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A little Texas heat would've been nice.


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A few weeks ago, I mentioned here that I had resigned from my job. During negotiations for my new job, I pushed out the start date by a week so I could exercise my new bike a little and make a much-needed trip to visit aging relatives. When I resigned, I presented my current manager with two options: 1) I could leave in two weeks (last Wednesday); or 2) I could take two weeks of vacation and be around for the launch of the infrastructure I implemented. He opted for option 2, which meant I spent the last two weeks on the road. Many thanks to some of our Texan members for giving me some suggestions. Unfortunately, I was unable to use them.


In the past, I've blamed my encounters with poor weather on bad planning. Soon, I will determine the appropriate scapegoat for the "fun" I encountered on this trip.


Monday, February 17. President's Day. 580 miles.

I departed Richmond, CA. My first stop was Laughlin, NV. There was no compelling reason to go to Laughlin, other than that I like to play (i.e., donate money via) the slots, Harrah's was giving me two free nights, it was on the way, and I had never been before. Laughlin is pretty dead in mid-February as it happens.


Things went well for me, however. A $20 investment in a machine kept me playing for 3 hours, earning me lots of daily points and $400 plus my $20 starting money, $33 in food comps (a filet mignon dinner at the steak house) and $10 in cash back. I would lose a chunk of that, before getting it back in a 50 cent machine and a dollar machine, eventually leaving $700 heavier than I arrived.


Wednesday, February 19. 760 miles

That ended the fun in Laughlin. When I hauled my stuff to the bike to leave on Wednesday, I noticed I had no license plate and no Marin BMW license plate frame. Originally, I decided someone stole it. As I considered the fact that I installed it the morning I left, I decided that it was just as likely that it had fallen off, and I had just failed to notice on the previous day's bike excursion. Nonetheless, I had to decide what to do.


Around 10:30, I finally got through to the DMV. Their strong recommendation: get to a DMV office and get a replacement as soon as possible. Shoot! Turns out there's a DMV office in Needles, CA, about 35 miles away, but that adds about 60 miles to my day, and adds lots of time. The alternative was to ride across 6 states with no plate. Off to Needles.


The Needles DMV is small. I was in-and-out in about 30 minutes. Then I had to find mounting "hardware," also known as zip-ties. Finally, I was off, around 12:30 PM PT. I pulled into a Motel 6 (the absolute worst I have ever stayed in) in El Paso, TX, 730 miles away, at 11:45 PM MT. I was too tired to go find something to eat.


Thursday, February 20. 560 miles.

I didn't get out of El Paso until almost 11 AM MT. That was not the plan. 100 miles or so outside of El Paso, things went sour quickly. First, I shifted to Central Time; I knew this was going to happen. smile.gif Second, in an effort to keep me from smuggling Mexicans or Arabs into the US on my K1200RS -- forget the fact that the only border I crossed was _New_ Mexico's -- I had to sit in line to get through a Border Patrol inspection station -- moronic. Third, the rain started.


The rain would continue all the way until San Antonio. All told, I had rain for about 400 to 450 miles of this trip. Between my tardy departure, the cold, and the rain, I skipped the routing that sslisz recommended. I'll discuss this in more detail later, but by the time I had 200 miles left, both pairs of my waterproof gloves were filled with water, my right boot was waterlogged, and my shorts and t-shirt under my waterproof pants and jacket were drenched. In Junction, TX, when I stopped for gas, I switched to my highly breathable summer gloves. Fortunately, what was left of the rain into San Antonio was drizzle, and they were more comfortable than either pair of insulated gloves I had. And finally, around 6:30 PM CT, I pulled into my hosts' driveway. They're old family friends, and I assumed they had spoken with my parents about the motorcycle. I was wrong.


I experienced one somewhat surreal moment on this leg. Cruising along in the rain, I noticed a car on the other side of the highway go airborne, at one point hurtling through the air, underside facing me, grill pointing to the sky, before crashing down and sliding on its roof to a stop. Earplugged and with wind noise, I heard none of it. And it took easily 15 seconds for it to register that it was real. I slowed to stop, but I was well past the scene, and a semi right behind was already stopping, and I continued on. So bizarre.


As an aside, this may have been the only stop of the trip where I was not lectured on the danger of my vehicle choice. That may be because their son, my age, flies F-15s for a living, and Bryant, an Air Force chaplain, deploys for the Gulf any day (or may even have already.)


