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600 MILES OF PERSONAL REFLECTION – White Sands, NM to Austin, TX

July 13, 2010

Authors Note: The stores in this blog are in chronological order (mostly) from my 2009 trip across and through the United States. Look to the right side of the page to find the archive and start at the beginning.

With my tour of White Sands complete I fired up the bike and headed towards Texas. Austin, Texas to be specific. I had a vague idea that I wanted to move there. Austin, from almost every account I’ve ever seen, receives rave reviews as a fantastic place to live and has an amazing music scene. So, Austin would be today’s destination.

I decided to stay in central New Mexico and Texas to avoid the Juarez/Ciudad border area. At this point on my trip, the radio and TV were in an absolute froth about Texas/Mexican border violence. I thought the riding might be more interesting too. I rode along I-70, I jumped on 54 north and took a right onto U.S. 82 east and through the Lincoln National Forest. It’s a beautiful ride and the weather that day was superlative. There is something about being thousands of miles from home in good weather with a full tank of gas and enough money to keep your problems away for at least a little while. Today was one of those days – all optimism, blue skies and the sold feel of the throttle at 70%.

I climbed higher and higher. The one thing I never expected coming out of the heat of the desert was snow. I remember coming out of a sweeping corner, coming back upright and being absolutely amazed to find wet, slushy, snow covering the sides of the road and surrounding hills. What the hell? I just started laughing into my helmet. From Vermont to New Mexico and back into the bloody snow.

I had arrived at the summit of the road and found the lovely town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Cloudcroft offers the following (from the town’s website:)

  • 40 miles from casino wagering and golf at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.
  • 50 miles from Ruidoso Downs.
  • 16 miles from the Space Museum, Alameda Park Zoo, and Toy Train Depot in Alamogordo.
  • 40 miles from White Sands National Monument.
  • 150 miles from Carlsbad Caverns.
  • 90 miles from El Paso and the Mexican border.
  • Within 50 miles of 8 magnificent golf course

Here’s a picture of the lovely town of Cloudcroft from the same website. As you can see, there is lots going on.

Interesting. They fail to mention skiing. Here I am tiptoeing through the slush

Just outside of town I found the Cloudcroft Ski Area. Nice little place.

After passing the ski area I began the descent down the mountain

In Hobbs, NM the GPS indicated the Texas state line was just ahead. I soon crossed into North West Texas. The pleasant experience in this desolate part of Texas is the 80 MPH speed limit. I felt quite at ease running between 110 and 115 for quite a while. I had a LOT of ground to cover today and needed to keep my speed as high as possible. When you are slabbing across empty interstate trying to make time it is quite easy to become a bit bored – even traveling in the 130, 120, 110 MPH range. But, the weather was fine and I needed time to think.

One of the reasons for this trip was to clear my head. There is a fantastic quote from James Thurber “All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why”. That essentially sums up the purpose of this trip. I had a disastrous year. After exhausting my savings and selling a majority of my belongings in an attempt to keep my business running I accepted the hard truth that it could not survive and closed. This meant letting my employees go and closing an institution that had been operating for around 40 years. At the same time I became engaged and very quickly un-engaged to a woman I thought I loved and never really knew.   In literature, experiences like these are interesting and sometimes compelling reading. In reality, it’s painful and it sucks, plain and simple.

There were days when the sense of failure and the pain of loss was paralyzing and others filled with the simple joy of seeing millions of dotted and straight white lines pass under the front wheel of my Aprilia. Today, was a good day.

More west Texas open range.

Rolling along at a ton.

The interstate gradually became two lane highway as I rode into the evening. It seems that everyone who lives out in the Texas Hill country has one of those “Bar-T” type ranch signs. I was tired now having covered more than 500 miles. The roads were deserted and by this point I had accepted the fact that to make Austin I would have to keep the speeds illegal. The worst part of the last 100 miles into Austin was the non-stop splattering of bugs against my visor. It quickly became difficult to clear the visor as each wipe of my finger just increased the carnage on the plastic. In the tank bag I kept a small spray bottle of visor cleaner. I eventually settled on trying to keep my head below the Futura’s windscreen and spritzing the bugs away when it became virtually impossible to see anymore.

Finally, in the full darkness I arrived at my destination and collapsed. Today was one hell of a ride.

Tomorrow – THE BROKEN SPOKE AND AUSTIN PROPER

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