Written October 19, 2015
We left cousin PJ's house with bikes freshened up and many administrative tasks completed. Decisions were made about which liability insurance we would purchase upon entering Mexico, as well as what to do about the cell phones. We’ll buy SIMM cards for each country, which will mean new phone numbers, etc. Once again, communication with us will be best done by email or through the website.
We struck out west out of Plano, staying on the surface streets and avoiding anything like an interstate. It took all day, but we finally cleared the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolis, and got well out into the countryside. This day took us by endless cotton fields, and we got to see some of the equipment used to harvest and bale it. I’m not talking about hay-bale sized bales, cotton bales are huge, the size of semi-truck trailers. They get pooped out the back of huge balers awaiting pickup. When you punch the bale, it’s not soft, but very hard. I’d like to watch how big it expands when the netting holding it gets cut! Our first night away found us camped at Cleburne State Park, which was a wonderful, peaceful setting beside a shallow lake. We had tried for another campground that was full up, so we actually had to hook back toward Dallas to get to Cleburne. No matter, what’s the hurry? We had a nice warm, quiet night under the stars. We leave the rainfly off the tent when we can, as long as there are no trees above to drip sap or bird poop.
Our campsite neighbors, a husband and wife, had come over and chatted with us for a little while, as they also rode motorcycles and were curious about the campers with the Oregon plates. Really nice people and, once again, the names are lost, but these two left quite a deep impression on us. In the morning, they came back over as we were packing up the bikes, and expressed that they would be thinking of us and asked if they could say a prayer with us. He put a big strong hand on my shoulder, and she did the same with Jalene, and they asked that we be blessed and protected on our trip. It was a wonderful experience, leaving us with another example of just how caring and supportive the people of this land are. I hope they see this; I’d like them to know just how grateful Jalene and I are.
The next day we continued west, wanting to head in the general direction of Big Bend National Park. Along the way that day, we started seeing prickly pear cactus along the road, and some of them had fruit on them. They looked like little beet-red pears growing upside down out of the top edges of the “leaves.” I picked a few, but didn’t know what to do with them, ultimately just making a mess inside one of the sidecases on my bike and subjecting both of us to tiny “slivers” in our fingers. We made it as far as Brownwood Lake and once again ended up in a very nice State Park. Texas does a really great job on their parks, it must be said. However, limited site selection placed us right next to a big family gathering and the kids were loud and ill behaved. We took our chairs and went down by the lakeside, only coming back to our site for dinner, and then thankfully they had all gathered elsewhere. Peace reigned for a while, but in the end it turned out to be a night for earplugs.
Our southwest journey was turning into a chain of Texas State Parks, with the next night finding us at San Angelo, a park just outside of a sizable town. We were the only ones in the whole section of the campground, save for a man sitting in a white pickup at a site a little ways away, just sitting inside on a warm day, which gave Jalene an unsettled feeling. After a few hours he drove off. But Jalene had just walked up to the showers, about 500 yards from our campsite. All alone, she felt so uncomfortable that she decided not to take a shower, and when she went back outside, the truck was parked again nearby. It was a fast walk for her back to where I was. Early the next morning, before dawn, I hiked up to the bathroom and there he was, camped nearby. While inside, I heard him fire up the truck and by the time I came back out, he was gone, tent and all. Maybe someone homeless simply was looking for a place to sleep. But, like I said, a bit spooky. There’s a happy campground medium somewhere between empty and silent, and crowded screaming-child bedlam.
There were pecans all over the ground under the trees at that campground. I tried cracking some, but maybe they weren’t dry enough, because they just crumbled. I was bummed, because I remember how good they tasted when Aunt Jane would send boxes of them from Texas each year. My job was to crack them open so that mom could use them for baking. She would make Pecan Sticky Buns, a kind of brown sugar variant on cinnamon rolls but ten times better. They have been the source of family jealousy when mom would pass them out.
That’s enough for now, we’ve covered a lot of ground since I last wrote, but I’ll call this a chapter. Stay tuned, as I have quite a bit to catch up on!
Check out new photos of traveling in Texas. (Sorry for the faulty link in the last post, this will work.)
And, here's Jalene talking about the ugly duckling stage in our transition from vacationer to traveler.