Friday, I was going to leave San Antonio and head to Lufkin, TX. However, rains were coming through, and Bryant had heard they would be vicious. So, he convinced me to stay an extra day. It worked at well, because I got to run my gloves through the dryer 3 times and do a load of laundry. Bryant and Jackie are big on the burger places. Thursday we ate at Charley's Burgers, which is their favorite. Saturday, before I left, we dined at Bobby J's. I can't remember the name of the Mexican restaurant we ate at Friday night; there are at least 2 or 3 in town, from what I could tell.


Saturday, February 22. 330 miles

San Antonio to Houston to US 59 North to Lufkin. Would be nothing to it if I had taken a good route around Hoston. I-610 was not it. Man, did I wish I was in CA and could split. I almost did it, anyway.


My mom's mother lives in Lufkin with my mom's brother (more correctly, my mom's brother lives with my mom's mother, but part of living with her means he gets to take her to her constant doctors appointments, make regular pharmacy trips for her medications, buy her food, etc.) I was just going to spend the day here, but they decided to alter my plans. They had already scheduled Sunday activities for me.


Monday, February 24. 180 miles

Until I was back in California, this was probably the best route of the trip. TX 103 from Lufkin to the Louisiana border, on to Many, Lousiana, to Natchitoches, LA (betcha most people mispronounce this town's name), to Winnfield, LA, and US 84 to Tullos, LA, where I was to spend a day with my great-grandfather.


Tuesday was supposed to be Dallas, but Dallas was a bit under the weather. My dad's father was just out of prostate surgery, but Dallas weather didn't look to be going anywhere, and I had to cancel it from the trip entirely by mid-day Tuesday. Instead, on Wednesday, my great-grandfather drove me to Alexandria, LA, where I got a BT56 rear to replace my nearly dead stock BT020, which had just 4500 miles on it at this point. I figured, at best, it had about 750 miles to go on it. The BT56 was all the shop (where Pop bought his ATV) had in the 180/55ZR17 size.


My parents were going to run down from Kansas City to see me, probably in Dallas. With the unpredictable weasther Texas was exhibiting and the unknown conditions elsewhere, we also shelved all plans to get together anywhere. We figured it would be more useful for me to have flexibility in my schedule. Originally, actually, I was going to ride to Kansas City. But the 8 degree temperatures and risk of snow were working against that.


Wednesday, February 26. 525 miles.

Another rainy day. At least, the first part of it was. US 165 from Tullos, down through Alexandra, finally to I-10 just outside of Lake Charles. When I hit Beaumont, TX, though, that's when the rains really hit hard. That's also when a pickup spun across three lanes of traffic, from his lane #4 position to just cross in front of me in lane #1, in heavy rain. I saw him coming and slowed to avoid and all was well. But sheesh!


All the HOV lanes were useful in getting through Houston quickly at rush hour. And finally, I set up shop in Kerrville, TX, at a nice little Super 8.


Thursday, February 27. 590 miles

I-10 from Kerrville to Deming, NM. Yeeha!


I stopped at Deming because it was starting to rain and the clouds were looking ominous. It turns out to be a false alarm. Oh well.


Friday, February 28. 500 miles.

Woke up at 7 AM, got showered and dressed and packed. And I ran to the Deming Cycle Center to see if they could give my poor little bike, with 5790 miles on it, a 6000 mile service. My thumbs up to the folks at Deming Cycle Center. They got it in right away, serviced it, and I was out on the road by 10:45.


I went as far as Blythe, CA, on I-10. Almost as exciting as the prior day's ride. Actually, some high points... Somewhere along this road, the bike saw it's highest speeds yet. And, with cruise control set, hands-off bars, sitting straight up, some attractive female took great interest in my keeping the beat on my Big Mak tank bag. Otherwise, can anything be more boring that the last 150 miles or so of Arizona on I-10 before California?


Saturday, March 1. 640 miles.

US 95 from Blythe to Needles had some interesting parts. From there, it was all rote. I-40 to I-15 to CA 58 to CA 46 to I-5 to I-580 to Marina Bay Parkway... Pulled in about 5 hours ago. Nice to be home. No Diet Coke at home, but I was too tired to go out for more (and the car won't start because the battery seems to have gone bad.)


