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A Bike Ride In The Forest… By Way Of The Wild West

September 16, 2012

Yesterday I decided to take a bicycle ride in the woods outside town. You can get there from the city center in 5 minutes. Polish people look at me in disbelief when I tell them this, but in America, there aren’t generally any woods outside town where you can just go wandering. If it’s not a park, with a gate and a toll and hours and rules, it’s generally private property.  You can be arrested and fined for trespassing on it. (In Texas, you can be shot.)  It’s less true in the west, especially in the desert, but as a general rule, in America, you need to know who owns the land before you go there.  So to me, the idea that I can just ride off into the woods is pretty exotic.

Amazingly, google maps covers what turned out to be unpaved trails in the woods outside my small Polish town.

So I plotted a trail.

And wrote myself a few notes.

↑On the way out of town, I noticed that they were setting up for some kind of festival on the rynek.

↑Passing by,  I noticed something that wasn’t on the map.  I almost kept going, but then I spotted something odd.


Double take.

I’m guessing that word on the right means west or western…

So I popped around the corner and, much to my surprise…

There’s a wild west tourist trap there, a whole TV western town.

I then remembered the girl who helped me buy my bicycle the other day.  She told me she worked in an “old town” for tourists, and she’d pointed in this general direction.  I can’t believe that no-one mentioned to me, the Texan, that there’s a large simulacrum of my home state, a kilometer from my flat.  Well, it is pretty new; it’s not on the satellite imagery yet, so maybe people don’t know about it.

Note the absence of any mention of an Old West Town as a landmark.

Well, that’s interesting to know, but not the kind of place I tend to hang out, so I got back on my bike and within about 60 seconds, I reached the edge of the forest.

That’s where I came from.

That’s where I’m headed.

After pedaling into the woods for a while, I came to a wide spot, which I thought at first was a fork in the road.  But I stopped and looked at it for a second, and realized that, just as google had prophesied, there was indeed a 5-way intersection in the woods.

Google is never wrong, I thought to myself.

So I did what I was supposed to do and continued on.  The path got a little less vehicular.

At this point, we’re just following a path through a meadow.

This way, O google who knoweth all?  Is it your will that I should go this way?

Around about this time, my directions ceased to correlate with the facts on the ground.  Looking back on it now, I can see that I needed to keep going across the clearing.  But I hadn’t written very thorough directions for myself.

It was getting dark and, even though I was not far from town, I wasn’t feeling like I had the luxury of exploring much more.  This was definitely not on my map.  I knew I had made a wrong turn, but I decided it would be best just to head back in the direction of town.  Civilization makes a dull roar; it’s mostly automobiles.  You can hear it from several km away.  I followed that sound.

No, no, no.  All wrong.

By now, it was more or less dark.  I came across a couple of fallen trees that blocked the path.  It was not easy getting around them, crashing through the underbrush with my bicycle under my arm.

Aha!  The unmistakable glow of electric light.  I soon passed a couple of green & white fence posts I recognized and, in no time, I was riding past the old west town again.

When I got back to the rynek, the party was on.  There was a group playing Polish rock & roll.  They weren’t bad.

Later in the evening, I got a call from my fellow teachers and went down to a beer garden in the square, where we met up with some teachers from one of the other schools, and some young Polish people.  The tiny expat community here seems very friendly.  I had a nice night of chatting and knocking ’em back;  I idn’t mind in the least when they spoke Polish, because I enjoy watching how people’s tones, expressions, and gestures change when they use their own language.

We went to another bar around the corner, one I haven’t been to yet, which was jam-packed for a boxing match on the TV.  As soon as the match was over, it pretty much cleared out, except for our table and one or two stragglers.   I tried a Polish vodka shot I had never had before.  It was my first time in a social setting with Poles who were not connected to the school.  We had some interesting conversations, though I sometimes found it hard to hear over the music.

So today, nursing a bit of a hangover, I’m just doing laundry and dishes and writing up this entry.  It’s a sleepy Sunday.  Tomorrow, with any luck, I’ll leave for Prague and my work visa.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2012 3:02 pm

    In the woods, did they have any graffiti? I don’t know why I wondered this, but it seemed like a great place to tag even though the volume of traffic is probably low. You could really have time to make something ornate, and the effect of people finding it could be an entire range of emotion.

    Also, I saw the picture of you with the big kick drum. What was the story behind that.

    • September 16, 2012 3:13 pm

      I thought the best part of the Blair Witch movie was the weird little twisted sticks they kept finding. That’s kind of like forest tagging. So creepy. If someone spray-painted trees, I would get pretty hostile.

      There’s no particular story about the drum. I just used to have a really big bass drum. I liked the sound of it. In that picture I’m sitting in with the Able Sea at a Johnny Cash hoot night in someone’s barn, I think.

      • ErosLane permalink
        September 17, 2012 2:18 am

        Actually, the best part of BLAIR WITCH was the confessional scene….but man oh man, I’ll give those hanging twisted little sticks a damn close second.

