This morning, when I became aware of the first sounds outside, I opened my eyes and found out that the sun was shining. The sun never bores me and it is always a nice start, but it did not tell me anything about the temperature.

   Peeping outside I could see it had been a cold night.


   I started my cycling day at 9:30am9:30 and it was for the second day on highway 290.   

   The 290 was good for us. It had an emergency lane, which was relatively wide, so it was a luxurious situation for Coco and me (private lane).

   After 30mi48km Coco got her next flat tire and again it was the patch that got loose from the inner tube.

   It seemed that the problems with the tubes were replacing the problems with the spokes.

After a few miles I passed Brenham.


   Just outside Brenham I became distracted by a sound right behind me. For a split second, I looked around not noticing the big gap in the road in front of me. 

   Coco did not warn me or avoid the gap herself.

   The consequence for her passive behavior was that before I knew it I was laying on the ground.

   Luckily, nothing was broken, no pain, but I was very worried for Coco and her new wheel!

   Because of the shock, I yelled at Coco, why she did not warn me.  

   It wasn’t her new driving wheel, but the front wheel that had an unfriendly conflict with the road.

   I checked Coco from top to bottom and from driving to front wheel but did not find any damage.

   Relieved, I restarted our journey, but already after a few hundred meters I had a forced stop again, now the tube of my front wheel was flat.

   Because this was probably the result of the gap incident, I put pressure in the tube and started cycling to see if it would get flat again.

   The tire slowly flattened so I had the pump it up a few times during the rest of the trip.

   Ten miles16km  after we’d passed a town called Burton we were again confronted with yet another dog-tragedy.

   We were around three-hundred yards274m away when I saw something.

   It was not a tall object, around one 16 inches40cm high.

   The object was on my side of the emergency lane and I wasn’t sure whether it was moving or not.

   When I came closer and closer I saw it was a small dog, moving very slowly.

   It was in de middle of nowhere, somewhere between Burton and Giddings. I was curious but also a little cautious.

   During my trip, I had seen many dog cadavers (road-kills), but this time it was not a dead one but a lost one. The dog was probably thrown out of a car.

   I think it happened recently because the dog, let’s calls him Rakker (the name of the dog of my parents and the Dutch word for scallywag), looked still cultivated and not lean thin.

   Rakker was walking slowly along the road in the same direction as I was cycling.    

   I was a little bit worried how Rakker would react when I would pass him. This wouldn’t take long because I was getting nearer to him fast.

   When I passed Rakker he was looking very sad. You could see that he’d just had a very traumatic experience.

   Rakker did not bark at me and was totally without aggression. He was only looking at me with his big sad faithful dog eyes.


   While I went on, I was thinking that Rakker would not survive a night on this highway; a car would probably hit him in the darkness like all those other dead dogs.

   After around fifty yard45m I couldn’t stand it anymore and I stopped.  I could not go on with my cycling trip with a clear conscience if I didn't at least try to help him.

   Before the dog could catch up with me, I made a decision.

   To find out if Rakker had any idea why I stopped, I first ignored him completely to see whether he would pass me by, continuing his sad and probably final journey, or if he would stop next to me, hoping for some sympathy.

   When Rakker came beside me, I was looking the other way. He stopped and stared at me hoping for a sign.

   I’d already decided a few minutes ago that I would take him with me to the next town, Giddings. In the motel where I would stay, I would ask the manager if there was an animal shelter in the city.

   If not, Rakker still had to stay in Giddings because I couldn’t take Rakker with me on my journey. 


  I stepped off my bike and went to a piece of green grass, placed Coco against a tree and took water and bread from my bag. When I turned around Rakker was standing right in front of me as if he was saying, “I will follow you wherever you go”.

   When I found a nice place to sit down, I gave him a piece of my sandwich and petted him on his head. Rakker liked the bread and me petting him.

   Correction he was a she!

   Because of her behavior, I assumed she had never been beaten by her previous owner or else she would’ve reacted more nervously.

   It was 1:00pm13:00 and I still was around 20mi32km away from Giddings.

   Normally that meant I would be in Giddings at 3:00pm15:00 but I did not know how much more delay Rakker would cause so I kept the picnic short to get to Giddings before dark.

   I went back to the road and started cycling slowly, hoping Rakker would run beside me.

   I called her name, at least the name I gave her and tried to explain with words and signs that she had to stay next to me at the right side. 

   However, as hard as Rakker tried she was not able to keep up. I drove a little slower, but it still did not work.

