Texas-New Mexico 2017 Journal

friday, september 1 – 8:23 am, drove to Nashville in intermittent rain. Two accidents in TN delayed me, so I arrived at 5:15. I got to t&l’s then rested until 7:00. We drank craft beer then met Adrian and Martha for dinner. I had a french dip. Visiting with a&m was awesome; Adrian had a cool story about transitioning from Frank Zappa’s band to David Bowie’s. We went back to t&l’s to play tunes

sat – Left about 8:30 for Texas. Arrived in Dallas 6:30-ish. We watched episode 1 of The Returned then ate tacos. Pete and I jammed for a little while

sun – Pete and I go to Richardson Bike Mart to look for a seatpost. Nada. Ate lunch at Jason’s Deli, then a rode at Erwin Park trails. Pete rode the ss and did well, but finally bonked right before the end. I ordered a seatpost on amz, to be delivered to Mom and Wendell’s address in SF. We ate bbq at Intrinsic then hung out in their patio area drinking beer and playing jenga with Ellie. Watched another ep of The Returned. Learned that Walter Becker died

mon – Pete worked, so I rode the Grapevine Northshore trail, 17 miles. Almost got overheated, but had fun. Pete came home early from work, so we went to the grocery and got food/beer, then grilled out. We ate shrimp, okra, cauliflower, and bread. Watch a couple of Louie episodes

tue – Trimmed Pete’s hair in the morning before he left for work. Went to rbm and bought a carbon bottle cage and talked to an employee about riding in the area. He convinced me to ride Boulder but to park at Redbird mall, so I did. good ride. Cleaned everything but one climb. Came back and started the spaghetti sauce. Practiced some guitar and played with Benny. Watched tennis with Kim

wed – Went for a run with Pete in the morning. I did not get too far, as my left knee started bothering me. Met Ben Cobb at Hoffbrau in Fort Worth, then came back and mowed p&k’s lawn. Got a few items at the store and made roasted potatoes with rosemary, sauteed asparagus, and Pete made teriyaki grilled fish. Watched tennis, then got ready for bed, but received tragic news from Anna. their cousin Eddie was killed by a self inflicted gunshot wound

thu – Hung out with Pete in the morning, then looked for a Schlotzsky’s for lunch but unsuccessful; they all seem to be closed down. Ate at a Thai place near 380 and i-75 before riding Erwin Park again. Sore legs made for a slow-ish ride, but still enjoyable. Came home and washed clothes, showered, read. Watched tennis with Kim and ate pizza. Pete came home after 10

fri – Met Pete at Burger House at noon for lunch, then went to Chris’ to record my guitar parts for Robin Proper. Watched a little tennis with Kim. Had dinner at Saigon Block with Kim and Ellie, then went back downtown for the Empire Cats show at Poor David’s

sat – Got up and packed for Santa Fe. Adam came by about 8:15 and we got on the road at 9:00 am. Ate at El Norteno’s in Wichita Falls, just like last year. Took 70/84 west to SF from Vernon. Listened to tunes, notably Abbey Road and personal playlists, then played ZZ Top’s Tejas as the sun set in the desert and we rolled into Eldorado. Perfect. A dinner of stew awaited as we arrived precisely at 8pm

sun – Installed the new seatpost on the Norco and rode Galisteo Basin trails in the am with Laura and Wendell, who managed admirably. Trails were fantastic: slightly more tech than La Tierra. Showered, then ate at Harry’s Roadhouse for a late lunch. Pete’s old friend and band-mate Tom Blackburn met us there as well. Later, Pete and I rode the greenway perimeter of Eldorado, then ate a supper of lamb balls, tabbouleh, and naan

mon – Rode La Tierra trails in the morning with Laura, Wendell, & Pete. Good times. Laura and I rode a bit longer to take advantage of the whoops, etc. while Pete and Wendell went back to the car. Did some grocery shopping at De Vargas mall Albertson’s, then ate lunch at Mom & Wendell’s. Pete made me a sandwich. We all lazed about (reading, resting, walking), then Pete prepped for pizza night. After a brief storm cooled things off we ate pizza and listened to some Joe Cocker. Later we played Beyond Balderdash. Pete wiped everyone out

