The Broken Shards

We crossed into Texas and headed west along a network of little roads.  Even the “little roads” here have speed limits of 70, so we did our best to stay on the least-used lanes.  East Texas is rolling piney-woods, and really pretty country.  By the time we crossed into the state, the GPS told me we had risen to about 250 feet in elevation, and as the day went by we slowly climbed to 450.  You can almost navigate just by elevation when around the Mississippi drainage.  As we continued west, the rolling pines gave way to flatter, more open ground as we transitioned into more ranch-like country, and soon it took on the classic Texas look of open rangeland and big, gated ranch mansions (many sited on oddly less-than-ranch-sized pieces of land…).  South Fork wannabes, I guess.

Texas has a doughnut shop in every town.  Even the little towns have them, and that was Jalene’s downfall.  We needed a little snack late morning so we stopped and we each had one.  I actually had a pig-in-a-blanket, which was made with a polish dog and the bun was a sweet croissant-like dough (awesome!) and Jalene had an old fashioned and something else.  Anyway, when we pulled out of the parking lot, I realized I wasn’t sure which way I needed to go out of town, and so stopped on the margin.  Jalene didn’t expect this at all and crashed right into the back of me, which shattered her front fender to bits and pushed her headlight well back into the little nose fairing.  I took it apart and was able to pop the headlight back into place without damage, but the fender was in about 15 pieces.  We gathered them all up and after bolting things back together, got underway again.  The damage was all cosmetic, and we considered just cutting away the broken shards still sticking out and calling it good, but in the end called the BMW shop in north Dallas and got a silver one on order (no matching black ones in N. America).  Once here at PJs we looked into plastic welding and gluing, but there were so many pieces that we decided to stick with the new part.  It came in only 3 days, so now Jalene has a new silver front beak on her black bike, which looks pretty cool, actually.  And we learned that one should be careful around doughnut shops.

As we approached our campground, we saw a disturbing sight.  We slowed down for the blue flashing lights of a cop car, which was stopped for an accident at an intersection.  A white sedan had rear-ended a motorcycle at high speed, burying the aft two feet of the bike in the front end of the car and trapping it upright.  Didn’t see the rider, didn’t really need to.  No one wears helmets here.  It was obvious the car driver had never seen the bike, which had likely stopped waiting to make a left, and slammed right into it.  Jalene was pretty shook up by the sight, and we talked about always checking the mirrors anytime you touch the brakes.  Being rear-ended hard is likely fatal for the motorcyclist, and is the one situation that scares me most.  It’s why I want lane-splitting legalized, not so that I can split lanes, but so I can escape up between lanes when multiple lanes of traffic suddenly slam to a halt in a traffic jam.  It’s terrifying.

Enough soapbox.  Our campsite at Lake Tawakoni was beautiful, and had some impressive ant highways in the area that were kind of fun to watch.  Incentive to keep that tent zipped up!  We spent a relaxing evening lakeside in a breeze, and enjoyed a slow morning, as it was only about 2 hours to cousin PJ’s house.  We had showers and hung out in the shade.  I laughed at myself, as I had found a bar of soap on a post, and so lathered up again and again, luxuriating in my “free soap” and hot showers.  It’s become kind of funny, the things that we find special now.

We hit the road and rolled along increasingly busy streets into Plano, an outpost of the busy metropolis of Dallas, and found PJ’s house.  PJ is another of the Horton cousins, sister to Connie that I visited in Indiana. Tall and slim, she has a slow drawl but a quick wit that catches you off guard, and likes to pick on me in her gentle way.  She’s more of a quiet thinker than any of us, and it’s always illuminating to talk with her.  She is the cousin that is my age, and I’ve always had a soft spot for her.  She and her husband Marty have a house out in a quiet area of town.  It’s odd to me, but all the houses in this area have the garages facing an alley that runs behind the houses, with only lawn and a front door in front, no driveway.  Tall fences ring each house, creating privacy, but PJ and Marty admit that they don’t really know any of their neighbors because of this.

We’ve been busy on “the list” for the past few days.  I’ve put two new tires on my bike and a new rear on Jalene’s along with new chain and sprockets.  We’ve been spraying the chains at the end of about every other day with lube, and I noticed that the sprockets I took off her bike showed almost no wear at all, only the chain was stretched and done for after over 20,000 miles.  The tires I took off still had some rubber on them, but with Mexico coming up, I went ahead and put the fresh tires on so I could forget about it for another 10,000 miles or so.  One of the great things about being on “little” 650s is that things like tires and chains last a long time.  I’ve also rebuilt the water pump on Jalene’s engine, as it had started to puke oil from one of the seals at a worrisome rate.  The coolant was also contaminated.  Our friend Don Weber in Albany, Oregon gave us a flexible oil line for the F650 engine before we left, a roughly $100 accessory to replace the solid external oil pipe that makes removing the clutch/water pump cover, an absolute bitch.  The flexible line simply swings out of the way, making removal very easy, and I was able to complete the job in PJ’s garage in an afternoon.  Feels good to have it done, and I will be able to do mine that much easier wherever it decides to crap out.  I am carrying spares for both bikes, the one known weakness of that engine.

And now my supervisor is telling me it’s time to get busy making dinner.  Jalene and I are grilling salmon and veggies for PJ and Marty tonight.  We’re going to see what kind of quality the Sockeye is in these parts.  It’s frozen, granted, but if they did a good job of processing it, we might get a surprise.  Oh, $13/lb. since you asked.  Chinook and Coho $15.

PS – It was wonderful fish.  Someone did a good job with the freezing and packing.

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Here's a few photos of our week in Plano, Texas.