9.18.2006,11:28 PM
Day One: Are we out of Texas yet??
Home to Clovis, NM
Miles: 456
Time: 9:40 am – 7:00 pm
Weather: showers, monsoon, sunny but chilly: windy, wet and cold

I waited out the thunderstorm in the dark, surfing the doppler sites, tracking the storm, and sipping coffee. A green inchworm was slowly crawling from the south, mid-smack in the middle of Texas and through my intended route west. The other side of the worm, clear as a bell was Lubbock; over 300 miles away. I readied myself to ride in four hours of nasty wet weather and had warm waterproof gear laying out on the floor ready for me to don.

Two and ½ hours after I planned to leave, a gentle rain was all that remained behind of the thunderstorm. It was warm and humid outside, the air like the inside of a sauna, a present from the storm. After dragging everything outside and loading up Whee, I pulled out the liners of the side cases and repacked them. Repacked only once; I guess that’s not too bad. As you can see, the load has been attached, attached again, and again. It may be overkill, but I would prefer not to worry about something springing loose. Just like the front tire, I like peace of mind.

We rode through a few brief showers, nothing torrential. Until just east of Abilene. Then all hell broke loose. It started as big rain splats, and then a wall of water and wind hit us. I couldn’t see five feet in front of me. Neither could anyone else. All vehicles, cars and semis, slowed to a crawl. I searched for an exit, signaled, tapped brakes and crawled off the interstate. Many behind me followed suit.

Noticing a gas station with an overhang over the pumps, I carefully pulled in, opposite a cruiser hauling a small trailer. Pulling out my jacket liner, grabbing the keys and wallet, I ran for cover inside. A tall very wet man with a soaked T-shirt and denim vest stood inside with a disgusted look on his face. While stripping off my jacket and zipping in the liner amidst a growing pool of water at my feet, we exchanged personal weather reports:

“I left Fort Worth a while ago. A thunderstorm passed through, but it was clearing, humid and warm.”

“I came from Glen Rose, just south of there and I’ve been in this station for 45 minutes. It hasn’t let up yet.”

“Where you headed to?”


Not knowing where that is, I just nodded my head. In response to his inquiry, I replied, “I’m hoping to make it to Clovis, New Mexico.”

A resounding, “You’ll never make it!!!” “You may as well find a room near here. Who knows when this will let up.” It echoed inside the store.
That was encouraging………

Groan. “My plan is to refuel, find some food, wait it out for a bit, and hit the road. I’m not staying here.”

As soon as I pulled on another jacket and the Joe Rocket jacket with insulated liner (and closed the vents), I ran out to the bike, unfastened the tank bag and filled up trying to avoid letting rain water in with the gas. My gloves were soaked. I searched quickly for the new waterproof gloves but didn’t find them, cussing myself out for packing too much and not knowing where anything was except for the contents of the two dry bags.

And that is all that stayed dry.

Stuffing the soaked gloves in the end of a side case, I rode to a Cracker Barrel just down the road. The parking lot was packed full of Sunday After-church crowds, but I found a spot next to the same cruiser with the trailer. He must have liked my plan.

After walking inside and putting my name on the waiting list, I stood next to the counter, waiting, helmet in hand, dripping water all over their wood floor. People walked by me and gave me an assortment of looks from disbelief, disgust, pity, and amusement.

“You’re dripping, sweetie,” said a smiling older woman.
Genuinely apologetic, I said, “I know; I’m sorry.”

The assistant hostess brought me a cup of hot steaming coffee. I warmed my freezing wet hands on the side of the Styrofoam containing my favorite beverage and looked like a miserable wet dog. A young waiter brought me another cup of coffee; one for each hand. I thanked him, too. Two other waiters kept eying my growing puddle of water at my feet and I offered to mop it up. They smiled and told me not to bother; they would take care of it after I’m seated.

Finally, I was lead to my table. Strip off the wet jacket, then the camel pack, the second jacket underneath, the dripping helmet on the floor under my table, and wiped my face of remaining water. My sleeve ends were wet and my T-shirt damp from rain blown in through the jacket vents. All I wanted was hot coffee to warm me.

I placed my order and made two phone calls while waiting for the rain to diminish. An hour later it was still drizzling but it was time to go. Back on with the gear. People watched me shrug on all the jackets and the camel pack. I felt conspicuous, but didn’t care. I must look like a monster with all this gear on.

Searching again, I finally found my other gloves. The sheepskin pad was soaked and felt cold through the gear on my butt and thighs. I warmed it up soon enough after sitting for a while.

Back on the interstate and miles to go.

Riding on two wheels with no stereo, my thoughts run wild: from pondering the evolutionary merit of laughter since it seems so universal (all primates laugh, other animals are thought to laugh; do lizards laugh?), singing songs from cartoons and movie soundtracks, composing my own songs (Windy, Wet and Cold This Way), to soliloquies inside my helmet. We all talk to ourselves; now it was audible rather than just silent conversations. Audible writing, so to speak. I wish I had a voice recorder.

Sunshine and blue sky just south of Lubbock. Yes!!!!!

No reason not to make Clovis. On we went.

The countryside was beautiful. Flowing agricultural land, the sweet smell of hay being harvested, familiar musky odors of cattle and horses, grain elevators, hay fields with waving light green and yellow headed grass, trucks stacked with green gold alfalfa which smelled rich in nitrogen, horses grazing and tails flicking flies. A life I lived and sometimes long for. Days of hard labor, but each day ending with a satisfaction and fulfillment that city life can’t even closely resemble. The reward of simplicity with physical and mental challenges. And a sense of worth and satisfaction at the end of each day.

Riding by this all was like half of my life passing by me, a movie on both sides of me and everywhere I turned. Those years of living in the woods and on the ranch in Maine and Oregon were the most rewarding in many ways. I felt a longing to lay out in the pastures again under the sun with the sheep nosing me and chewing their cud, the horses pulling grass with their teeth and the swish of their tails flicking flies. Or sitting outside on the porch in the deep of night with a canopy of stars and planets providing a silent movie overhead. The only words you hear are the thoughts inside your head. And the melodious cacophony of the coyotes echoing between the hills.

That was life.

And here I was, riding on two wheels through a movie of my own life reflected by the lives of others acting in their own movie. We are but all actors on this stage called life.

Smiling, I rode through rural Texas and crossed an imaginary line into New Mexico and finally into a town called Clovis.

I made it after all.

I turned on the heat in my motel room, stripped the bike and unpacked everything, hanging it all to dry, took a hot shower and fell asleep until the alarm rang at 6 am.
posted by Macrobe
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