Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Great Bike Trip - Day 2

My second day's itinerary had my travellin' from Nashville, TN to Texas to finally set foot in a state I'd never been to, visit another friend from my newspaper days, and to meet and stay with one of my favorite bloggers, CenTexTim.

After a quick three hours of sleep, I was up and gone from Brett and Heather's by 3:30am and headin' hard to the west.

It was still dark when I made my first gas stop in western TN, which probably didn't help with the sketchy appearance of the truck stop where I fueled up. There was some downright scary folks workin' the joint, and prolly the oldest pumps that I've fueled up at in many a year. I didn't hang around there too long.

One of the highlights of the trip was the many awesome sunrises and sunsets I was treated to. That mornin' was no exception.

I made the Big Muddy just after sunup, and was able to snag a few decent pictures as I crossed the bridge. It's only the fourth time I've ever crossed the Mississippi River, and it's always a very excitin' experience.

I meandered across Arkansas, which most find to be a very bland state. I'm one of those wacky bastards that found it fascinatin', if for no other reason that the agricultural flatlands on the east side of the state were filled with irrigation ponds that were lined with duck blinds. Tater would have had a hard-on ten miles long. I did resist the urge to go off course and swing by the Mack's Prairie Wings store in famous Stuttgart, otherwise known as the waterfowler's Mecca.

The western part of the state was very reminiscent of the Carolinas, with pine barrens linin' the sides of the highway.

I finally made the Texas line. To say I was excited was an understatement. It always thrills me to step foot in a new state, and Texas is such a storied state to boot. I had to stop and actually put my feet down (and record the moment for posterity).

Shortly thereafter, I jumped off the interstate and headed south towards Hughes Springs to meet up with my friend Tim. The rural four-lane, and then two-lane was a welcome change after well over 1,000 miles of interstates, and I enjoyed the chance to see a better representation of rural Texas.

I finally made it to Tim's place. I couldn't stay long, but I was able to chug a few cups of coffee and visit with Tim and his daughter (and the hounds). Tim posts a lot of pictures to Facebook featurin' the local water tower in front of his house, so I had him ham it up a bit before I left.

I initially was plannin' to jump back on the interstate and head toward Dallas, then south toward Austin. However, I decided to throw some blind faith in the GPS and enjoy more rural routes. I wound up on U.S. 79, which wound south through east Texas and eventually dumped me out in Austin just after dark. 79 was a great stretch of highway (possibly my favorite of the whole trip), and I was treated to another fantastic sunset along the way.

After I finally got through the mess that was Austin, I ground out the last stretch through the Texas Hill Country to CenTexTim's abode. I rolled in about at 9:30, which was a half-hour later than I anticipated (you're prolly sensin' a theme developin' here). Tim met me at the gate, where I was greeted with a handshake and a Shiner... I knew immediately I was dealin' with a gentleman of impeccably high character.

After getting settled, I enjoyed an excellent supper of speed goat with some good red wine to match, and then some conversation with Tim and his wife before turnin' in to my quarters for the evenin'. I'd been runnin' since the wee hours and pounded out just shy of a thousand miles, so I was more than ready for a shower, and I'm purty sure I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

And in case you're wonderin', yes, the Shiner is a helluva lot better in Texas than it is in PA.

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