Day 4                             
March 25th, 2007                       
Super 8 Motel
San Antonio, Texas   

Mornings in Texas this time of year are dark and long.  Debbie was up very early, getting ready for the airport.  Her cab was coming at 6:15am, ugh.  I stayed in bed as long as I could till the banging and hair dryer noise proved to be too much.

"where's the clicker at baby, I need to check the weather."

"I dunno look at the night stand."

I put the weather channel on to see what was going on.  That channel is showing less and less weather now days, and  more and more shows titled, "How I escaped 3 tornados in 12 hours." or "The 100 greatest weather disasters."  I fear it is going the way of MTV, which started out showing videos, but now does nothing of the sort.
All I really need is a radar shot, from there I'll know what to do.  The one from a local channel didn't look good for today.  Rain was pushing east, and I was going to find it before the day went out.

Debbie's cab was right on time, he pulled to the parking lot and I carried out the bags.  Funny, how a attractive lady gets service normal folks never get.  I was loaded down with bags, but the cabbie paid me no attention, and wanted to help Debbie with her small carry on.  "Here lemme take that for you."  Just not fair.

"Look here baby, I'll see ya at home in a few days, have a good trip.  Call me when you get back to Bama."
I kissed her goodbye and she slipped in the cab.

It was 6:15am, and I was loaded and ready to go by 6:30, but no dice.  "I can't leave out now, it will put me in the Hill Country in the dark, and there is too many deer out there."

Instead of riding out, I went back in front of the TV to wait for the sun.  "Man this sucks, I'm ready to go."  News put sunrise at 7:41am.  I wanted to time my departure to put me in the Hill Country at daylight.  Riding out of San Antonio in the dark is no big deal, but trying to ride in the hills with all those deer running around is another thing all together.

It was still dark a little after 7, but getting better.  So I threw my leg over the RT and punched the starter.  I told the GPS to navigate me to the start of my custom route and rode out.

The GPS took me to I-10 West.  Because it was Sunday morning there was no traffic, but there was lots of construction.  The roadway split and dipped as I made my through a couple of confusing interchanges.  I had highways above me, beside me, and under me.

Dawn was breaking, uncovering a bleak, dreary sky.  I hot footed out of San Antonio behind a black Dodge Charger, with red pinstripes.

I took the Boerne exit and gassed at a Shell Con store.  It was a quick stop.  I took FM 1376 north to Luckenbach.  For sure I was taking the long way to Big Bend, but I didn't care what time I arrived there, I wanted to see what was in Luckenbach, so I asked the Zumo to take me there.

The Hill Country is a notorious deer playground.  I saw many when I cam through there in 2003, so I was extra cautious on this early morning ride on 1376.  A good thing too, because 3 jumped in front of me within a few miles of entering the Hill Country.  I saw them before they saw me, and slowed to let them by.  If I had not been riding cautiously, and scanning the area, I might not be here today.  I shudder to think what would have happened if I had been running 70 mph.
​The bodies of dead deer were everywhere in the Hill
Country.  You have to be more then careful around here

A few miles after this encounter I saw 2 more on the south side of the road.  I slowed down waiting to see where they were going to bolt.  They scampered off in the woods, but I wasn't sure where they went.  I feared they would change direction about the time I speeded up to leave.

The road was good, but somewhat perilous into Luckenbach.  It curved and danced over the hills, but I kept my eyes open.  I toggled the display on the GPS to check elevation in the area- about 2100 feet.

Luckenbach, Texas is only famous for one thing-the song by Waylon Jennings.  I came off the highway searching for it, and found it on a dog leg of a road off 1376.  Not much is there; old post office, dance hall, some kind of store.  It was early on a Sunday morning so none of that stuff was open.  I captured some video and pics and got back on the highway.
​Luckenbach, Texas
My custom route kicked in, and I followed 1376 to U.S. 290 where I went left for Fredericksburg.  The Zumo found a more direct route through the town to SR 16, that probably saved me 10 minutes.

I followed SR 16 south to Kerrville where I briefly got on I-10 and SR 27.  Whenever my custom routes approach a city I place on waypoint on where I enter, and another on the road I want to be on when I get to the other side.  This allows the software to configure the best route in and out.  Sometime it finds a few local roads, and others it just brings you through the middle of town.  It just depends on what's available.

This time it found a route that included portions of I-10 and SR 27 but again, it worked very well.