6,950 miles on the odometer.


High points

  • Seeing folks
  • Getting out on the road
  • The $700 windfall from Laughlin (which basically paid for hotels, food, and most gas.)
  • The great service from Deming Cycle Center


Low Points

  • Ugh. The weather.
  • Missing Dallas. (The weather!)
  • The rain.
  • The cold.
  • The leaky right boot (the crash damage is more severe than I thought.)
  • The comfort screen. Yuck. That puppy's coming right off.


Gear rundown

As above, I hated the comfort screen. It's incredibly noisy. I think the hand protectors would have been good, though. I could not keep my hands warm at several points, even with my warmest gloves and grips on max. I hate my Gerbings gloves, so I didn't even bring them.


Overall, I really like my BMW Commuter Jacket and the bib overall pants. I went with the Commuter jacket because, well, it's the cheapest solution I've seen that has the removable waterproof liner. smile.gif


One trick with those non-sewn in liners, though... Gotta make sure you pull the liner over your gloves, else waters goes through the unlined shell, right now the gauntlets. And that's no good.


Big Mak Stealth tank bag? Excellent. Kept the water out and everything dry. I do with the platen was a bit shorter. It's still in the way even if I don't have the bag on. Finally, I can't believe everyone is so gung ho about their radar detectors in their tank bags. My range was pathetic.


Finally, I used the HARD wireless radar notification system this trip. I burned through the first set of batteries in the first 2000 miles. So far, the batteries have made it the next 3000. If they keep going that quickly, it will be quite expensive to operate at $6 per set of batteries. Beyond that, I find it difficult to position such that I see it in the daytime and don't blind myself at night. I'm undecided as yet. Helmet audio may prove to be the solution.


That's all I can think of for now.



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Yeeha! Stephen



I thought about you all during the WWW (weird weather week). Saturday in the DFW area was beautiful. Sunday a front came through with high wind and rapidly dropping temps. I said "Oh man, I'll bet Greg is hatin'Texas about now, and wondering why he left the West."


Sorry Dooood... Please come back again sometime and remember I always recommend the Fall. Oct & Nov are the best with Apr & May running a close second.

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Nice write-up Greg. Nice, in that you didn't report endless days of 75 degrees and sunshine 158745-wink.gif


Chris (aka Tender Vittles),

Little '77 KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black '99 RT for Everywhere Else, such as...


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Nice, in that you didn't report endless days of 75 degrees and sunshine


Heck, I would've liked to have reported one endless day of that. Alas, I'm not sure I eclipsed 65 one single day. High-30s/low-40s was typical. I didn't make a single day without the jacket's liner, and I probably made only 1 or 2 days without the Gerbings liner (though not always plugged in.)


My favorite, of course, are the typical comments:

"I bet it's not as much fun to ride that thing on days like this."

"Cold enough for you?"

"Wet enough for you?"

"Probably wish you hadn't gone out on that thing!" ("Well, uh, it's still better than driving.")



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Greg, I loved the tone of your writeup. smile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif


You captured that out-of-sync feeling that we all get sometimes. You got your new fabulous bike, but dang that screen sure is lousy. You finally get some time off to ride and "what's this?" you lose your license plate. You got good gear but you get 450 miles of the kind of weather that your stuff isn't made for.


I could really feel the ups and downs, the way you described them.


It is those annoying moments, on those rides when you know if you're a rider or you're just faking it.


You are obviously the real deal.


Great story.

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So you're saying you'll definitely make the TX hill country ride in April? grin.gif


Sorry the weather didn't cooperate on this trip, but glad you made it back in one piece.

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So you're saying you'll definitely make the TX hill country ride in April?


By April? Won't be able to do that, unfortunately. But it was a nice area. I don't know that I've ever been through the Hill Country before. Previous trips to and through west Texas originated in Dallas and went north to Albuquerque. In all, I found the riding very scenic. And I'd head back for a ride if I had time. With the new job starting up next week, I'll be back to a vacation balance of 0, which I'll need to save up if I'm to make both spring Torry and the Unrally.


Sorry the weather didn't cooperate on this trip, but glad you made it back in one piece.


Weather will be weather, won't it? No biggie. Dallas was the only real bummer. Once I figured out my new gear, rain was not a problem. Cold was only a problem because I could barely move once I had the jacket, jacket liner, Gerbings liner, and jacket zipped to pants. That will be worked out once I lose some weight, I think.


