A motorcycle trip . . . the second week in December . . . from eastern PA . . . to Texas . . . are you freekin' nuts? Yep, heard it more than once . . . and your point is? Hey, I postponed a long trip this year. My wife was in Africa on a mission trip and I stayed home to take down a pool and deck that needed R&R. Craig had been out of work for a while, had landed a contract for a couple months in Harrisonburg, VA that was ending and had a week off before starting a new full time gig in Harrisburg, PA. The weather looked like it might cooperate . . . kinda . . . sorta. Sounds like a plan. Actually we had originally talked about Key West or San Diego . . . given the timeframe, my first choice was Key West but the weather down there was not going to cooperate at all. San Diego would have been nice but it would have meant lots and lots of slab for a small amount of time there and then slab back. I don't know how but Big Bend became the target, the weather sort of cleared a path and we went fo it. Actually, for the second week in December, the weather really allowed us to get away with a big one and we are grateful, really we are.
Outbound -- Allentown, PA to Big Bend National Park, TX -- We ended up going to Big Bend National Park in Texas . . . in the beginning of December . . . starting in the Northeast. Not quite a customary thing to do. Keeping an eye on the weather, I left Allentown, PA early from work on Friday December 4th to meet Craig in Harrisonburg, VA so we could try to stay ahead of an impending storm. We decided to ride a little east and south the first night as it appeared there was a seam in the weather . . . and it worked. We stopped for the night in Rockingham, NC just as the (cold) rain was starting.
We decided to get a not so early start the next morning so the rain would have time to clear out (didn't break my heart one bit) . . . and it worked! Did I mention it was cold? We stopped by the Darlington Speedway and took a quick peek at the museum and gift shop before riding through Atlanta in the evening Saturday on I20 (a first for me). There was quite a bit of traffic for off hours on a non-work day, I would hate to see what it's like at rush hour (yikes). Through Atlanta to our stop for the night somewhere near Anniston, AL. Today dawned bright . . . but cold again. We rode right past Talladega Motor Speedway and a brandy new looking Mercedes plant, stopping for the night in Sulphur, LA after riding part of the Natchez Trace Parkway from Kosciusko to Natchez. That's three states down of the four (AL, LA, MS & TX) that I need to have ridden my FJR in all 49 continental US states. It was a little warmer today (a little) . . . and no rain. Keeping an eye on my GPSIII, I noticed we were below sea level a couple times in lower Louisianna . . . another first for me.
Now it's time to start hitting Texas . . . and the weather turns to sh*t . . . not rain, but cold, wet riding in the mist, clouds, whatever you call it . . . it sucked. The ride through Houston and subsequently San Antonio were pretty uneventful. We did find a really nice stretch of road to wear off some rubber on the sides of our tires, TX55 from Uvalde to Rock Springs. Even though the road was damp, we had plenty of traction and wrung the bikes out a little bit. We ended the day (night actually) in Sonora, TX . . . temp 37, dew point 37 and heading to higher elevations so we decided to call it a night and get a steak for dinner . . . and a not so good Marguerita :-( That takes care of all the states so I wasn't too bummed about the weather, we had some good BBQ for lunch in Flatonia, TX and RT55 was a load of fun!
Get up in the morning and guess what . . . it's still freekin' cold! Whatever happened to it being warm in the south? On top of that, the clouds, mist, whatever was still around so it was going to start out as one of those days. We turned off I10 onto two lanes and immediately were riding in moderate to heavy fog . . . damn. The fog did not last long however and we were into bright sunshine and warming temps . . . we actually removed some of our layers and electric gear somewhere around Knippa, TX for the run into Big Bend. It's good the weather cooperated for our ride into the park as the scenery was amazing! Craig and I both decided we need to come back in the future to explore this area a little more . . . and for those of you who think there aren't any mountains in Texas, take a look at the pics, you'd be wrong!
Homebound -- Big Bend National Park, TX to Allentown, PA -- The plan was to meet up with Voni and Paul 'on the porch' at the Terlingua Ghost Town and help celebrate Vonis birthday. Seems we arrived a little early (a bit out of caracter for us) . . . after a quick call we were on our way to Alpine to meet them at their house. We hugged a bit, talked a bit and got the grand tour before hitting the road again to overnight in Del Rio, TX. I kind of had deja vue here as one of the bonus locations in the last Winter Armchair Rally was near the Armistad reservoir so I'd been Google Earthing (is that a word?) the area quite extensively last winter. Today was a glorious day with beautiful riding weather, scenery galore and some good conversation between friends and new aquaintences . . . is this a great country or what?
Morning dawned bright . . . and freekin' cold again so we bundled up and headed for the Texas Hill Country, Kerrville, Austin (which seems like a nice area btw), trying to get out of Texas without too much freeway droning. It actually warmed up a bit, though not enough to get out of any gear. We ended up stopping for the night in Jennings, LA.
Did I mention it was cold . . . yep again and pretty much for the rest of the trip so I'll stop saying it. We decided to head for the gulf coast and get some lunch in Pass Christian Harbor, MS . . . lots of waterfront property available there right now. Earlier we had decided to forego stopping in New Orleans so we could make sure we would be home before another storm moved into the Northeast. We stayed south as long as we could but had to turn NNE sooner or later and when we did, the temps started to drop. This meant more stops and slightly less miles per day. We ended up stopping for the night just outside of Augusta in Thomson, GA.
Look for the pics of the icicles in the fountain, that's Friday morning in Thomson, GA! From here we pretty much slabbed it all the way to Frederick, VA where we called it night. From Frederick it's a hop, skip and a jump to York where Craig peeled off to his oldest sons place while I soldiered on back to Allentown.
Did you ever notice there's always a geographic 'feature' where the weather takes a step change . . . that would be Huckleberry Ridge, just south of my house. The whole time riding home, I didn't see any snow until about Reading, then only the reminants of piles from the plows. There was no snow lying on the ground anywhere . . . until I made it to the top of Huckleberry Ridge and made a right. It was like another world . . . most yards including mine had some snow, even the north side of my roof still had snow on it. Take a peek at the last 2 pictures to see what I mean . . . none of that white stuff existed 1/4 mile south of me on the south side of the ridge.
Hope you enjoyed,
Acomplishments, observations, etc.
Bob got a hug from Voni :-) and met Paul (Glaves).
Craig turned 100K miles on his 2006 BMW R1200RT.
Bob turned 80K miles on his 2004 Yamaha FJR1300.
Bob's FJR has now been ridden to all 49 continental US States.
Bob has now ridden below sea level.
Saw three pretty new auto plants, Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes.
Loaned a tool to a Greyhound bus driver so he could fix his mirror.
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