10.02.2007,12:13 PM
Ride-about in Hill Country: Roads to Rivers

"Hey! Can I come out now??"

At a rest stop on Chalk Mountain Wiley joined me on board the bike from a side bag. A knotted bungee cord helped him perch on the triple tree and handlebar with a full view of the road. I had pulled in the pleasant rest stop at the top of the hill to 'see what I could see'. Having ridden by it four times and missing the pull off, I was vigilant in watching for it this time. Tall tress obstructed most of the view over the valley below, but I caught a shot in between two trees. Later as I pulled out to the road I saw a better vantage point and assumed the typical photo posture on the bike: balancing the bike between my thighs, feet planted on the ground, while both hands unzip the tank bag, withdraw the Canon and capture what I can with gloved hands. The flip-up helmet is advantageous for this: press the latch and up flips the complete front of the helmet so I can use the viewfinder.

"Oh boy!!! We're on the road again!"

Wiley is now a common companion on my bike journeys since he adopted me at Palo Duro Canyon last fall. We complement each other in our mischievous and playful curiosities and adventurous spirits. I find myself talking to him lately since the Ghost Rider that used to accompany me faded away. People often comment on him at gas stops and elsewhere. Wiley's red shirt with the Palo Duro logo is sometimes a segue for them into reminiscences of the canyon and nearby locations. Wiley tickles memories and stories of their own adventures and travels to the Panhandle, northern Texas canyons and other destinations and their memories smile across their face as their minds turn inward and they relate their stories.

The route from Glen Rose to Hamilton is now memorized having ridden it several times this year. Slowly over the miles the land transitions from the flat plains to rolling roads and prairies as we approach Hill country. Traffic dwindles, large cattle ranches gobble the landscape devoid of drilling rigs. Straight and level tarmac gives way to gently rolling gray ribbons while mesquite and oaks replace non-native landscaped plants. Open spaces wave with green and golden grasses, a welcome sight for late summer in hot Texas country when the earth is usually bleached brown from the sun and heat.


Stopping in the small town of Hamilton to top the tank with gas and my Camelbac with ice water, I laughed when confronted with the now familiar question: "Is that a BMW?" Without any thought to sentence composition, my standard reply is, "No. Suzuki V-strom."

My third time riding this route, the series of turns were familiar now and I became aware of the eager anticipation for the farm roads, this gateway to the Texas Hill country. These roads have captured me, drawn me in, welcome me like an invisible hand gently guiding my way. High grasses hug the roadsides and part like waves as I ride along. And there is always something new to catch my attention. These roads beckon me to ride all day and always draw me back.

My head turns from side to side trying to capture everything around me. Parting of the trees opens the view overlooking rolling hills and plateaus intersected by valleys with streams and creeks nourishing thick majestic pecan and oak groves. Large blocks of yellow, beige, green, and brown drape hillsides: pastures, hay fields, corn and native vegetation. Dark green pompoms of juniper and mesquite dot the open prairies. Simple ranch houses hide under towering oaks and pecans, scattered wide across the countryside, their only hints being the tall stone and iron-gated entries swallowing white chert gravel roads.


Along the way I am surprised to find scattered flocks of sheep. It's been a long time since I've seen my cloven-hoofed friends and I wax nostalgic back to when I raised sheep on the ranch in Oregon.

Soon the road winds down off the high hills descending into the Colorado River basin. Shortly before an intersection the farm road dissects a large magical pecan grove with cattle laying in the shade from the harsh sun. The mid-day haze plays tag with shadows on the meadows and road as I ride through and over a creek.

I can sense the river nearby; almost as if it is calling me, whispering to me: "Come; I wait for you." And soon I ride the bridge over smooth green water flowing past banks of deep green trees and lighter willows. A smile spreads across my face and I'm eager to find my place alongside the river for the next few days. A sense of 'going home'. Yet to a home unknown.


The entire trip report is here and begins with the first post at the bottom.

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posted by Macrobe
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