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Old 05-05-2004, 10:10 PM   #48
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
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Round the (Big) Bend

29th March

Woke to a wet Monday morning. Never mind – it’s forecast to clear later in the West, and that’s where I’ll be heading. I pack the bike and say my goodbyes to Arch. Julie left for work early and has left a note and a ‘peace’ medallion to take on my trip – I’m very moved by this gesture. Julie and Arch – and Warren – have been fantastically hospitable to me and I’m very sad to be moving on. They have become firm friends and I hope we’ll one day meet up again…

I ride off into a light drizzle and get on Interstate 10 – the highway which runs EW across the entire country, from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles. I’m once again struck by the sheer scale of Texas. If I were to ride, now, from Houston to Los Angeles, the halfway point would be El Paso – 750 miles away – still in Texas…

I stop at Sealy to fill up with fuel and have lunch at a truck-stop.



…where I order the special from Bonnie (really!) the waitress (wearing the pink top, above)…



Chicken fried steak (not chicken, but beefsteak fried in a chicken flavoured batter), fried okra, macaroni cheese – and ‘sweet tea’ which is iced tea with sugar in it – the staple cold drink in the southern USA.

I get back on I-10 and keep pressing West. I get off at Luling. Something tells me that they farm Watermelon around here…



…I ride on North-West, passing a somewhat disconcerting advert for a skydiving school (slogan - “There’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane”)…



…until I get to San Marcos Airport, where I visit the Mid Texas Squadron of the Confederate Air Force. Weirdly the CAF has just been re-named the Commemorative Air Force – apparently this is more politically correct :



These guys restore and fly old aeroplanes – lots of old aeroplanes. I remember hearing that they are something like the 12th biggest Air Force in the world… They have a B29 Superfortress, a B17, a B24, as well as this B25 Mitchell and simply dozens of other WWII ‘Warbirds’. The San Marcos detachment has about 8 or 9 aircraft and a small museum, mostly commemorating the B25 Doolittle raid on Tokyo in 1942. They also have a couple of Japanese aircraft, which took part in the film ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’



I ride on – the weather has cleared and it’s now a beautiful day – bright sunshine and 72ş F. I ride along Highway 80 “The Devil’s Backbone” – a well surfaced road of long sweeping bends.



The landscape here has changed. The climate is more arid and the vegetation includes cactus and mesquite bushes. I stop at a picnic area – the covers over the tables demonstrate how powerful the midday sun in summertime can be. If you leave your car parked in direct sunlight, it can buckle your dashboard…



I approach Kerrville to stop for the day.



And check into the Best Western. Tomorrow I’ll be starting to head South West towards Big Bend…

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MikeO screwed with this post 02-13-2006 at 11:22 AM
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