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Day 19
June 29th, 2002
Amarillo, Texas

I was slow getting up this morning.  I was tired when I went to sleep last night and slept hard.  My beeping watch called me to arms way too early.
I got up and washed my face, then went to packing.

The sun was clearing the tree line in the distance, and I needed to get going.  Today will be another long day.  




















           Amarillo by morning, up from San Antonio...........

I was back on US 287 southbound, heading for Dallas.  I will by pass Dallas-Forth Worth, and hook up with I-20 somewhere east of the cities.  I studied the map hard, and found the routes  needed to  accomplish that.  I wanted no part of Dallas-Forth Worth and it's maze of interstates, and outer loops.

It will be another sunny, and hot day.

It was early on a Saturday morning, so clearing Amarillo was no problem, and in a short while the city was behind me. 
 
US 287 is 4 lane most of the way to Dallas.  It is very tempting to ride 90+ on this open road but something tells me the main artery from Amarillo to Dallas will be heavily patrolled so I keep my speed down.

A good thing to, as I saw no less then 5 state cars writing tickets.

I pass an empty white farm house in the early morning light.  The windows were boarded up, and it had been many years since anyone had lived here.  As I rode past, the windmill next to it was still spinning in the Texas wind.

Riding along, the plains of Texas slowly begins to give way to green undercover and trees.  Green things, were a most welcome sight.
I skipped my morning hundred mile break, and gassed up in Childress, after covering 126 miles.  The accent in Texas is definitely southern, but with a different twang than that of Alabama.

Passing through Quanah I see the local high school, won the state football championship in 91.  A nice accomplishment, considering the level of play in high school athletics in the state of Texas.

I see signs pointing to Texarkana, and the song "Cotton Fields" gets stuck in my head.

"When I was a little bitty baby my momma would rock me in the cradle, in them ole cotton fields back home; it was down in Louisiana just about a mile from Texarkana, in them old cotton fields back home"

Using 2 lane roads to ride across Texas is not something  often tried these days, so I thought I would give it a shot.  I wanted my last 2 days on the road to be fun, and so far it has been. 

Riding across Texas, solo, a guy has to find a way to keep himself occupied.  I sing, think about things long ago, and daydream about stuff to come.  I found myself thinking about what my life may have turned out to be, if my folks had not of moved us to Alabama.  I am sure it would have been drastically different, and for the worse.

Trees are becoming more numerous and the humidity was picking up.  In my opinion, Dallas marks the humidity line.  For some reason, Gulf moisture seems to be turned away about there.

I ride straight through Wichita Falls, and land in Henrietta for my second Sonic lunch of the trip.  I have a chili dog and tots.  I watched a young man and his dog walk from their house to get something to eat.  His back door was not 25 feet from the front door of the drive in.  I wonder if he ever gets sick of Sonic food.

I go to US 82.  It could take me all the way to Prattville, across Louisiana and Mississippi, but that is not my plan. I always wondered what the country was like on 82 beyond the city limits of Prattville.  Now I have a taste.

I made a few phone calls, then continued east.

In Nocona, I see the factory where they make the famous boots.

It is getting warm now, and I sweat making my way through the numerous towns that stick to  US 287.   So many towns on this road, I can't begin to remember them all.

East of Sherman I go to US 69.  It is mid afternoon and I have now covered 400+ miles.  The day is moving along nicely.  Riding across Texas is not as bad as everyone warned.

I keep pushing east, and the twinges of homesickness I felt yesterday are gone.  The landscape is much greener now and the topography rolling.  Much different then Western Texas. 

I see dark clouds in the skies ahead.  Rain is definitely in the area.  I take a break under a shade tree.  It is hot, and beginning to feel humid.  I called station 2 for a weather report.  Chris Ray reports back that radar indicates scattered storms all over the area.  

Somehow, that does not displease me.  A nice shower would cool things off, and many days of desert riding has me yearning for rain.

I get my wish, as I splash through a rain storm near Emory.  A nice rain.  Not too hard, but steady.  It feels good.  The water causes steam to rise from 69, and the air has a clean smell.  I feel like a kid.  This rain does not bother me at all, it feels refreshing. The drop in temperature is a welcome relief.  Riding in the rain, on a day like today, is good for the soul.  Long riders normally disdain the rain, but not this time.  A southern boy learns to appreciate the goodness of such a rain, after a long hot summer day.  