tue – Got up and Laura and i rode Dale Ball trails. Had an awesome ride despite me taking a wrong turn at one point. the Norco seems to really shine on technical singletrack. Showered, then ate lunch at Pecos Inn and it was phenomenal. Took Oma to get a foot massage while Laura and i perused the contemporary galleries in the Railyard district. Later went to REI where I got a couple of new t-shirts. Rested at the Birney’s then went to m&w’s around 6:30. Adam cooked kabobs which were deLISH. Later we relaxed and listened to classic rock

wed – did some cleaning at the Bbirney’s in the AM, then to m&w’s where i made reuben sandwiches and sauteed asparagus for the crew. Hung out until 2:30, then took Laura and Oma to the airport. Was gonna ride after that but we decided to play disc golf instead. Went to the same course as in 2015. Had a fun and tight game. We all finished +4 so had to have a playoff. Pete won. Showered then ate an excellent dinner in Eldorado. Went back to the Birney’s and did some more cleaning

thu – Got up and did the remainder of the cleaning at Chez Birney, then got to m&w’s and did a little reading before eating a lunch of leftover pizza and sandwiches. Packed up, took some pics, then said our goodbyes. Hit the road around noon. Cool and cloudy out, and we had a tailwind. Listened to tunes most the way, and decided on a new format: play tunes by request. Rolled in to Lubbock around 7:00 and visited Grace & Don. New house is cool. Grace cooked: roast beef, mashed taters, broccoli. Crashed at Jenny & Chad’s place

fri – Got up early and said hi and bye to Owen and Wesley, then went and got my oil changed and tires balanced. Ate at Garcia’s with Pete, Adam, Grace, Don, Jenny and John. Had a good chat with John about art. Hit the road around 1:00 and took 114 to 380 back to Richardson. Uneventful trip. Pete drove the whole way

sat – Left Pete’s at 7:45 and drove drove drove. Got to Jeff & Rox’s at 9:30 pm

sun – Got up early and rode the Georgia International Horse Center trails with Jeff. They were sweet. Ate lunch with j&r at Los Hermanos then hit the road. Got home right at 6:00, in time to watch the Cowboys lose. Went to bed early

Texas Road Trip Journal

Tuesday 6/4 – Left Cary at 7:45 AM and headed southwest to Ellijay, GA. Arrived at Mulberry Gap around 3:00 PM, took a rest in my closet-sized cabin, then rode Pinhoti #2 trail. It was a long climb and I needed a few rest stops along the way. After about seven miles I turned around and bombed the descent. Good fun. Showered then ate a meal of steak, baked potato, green salad, corn-on-the-cob, jalepeno poppers, and bread. Friggin’ delicious. My plan was to ride again in the morning, but I then decided to get an early start to Houston and maybe surprise Anna at her work.

Wednesday 6/5 – After another fantastic meal provided by the MG staff, I hit the road. I took 85 to 20 to 59 to 12 to 10 and then stayed the night near Beaumont. I had to scrub the plan to surprise Anna, since she was not working that night. Instead, we rendezvoused Thursday morning at Salata on I-10 in Houston and beat the lunch rush, then went to Starbucks and relaxed some more while catching up. It was a brief visit but a good one. Anna seems to be happy and doing well. I then headed to San Antonio where I found Elizabeth’s stashed key and settled into her place. After watching a few episodes of The Office, I went to bed. Chris and E showed up in the wee hours.

Friday 6/7 – Met Chris (nice guy) and got some excellent Mexican food on the south side of SA where Chris grew up. Met his mom, Juanita, as well. We then went to the mall where E bought a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air sound system. Before going back home, we visited some of Chris’ relatives who live near Boerne. It was a graduation party with lots of food. Everyone was very kind and generous. We then went home and set up the Zeppelin and watched some Game of Thrones.

Saturday 6/8 – Got up and rode the trail at OP Schnabel near E’s place. Luckily, I found someone named Gary who was willing to shepherd me along the intricate trail system. We got a good 12+ mile ride in. Felt awesome. After returning home and cleaning up, we attended a San Antonio Missions baseball game. They lost but we a had a good time.