   I noticed that one leg was lame.

   After a few yards I stopped because Rakker was still trying to keep up, as if her life depended on it, but she was already exhausted and in a lot of pain.

   This was an unexpected problem because how would I get to Giddings with Rakker before dark?


   The only solution was to place Rakker behind me on the bags.

   Before I reshuffled all the bags, I first asked Coco her opinion and she totally agreed with my decision. I noticed this because she made it very easy for me to find a nice place behind me on her carrier.

   I refurnished the bags in such a way that Rakker could safely be part of our mobile home while we were cycling.

   What I had not yet found out was if Rakker was willing, or maybe too afraid, to sit behind me on the carrier.

   First, I spoke to Rakker with a friendly voice explaining what I was intending to do.

   When Rakker looked relaxed, I picked her up and walked with her a few laps around Coco while I kept on talking to her.

   My last step was to place Rakker on Coco’s carrier to see if she would feel comfortable.

   She was a smart dog because instinctively she understood how important it was for her.

   From the moment I placed her on the improvised rear seat she instantly lay down, showing me how relaxed she felt.

   Carefully, I maneuvered myself in a starting position and first slowly started to cycle but after a few yards I increased the cycling speed. I could finally continue cycling at my normal speed.

   I was immensely proud of Rakker, Coco and myself and while cycling I gave Rakker a short pet on the head.   

   God probably wanted to reward me because, like a miracle, during the rest of my trip to Giddings, the tire stayed on the right pressure.

   Before we arrived at our destination, we crossed the city Carmine.


   At 3:10pm15:10 we passed the sign “Giddings”.

   It was a small town with only three motels and I went to the first motel.

   Before I went in, I told Rakker to stay near Coco. I didn’t know why but I was certain that she would listen to me.

   At the reception, I had to face an unexpected and unpleasant surprise.

   It was Saturday and it was already late in the afternoon. The woman at the reception told me that there was no room available anymore.

   She told me that on weekends, many people were traveling, to visit family or friends.

   Here in America, it is often a long trip and many people use a motel for a stopover.

   The woman was busy and in stress. She advised me to go to the other motels and check there.

   The second motel had the same message and that manager advised me to take my chance at the third one. However, I was under the impression that he didn’t have much hope for me.  

   I told him the story of Rakker and asked him if there was an animal shelter nearby where I could bring the dog. But the answer was yet again no.


   Before I went to the third and last motel, I prepared myself. I started to tell the manager about my cycling trip and showed her my roadmap. She answered with a pragmatic

   “Sorry, we do not have rooms available for tonight”.

   I was not yet intending to give up so easily because it was too important.

   For this, I prepared a second attack by generating some compassion.  I asked her if there was another overnight facility in this town because cycling to the next town was no option.

   “It is almost 3:30pm15:30 and the next town that had the highest change of still having rooms available was Austin, but that was 50mi80km from Giddings and that was, looking at the time, too far.

   Another pragmatic sorry followed. She also made it clear that for her it was the end of the conversation because she was very busy.

   I didn’t want to judge any of them, but I found myself in a nasty situation.

   Outside of the motel I was overthinking the whole situation.

   There were no camping grounds in the neighborhood, only a rest area, 7mi11.2km  outside of town.


   After having considered all the options my conclusion was that the only thing I could do was to cycle 7mi11.2km  to that rest area where I could overnight in my tent. The problem was that it would be very cold during the night, around freezing point.


   I could not stay too long in this town because I had to be at the rest area before dark, which was around 5:00pm17:00.

   First, I had to buy some food for tonight and decide what to do with Rakker.


   My first thought was to write a note about how I found Rakker. My idea was to drop Rakker in some garden where he could not get out of very easily and place the letter near the front door. However, it was a crazy idea and not fair towards Rakker. It was also not without risk because it wasn’t dark yet and if people would catch me in their garden without a good reason, I would be in trouble.  

   This made me decide to take Rakker with me to Austin. Austin is a much bigger city and a better chance to find a dog shelter.


   “Maybe we can keep each other warm tonight” I told Rakker.

   She wagged her tail as if she liked the idea.

   In a small supermarket, I did my last desperate attempt by telling the cashier about my cycling trip and about the problems I’d had with the motels but looking at her face, she was not interested.

   Afterwards, I was fed up with this town and left it at 16:004pm.


   On the 290 West, not more than 2mi3.2km  outside of the city, next to the road, I saw an open area with wooden tables, swings and slides and even a nice piece of grass next to the picnic table.

