Our stove fuel ran two days ago. No coffee. No oatmeal. No hot dinner. We needed fuel. Unfortunately, the fuel canisters we require are difficult to come by. We hadn’t seen any since Orlando. I had called perhaps fifty sporting goods stores, and the common response to my question about their inventory of isobutane/propane fuel canisters for small backpacking stoves was, “…what?” So now it looked as though we had one option. There is an REI in Austin. We would need to get there.
Our map showed a route through Austin, but it warned of bad traffic and poor riding conditions. We decided to go anyway. As we split from the main route, we felt a bit isolated. We were in foreign territory. There was no guarantee of good traffic; in fact, traffic would almost certainly be bad. The roads were quiet because it was early in the morning.
As we crossed the city limit, traffic increased dramatically. Already thirty miles into the ride, and were were on the far end of town. I had plotted out a rout the night before using information I found on the internet about bicycle-friendly roads. Traffic was heavy. We made a few wrong turns. Afternoon approached. We were at the intersection on two state highways and an interstate. The familiar REI logo was visible in the distance. We were tired.
We got to the store and bought four canisters of fuel. I also bought new bicycle gloves, a set of new tires, a new cook kit, soap, an inner tube, and several other items. I was just happy to be in a familiar setting. Steve exchanged his shoes because the ones he bought at the Oregon REI before we left were apparently defective.
The bike service department helped plan a route out of the city. It was longer than the one we took in, but we took their advice to avoid the traffic, which was only getting worse as the day dragged on. We left and headed south to where we started the day. We would camp at McKinney Falls State Park.
Tired and sore, we settled in to our campsite as it was getting dark. We have vague memories of downtown Austin and the beautiful capitol campus, but it was a blur intertwined with strings of cars and traffic lights. Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to appreciate Austin. We slept well. We would have coffee in the morning.