Day Seven: Palestine, TX to Random road off the highway in Texas

September 3rd

Miles 2050-2585

Wow, Texas is a big state. This was the only day so far that I spent the whole day in only one state, and by the end I still wasn’t even done.

I was hoping this morning to be able to spend a little more time with my friend Bouie, but unfortunately he’d been called in to work today. So I woke up with them at around 6:45 as him and his wife were heading out. As much as I wanted to hang around until they got off in the afternoon, I didn’t think I could really afford the time in terms of getting to San Diego and eventually to Portland in order to meet up with my friends on time for the hike. So we said our goodbyes and finished packing up before hitting the road.

One stop I had to make early in the day was at the closest Harley dealership 100 miles away in Waco, Texas. I had been having a problem for the past couple days where at high speeds, in 5th gear, my engine indicator light would turn on. Obviously this worried me a bit but all I had to do was slow down a bit and drop down into 4th. After a few seconds the light would turn off and after a minute, I could speed back up and go into 5th again. I thought it was still about time to get it checked out, and when I got to Waco, they checked the “codes” of the computer, which apparently wasn’t reporting any problems. Then they took it into the shop and checked the history to see if there was an old problem that was being called up, which it turns out there was. There was an error about one of the spark plugs not firing. They said they reset the errors, checked the plugs, and I’d be good to go, which I was!

I found Texas quite a nice drive. Compared to the flat farther up north in Kansas and Eastern Colorado that I had driven in 2008, I found rt. 84 and later rt. 190, that I took Southwest to get back to the interstate, not boring. Whereas in the midlands the endless plains sort of hypnotize you into a daze, Texas had relatively varying terrain ad some curvy roads every now and then. The drivers were very polite as well, as almost everyone without fail when I would catch up to them would pull over to the shoulder enough to let me pass and very few went more than even a few miles an hour over the speed limit.

Finally, by the end of the day, I made it on to Interstate 10, which was going to take me west to the coast. With about an hour or two left of daylight I pulled over into a rest stop, I started considering staying at the rest stop for the night, it’s free, there’s shelter, and a water source. But after thinking about it for a while, and considering my last experience sleeping at a highway rest stop (“a night at a truck stop“), I decided against it and just took the chance to cook my dinner before heading out and finding another spot to sleep.

After heading out from the truck stop, I then took the first exit after wards to find a place to sleep. Most of the exits in this area were just for roads leading out into what seemed like the middle of nowhere. So I took one of those and drove down a dirt road until I found a clearing on the side of the road where I could set up my tent. This is when I dropped my bike for the first time of the trip…

I think it was my rear tire that caught some loose gravel and then I just couldn’t catch it in time before the bike went down onto it’s left side. I pulled in the clutch and the engine revved as I went down. The bike came down slightly on my foot. I managed to get it out and luckily it wasn’t too badly hurt. Next, I had to try and pick the bike back up. I didn’t want to have to hike back to the highway and flag someone down to help me, so I took off my bags, crossed my fingers and started to lift up the 600+ pound Dyna Wide Glide, luckily successfully.

Afterward I ran the bike to check everything was ok and then moved it to the side of the road where I could set up camp. I was at first considering just sleeping outside but then started getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and put up my tent. Turns out it was a really good idea because this dirt road happened to be on a trucking route, and a couple times at the beginning of the night, trucks came barreling through down the road blowing up dust all over the place.

Otherwise, it was a nice nights sleep, with a great sunset, barely any sound from the highway nearby, and a full sky of stars eventually coming out. My next stop, I’m going to try and drive the 1000 miles tomorrow through deserts and mountains and make it to San Diego and the Pacific Coast!

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