Howdy folks - Ah'm feelin a might Texan after the fandango last nat!
Actually it was a great evening and I had a great time hanging around the dance. I make a great wallflower :tears
The Post Dance lasted officially til 1 am, but I left about 11pm and headed back to the hotel for some down time. I was a bit hungry, and let me tell you there ain't even a vending machine in Marathon after 10 pm.
I came into the lobby of the Gage to sit down and finish the ride report, the only place they have wifi in the hotel, and asked the desk clerk if she knew of any place I could find a vending machine since I hadn't had supper. I tried to look emaciated but it just doesn't work since I'm not. She said "hang on a sec..." and in a couple of minutes appeared from the Quail Tongue kitchen with two goodies for me. She dropped them in my helmet and gave a belly laugh, saying "They'll never miss 'em!"
I thanked her profusely and upon inspection found one to be a chocolate muffin and the other a small pecan pie (personal travel size). Woohoo! Nothing like a late night sugar rush when you need to sleep.
Figuring the pecan pie had too much sugar, I scarfed the chocolate muffin down and washed it down with a complimentary bottle of water on my nightstand. It was right next to the complimentary earplugs. More on that later.
Well, the chocolate muffin had it's revenge. I had a horrible nightmare in which I was sitting on a couch next to Tommy Lee Jones. He sat at the end and stared at me with an angry look. It was one huge eternity of silence while he looked at me over his folded newspaper and I couldn't think of anything to say to him. This went on forever it seemed like. I realize Tommy always looks angry, but he just was not a conversationalist. Maybe I had a near-death experience and went to hades for a moment. Shudder.
Anyway, I actually do like the Gage Hotel - it's a beautiful place and decorated nicely. You should stay there at least once if you get the chance. One word of caution, the floors squeak like you wouldn't believe, and the walls and doors are paper thin. Toilet paper thin. About 1 am, when I finally made it to the room, I was painfully aware of all the folks sleeping and tried to be quiet. Of course I had to go from the bed to the potty right before sleeping, and I blanched, thinking of all the noise my footsteps would make. I tried to tiptoe quietly, but each step sounded like 2000 sweaty thighs sliding on naugahyde and vinyl. My God it was noisy. It seemed to take an eternity to make it to the bathroom and back.
I thought maybe the earplugs were for the squeaky floors, but later realized they were for many things, including the trains across the road.
The bed felt for a while, until I realized my 6'4 frame was in a 6' bed frame. When I finally woke up and sat up, I heard the person in the room next door putting on jeans and could hear the zipper zipping. Yikes! God only knows what he thought when I put my boots on... hearing huge patches of velcro ripping and the snapping of many buckles...
I carried my gear through the shee-shee lobby, my big ziplock bags of clothes stuffed proudly under each arm and one held between my teeth (my arms were full). Outside it was threatening rain and cool, and my instincts told me to eat breakfast. I stuffed my gear in the side cases and headed into the Quail Lips Cafe for breakfast. The menu featured very little exotic breakfast fare - much to my disappointment, but I ordered the Biscuits and Wild Sage Sausage Gravy with fruit side.
All I gotta say is "You can't fool momma's little biscuit eater"... beneath the free range sage gravy lay two Sam's pre-made biscuits. Oh well, I scarfed them down anyway. I still had the pecan pie from last night for later. Woohoo!
All foolishness and drama aside, the Gage is a cool hotel and a fun place to stay...
I filled up at the Shell station in the drizzle and cool wind. The horizon was ominous and threatening rain.
Heading out for Sanderson, there was a chill in the air and spats of rain. I didn't see a single car for miles, instead enjoying the fantastic scenes made by light and shadow on the hills around me. I really felt like I was in New Mexico or Wyoming. A very surreal ride but really great also.
Somebody tell me I'm in Texas...
The thing about rain is it has a tendency to suck you in until it's too late. It sprinkles then stops, sprinkles then stops, sprinkles then stops until you are drawn into the "maybe I don't need to stop and put on my rain gear cause it might not last" syndrome. Miles later you are shivering from hypothermia, finally stop and put on your gear, only for the rain to stop. Guess what...
I finally suited up and was glad I did. The rain came in spurts and stops, stinging my face at 75 mph in the open face MX helmet. The ride to Sanderson continued the surreal atmosphere, surrounded by billowy grey clouds just above ground level.
Gassed up in Sanderson, where fuel prices were a bit better than further west. That's a busy little town for a small place.
The obligatory shot of someone taking the obligatory shot
I had decided to cut up to Sheffield and see Ft. Lancaster from Sanderson, so I headed north on 285. About a mile out, the rain got a lot stronger and lasted for miles until I reached FM 2400 to cut east towards for Sheffield.
Nothing warms my heart more than seeing a sign like this when it's raining and you've got 39 miles to go on a road you've never ridden...
Each of the dips and wash crossings were fresh with signs of recent flooding - piles of rock, dirt and brush that had been pushed off by road crews. Apparently they'd had some serious flooding earlier in the week. I stayed on my toes for the ride, since it continued to rain and it's easy to hit unseen standing water in the dips. After about 30 miles, the sporadic rain stopped and it dried out a little.
The road is a nice winding road with zero traffic - might be a good alternative as a cut down to Big Bend for someone wanting a back road trip.