        Also, I can’t believe you went in the woods. Don’t you know my motto about the safety of cement? There ain’t no cement in the woods there, Mr Texan!!!

        That Texas town was pretty cool. Whodathunkit?

      • September 17, 2012 7:39 pm

        See, I don’t even remember that part, just the twisted little sticks. But I don’t have anything like your in-depth appreciation of film.

  2. Ñøŗḃʒřŧ Ḃēåvěř permalink
    September 16, 2012 3:10 pm

    I would imagine that a Wild West town to a real Texan would be like Disneyland to real mice – more or less a highly embellished fantasy version of the real thing. I’m not sure how it would feel to find an English theme park somewhere, though at a guess it would just be a car park full of litter and people urinating everywhere.

    Twinpigs is a weird name for a town and even sounds mildly insulting! It would make a superb name for a band, though probably not a duo.

    • September 16, 2012 3:29 pm

      Yeah, it’s pretty much like Disneyland. It might be fun to go there sometime with friends and see if there’s anything funny in the particulars.

      I think the closest equivalent for you would be these restaurants in America that are supposed to be like medieval English castles. I forget what they’re called; I’ve never been to one, though I think it could, again, be kitschy fun if you were in the right mood.

      Just googled it. Here you go. Medieval Times Restaurants.

      On behalf of corporate Ameria, I apologize.

      • Ñøŗḃʒřŧ Ḃēåvěř permalink
        September 17, 2012 12:18 am

        We don’t have those here because…well because we have actual medieval castles. :oD I did go to one in Spain a few years ago, I got to meet the queen and everything! She looked very miserable and barely registered any emotion as the people filed past her. I guess they got that one thing right at least.

      • ErosLane permalink
        September 17, 2012 2:19 am

        Theme restaurants. ::shudder:

  3. September 16, 2012 5:49 pm

    I can’t wait for you to land a weekend job being a wandering balladeer in the Wild West Town.

    • ErosLane permalink
      September 17, 2012 2:20 am

      Here!Here! That.Would.Be.Awesomesauce!!!

    • September 17, 2012 7:29 pm

      Hmmm… I do know a couple of Marty Robbins songs and I have been accused of grooming myself like a mountain man…

  4. September 16, 2012 6:21 pm

    One thing I found really unique about El Paso is that there is so much open desert space that you can use for walking or bicycle transportation. I used to take some pretty vast treks completely across the desert without resorting to the streets at all. That availability to interstitial land and/or a good wild traipse seems to be absent most places in the US.

    • September 17, 2012 7:36 pm

      I do love the desert. When we were kids, we used to ride our bikes out there all day. We’d catch horned toads, hypnotize them, then let them go. I’ll always want to go back there every once in a while.

  5. September 16, 2012 6:34 pm

    I’m guessing “miasteczko” means “little town” since “miasto” is city or town and -eczko is a diminutive ending. ” Wejście” is entrance. If you say, “Proszę wejść” to someone, that means “please come in.”

    • September 17, 2012 7:30 pm

      Your disambiguations are always welcome. I only hope you don’t tire of correcting my endless mistakes.

      • September 18, 2012 3:55 am

        No problem…I like seeing the Polish language and getting to mess with it. I only wish I had more opportunities to practice speaking here.

  6. September 16, 2012 6:48 pm

    Adventure R Us. You got a great cover photo, too. Now get back out there a little earlier to see what’s beyond the bend.

    • September 17, 2012 7:34 pm

      I’m definitely going to learn my way around those woods. They’re magical to me.

  7. September 16, 2012 6:52 pm

    Just occurred to me: could it be pronounced “Twin Peaks”?

    • September 17, 2012 12:52 pm

      A Lynch theme park is something that might get me to visit MUCH sooner!

      • September 17, 2012 7:38 pm

        The other night in the supermarket they were playing the music from Twin Peaks.

    • September 17, 2012 7:31 pm

      That’s funny. I will have to ask a Pole to pronounce it for me. It probably would be pretty close to that. Gs do tend to become fricative at the ends of words.

  8. Julie Bratton permalink
    September 16, 2012 11:04 pm

    What Jeromy said — you should get a weekend job in the town. You’ve got actual Texas street cred. You can have a little booth where you teach them to say “y’all”. You must go there. We want a report. It’s probably also a little like Busch Gardens or the “European” parts of Disney and Epcot Center. I’ve actually heard it said that there’s no need to go to Europe, ’cause it’s just like it at Epcot. Blech. Happy visa travels!

    • ErosLane permalink
      September 17, 2012 2:21 am

      Just think of it……you could work with Madeline Kahn there!!!

      • September 17, 2012 7:27 pm

        Oh, I would collaborate on anything with le grande Madeline.

    • September 17, 2012 7:33 pm

      Funny they don’t have an Iowa themed town, with rows of corn, and tractors, and grain silos, and, er… more corn?

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