” Excuse me sir, are you busy, do you have a knife?”
I am half way into a 2 hour conference call in my field office at the roadside park when a guy walks up behind me and asks me for a knife.
“Oh, I am sorry you look busy, I just need a knife to cut up my credit cards.”
I am a little startled, I have no idea who he is or where he came from and of course I am not happy about how he snuck into my space, he didn’t even knock before he entered my office. He is standing there holding two brand new credit cards of some sort and wants a knife to cut them up. When I am on the road I often spend time in places most people wouldn’t and I am used to people asking for money, trying to sell me something or involving me in some sort of scam, but this was a new one.
“Look, I am on the phone, I don’t have a knife, I can blow holes in them with my gun, but I might miss and it makes a lot of noise!”
I don’t travel with a gun, ( I have a guardian angel) but it was enough for him to back away, say I am sorry to bother you and disappear almost as silently as he appeared. I am still wondering what the scam was?
I am still on route 66, a road I love to not only ride but to also read about. You can go to Washington DC to see all kinds of monuments but route 66 is America’s largest monument and is also known around the world. Much of it has been overlaid by newer highways, it has been abandoned and re-routed in other parts but a lot of it is still there if you look for it. Sometimes looking for it is the most fun. It still has a few motels where you don’t need a sleeping bag to sleep in and mom and pop restaurants without the branded and generic menus but if you are in a hurry, forget it. If you want a true Americana adventure, route 66 still kicks! You will need a mirror to look at this next picture or you can take your notebook/laptop and hold it to a mirror.
Did you really just use a mirror, I did, it works. Seriously did you really just use a mirror?
I have previously ridden route 66 from Amarillo to Chicago and someday intend to do a blog just on that trip. This trip though allowed me to do a little more of it from Santa Rosa NM to Amarillo. The first time I rode route 66 I did the internet thing and googled “route 66” I then studied as much as I could about the road. My search kept going to the same web page over and over and the name of the person was the same as somebody I knew from high school. Somehow it came up in a conversation with my mom and she confirmed it was the same person. If you love history, ghost towns, Americana like I do then you need to go to WWW.Legendsofamerica.com Find them on facebook too and do a “like”, you won’t regret it. I have since reconnected with Kathy and someday she will sell my books, she just doesn’t know it yet. I once tried to date her in high school but her sister who knew me quite well (and still does) shut that idea off like a light switch. Whenever I am about to do a road trip and have an idea where I am going I will do a search of her site and get some ideas. This trip though, I don’t really have a clue where I’m headed so I go to her site after the fact, only to find what the hell it was that I missed earlier in the day. You will be surprised at what there is about your own locale or backyard that never knew about. Let her know I sent ya!
I messed around all day, finding the old route 66 highway, the museum in Santa Rosa and even US 84 which was the route 66 prior to 1937. I need tires, have needed them since I left almost a week ago now (see pic of my guardian angel again) and I need to find a Harley shop with new tires. Amarillo and Tripps Harley Davidson were my destination and should be easy enough to get there before closing time but I had to bypass a lot of places I would have liked to stop, like Montoyo NM. There is nothing there now but rusty iron, crumbling rock and stone buildings – a real modern day ghost town. I always stop at those places and it probably even had an abandoned gas station to park at! I am really bummed I did not stop, especially after doing a search on Legends of America after the fact! I needed tires, had to reach Amarillo before closing time. I didn’t make it.
Are any Stuckey’s still in business? This was the second one I stopped at that has been abandoned. I didn’t need anything but it made a good place to stop and wait out the rain storm. I ride in rain, no problem, but this was a hard frog strangling rain that washes stuff off the highway including motorcycles. I saw the Stuckey’s sign from a mile away and knew I needed to get off the interstate and wait this rain out. It looked like it would pass quickly and I could still make Amarillo and the HD shop before closing time. I pulled in and immediately could tell it was abandoned; that was okay with me I just needed the awning to park under out of the rain. I shut the motor off, got off the bike and stripped out of my rain gear. KABOOM! Lightening strikes the radio tower on the other side of the interstate. Kaboom again, I see the dust fly from the ground as lightening strikes the hill in front of me. I look around and then up, I am standing under a metal awning which appears to be the second highest landmark besides the radio tower. The hell with this, I will take my chances riding in the hard rain! I swear the hair on my arms was standing erect when that last flash hit and no time to put the rain gear back on, I gotta go! See pic of my guardian angel again.