   It was definitely not an official rest-area, not the one on my map, more a summer recreation area for the people in Giddings.

   Because it looked even better than a regular rest area, I went to this area for an investigation.

   I found a nice spot near the picnic table where I placed my tent.

   Rakker was constantly near me. She was probably afraid of losing me.

   After I had placed my tent, I looked around and saw, about a hundred meters from my tent, a number of buildings, which looked deserted.

For miles, there was nobody in the neighborhood so I left Coco and the tent and told Rakker to come with me on my expedition to explore the buildings. Maybe I would find a better place to spend the night.

   It was a deserted funfair area with many little stalls, but they were all open, most of the time broken. It would not protect me against the wind.


   There was big building a little further away so I decided to investigate. Rakker and I walked around the building and found an open door.  I yelled, “Hello is anyone there?”.   

   Five minutes later, I went inside and found a large room with a kitchen, bar and a little theatre. Everything was completely destroyed.

    Probably not used for years.

   All the windows were smashed not one was unbroken.


There was an old newspaper behind the bar with the date July 1975.

   One thing was sure, at least for the last month, nobody had entered this building, not even lost wanderers.

   I could see it from the dust on the floor, the only footprints that were visible were those of Rakker and me. I guessed that if other people had been here their footprints would have been visible.

  This made the chance of being disturbed tonight negligible.

   “This will be the place for us tonight” I told Rakker.

   Rakker responded by wagging her tail again.


   It was 4:30pm16:30pm  and I was afraid that it wouldn’t take long before the darkness would set in. It meant that we had to hurry to find ourselves a nice location in the building.

   Without further dawdling, we went back to the picnic table to get my stuff. When we got back we placed everything next to the bar.

   My next goal was to find the best place in this building and to prepare it for the night. Rakker and I started to explore the other rooms.

   The door of one of the rooms had the nameplate “boardroom”.

   It was definitely the best room in the building and the door could be locked from the inside.

   There was a window with broken glass, but I could probably put something in front of it to prevent the wind from coming in.

   I was also glad that, in case of an emergency, I could escape through the window.

   It all looked safe enough to stay for tonight.

   My luck hadn’t run out because I also found a restroom with a toilet and a sink with running water. It was all very filthy and dirty but at that moment, I did not care.

   Because this building was full of surprises, I decided to try to see if I could create some light. I took my lamp and put it in one of the empty outlets that were in the “boardroom” room and surprise, surprise there was light!

   So it wouldn’t be an evening in complete darkness!

   It was 5:00pm17:00 but still it was bright enough to search for things I could use. I found a broom and used it to clean the floor of my room. I say mine because I placed my name under the word  boardroom.

   I found a table and some chairs which I moved to my room. The cleaning of the toilet was easy and the flushing mechanism still worked.


   After all the dirty work, I rewarded myself by using the toilet.

   As an experienced traveler, I always had spare toilet paper with me and I gratefully used it.

   Before we finally withdrew ourselves in the boardroom room for the night, I went along all the lockers, but found nothing I could use.

   Back in my room, I closed it from the inside and placed my lamp above the table. I used Stovie to cook a meal with on the background some nice music from my radio.

   Rakker was lying on my sleeping bag looking at everything I was doing, for the moment, she seemed happy.

   Before we left Giddings I also bought some dog-food, and not the cheapest, with real soft meat.

    It was some kind of welcome and goodbye meal and we were eating together on the floor on my sleeping bag.

   She was very hungry and within a minute, her meal was in the digestion process of her stomach.


   Rakker was well educated, she was eating fast but neatly. I did not find food on the sleeping bag and with her large tongue she cleaned her plate and mouth. After I’d finished, I gave her the leftovers from my meal.

   The cooking and the lamp made the room a little warmer. At first, it was only two degrees Celsius, but now it was five.

   After dinner, I looked outside and the only thing I saw was darkness.


Dear Note ,

It is eight o’clock and a very cold evening. I do not have enough clothes and blankets to keep myself warm enough. I am reading and writing a little. While I am awake and sitting up I can place the lamp under my blanket to keep myself at least a little bit warm. But I have to be careful that I don’t fall asleep when the lamp is still on, which could cause a fire. Rakker joined me in my sleeping bag. This whole situation (deserted fair) is a little scary and creepy, but also a good theme of a horror movie. Nice thoughts! It will help me through the night! It does not matter how unpleasant the night will be, after a few days I will only remember the excitement and not the long cold night.  

Goodnight dear Note,