Emer's feeling under the weather. Like many of the larger animal species, the first indication of illness is when the creature goes off his feed. Yesterday he declined lunch - I attributed the decision to playful perversity - but then he passed on dinner too. Uh oh. Time to call the vet.

But before throwing money away on life-saving measures, I asked him to please speak directly into the stethoscope and tell me what was ailing. Just tired, he said. Just wanted to sleep, he said. I can help with that, I said. Just another twenty miles, I said. Is that okay, I asked. Don't care, he said. Alrighty then, I said, and we soldiered on.

Speaking of vets, and touching on random acts of kindness and the glow produced on both sides of the transaction, Emer and I were treated to coffee at Starbucks by a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.  For those of you caring about times and places, this was in Bastrop, east of Austin, after Emer had skipped lunch but before his sign-of-the-apocalypse refusal of dinner. The soldier liked biking, he liked what we were doing, and he really liked the idea of buying us coffee. We liked his way of thinking, and were actually pretty enchanted and touched by his enthusiasm and generosity.  Emer even experienced a temporary lifting of the malaise threatening to make him pedal as slowly as his father; a happy, caffeinated interlude.

We rolled into Bastrop State Park as night fell, through the gate and past the fine trimmed lawn. No authority figures asked for our papers. Not knowing where we were going,  we randomly headed to the first set of campsites we could find, which turned out to be reserved for RV's and aircraft carriers. We fit right in. "Don't worry Emer", I said, "I'll set up everything. You just rest your bones." Five seconds later: "It's a bit windy, Emer, could you just grab that corner?" Ten seconds later: "C'mon! Do you want to sleep or not? "

Finally, with me doing practically everything, we got the tent set up. The boy crawled into the chamber and... was... gone.  Today he claims to be feeling better, but as I write from the McDonald's in Gidding, Texas, he's lying flat on his back in the booth. "You've got to be Gidding!" I said. Classic... One day Emer will look back on this trip with, with a kind of fondness for his dad. I'm sure. No doubt about it. But first he has to feel better about himself...