Summer rains in Alabama can instantly rejuvenate a drooping plant or bush.
I gas up in Mineola, and the clerk remarks-

"kind of wet out there aint it?"

"yeah, but thats ok"

I pick up I-20, 60 miles east of Dallas.  The rain has stopped, not all that hot, but very sticky.  It will only get worse the farther east I ride.
Traffic is bustling on I-20, but I find a comfortable spot and quickly take care of the 100 miles or so to Shreveport. I take passing thoughts at going all the way, and arriving home in the wee hours.  I know I can do it.  I feel good, and its only another 400 miles.  But ending a epic trip like this in late night darkness wouldn't feel right.

I follow the instructions to the KOA in Bossier City, and pull into the campground about 5pm, after 611 miles.  

I pick a spot under a few pine trees and set up camp.  When I finished I checked the oil in the ST.  Not one ounce lower, then the day I left.  Almost 8000 miles of hard riding has failed to nudge the oil level.

I was getting ready for supper when I hear the rumble of Harleys entering the campground.  I see 3 bikes idling their way to my location.  They unsaddle near me, and start unloading.  

I walk over to meet them and imagine my surprise to see 3 female riders.  Grandmother, mother, and daughter from Spokane, Washington.  I believe they were riding Dyna Glides.

They just rode in after spending 2 days in Amarillo with fuel pump problems on the Grandmothers bike.  We swap road stories.  They are on their way to New Orleans.  They spent last night in Wichita Falls.




















  Spokane Harley trio, Shreveport KOA, near Bossier City, La
.

"always this HOT here?"  Her face dripping with sweat.

"this time of year? Yes"

We spoke a few more minutes then I left for supper. 

I saw a sign for a catfish restaurant back on I-20, and that sounded good.  I am back in the south and I wanted to celebrate the occasion with a southern meal.

I rode into Bossier City to find it, and was sad when I came up empty.  I settled for a Ryan's buffet.  The food was good, and I once again was able to get sweet tea.

Kids eat half price here and the place was LOUD.  

I enjoyed the 7 mile ride back to the campground in the twilight.

I was sitting at my table, when the 3 Harleys returned from supper.  The mother walked over to me and began chatting-

"so watcha doin?"

"nuttin just watchin TV, and makin a few notes, I will be home tomorrow"

We were quite a contrast.  Me with my high tech camping gear, equipped with TV, stereo headphones, cell phone, state of the art sleeping bag and tent.  A 350 dollar Arai, and Roadcrafter hanging from a tree.  My motorcycle is sleek, and fast, and made for 1000 mile days.  I compared that to the camp site across from me.  A big heavy Wal Mart tent.  Do rags on their head, shorty helmets, and tank tops.  Leather chaps. Loud and brawny motorcycles, with no wind protection, small seats and gas tanks.  But yet, they have rode from Spokane, and was having just as much fun as me.  It's all in what you like.

" ALL 3 of y'all sleep in 1 tent?"

"yeah, were a close family"

"to say the least" then she said-

"You don't like being without all the conveniences do ya?"

"why ya say that?"

"just take a look, place looks like Circuit City"

We had a good chuckle, and she went back to her tent site. 
 
The air is very thick and wet, and the night warm.  I called home and checked on things.  I spoke to my son, and told him to try and be there when I arrived.  I gave them my time of arrival at 3pm.

Mosquitoes were really bad.  I was spraying all over the place.  Yes, I am back in the south.  A short while later the daughter rushes back over slapping and scratching. She was wet with sweat in the thick humid air. She has whelps all over and says-

"god almighty they are eating us up, can we borrow some spray?"

"here, and this ain't Washington"

" I KNOW"

"and spray the inside and outside of your tent, and KEEP it zipped up till you get in it."

"ok, and thanks"

It was going to be a warm and muggy night.  I unzipped all the vents, but it did little good.  I had a GOOD signal on a local station and watched the news.  A hold up on the west side of Shreveport, left one man in the hospital.

I was almost home.  I was looking forward to a grand entrance the next day.

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