SR 27 put me on SR 39.  A very good road but unfortunately, I started to encounter pockets of rain, and no leaning was possible. The roadway followed the Guadalupe and the leaning was good.  I passed several nice ranches.  Trees were in the early stages of greening up.  I enjoyed the ride, despite the drizzle.  I went through a lot of nice curves.
​​ "I enjoyed the ride, despite the drizzle"
The cloudy skies seemed to be closing in on me, and my thoughts began to wonder.  My mind drifted back to the thousands of miles I've ridden the last 6 years, so many places, roads and people.  The experiences I've gained crisscrossing this nation so many times will forever be with me.  To have seen so much beauty, leaned so many roads, and met so many people is something I can't describe.  It is a feeling only a handful will ever have, and I count myself lucky to be one of them.
​SR 39 through the Texas Hill Country.  Great riding.
My very nature demands a lot of my relationships.  I ask a lot of those close to me, they have to understand I am in a window of my life that will not stay open indefinitely, I have to ride.  It is a part of who I am.  I love being free to ride my motorcycles across the land at will.  It can be New England, Big Sur, or the Blue Ridge in Fall, the rides change, but the same spirit carries me from place to place.  Take freedom from me and I wither away like a zoo lion.  Most men are born with a impulse to roam, and live life on the edge.  They dream of road trips, adventure, life with no bosses or mortgages, but that is traded away for security, family, and jobs.  

Any man with a healthy dose of male hormones feels the pull, most never surrender to it, and live out their lives secure, but void of dynamics.  Just like the zoo lion, he is well fed, loved and cared for, but he is not free.  Each day is the same as the day before. While his brethren roam the plains of Africa fighting for the right to bred with the most desirable females, and hunting, and when he finds either of those things lacking, he moves on to somewhere else.  

I was cruising down 39 thinking about all that, " I ain't tradin places with ANYONE, and I don't care how much money he has."

Near the intersection of 39 and U.S. 83 I encountered another deer herd.  They were on on my left, standing on a small rise, about 8 of them, I saw them and came almost to a stop.  They scattered in several directions, a few came across the road and jumped a fence like it was nothing.

They are as dumb as they are graceful.

I rode U.S. 83 South to Leakey where I picked up SR 337.  It had stopped raining but it was still very cloudy.  The road was dry and I leaned the RT in several long sweepers.  The RT loves to be leaned, especially with new tires.  She stuck on any line I picked like paint.

I took out a  hapless bird out on 337.  He hit the oil cooler under the headlight, and feathers blew up from under the fairing for a few miles.

In Camp Wood a pack of HD riders left a gas station and fell in behind me.  They followed me out of town making me feel like Marlon Brando.  I lead them out on SR 55, some were pulling trailers and riding 2 up.  

They continued behind me when I left 55 for SR 334.  Over the hills I rode leaning the RT and enjoying my role as pack leader.  The highway carried me along a high ridge line so I checked the elevation.  "Yeah this is one of the higher areas of the Hill Country" I thought, it was consistently around 3,000 feet.

One of my points of interest for this tour was the old Alamo movie set, used in the John Wayne movie.  I wanted to see it, for no other reason than I wanted to.  I stayed on 334 all the way into Bracketville, where I made a hard turn north on SR 674.  GPS said the set was just a few miles.  The Harley riders turned left.  "Dang I was hoping they might ride with me to the movie set."

I found the set without much trouble and pulled to the gate.  A lonely looking man was sitting on a stool taking up money.

  "How much is it bro?"

  "9.75"  Gulp. 

"Do what??"


I got out a 10 and said, "Don't worry about the quarter.  Look here, I thought this movie was already paid for?  Ain't this kinda high?"   I went ahead and paid for it, a guy with a couple of kids is going to take a big hit.

The Alamo set has been used in many western movies and videos.  If you're a fan of westerns (like me) you'll recognize the setting.  Getting to site means a 1.5 mile ride down a lackluster dirt road.  

The site consists of 2 areas, the Alamo compound and the village down the road.  The movie set really gives a better feel for the real thing then San Antonio.  I was the only visitor in the area.  The place was a little run down, and needed work.  It stands in the middle of nowhere.  
​​Inside the old Alamo movie set.
I walked the compound and stood on the palisades, pretending to look out at thousands of Mexican soldiers.  What fun it would be to be 8 years old, with all my friends from Norfolk, and have a BIG battle with toy guns.  "We could have a REAL battle here."  Our Alamo was the Boutin picnic table turned on its side and a few cardboard boxes.  Bill Gregory would lead the Mexicans, and I pretended to be Davey Crockett, but sometimes I was Jim Bowie.  Bill Gregory loved the way he went out in the movie.  They set him up in bed with 2 pistols, so he could take a few down with him when they came for him.
​The Alamo movie set as it looks today
"MAN, John Wayne walked this very ground."

I left the Alamo and rode down to the village, and started walking around.  When fixed up for a movie the set looks very realistic.  I went in the bank, jail, stable, and hotel.  I ran into a guide who worked as a extra in a couple movies Jimmy Stewart filmed here.  He was dressed like a cowboy, and my age.  Most baby boomers know about western movies.  He was fun to talk to, and knew a lot about the history of the place.
​The streets of Laredo
They had a small museum at the end of the street, so I strolled down there to check it out.  It housed a few old movie posters, props, and some black and white photos taken around the set during the filming of the movie.  
The movie cost 12 million dollars to make.  Big money back then.

