Round America – The Beads

How I Got My Beads

I was just doing my thing at 11:45 am on April 18 in the extremely remote area between Del Rio and Big Bend, Texas.  In this area, I’d go for long stretches without even seeing another car.  “My thing” consists of driving as my eyes scan 180-degrees ahead enjoying the view and looking for anything that my mind considers especially interesting at that point.

I came across a car that was moving slowly on the two-lane road, so I spent pass #8 to get around them.  As I drove by, I saw a long web address painted on the side of the car.  I thought to myself that this was very interesting to see on a passenger car, and I wanted to know what it said.  So, I pulled off the road to take a photo just so I could read the web address when they passed me.

They passed, but there was no web address.  Uh oh, 18 days on the road and I’m beginning to hallucinate.  I knew I saw a web address, so I spent pass #9 to go around them again.  It said “floatingneutrinos.com,” and there was some other writing on the car that I couldn’t make out.  Floating Neutrinos???  I wonder what in the world a Floating Neutrino is!  I was anxious to get to a hotel so I could check out the website

I motored on, and it was several miles before I saw something that I wanted to photograph.  So, off the side of the road I went, and out of the car with the camera.  A few minutes later, I saw the Floating Neutrinos car approach and pass.  As the car drove by, I was able to see an Ernest Hemingway-looking driver, with a woman riding shotgun, and a dog in the back seat.  They drove slowly past, and the woman’s arm was sticking out of the passenger side window gently waving Mardi Gras beads.

They stopped 50 feet ahead of me, and I walked up to the car and met Papa and Aurelia and Buckaroo the dog.  They gave me the beads as a gift.  How special was this.  I knew from looking into their eyes that this was going to be interesting.  I can’t remember everything that was discussed as I kind of felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.  Buckaroo kept barking, and Aurelia told me to avoid eye contact, as he would not bite me unless I looked him in the eyes. 

I donned my new beads, and we began to talk as I tried to remember to avoid making eye contact with Buckaroo.  As I recall, they were especially enthusiastic about my odyssey, but we very quickly began talking about them.  I learned, among other things, that Papa Neutrino and Aurelia (aka Captain Betsy) took a trip from New York City across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland and then down to Spain.  Many people have taken a trip across the Atlantic Ocean, but Papa and Aurelia did it floating on a RAFT!

Papa opened the trunk of his car, and he pulled out a yellowed laminated newspaper story from the New York Times with their picture and a picture of the raft (that looked like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie).  What an amazing adventure, and what stories they have to tell.  I tried to remain focused, but I just kept thinking how incredible to be on my unique journey by land …to bump into on the highway literally in the middle of nowhere…two incredibly interesting people who risked their lives while making an incredible journey by sea.  Going to the river with Fast Freddy paled in comparison.

Papa said he wanted to give me a song he had written.  I noticed a guitar case in the trunk.  (And after Fast Freddy and the giant hedge trimmers, I’m sorry to say that the thought of there being a machine gun inside rather than a guitar did skate through my mind.)  Papa gave me a photocopy of the words and music to “Thanks to the Yanks of the USA.”  He asked if I would like to hear him sing it, and I said absolutely!

Papa played the guitar and sang; Aurelia smiled; Buckaroo barked; and I thought how sweet and what a truly unique experience…and scrambled to get a photo of this as no one would ever believe it. 

When the serenade ended, I had to ask Papa his views of the Iraqi War.  I anticipated that Papa and Aurelia would be anti-war.  His response was fascinating.  Papa and Aurelia are not “meat eaters” and would not even kill a mosquito…and though President Bush “is a hunter” and eats meat and hunts and kills, they both support the President, voted for him, and believe his actions will dramatically change the world for the better.  I didn’t expect to hear that.

Papa talked about a lot of things that I didn’t fully comprehend there on the side of the road, but I am anxious to explore the website.  The back of their car has this painted on it: “Let those who know tell those who don’t know.”  The front of the car has a symbol about the “seven levels” that I believe conveys their philosophy of life. 

Before we parted, Papa and Captain Betsy gave me a videotape of their raft trip across the ocean and a CD of great jazz music by their children, the Flying Neutrinos!  The CD is excellent; I’ve played it several times since, and we will continue to enjoy it.  Boz and I watched the video, and it is better than many of the movies we have seen.

I could have stood there for hours, but I had a long way to go and no hotel reservation, so I said goodbye.  I just kept thinking about what an amazing encounter this had been.  To see and learn more about Papa, Captain Betsy, and Buckaroo, see www.floatingneutrinos.com.

The Impact of The Beads

I’ve worn my green, purple, and white beads ever since I met the Floating Neutrinos.  The Floating Neutrinos have to be really lucky to have survived their float across the ocean on a raft, so I consider the beads to be a good luck charm. 

The beads have added a whole new dimension to the trip.  Women smile and many men look at me with a “can you believe that ‘weirdo’ look.”  Kids stare.  I’m meeting far more people with the beads.  Those of you who know me know how conservative I am, so the beads are a walk on the wild side. 

I felt that I needed a gift for people I meet, though I will say that most of the people I have met seem surprisingly excited about having their name in the book.  While the business card and a little fame may be gift enough, I ordered a case of beads.

The first case of beads was gone in no time, so we ordered three more cases.  It’s nice to be able to share a little good luck as we travel.

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