You are still reading this so that means I didn’t get struck by lightening; I didn’t make Amarillo HD by closing time either and I did get wet, really wet! ” Isn’t this fun”, I keep telling myself. Hell yes it is! I made the Harley shop just as they were closing up and put myself on the list for early the next morning. I found a room close by and rode around Amarillo for awhile mostly lost which is the way I like it. Eventually I came to the Amarillo Civic Center and pulled over. I sat in the grass, smoked a cigarette and smiled, just like I did in the same spot 38 years ago, the night before I joined the Army across the street. There was a little ol band from Texas playing inside and I was too broke to afford a ticket so I hung out in the grass outside with other broke people who were so broke they were all sharing the same cigarette, they even shared it with me. Back then I won a free extra night in Amarillo on Uncle Sam because I had to go back twice to pass the piss test, I don’t think they even tested for THC back then so it must have been the alcohol. I doubt they give second chances anymore. Yep that is the same guy.
Tripps Harley Davidson did a fine job installing two new tires for me the next morning. While waiting, I used their waiting room to catch up on emails and do yet another work conference call and of course, visit with the locals hanging out in the dealership. Seemed to be a lot of locals hanging out doing nothing and finally one of them told me they were all waiting for the truck to arrive with the new 2014 Harley’s.
“Yeah, they are supposed to be here today. They were supposed to be here yesterday but the truck broke down or something so only one showed up and it was on a Walmart truck. It’s in the back, wanna see it?”
Of course I wanted to see it so my new Texas friend snuck me into the back room where I am sure neither of us was supposed to be. There it sat, a new 2014 unassembled Tri Glide which is a Harley 3 wheeler. Looked like an Electra Glide with an extra wheel but what the hell is this thing? Oh my, it is a radiator, no can’t be true! Yes the new Harley’s are water cooled, no wonder it came in on a Walmart Truck.
No wonder Harley started adding lowers to all the Harleys since 2010, they were setting us up because they knew they were going to hide a radiator in there eventually. Harley’s have been air cooled since 1903 except for an experiment a few years ago where they produced a water cooled model called the V Rod. Not sure this is going to fly with hard core Harley enthusiasts. The new models also have a touch screen for GPS, radio, xm, ipod, and computer. I think it is a motorcycle although my new friend said it was a Cadillac with three wheels. He also said there isn’t one accessory from previous years that fit the new ones. Harley knows no one leaves the dealership with a new bike that doesn’t include some individual stylized accessories.
(For my non Harley friends, lowers are plastic fairing pieces that mount to the lower crash bars, meant to provide an additional wind break and rain protection for the feet and lower leg area. I have ridden bikes with them and all they do for me is add heat and limit places to put my feet.)
Wondering where to go next with my new tires, hotter than hell out there on the road so I asked this fella for some directions and guidance. He wasn’t much help and I think he wanted to run me over, little does he know I once was a rodeo clown. See pic of my guardian angel again.
Another roadside park to ponder my next move, yep need to go see if “the table” is still there. It was the last time I was there so I need to see if it still is.
I call this pondering and it really is the same guy that was a soldier in the earlier pic.
The table, oh that wonderful stone picnic table that Grandpa built. Whenever I think of Grandpa and Grandma in Temple Texas I think of that table where we laughed, climbed, learn to play cards, crack pecans, and listen to the old folks talk. Grandpa was a mason; he built that table to last and even though the house has been torn down for 20 years, the porch, sidewalks and that wonderful table were still there the last time I went to check on it 10 years ago.
Grandpa and the table.
Will it still be there, I wonder as the miles float away under my new tires. The guy in Abilene told me to be careful around the river bottoms, “watch out for the hogs he said”. my hands tighten on the grips as my eyes constantly scan the barrow ditches and edge of the road for wild hogs.
” They are really bad this year and will take down a motorcycle. We’ve had a lot of motorcycle wrecks running into wild hogs this year already. Really unpredictable too, the bastards. About the time you think they are going to cross they will turn around and be right in your wheel.” See pic of guardian angel.
I am disappointed when I get through all the river bottoms and never see a wild hog. I ride through Gatesville where I was told I would end up someday if I didn’t change my ways. None of the prisoners are outside today, pussies. It’s too hot for them and the ACLU probably has a safe maximum outside temperature range the state now has to abide by. Ft Hood, where my mom and dad met during WWII; Belton reservoir where my Uncle Jimmy and my Dad used to take my grandma to dine and dance. The airport where we picked up my Uncle Jimmy, a Colonel in the Air Force who had just flown in on a fighter jet. Gonna be a good time around the old stone picnic table tonight. I was back in 1966 in my mind as I rode by all these memorable places. I can’t believe I rode right to the front step without getting lost, the closer I got the more it all came back to me and just like that I was in front of Grandpa and Grandma’s house.
The house is torn down, but the sidewalks and that huge old porch are still there covered with trees but much smaller than I remembered, like everything is from our childhood, but what about the table? Man I hope nobody stole it, they better have a big ass piece of equipment to unearth that thing. It was made to last, made by my grandpa, built with stone and concrete, it had colors and inlays, a true artistic monument and built with my Grandpa’s own two hands. My grandpa; a mason.