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Ride Report / 2009 Archive / Lampe, MO to Nacogdoches, TX

December 6, 2013

Previously: RIDE REPORT / 2009 Archives–Findlay, OH to Lampe/Table Rock Lake, MO

It’s funny.  The first long trip I ever took on a motorcycle covered approximately 80% of the United States.  Looking through my trip journal, the entire event is treated to less than fifteen scrawled pages.  From Vermont to Texas, from Texas to Mile Zero in Key West.  From Mile Zero to Myrtle Beach, SC.  From Myrtle Beach back to Vermont in fifteen pages.  Amazing.  So much to see, so little to say.

I don’t have many photos either.  I guess I was just riding.

What I did not know at the time, is that it takes awhile to get used to traveling.  In those days, I rode from specific destination to destination with Teutonic precision and focus.  Always focused on making specified arrivals, departures and timetables. 

What did I see of the country?  In retrospect, nothing.  Like I said, it takes a while to learn to travel.

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As best as I can guess from my Journal, I left for Texas in mid-May 2009.  Headed towards my reservation at a KOA in Rusk, Texas – about 450 miles away. 

 

THIS is the only photo I have of the ride.  Taken just at the edge of the Texas border. From here to the very tip of Gulf Coast Louisiana there are no other photos.  What the hell was I doing?  Not taking many pictures for sure.  

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It was around 7:00 when I pulled into the KOA parking lot.  The front desk was closed already.  What the hell to do now?

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I wandered up to the front door and noticed a Night Check in form on a clipboard and began to fill in my reservation information.  About this time, a few KOA campers wandered over and began to greet me like I was McArthur returning to the Philippines.  “Ya’ll drove that thing all the way from Veermont”  and “Dang, that thing looks fast” stuff like that.  I have to admit that it was ridiculously ego boosting and I’m sure I wandered around in my leathers trying to look as cool as possible. “Why yes, I’ve ridden here directly from Vermont, with only one stop for gas….” and “When you ride the speeds I’ve had to maintain it changes you fundamentally, you know, I’m different than the rest of the human race, superior, as it was, you understand……” 

Eventually a night watchman/caretaker showed up and directed me to my campsite.  It was a nice area in the shade of a few large pine trees and had a nice sandy ground.  Here’s where the learning began.

Being a “seasoned world traveler and adventurer” I confidently put the sidestand down and began to lean the bike onto terra firma.  Unfortunately, terra was NOT firma – rather, it was SAND.  The bike began to go over and I struggled to keep upright.  Seeing my predicament the caretaker rushed over and tried to keep me from going down.  We struggled to keep the bike standing.  I told the caretaker that if I could just get off the bike I could get it on the centerstand.  “Just hold her steady and I’ll jump off”

OFF AND ON TOPIC:  Alpinestars manufacturers some of the finest motorcycle boots in the world.  The top of the line boot, made expressly for MotoGP riders and professionals is the GP Tech.  It’s marvel of leather, plastic and metal armor.  The heels on these boots are built to withstand 180 MPH crashes.  It goes to say you would not wanna get kicked in the face with a boot like this……………….

So, after I said “hold ‘er steady” I tossed a leg over the motorcycle and kicked the poor bastard squarely in the jaw with the heel of my boot.  Chuck Norris could have not provided a more directly placed hit.  But, the caretaker had a few things going for him.  He was a native son of the great State of Texas, and was maybe twenty years old and despite his youth, tough as old spurs.  He merely grunted and kept the bike standing.  Anywhere else I’d been looking at assault charges and possible jail time.

Amazed that he was still standing and not looking for a bat to kick my ass, I wandered around until I found a suitable board to support the bike.  Lesson learned.  Don’t put the sidestand down if you ain’t certain of the surface and, don’t kick Texans with your MotoGp boots….

After many apologies and “are you alright’s” the caretaker departed and left me to getting to setting up my tent for my first night under the stars.  The tent went up quickly, I blew up the air matress and stowed the rest of my gear inside.  This was the first use of my “condo in a box”. 

I changed into my walkin around clothing and started thinking about maybe a dip on the pool or a ride into town for some food.  An older gentleman dropped by and introduced himself as the KOA’s owner – and a motorcyclist.  We spent a while chatting and then he dropped the bomb “Well, son I’d take you out for a beer but Rusk is a dry county”  Bloody hell!  All I wanted after today’s long ride was an ice cold looooong neck bottle of suds.  Man!

Turns out that Rusk was one of 25 entirely dry counties in Texas.  Apparently that changed in 2012 when Rusk opted to serve beer and wine to it’s 8,148 residents.  Interestingly, the town was established and named for Thomas Jefferson Rusk, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.  Rusk,  was not someone yThomasJeffersonRusk.jpgou wanted to cross. 

When swindled out of a sizeable Georgia based investment by corrupt managers, he pursued them from Georgia into Mexican Texas in an attempt to recover his stolen investment.  Rusk liked area and in 1835 became a citizen of Mexico.  His Mexican citizenship did not last for long, by 1836 he wanted independence for Texas and was quickly appointed Secretary of War by the interim government. 

Rusk and Sam Houston fought in the battle that defeated Santa Anna on April 21, 1836.  Thereafter, he commanded the Army of the Republic of Texas and continued to drive Mexican troops across the Rio Grande.  Talk about an interesting few years.  Sadly, Rusk took his own life on July 29, 1857.

PHOTO: Downtown Rusk, TX via Google Earth

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Thankfully, the KOA owner (can’t remember his name, dang!) knew of a nearby non-dry county with an excellent local Mexican restaurant.  Rather than give me directions he fired his motorcycle and led me there.  He wished me a pleasant evening and rumbled off in to the evening.

From what I recall (as well as possible without any notes, photos, etc.) diner was fantastic and the beer was cold.  Seems that most of the awful places create stronger memories.  So this must have been a pleasant evening.  

After dinner I rode back to the campsite and had a pleasant nights sleep. 

 

 

UP NEXT: Nacogdoches, TX to Grand Isle, Louisiana

 

 

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