By the river
Kerriville, Texas.

Dear All

I’ve lost track a bit ‘cos I think I must have forgotten the last letter I wrote when I was updating my log.

Anyway, if I repeat some things it doesn’t matter. The people I met in Clearlake who live in S.F. have a fabulous place as I probably said on the card from S.F. Stayed there for a few days then they came down the coast about 100 miles and showed me some good places – camped on the cliffs for free listening to the waves. It’s a place where all the hippies used to go years ago but they’ve put gates up to stop cars getting in. It doesn’t actually say no camping though and you can still get a bike in. There’s a trendy “hippy” shop opposite that sells all sorts of little arty things etc. but nowadays they take credit cards. After that I headed down the coast further and then inland through the California desert, avoiding Los Angeles, more dirt roads and this time lost my waterproof jacket off the back of the bike (I lost the trousers in Alaska and had to buy some more). Stayed in Joshua Tree State Park which won’t mean anything to you but I had to have a look to see why the group ‘U2’ named an L.P. Joshua Tree. Amazing place. There was an American there on a B.M.W. so I camped with him and there was another tent behind a big rock. When the owner came back it was a Swede on a B.M.W. who I last saw in Dawson City, Yukon almost 3 months and 9000 miles ago. Amazing coincidence. He left the next day to get a boat back to Sweden. After that I started heading East towards New Orleans although that’s another 1500 miles yet. Found a section of the original, famous Route 66 when I was searching out the small back roads. I passed within 250m of the Grand Canyon so thought I might as well have a look. It was cold though at 3000ft and the rim of the canyon is at 7000ft. It was colder. Well below freezing at night – it snowed whilst I was there. I hiked down to the Colorado and back – 17 miles and a mile down and a mile back up again (altitude). Did it comfortably in a day so I must be getting fitter. On the way back up I met an American with all brand new ear. Backpack, tent, sleeping bag, even boots and trousers and he asked me if this was one of my personal goals. I said I wasn’t really intending to go there but was passing so thought I would have a look and once I was there I thought I might as well walk down to the bottom and back. He seemed a surprised – Americans! After that I decided to lose some altitude as quickly as possible so headed south to Tucson, Arizona. Didn’t know it at the time but Old Tucson is a film set where they made all the famous cowboy films. Also the Cannon Ranch from High Chaparral, some of the Clint Eastwood films and loads of the John Wayne ones. Fascinating place. Stayed two nights with one of the mechanics at the Tucson B.M.W. shop which I found by accident looking for somewhere to buy another waterproof jacket. The same Swede had been to their shop there. Small world. Then went on to Tombstone, O.K. Corral, Boot Hill and all that and on across New Mexico into Texas. It turned cold again, so much so that I spent 3 consecutive nights in motels. It rained so hard one day that I only did 130 miles but it must have been fate ‘cos somebody else on a bike going the other way only did a short day and stopped at the same motel. He rang me up and we had a couple of beers. He comes from Brazil but lives in Houston at the moment. He plans to go round the world in a couple of years and wants me to go stay at the family home in Brazil on the way down South America (did I tell you about the change of plan?). I’ve been ringing Los Angeles to contact the Irishman who I met in Canada to discuss South America but he was over New Orleans way with his wife who has flown over for a couple of months. Rang New Orleans but they left a week ago. Anyway, of all the roads in Texas, yesterday we bumped into each other so camped last night and had a chat. Looks like we may head south just after Christmas. Have to write to Brian (Sydney) and tell him to cancel the Christmas Dinner.

Had my Alpen stolen last night by a possum, Took the plastic food box and ran off with it. He even came back later and dragged off the big box with my petrol stove coffee etc. in it. Managed to stop him that time but these possums are bigger than you think. When I opened the tent and shone the torch outside I was surrounded by pairs of little eyes hiding in the grass.

Been by some ranches today that made South Fork look tame. If the writing is a bit hard to read it’s because I’m doing this with a torch in my mouth, sitting by a log fire by the river. Now it gets dark so early it’s a bit difficult finding things to do in the evenings if there isn’t a bar nearby. However this is one of the few nights there isn’t.