in the Texan desert. I was told that in summer the view is completely different with maple trees in full bloom and plenty of bees. 

Thomas loves cyclists. He used to cycle until he met with an accident. Collette was right: we got along immediately. Our conversations meandered through history, politics, culture and science. He told me, among various other facts and trivia, that it was recently decided in Texas not to include slavery, the Holocaust and the atrocities committed against the American indigenous people in the history textbooks. He also shared his family history with me (which included one of the first users of the telephone in Kentucky, they had to use several potato batteries to power a 30-second call). I am always envious of people when they talk elaborately about what their ancestors did, especially in the West. I wished family histories had been passed on similarly back home.

When it was time for lunch, he offered to make some sandwiches. That's when I got to see the interiors of the bus. It was quite ingenious of them to convert it into an RV. It had a bedroom, a kitchen and a living area. The budding nomad in me absolutely loved it.

A couple of hours later, when Collette's day got over at work, they drove me to the local convenience store which was four miles away. On our way, I saw the Lone Star Motorbike Museum. I made a mental note to visit it the next day (but forgot).

In the evening, we decided to light a bonfire and toast some marshmallows. (I finally learnt how to do it this time.) We tried to spot the Milky Way but couldn't. I did manage to spot two shooting stars. Collette told me how the Park staff discussed my bucket panniers. They had never seen them before and thought they made me look poor. Thomas commented that Mexicans would think that I carry water in them.

It became really cold. The canyon in the park, which is where we were, gets colder than the surrounding areas. I was dreading sleeping in the cold again. But Thomas and Collette probably noticed that and invited me to sleep on the couch in their bus. Collette made some soup. Thomas and I watched Trevor Noah make fun of the presidential primaries' election process and the speeches of the candidates.

I was quite happy in their company. I ate a lot that evening. I was glad I did not make it to the park the previous day.

From R to L: Thomas, Collette and I


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