All I gotta say is out there is a whole lotta nada, a whole lotta notta lotta...
I caught up to my first car as I turned north on 349 for Sheffield.
As I slowly caught up to the car and made a pass on a long straight, I saw a single buzzard sitting on the yellow line nibbling on something (ancho crusted quail probably). The stare down began, since my speed was high from just passing the car and I couldn't hit the brakes hard. I watched in slo-mo as his brainless nasty red head tried to track me. Sure enough, 20 feet from me he launched - directly at my front fender. I dove against the tank bag and felt his wings brush over me. Good gawd I can't believe he didn't hit me... I'm sure the car behind me was enjoying the show but I wasn't. Last summer I had a pigeon hit my dead center on my face shield and it almost knocked me out. I hate to think what buzzard breath would have done.
Thankfully, I carry spare shorts for just such occasions, and now wide awake I rode on for Sheffield.
Sheffield was a simple, old oil field type town with not much there. I headed west on 290 for Fort Lancaster.
I had only ridden a short time before my next test appeared.
Multiple Choice Question...
A. Swerve left to avoid the cow with horns on the right?
B. Swerve right to avoid the cow with horns on the left?
C. Stay straight and challenge the hyper acting cow with horns standing in the roadway.
D. Curse Mr. Buzzard for his horned friends?
E. Begin to suspect another government operation to get you?
The answer is: I don't know.
Anyway, I got slowed quickly and the squirrelly cattle began acting squirrelly. The ones on the side bolted away, but the crazy one in the middle ran right then immediately made a huge loop back onto the road in front of me where he then ran for a ways before going right into the ditch and running alongside me for a good 100 yards. Before heading off into a driveway. Sheesh.
By this time I was ready to get off the bike and Ft. Lancaster came up soon after.
I was the only person at the Fort, and the lady working there wasn't too friendly. I wandered through the exhibit, snapping the following pics for a history lesson:
Now known as riding a KTM...
For BMW riders, this is like wearing non-BMW branded gear...
An old Boy Scout trick...
Now they just make you look at a picture of Hillary...
I thought you'd find that as interesting and informative as I did. From there, I wandered out onto the old fort's parade grounds, then wandered alongside the ruins. It's cool to see the old remains, but it ain't exactly an exciting place to wander.
This centipede and I were the only visitors
This reminds me of that motel I stayed in in Cody...
The time seemed right to eat a snack and tank up on water. It just so happened that I had a travel size pecan pie from Marathon riding shotgun. Poor guy.
I know what you're thinking... it looks suspiciously like a "Little Debbie" pecan pie.
I thought so too, but considering it came from the frig of the Quail Lips Cafe at the Gage, it has to be made by hand by a world famous chef, using only the finest quail's milk and pecan crusted pecan crust? Right? I bet this puppy was worth $15 in the restaurant. It did taste good however, the perfect balance of sugariness and pecaniness, with just a hint of quail...
From there I headed for I-10, stopping at the overlook at the top of the hill for a snapshot. Nice view of the area.
The sun came out just as I eased onto I-10 and hammered the throttle for home. The weather was definitely weird though - clouds and spattering rain alternated with bright sunshine from Sheffield all the way to Ozona, where I whipped in for gas.
After topping off, I headed downtown to see the place, circling the square and eventually pulling up to a statue of Davy Crockett. His quote of "Make sure you're right then go ahead" carved along the bottom. I stopped and pulled out the camera for a shot, still wearing my Darth Vader helmet. As I turned back straight, I was shocked to see the Sheriff sitting right alongside me with his window rolled down, saying something to me. I yanked my helmet off to get my earplugs out, forgetting I had my sunglasses on, launching them to the ground between us. He laughed and apologized for making me lose my glasses, then asked me if I'd noticed the dark area on the statue. He then told me some teens had napalmed Davy Crockett's crotch and burned that area of the statue black last year but now it was mostly gone.
He asked where I was from and where I was heading. I told him I'd never seen Ozona before and had swung off the freeway. We ended up talking a long time - he gave me the history of the town, which isn't really a town as it was never incorporated, pointed out the old jail with it's hanging pole still intact, etc. He said the county was 3000 square miles and a very interesting place. I enjoyed talking with him, and he told me some routes to ride in the future. He genuinely told me to be careful and try to stay off I-10 if possible. I wished him well and offered the same blessing to be safe, and I hoped to meet up with him again.
The old jail and current Sheriff's HQ
The view from the old water well site where the town grew up around
Back on the freeway, I burned my premium towards Sonora and then on towards Junction. The bizarre weather continued, with gusts of severe winds from the south.
About 30 miles outside Junction, two ominous black storm clouds lay ahead with pouring rain. As I hit the rain, I pulled off the highway under a tree to suit up in full rain gear. Not safe but no exits where anywhere close...
After riding in the rain a few minutes, the sun came out (of course) and I sweltered until Junction and a gas stop where I could get out of the rain gear. Gas even cheaper here woohoo! Like it really makes any difference when over $4 a gallon...
For the dual sporters here - Richard's launch pad for the DS ride - had a blast
From Junction on to Kerrville, there was no more drama (Thank God) other than high winds and the realization that the weekend was done.
I rolled into the Shell station where I'd gassed up Friday morning, just as the odometer rolled over to 1002 miles.
What a great weekend ride!
Thanks for reading and stay safe my friends...