WanderlustBy Sam Lepore
(Click map for full size)
Ardmore to Lubbock
Subject: Wanderlust 34 - Lubbock, Texas
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 16:55:31 -0700

        "Welcome to Wilson Oklahoma, the Home of Chuck Norris"
        Son of a gun, you mean the Texas Ranger came from across the Red River? Is nothing sacred anymore? Well, at least the river is really red. So red it looks like blood when the morning sun glints on the wind waves. And the wind. The wind! Yes, this is Texas again. Where the wind blows whether it suns or snows. If 'prairie schooners' had been invented here, they definitely would have developed sails. As it is, the wind always blows south to north, and my Texas travels are always east-west or west-east, so other than wearing out one side of the tires, it doesn't affect mileage much.
        Animal observations this morning: big black buzzards brunching on broken bodies (roadkill). Why does one *never* see a dead vulture? Are vultures cannibals? Or just immortal?
        On a more pleasant thought, I have seen many horses seeming to have private conversations. They usually stand with their back to the wind, but with heads close and low, as if whispering. Often they face in different directions, neck to neck, again appearing to whisper to each other. Contrast this with cows who cluster in a klatch to chat 'n' chew. Cows must be gossips. Horses are so much more discrete.
        North central Texas is fairly heavy with Mesquite trees. These wizened wind warriors are squat against the land, and well dug in with incredible roots. I once saw a mesquite growing on the hillside that had been washed away by a creek, exposing the root. The hill was 50 or 60 feet high, and that root extended down a good 40 feet. Want to give a nasty assignment to someone? Tell them to dig out the root of a mesquite ...

        Texas has recently returned to allowing motorcyclists to ride without helmets. Many people consider this aspect of motorcycling an elemental issue of freedom of choice ... and in a way so do I. I have always espoused the choice: Let those who have a brain protect it. :) Even if you never have an accident, I can't imagine riding without facial protection. If you had seen the look on that grasshopper's face - you would have understood. He wasn't wearing a helmet; I was. I survived. He didn't.   .   .   .   but what a mess. Things are bigger in Texas, even the grasshoppers. Man, I've seen birds smaller than that! He hit my faceshield with such force that it bent in and popped out of my helmet. Go ahead, if that is your choice, ride without a helmet. Just keep your mouth closed.

        Well, that's it. The west Texas plain has finally bested me. There is nothing to write about. 70 miles an hour for an hour and you are looking at the same sky, the same farmland, and the same towns floating by. Towns where "The Last Picture Show", a movie about small towns dying in Texas, never played because the town died first. Towns where no one even bothers to put up 'available' signs on the boarded fronts, if they bother to board them at all. Towns where the speed limit no longer slows for passing through. This area is so sparse, it appears the entire 30 mile by 30 mile square Kings County has only one town in it - the 'country seat' of Guthrie. (My map shows the dot of Dumont on the Dickens County line, but where in the dickens it really is doesn't matter. 900 very empty square miles are still very empty.)
        After a lifetime on the motorcycle seat, the plains begin to break into buttes and arroyos. The land is slowing climbing and drying. My GPS altimeter claims 3000 feet. I see no other motorcycles out here and have seen precious few since leaving the middle of the country. I can understand it being too hot here or too humid in Louisiana for local casual riders, but neither are there tourers about. Have I succeeded in taking the proverbial 'road less traveled'? Lubbock finally lurks into view. This is the beginning of the high plains, and the location of the day's target, aptly named High Plains BMW, where my faithful steed will enjoy a day's rest and pampering after happily humming past the 60,000 mile mark.
        Sometimes I wish there was a way to reward an inanimate object for exemplary service. In the case of a motorcycle, I think the reward is to use it.

FuelPlus 314 miles, 5:19 hours engine, 60 mph average
Ardmore US70 AR79/TX79 US82 TX114(forever) Lubbock
Plans? across New Mexico to US666, north through Cortez to Paonia

Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Wanderlust Rider

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