Day 1 - Saturday (whoops, I said day 2 in the title. I can't change it, so deal.)
**For those looking for gpx files for the ride, look here
The day of our big adventure had come! I celebrated by sleeping well past day break. No alarms for me, I'm on vacation! I rolled out of my tent around 8a and found Counselor was nearly packed. He hadn't slept well in the hammock and decided to chuck it in my truck and take a tent instead. (Yes, he had both.)
To make matters worse, not sleeping well (or at all) had exacerbated his cold. He was suffering a bit and looked tired.
We took our time loading the bikes. Okay, I might have taken a bit more time, but again, I'm on vacation...
After arranging to leave the truck at Livingston Camp Ground, we headed to the place where all great adventures begin: Wal-Mart. I needed a headlamp anyway, and it's the traditional mustering area for the organized Texas Trail Riders event.
From Wal-Mart we drove a short stretch of highway 59 toward Moscow, TX, take a right on CR 62, then a dogleg right onto McSpadden Road, our first dirt road of the day. It was 11a or so. Kinda late start, but there's a learning curve to this stuff.
The weather couldn't be more perfect; low 70's and only a few wispy clouds. After several miles of dirt roads, no other vehicles, and rolling hills, we were in good spirits.
As we rode further into the back country, we came across many, many little bridges.
We came across so many bridges, in fact, that if we'd stopped to take pictures of them all, we'd still be there.
One word of caution about the bridges: You see the vertical planks running lengthwise along the bridge?
Sometimes those planks are damaged or missing altogether, creating an extremely narrow trap for your front tire. I nearly spilled it while going too fast over a bridge on day 3. Slow down for the bridges until you're sure they're in good repair.
Okay, one last bridge pic
In addition to bridges, you will see plenty of these:
But while you may have seen plenty of cows, the cows did not appear to have seen many motorcycles. Counselor and I tried not to spook the animals, but we clearly made them very nervous. At one point, we caused a mini-stampede. I've never seen a herd of cows run before.
After a run down some dirt roads, the route ran us along a stretch of paved farm road. The smooth tarmac allowed us to move at a little faster clip until...uh oh...
My "check engine" light turns on. I'm not a mechanic, what should I check? I still don't know why the light came on. I was purring along at a low rpm when it happened. Counselor had given me his old skid plate before we left on our trip. He had lined the inside of the plate with sound deadening material. The material was blocking the air holes on the front of the plate, so I used my key to punch them out.
In retrospect, I don't think that was the problem at all. If the bike was overheating, wouldn't the "engine temp" light have come instead? I think that, perhaps, with the heavy load on the bike, the engine didn't like being lugged along at 60mph in 6th gear. Perhaps I'll never really know because I turned the key and, hallelujah, no engine light--we're back in business.
As an aside, check out what Counselor found in his radiator guard:
It looked like an Egyptian Scarab! The picture doesn't do it justice; it was a beautiful shiny green little beetle. Wait, did I say little? Obviously, there are bigger beetles out there, but I'm glad I didn't take this one in the throat.
After a bit of road droning, we took a right into the Angelina National Forest.
Alright, now we're getting somewhere! Tall pines, no cars, and as an added bonus, the forest was on fire!
Not a raging forest fire, this was a controlled burn conducted by the Forest Service. It may not have been dangerous, but the smoking black forest was a striking counterpoint to the bright green ferns on the other side of the road.
Beyond the forest, we intersected the blink town (if you blink, you miss it) town of Colmesneil. On the outskirts of town (and by "outskirts" I mean "one half block from Main St) there were a few neat abandoned vehicles.
I liked how the coloring on this tractor so closely imitated my bike.
This abandoned old rig was just cool. Notice that Counselor is risking tetanus within the vehicle.
On a navigational note, those of you who download the GPX file will notice that it's broken into nine legs, three per day (1-1,1-2,1-3 and 2-1, 2-2, 2-3 and 3-1, 3-2, 3-3). I don't know what rationale was used to determine how long each leg of the journey would be. But you should know one thing: Section 1-1 is the longest section by far. It runs about 125 miles. The next longest section only runs about 70 miles. Don't think that the sections are broken down by convenience to gas, food, etc--there is clearly no correlation. They are simply chunks of the total trail-some as short as 33 miles. The only convenience stop listed in the GPX file is "Rays Pizza." I went to that waypoint. There is no such thing as Ray's Pizza, unless of course, you happen to be in Manhattan.
Not far from Colmesneil, your GPS will tell you to turn up Sandhill Road.
This is where they bury the motorcyclists who ride Sand Hill Road with 50/50 tires. I was glad to have a light bike and 90/10 tires! After a while, I kinda enjoyed the craziness of riding sand. The counterintuitive lunacy of punching it as soon as I feel out of control is exhilarating!
At Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Counselor decided to go off-roading though a public park. We left just as the sherifs arrived.
It was about 2p and we were starving. We both wanted to go to some cool hole-in-the-wall joint, but with our options limited we ended up at a Dairy Queen in Hemphill (I think).
What I do distinctly remember is that my hamburger had something inexplicably hard within the meat. So hard, in fact, that I chipped my front tooth.
The piece of front tooth. My first adventure-related injury.
In the late afternoon we came upon the last section of the day, 1-3, which includes Nine Mile Road. This unimproved stretch of road was easily the most technical of the trip. It ran along the banks of the Toledo Bend Reservoir in the Sabine National Forest. The "road" was narrow an pocked with deep mud sections and standing water. Counselor and I were having such fun that we almost didn't notice the stretch of barbed wire running directly across the path.
Sorry, we didn't take a picture. We ended up driving along the fence line until we found a break. We drove across a field to rejoin Nine Mile Road. Before long, however, we were forced into a confrontation with a local landowner/foreman. The area was clearly being developed for housing and the developer didn't want folks driving through his land. He claimed the road was closed since he owned all the land abutting the national forest road.
I didn't argue with him. I played nice and dumb until he allowed us to continue to our destination. I don't know that I agree with his logic of the legality of closing a public roadway simply because he owns the land on both sides. I may have to call the Sabine County office and find out whether his closing the road was done legally. If not, my next trip loadout will include a letter from the county commissioner and some wire cutters.
Bean's VIP campground is not where the GPS waypoint says it is. It's close, but no cigar. You'll have to drive around a bit. The peninsula is small, so you'll find it eventually.
My setup. Notice the beautiful reservoir beyond.
Counselor went with a tent this time, though a really small one.
Counselor's cold was really catching up with him at this point and he didn't feel like riding twelve miles to go out to dinner. Instead, he downed a NyQuil cocktail and shoe-horned himself into his mini-tent.
I really didn't feel like going out either, so I boiled a cup of water on the fire and prepared a Mountain Home freeze dried meal. Spaghetti. After ten minutes of soaking, it didn't look
like spaghetti. It tasted almost, but not quite, entirely unlike spaghetti. I decided at last that it wasn't spaghetti, it was soup. Soup that was inspired
by spaghetti. It turned out to be the best damned spaghetti soup I'd ever eaten.
One Ambien later I was sleeping like a man with a clear conscious.
**END of Day One**
Coming Soon - Day Two