Nonetheless, good to be out. Good to be back in one pice, for sure. And I killed most any lingering doubts about the bike, except for the occasional thought that a K12RS and K12LT might be a good combo... smile.gif



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It is those annoying moments, on those rides when you know if you're a rider or you're just faking it.


Everytime I set the cruise control, sat upright, and sang to the songs in my head while drumming on the tank bag, I wondered...


Only problem was, I only knew all the words to one of the songs stuck in my head. Otherwise, I was left with segments:


"Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl."


"Abilene. Abilene. Prettiest town that I've ever seen. Women there don't treat you mean in Abilene. My Abilene."


"They might come from Austin or out in Lampassas, but one thing's for certain: They all come from Texas. [and then the refrain, out of place] Texas woooo-oooo-men..."


The only song I knew all the way through was Billy Joel's Piano Man.


You are obviously the real deal.


That's what I had to keep telling myself to keep going with wet boots and wet gloves for 200 miles. grin.gif



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Yeeha! Stephen
It is those annoying moments, on those rides when you know if you're a rider or you're just faking it.


Everytime I set the cruise control, sat upright, and sang to the songs in my head while drumming on the tank bag, I wondered...


Only problem was, I only knew all the words to one of the songs stuck in my head. Otherwise, I was left with segments:






Hey Greg,


How 'bout...


Out in the West Texas town of El Paso

I fell in love with a Mexican girl.

Night-time would find me in Rosa's cantina;

Music would play and Felina would whirl.


Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,

Wicked and evil while casting a spell.

My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;

I was in love but in vain, I could tell.


One night a wild young cowboy came in,

Wild as the West Texas wind.

Dashing and daring,

A drink he was sharing

With wicked Felina,

The girl that I loved.


So in anger I


Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.

Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.

My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;

The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.


Just for a moment I stood there in silence,

Shocked by the FOUL EVIL deed I had done.

Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;

I had but one chance and that was to run.


Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran,

Out where the horses were tied.

I caught a good one.

It looked like it could run.

Up on its back

And away I did ride,


Just as fast as I


Could from the West Texas town of El Paso

Out to the bad-lands of New Mexico.


Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.

Everything's gone in life; nothing is left.

It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden

My love is stronger than my fear of death.


I saddled up and away I did go,

Riding alone in the dark.

Maybe tomorrow

A bullet may find me.

Tonight nothing's worse than this

Pain in my heart.


And at last here I


Am on the hill overlooking El Paso;

I can see Rosa's cantina below.

My love is strong and it pushes me onward.

Down off the hill to Felina I go.


Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;

Off to my left ride a dozen or more.

Shouting and shooting I can't let them catch me.

I have to make it to Rosa's back door.


Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel

A deep burning pain in my side.

Though I am trying

To stay in the saddle,

I'm getting weary,

Unable to ride.


But my love for


Felina is strong and I rise where I've fallen,

Though I am weary I can't stop to rest.

I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.

I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.


From out of nowhere Felina has found me,

Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.

Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,

One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.




Or 'nuther one you never can remember the word to...



In 1814 we took a little trip

along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.

We took a little bacon and we took a little beans

and we cought the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.



We fired our guns and the British kept on comin'

There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago.

We fired once more and they began to runnin'

down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.


We looked down the river and we've seen the british come

and there must have been a hunnerd of 'em beatin on the drum.

They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring

but we stood behind our cotton bales 'n' didn't say a thing.




Ol' Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise

if we didn't fire our muskets 'till we looked 'em in the eyes.

We held our fire 'till we seed their faces well

then we opened up the squirrel guns and really gave em....

well we




Well they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles

and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go.

they ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em

down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.


We fired our cannon 'till the barrel melted down

so we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.

We filled his head with cannonballs, powered his behind

and when we touched the powder off the gator lost his mind.




Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles

and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go.

They ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em

A down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.



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Hey Greg,


How 'bout...


Out in the West Texas town of El Paso



Yes, Stephen. Just what I needed.


In fact, I went and found them in google as I was writing out that message. laugh.gif


Now, if only I had that in-helmet, wirelessly connected, brainwave-reading terminal... I could have had all the words fed right to me. But perhaps, in that case, I would have also just had better singers provide the music. smile.gif



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