Chapter 14: Calm Before the Storm

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Driving into the city of El Paso, Barnard and Audie realized they hadn't eaten anything all day. That was very unusual for the two of them considering they still had the appetites of teenagers or hobbits and ate four to five regular meals a day. They had stopped a few times for half-gallon drinks and pee breaks, but otherwise their minds had been occupied with conversation about the attention Barnard's uploads were getting. For the first time since they had begun their junket, they had taken the opportunity to log into Barnard's video manager. Some of his videos had already gotten over a hundred thousand hits. Audie lamented that Barnard hadn't put ads on his videos and they spent some of their drive time figuring out how to do so, when they could catch a decent signal in the desert of West Texas. They spent the rest of it reading and discussing comments that were being left on them. These ranged from complete adoration and praise to disgust at how stupid the two of them must be to let such things happen to them. Undaunted by the negative Nellies, they gave each other high-fives close to a hundred times. Quitting and failure were no longer options. Half a dozen Big Gulps and several hours later, they were well into the city limits before they realized where they were and that they were very hungry.

"Let's look for some Mexican food, man," Audie said with an almost lustful tone in his voice.

"Now? Do you have any idea what time it is?"

"It's after eleven. So what?"

"So you're not going to catch a decent Mexican food place open this late. And I'm not sure I should let you eat it, anyway."

"Au contraire, mon Ami. Taco Cabana up ahead and they're open all night! And you don't let me do anything!" Audie was gazing at the billboard as if it were a signpost to the Holy Grail. Barnard looked up at it and gave Audie a high-five.

"Excellent!" They both said together.

Twenty minutes later they were seated in the restaurant with full plates making up for the meals they'd skipped during the day. They took turns shooting video of each other, talking about their trip, and talking about what they still had to do. It was Wednesday evening and they still had to see El Paso and Juarez and cut back along the Rio Grande until making it to Nuevo Laredo. Then, back to Austin, Waco, and College Station before dropping Audie off at school Sunday night. Barnard was saving the Dixie Chicken across the street from Texas A&M until the very last. It would be a whirlwind trip, but they were committed to doing it. After polishing off the last of the enchiladas, queso, and cake, they uploaded video and headed out.

They decided to stick with the plan to camp as much as possible and rolled through town on I-10, taking the Trans Mountain Road up into Franklin Mountains State Park. They figured that would also leave less of a trail for government officials to find, oblivious to the fact that they had just left a trail of crumbs on the Internet. They paid their fee at the gate, glad they wouldn't be experiencing another machete-wielding, maniacal park manager. With one of the few strokes of luck on their trip, they actually found a campsite next to a bathroom facility, which Audie was already complaining that he needed. Setting their camp well after midnight, they chose to leave their tents in the car so they would fall asleep looking at the stars.

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