WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Wanderlust 2000.4 - Clute, Texas
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 20:16:00 -0800

    Clear sky, 72 degrees, the rolling curves of the Texas Hill Country, no traffic, and the roads bracketed with a cerulean carpet of the famed Texas Blue Bonnets in full bloom. Who wouldn't want to ride today? 'Twas sweet indeed.
    San Angelo is still on the plains, although they aren't the high plains anymore. Then a few miles east of San Angelo the land suddenly rises and rolls like a rumpled blanket, shaken and thrown down. The Hill Country extends from here for about 150 miles, but I intended to cross it diagonally to stretch that part of the trip to about 250 miles. The route I followed may seem convoluted - and it is! This is a wander, remember.
    The first town I passed east of San Angelo was Wall, Texas. Couldn't help but wonder if there was a drugstore in town, but I chose to leave it as one of the unsolved mysteries.
    Not long after Wall, I passed through the tiny community of Grit. True! Another unsolved mystery - how do some towns get their name. I'll bet there's a story there somewhere.
    Biscuits (and gravy) in the Willow Creek Cafe in Mason were real raised and pan baked. Heavy food in the morning can make the bike noticeably sluggish (or is it me?) so I only had the 'half order' - two biscuits each about 4x4x3 inches and a half pint of gravy ... $1.65. Good coffee too.
    The restroom in the back of the cafe has a taxidermy large mouth bass mounted on the wall. I thought it looked a little strange because the skin appeared rubbery, not scaly. As I leaned toward the wash basin, I set off the motion sensor and the bass "started singing". It played a tune that was either a popular country song or may be a gospel song, I'm not sure. At the chorus "Take me to the river ..." the fish's tail wagged back and forth. At the refrain "Put me in the water ..." the front half of the fish turned toward you, mouth open. This sucker has a 6 inch or more reach. Goodness, I can just imagine a had-one-too-many cowboy leaning over and having a singing bass groping two inches in front of his nose!

    Although I've been there before, since I was going right past Lukenbach I stopped for a short visit. There is a hardwood dance hall in a barn that must be quite a scene when there is a show, but otherwise it is just an 1800's post office done up as a souvenir store. The back half of the store is a bar, and a singing cowboy usually tends during the day. Business was slow and he was really into his music. He played a couple of songs and the 4 or 5 people hanging around didn't acknowledge him at all. Then he started this really honkin hammering beat on his boxtop 6-string and sang:
    "I wish someone would put a tip in the jar
    I know you've come so far in your car
    Just to hear me sing here at the bar
    I wish someone would put a tip in the jar."

    This tune was so lively it couldn't be ignored. It got their attention. They applauded. Did anyone put a tip in the jar? Nope. Except me.

    Inland southeast Texas is new to me. As I continue my diagonal toward Galveston, I pass nearby more towns with wonder-how? names: Smiley, Cheapside, Cost, Nada, Runge, Nursery, and one that is just too restrained - Sublime, Texas.
    It seems I-10 has been drawn across the top edge of the coastal plain, for not much below there the land becomes table flat and obviously benefiting from a humid climate. It reminds me of lower Georgia, but with close stands of oak instead of pine.

    Overall not much to say about 8 wonderful hours in the saddle. A great day, a good ride. It is good to feel this earnest tiredness and know it came from what those of us who have the motorcycle affliction can only hope for again and again: miles.

405 miles
San Angelo US83 TX29 US87 RR1376 RR1888 US281 FM32 TX80
US183 TX111 FM2431 TX35 FM547 FM521 TX332 Clute

(RR is Ranch Route, FM is Farm to Market. These roads are almost always well paved and usually two lanes. The FM roads have very wide shoulders for farm machinery.)
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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