Saturday, October 4, 2008

Out West Trip 2008

"Go west, young man", those famous words originally written by John B. L. Soule, kept passing through my mind as we rolled west on I-10 across Texas. But I'm getting ahead of myself, first I need to set the stage for this trip.

This trip seems to be an annual trip taken by one of my riding buddies, Fred, but unfortunately due to a demanding work schedule following hurricane Ike he's not with us. The trip has no real destination, it's just 2 glorious weeks of riding and seeing the western US. Since there are only two of us this year and it's my first time out here, the decision making process is pretty easy. Doug suggests places he's been or wanted to go in the past and I'm eager to see them.  Decision made.

The past week has been spent prep'ing the bike. First I decided to install a new rear tire since it was questionable that the rear from this summer's Wyoming trip would last. Then since I had the rear off I figured I'd install the SmartTire pressure monitor system I snagged from a fellow in-mate at Well that meant unmounting and remounting the front tire as well. Let's just say to really get a good balanced wheel and tire combination you need to first balance the wheel alone with the sensor to get the optimum placement for the sensor. It took me a Saturday and Sunday afternoon to finish that. Then yesterday I spent much of the day wiring up brake/turn/tail LED lights on my new Micatech cases. It was a little distrubing to take a drill to my new cases but there's no doubt cagers behind me will know when I'm stopping or turning. Then last night was spent packing for this trip, with so much room in all these cases it was tempting tp pack more than I needed. But I resisted. Honestly.

So this morning started at 5am. At least that was the time my alarm clock was set for. I was actually awake long before then with pre-trip excitement. By 5:45 I was on the bike, waiving good bye to Reagan and rolling down the street. I met Doug down in Rosenberg at the Shell and we were going. 6:01 by my watch when the wheels started turning. Nice!

The plan was simple, run up hwy 36 from Rosenburg until we got to I-10, then "Go West". Not a really exciting route but we wanted to get across Texas so we can enjoy the more westerly states sooner.  Around 7:10 we pulled into Schulenburg for breakfast. I figured we'd stop at the Oak Ridge Smoke House but instead Doug crossed under I-10 and we pulled into Frank's. This is a classic style trucker cafe. The menu is simple and everything seems to be homemade. Doug liked his biscuits but I was happy with my homemade bread served as toast. Yum!

With our stomachs full it was time to get back on the road. The next stop was about 100 miles later on the north side of San Antonio where we filled up the gas tanks and I added a little air to the front tire. Remember that spiffy tire pressure monitor I installed? Well it told me the front tire was 6 pounds lower than it should be for the Temperature Compensated Pressure. Hmmm, after a few pounds the alert went away and everything was fine. Back on the road.

Lunch was in Ozona at Sonic that was previously a Mc Donalds. The only downside was that I got tricked into the large drink and tots but it was a tasty lunch none the less. While eating we noticed a volvo driver outside trying fix his car. Since he had two other volvo drivers helping we figured they either had it under control or could call a tow truck. So back on the road.

Doug wanted to stop in Fort Stockton for gas since he wouldn't make it all the way to Van Horn. If I had been thinking we could have stopped by and checked out the large road runner statue that had been recently redone. Hmmm, sounds like something to do when I come back out this way for the '09 Big Bend Freeze Out in January.

We didn't get very far down the way when I-10 turned into a parking lot. Around mile marker 176 traffic just stopped. Apparently TxDOT is doing construction along that stretch of I-10 and to make matters worse, a car hauler had caught fire blocking the one open lane. After 30 or 40 minutes of stopping and going we finally got past the mess and resumed our travel. No, I did not remember to get my camera out for the Car-B-Q. I'll have to remember that for the rest of the trip.

By 5pm we rolled into Van Horn and road down I-10 business. There has to be a motel every block in the town. Advertised rates start at $29.95 for some nice looking local inns. Doug had booked us into a Motel 6 on the quieter side of the street, away from the train track. This should make it easy to sleep tonight.

Today we travelled 622 miles in just 11 hours. It was a great day to be out riding and a great sign of days to come.

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