Sunday 6/9 – Went to a giant flea market with C, E and C’s mom. It was pretty hot, with a generous host of fat people milling about and perusing all varieties of junk. After that, we went back home and I hit the trail once more at Schnabel. There was no one to lead the way this time, so I was not able to retrace the path from the previous day. I did alright, but still managed a wrong turn at one point and got lost. I found my way out just as the skies opened up and unleashed a vicious Texas thunderstorm. After cleaning up, we went to a sports bar to watch the Spurs lose to Miami. I drank quite a bit and E bought two rounds of shots to boot. We had a grand time.

Monday 6/10 – I set out to ride Government Canyon trails, but they were closed due to all the rain. Instead, I rode an exercise bike at E’s apartment gym. Boring. We ate a hibachi supper at Osaka, then returned home and finished the third season of GoT. Amazing. E and C needed to get to bed since they had to get up early and leave for Austin/Boston.

Tuesday 6/11 – Said my goodbyes to E and C and slept until about 9:00 AM, then did some laundry. Headed to Fort Worth via 281. No way was I getting on I-35. Got to Barbara’s and settled in. Took B to Milano’s in FW for some good Italian fare. Watched some more of The Office on the laptop and helped B straighten out some issues on her PC.

Wednesday 6/12 – Met old friend Jana Johnson at La Madeleine at 8:30 for breakfast. It was good to catch up; had not seen her in 18 years. Then had lunch with Ben Cobb at Hoffbrau steak house. Went back to B’s and prepared for a ride at Sansom Park MTB trail. It was very hot. I took my standard two bottles of water, but I ended up running out because the trail had been lengthened during the intervening two years since I rode it last, and it caught me unawares like. I thought I was going to pass out from the heat and the stupid burst climbs on the Lone Wolf section of singletrack. Anyway, I survived. B took me out to Railhead for some Texas BBQ. Dee-lish.

Thursday 6/13 – Said so long to B and drove to Dallas to meet Pete for lunch. We went to Pie Five near his work and had a quality pizza. I then went back to P&K’s place to hang out with K’s mom Linda and little baby Ellie. She is getting cuter all the time, but she did not know what to think of me. Maybe she was confused because I resemble and sound a little like Pete. I’m talking about Ellie, not Linda. Ate a pork roast dish that had been cooking all day in the crock pot. It was the first home cooked meal in days and it was fantastic. Later, we met Adam at Lakewood Landing where John Harrell also showed up.

Friday 6/14 – While P&K were at work, I went to Erwin Park in McKinney to ride the trail. It was the only MTB trail in the ‘plex that I had not yet ridden. It was way out in BFE, but what a sweet trail! East coast-style hardpack with a few roots and some easy climbs. It twisted around in the woods for a bit then broke out into open prairie, where the heat blasted me real good. I was bunny hopping roots and stuff at a pretty good clip when I came upon a somewhat gnarly root system at a slight left turn in the trail. I hopped it with ease, but was not prepared for the small trench running diagonally along the trail afterward. My front wheel landed awkwardly and over I went. Hard. I tumbled a few times and probably did three or four rolls before coming to a stop. I bashed up both legs and got some scrapes here and there, but my ribs took the brunt. I was in pain. I wanted to cry but there was nobody around to give me any sympathy. After lying there and wincing for a bit, I got up and mounted the bike, which thankfully was unhurt. What sucked was, I did not know this trail and I had lots of miles to go before getting to the car. I managed okay, but took it real easy. The fun part was when I encountered a series of whoop-de-doos, but I refused to walk them. Any exertion whatsoever and my ribs were aflame with hurt, both from breathing deeply and from standing and mashing. I made it back to the car sooner than expected, where I laboriously changed clothes and headed home to P&K’s. K went to a girls’ get-together that night while P, A and I ate black bean tostadas and listened to music. I feared I would not sleep well because of my bruised ribs, but I slept okay.

Saturday 6/15 – Ribs still hurt but I don’t think they are fractured. Went to Jason’s Deli for lunch with P, K and E then to Best Buy where P bought a new MacBook Air. Sweet. Hung out back at the house then went to the store to get food for a cookout. Adam brought Italian sausage from Jimmy’s and we pigged out. Spring and Laura Driscoll also came over. A, P and I watched a couple of Futurama episodes, then A had to go to work. P and I listened to music, trading songs and playing DJ until about 1:00 AM.

Sunday 6/16 – Slept kinda late. I got up and made french toast for the crew. It was a yum. P set up his new MacBook. I don’t remember what we did for lunch, but we ate supper at Teppo Sushi and it was aces.