The sun was out, and the warm rays felt good as I walked around.  "Man I gotta get back on the road."  I've been goofing off most of the day, and was not going to get anywhere close to Big Bend today.

I negotiated the dirt road back to the U.S. 83, intent on getting as far west as I could.

With rain looming in the distance, I took to the side to secure my camera equipment and had a wallet scare.  I felt around for it, and couldn't find it, only to notice it on the ground, somehow when I unzipped the pocket it fell out.  Malox moment for sure.

In Bracketville I stopped at a con store at the U.S. 90 intersection.  The skies looked really sinister in the west.  Thick dark clouds and the wind was picking up.   The edge of front awaited me.  "Well looks like the end of the line."

I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, grabbed a bag of low fat chips, and Mountain Dew and took a seat in a window booth.  I got out my phone to check with Ken Hendrix, my friend in Dallas who I'm suppose to hook up with tomorrow.

"Look here, not gonna be in Dallas tomorrow, and may not be the next day. I'm running behind."

"well thats ok, I'll be here when you get here."

"check the weather for me bro"

"Lots of rain ahead of you, but Big Bend looks ok"

"well ok, thanks"

I had a voice mail from Debbie, she was back in Alabama, so I called her back and reported the situation.
"I'm gonna call it a day, when I get to Del Rio.  No need to take a beating in that storm, and Ken said there is nothing west of Del Rio for a long ways."

"Well good, that will make me feel better, call me when you get settled in."

I left Bracketville on U.S. 90 West, a busy road with trucks and high speed SUVs.  I had only covered a few miles when the rain met me.  It came down hard  but eased up after a few miles, and settled in to the long soaking kind.  The rain was badly needed in this part of Texas.

The RT splashed along the road to Del Rio, a fairly busy border city.  At the city limits I found a car wash to get out of the rain temporally to check motel options with the GPS.  I went to the lodging menu and discovered a Motel 6 a few miles away, I tapped go, and the unit calculated the directions for me.  In the old days I'd just ride in looking, or get out the phone.  This new set up is sweet.

It was raining hard now, and the city had standing water in low spots, and some of the curbs looked like rivers.  I waded through 2 pockets of standing water.  Before going in I checked the cars to see how deep it was.  "I can handle it, less than a inch."

I was glad when the motel came into view.  I left the highway, and had to be extra careful when I entered the parking lot, so as not to find a curb hidden by water.  I scanned up and down and wasn't sure where the gap was, I assumed it was where I was going but you know what they say about that.  "Well dayum, surely the entrance is here, but I'd hate to go in and butt the curb and fall over."  So I slowed the bike to a crawl, probing for the curb with the front tire.  A few feet of that and I was in the parking lot.  I was right all along.

It took me all day to ride 275 miles.  I stopped a lot for pics and sight seeing, and the Hill Country really slowed me in the wet.  But I didn'tcare about such stuff, not like I had to be anywhere.

The only discount Motel 6 gives is AARP, my wife joined us a few months ago.  I don't care for their politics, but they have become less political in the last 2 years because they were catching so much flak.  With my discount, the room cost me 29 something, tax and all.

I had a second floor room and had to haul my gear upstairs.  It was STILL raining.  I made a few calls and clicked the tv on for more weather info.  Rain should clear out in the morning, and the weather looked good in the Big Bend area.  This front was huge and went back west a couple hundred miles.

About 15 minutes later, 2 Gold Wings and a BMW came in off he road.  I saw them checking in on my way back from the ice machine.

After a nice shower I put on civilian clothes and went outside to check supper options.  A Chinese buffet was close by so decided to go there.  The motel clerk said it was pretty good.

I paid my 7.95 and dived in.  I was the only Anglo among the 30 patrons, not that it bothered me, but I found it odd NOT a soul was speaking.  Everyone was just shoveling it in.  "Quietest 30 folks I've ever seen."  I didn't know why everyone was so boring.  "Is it me?"

I picked out 2 senoritas at the table behind me.

Look here baby, why ya reckon everyone is so quiet in here?"

They froze, looked at each other, then started giggling.

Then said something in Spanish to each other, and laughed again.

"ok tell me what's goin on"

"I just told my friend,  "He's right, no one is talking, just eating."

"Don't y'all think it odd?"

"Ci, Ci, and funny"

Food was pretty good.

I left and made the short walk back to the motel.  The rain was now a drizzle.

Before going to bed I put all my stuff on charge.  Video cam and camera, phone, and Axim.  I wanted everything to be ready for tomorrows ride into Big Bend.