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American Southwest: 


First Conversations 

The first days of biking through the American Southwest have been sunny, hot, dry and dusty…in other words, very Southwestern. I rolled out of my driveway in Houston, Texas to start the tour and, after 10 days of hard pedaling west and some 500 miles, I've made it to....still Texas! I've had the privilege of chatting with a very Texan group of people, including a rancher, a cotton & pig farmer, a hip Austinite, a gun shop owner and a WWII veteran who ran a farm equipment business alongside his wife for decades. Here are the voices of a few of the folks I've spoken with during the first few days of CWU's third tour.  


The first Texan I spoke with was Mike Lewis. Mike is a concealed-carry instructor and  co-owner of Sanctuary Arms, a small firearms shop in Bellville, Texas. We sat at a BBQ restaurant chatting about gun ownership in America, with his two daughters jumping-in from time to time. Here, Mike shares one of the reasons that he keeps firearms handy. 











When Leonard Meuth returned from the war, he married Rosemary and they opened up a farm equipment sales business. Things went south with his partner, leaving him with an enormous debt. He relied on his relationships in town, including with his local banker, keep his business going.










Austin, Texas is weird, and proud of it. Paige Applin explains what draws people to punk culture, something for which Austin is well known. 










Retired Admiral Albert Kelln spent 32 years working for the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. He is now taking his experience and using it to open children’s' minds in special summer education programs. How does he first get their attention? By starting off sharing a very unique fact about himself.











Ray and Barbara Dockery managed a ranch for years near Eden, Texas, and later went on to spearhead the development of a local arena where aspiring rodeo champs can practice roping and bull riding. Here, Ray talks about some of the dangers a rancher can expect, and how he deals with it all. 












Does it make sense for a family to spend all that money and go to all that (*holding nose) trouble to raise pigs for show? Doug and Karen Schaefer are entirely clear that the answer is yes. Here, Karen explains why, while hungry pigs flip up the lids of their feeders.  











Jim and Josh Tine earn a living in Gardendale, TX (near Midland) by analyzing and interpreting the chemical and physical properties of substances that haven't seen the light of day for tens or hundreds of millions of years; namely, oil. Here, Jim comments on why folks, including himself, sometimes distrust the science that comes out of Washington. 












Ever heard of a cowboy church? I hadn't, either, and so I enjoyed hearing from Kerry Puck who started one in Andrews, TX. Here, Kerry describes the "cowboy" aspect of his ministry. 

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