Monday 6/17 – Said goodbye to my bro and Ellie then hit the road at 9:00. Drove almost to Knoxville, TN. Checked into a motel around 10:00, just in time for Cracker Barrel to close, so I got two bean burritos from Taco Hell. I had sworn that I’d never eat there again, but I was desperate. This town had no alternative; everything good was closed. By “good” I mean Shoney’s.

Tuesday 6/19 – Got home to Cary around 3:00 PM. 3,258 miles.


Google This

I love maps. The ubiquitous Google Maps and Google Earth are mostly taken for granted these days, but I rememeber a time when only the USGS hosted satellite photos on the web. Back around 2000 when my cousin Adam sent me the coordinates to a certain swimming hole that we liked to frequent on road trips in Texas, I was ecstatic. I would zoom in and relive the moments that took place during the drive to (or from) Lubbock, usually in the heat of midsummer. We’d stop and toss a frisbee around behind these six huge corn dryers, drink some suds, then take a dip in the nearby stock tank. One time, when some dames accompanied us, we had chicken fights in the neck-deep water. Oh what fun that was. Often, after a relaxing swim in the crystalline waters of the stock tank, we would chuck rocks at the corn dryers and thrill at the sound of the stones bouncing down the tops of the (usually) hollow tin cylinders. We were easily entertained. I guess it’s the little things.

Here’s a shot of the spot I’m talking about. It’s just west of Throckmorton on highway 380. The water level in the pond is much lower in this pic than it usually is.


Here’s a shot of Pete and Adam at the corn dryers. This is in 2002:


And here’s my beloved Volvo GL wagon at the same location:


In more recent years, we like to swim in a creek that connects to Possum Kingdom Lake. It’s near a rest area on highway 16 south of Graham:


This is my brother Pete in that very swimming hole:


And my daughter Elizabeth:


And finally, my cousin Adam sporting major wood at the same swimming ground:


You’re Doing it Wrong

I consider myself a pretty decent driver, if a bit on the aggressive side. Nevertheless, I feel I’m conscientious and fair when behind the wheel. I do have a short fuse, however, when it comes to motorists who can’t seem to drive at least the speed limit. I don’t know if these people are “playing it safe” by driving five mph below the posted limit, or if they’re simply oblivious to other drivers…and everything else having to do with reality. It’s as if they’re in it only for themselves and no one else exists.

Anyway, I discovered this weekend that I was doing something wrong these 35 or so years I’ve been operating a vehicle. Laura and I were on the way to Asheville and we were listening to Car Talk on NPR. Click and Clack were discussing the proper way to adjust your side mirrors, and to my horror, I had been using mine all wrong for decades! I had been adjusting both mirrors such that I could just see the rear of my car, but that’s totally wrong. The brothers went on to illustrate the proper form:

With the driver’s window rolled up, lean your head to the left until it touches the window. Adjust the mirror such that you can see the rear of your car. Now straighten up and look at the mirror. It will be very off-putting at first, because it seems much too far out and you’ve been used to the other way forever. Adjust the passenger mirror to roughly the same degree. Now when you’re driving, you have all the traffic behind you covered. When a car comes up on your tail, it’s in the rear view mirror. When it passes you on the left, it disappears from the rear view and appears in the left side mirror. And when the vehicle can no longer be seen in the side mirrors, it’s already visible right outsdide your window. There is minimal double-duty for any of the three mirrors, which makes monitoring the rearward traffic much more efficient and eliminates all blind spots

I adjusted my mirrors as described and I kept wanting to put them back. One of the Car Talk guys mentioned that it will take time to get used to it, but the new way is much better and considerably safer. Now I feel I’m an even better driver than before, if that’s even possible.

Big Bend

Once in awhile, I like to look at pictures on my PC and try to relive an event that I consider significant. That’s what pictures are for, I guess.

My brother and my cousin and I went camping in Big Bend National Park in March 2004. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had. Here are a few photos to prove it.

Adam and Pete with the Rio Grande and the country of Mexico in the background:

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The Rio Grande:

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Adam and Pete after a sumptuous meal of Maker’s and Coke. The placard riveted to the table is a warning about the presence of javelina (peccary):

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Enjoying some suds:

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On the highway out of Presidio:

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