We entered into Texas near El Paso with Marty Robbins serenading us, and after a quick stop at a small health food store we barreled down I-10 heading east towards Austin. It was the beginning of fall, but the Texas heat sure made it feel like summer and we longed for the cool crisp air of the mountains. Through social media Cate connected with Jason of Texas Heritage Woodworks who offered up a place to park on his ranch outside of the small town of Junction. We were so grateful to have met Jason, his wife Sarah and their three little boys who so kindly opened their home to us four strangers on the road. It was a perfect place to stop, chill and be inspired before we entered the craziness of what Austin would bring. The next morning after a beautiful Texas sunrise we headed into Fredericksburg for lunch before heading into the city. I was so happy to be back in my home state in the hill country among the oak trees and cactus. We hit it pretty hard in Austin reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. It was a blast of a whirlwind. The last night, still recovering from fun the night before, we slept in the airstream outside of the White Horse Saloon where we had been parked for a few days so Cate could meet with potential customers. After a shitty night's rest trying to sleep outside of a noisy bar downtown, we woke up at sunrise to maneuver the trailer out of the tiny parking lot. Grumpy, half asleep and trying to be helpful as the girls struggled around parking lot obstacles to get the trailer lined up with the hitch, I put my hand where I know better and long story short ended up getting the tip of my middle finger smashed off. Like down to the bone off. Immediately seeing a significant chunk missing I knew I needed to go to the ER and luckily we were only a few minutes from one. After a moment of chaos and running around in a confused state of panic, the girls somehow unhitched the trailer in record time and got the truck out of this sardine-sized lot and we were charging down the road to the hospital. Thankfully I was taken care of right away and after a while of doctors planning for surgery they ended up opting out of it and decided to let me re-enter the world with an open fracture, zombie bitten-looking finger wrapped up the size of a turkey leg and a prescription for intense antibiotics and pain killers. That experience scared the living shit out of me and was an injury I had never quite experienced before. Thankfully I had one of my best friends by my side, like a rock, like an angel, handling all the shit while my brain was totally mushed on pain killers and anxiety. We left the hospital that afternoon and headed to our friend Leslie Crow's little ranch outside of the city. My sister and dad live not far away and so they lovingly made the drive out to check on me and my zombie-bitten finger. Once we got to Leslie's I wasn't sure if I should go home and call it quits or stick it out. Because of the nature of the wound I was nervous it would get infected while on the road and my health insurance only covered me in Oregon. I was nervous I'd just be miserable and in pain the rest of the trip and be a burden on the girls. Plus it was my right hand, luckily not my index finger, but I was nervous how it would feel holding and shooting with my heavy and fully manual camera. Once at Leslie's, I took some pain killers, crashed out and woke up to some chocolate and a snack Claire had kindly left out for me. I went downstairs and Claire had set out my camera on the kitchen table. I proudly loaded it one-handed with a roll of film and walked outside with Leslie to take some photos of her around the property at sunset. At that point I knew I had to stick it out. I'd be pretty pissed at myself if I let this injury convince me to go home. I was only half-way through this journey, not to mention the commitments I had made to many. And somehow, doped up and blurry eyed I took photos of one of the most inspiring women I've had the pleasure to get to know and photograph. Leslie is a unique and special soul, and a truly magical woman. The first time I photographed her the summer before, she got bucked off a horse while we were shooting, broke her toe, laughed it off and we kept on shooting with a smile on her face. Her, Cate, Rachel and Claire all encouraged me to stick it out. And I don't even know how to begin to describe the level of support Claire gave me. This woman helped me clean my disgusting, creepy wound every god-damn day for the next two weeks without a single complaint or quiver. I couldn't have finished the trip without her help, kindness, patience, strength and love. We stayed a few nights at Leslie's then made a b-line for Tennessee.
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