Texas greeted Jeremiah and his RTW-round the world effort with a freshened breeze out of the south, a blazing winter sun shimmering on the black paint of Shirley Surly, the steed used for this cycling journey. Waco, now lay in my rearview mirror. A days rest in Waco adds just enough freshness too the legs to give rise to optimisim about riding out this battle to the end, concluding in California. More specifically to end at home in Coalinga, California.
For several days, Jeremiah would be riding west by northwest under a blazing southern winter sun. Somedays pushing the temps up well into the 80’s, burning and baking all exposed skin surfaces to a wilted wrinkled “Boston Baked Bean” look. Especially the top of my now almost hairless head, poochy maggies that hurt and I had watery effluent trickling down behind my ears for several days as the blisters broke and leaked. Not to worry, as God made us a heck of a lot more durable than the average person thinks is possible these days. Simple, stopped and bought a hat at the first gas station selling hats….cured but for the itchy scabs.
Jeremiah and Shirley Surly, put in some longer than planned for days while on this west Texas leg of the journey. My timeline was built on approx. 50 mile days on the loaded tour around the world. But here, in Texas, I have ridden mostly over 65 mile days, several 80 plus days and my second from last day arriving into Lubbock was 105 miles. There are several reasons why this may happen. For one, in some places there is no reason to stop……there just aint a town nor gas station to make a stop for. Also the days are getting longer so Jeremiah can ride later into the evening hours before darkness forces him off the road. If I were to quit at the 50 mile mark, somedays I would be done at noon…….and then what do I do for the rest of the day? Right, I agree fully, just keep pedaling is the best idea. As my friend Cleve Redding said…..”just shutup and ride”. Thats clear and concise……I just our President can learn a lesson in this.
Along about the tiny scrub brush covered town of Evant, I got the heads up that there was a bit&spur maker there that I should have stopped and visited. Big Problem, I always ask around any and all small towns…..”hey, are there any folks in town or around who do interesting work, like make bits and spurs, maybe make saddles or do leather work, heck anything western”. To which the gas station employee purses his lips, cocks an eyebrow, maybe grips thier chin with a left hand to add to the theatrics of “giving heavy thought” ……..and says ” well Blanche Wormwood over on Filmore does needle point……but that would be the only artist that I can think of”!!!! And so, armed with this knowledge I rode on another 10-12 miles past Evant and camped on the side of the road……..getting up the next morning to ride on only to find out that when I took the picture of my bike beside the EVANT sign that I was only 200 yards from bit&spurmaker Brian Mauneys front doorstep. Sorry Brian, I would have loved to had a visit……my advice to you……you need to tell the guy at the gas station that you also do needle point.
Some 38 or so years ago, Jeremiah attended saddlemaking school in Amarillo Texas. One of the fellow students in my class year, a fellow who hails from Abilene, Niel Overton…….still building saddles much the same as am I. We had a chance to get together for breakfast in Sweetwater Texas, tell old stories, find out whats happening in each others lives since then. All fun, and great to see Niel again. Another event that happened during my time going to school in Texas, was attending an invitational roping in the tiny west Texas town of Post. The last time that Jeremiah was in this town, was to watch the match roping between World Champion All Around Cowboy, Phil Lyne and the new up-and-comer that being Roy Cooper. Along with many runs of steer trippers and other calfropers, its was a spectacular weekend of roping that has always stuck with me. I rolled into Post about 6.30 after all these years, and the sun had set withdarkness invading the streets and alleys, I needed to camp soon…..but needed food worse. Ate at Hollies Drive-Inn, had a great burger and fries……..solved my camping problem by walking right across the streetand sleeping in the little band-stand pavilillion in the town park…….just as simple as that. For breakfast, I rode thru the town of 3500 until I spotted a cafe and all the trucks in front proving it was popular, by accident I had found a good one, Geroges BBQ and Cafe. So, as it ends up. Let a man with brown hairy legs and rubber pants walk thru a cafe full of cowboys with hats tipped back and spurs on thier boots…..a fight broke out…….LOL, jist kidding. Conversation broke out. I think I could have plugged a canon barrel with thier eyes as they swelled to size when I told them I was a saddle maker and also a bit and spurmaker. This was a hard one for them to believe, but in the end with the telling of tales, mentioning my name and what we make it came to pass that they believed, and that we all had more in common rather than nothing in common.
For Jeremiah, the little town of Santa Anna held him for several hours longer than expected. At the south end of town is a fellow who does resaw work. Turning old mesquite and oak stumps into beautiful lumber. What had once been bridge support beams or tongue and groove bridge decking, is resawn and turned into gorgeous flooring for trendy New York or Atlanta night clubs, restaurants and chic apartments. Upscale recycle with an incredible new face, birthed out out of discarded remains of Americas industrialization.
Breakfast in Santa Anna, would happen at an old-time coffeeshop. The sort that seems all to rare these days, yet at one time the icon of that slower small town lifestyle that had us leaving the city to enjoy it. Ranchers with spurs yet on thier boots surround one table, the talk of cattle or feed prices occupies thier time. At yet another table its the morning ” coffee klatch” among the few struggling businesses who still hold onto the small town lifestyle, thier conversation seems to revolve around issues more political which affect thier business life. Off to the far corner you have the octogenarions, long since retired, and since 1951 have been thru the years starting everyday with at least coffee at the local coffee shop………this day, no different than any since this morning pilgrimage began. Only that at this table, any and allthings are talked about, its the NO holds barred table and houses the sage amongst sage patrons…..so be careful should you pull up a chair to join thier ranks.
Newspaper journalist, photographer and insurance salesman hears about my own journey as I speak with another cafe patron……and before I know it I am rolling down the street for an interview with Tex Wright. Now pushing past mid 70’s, Tex is still very active at all those things that interest him. An avid landscape photographer, Tex spends idle time shooting the west Texas region and giving his images to local hospitals. Some serious medical issues dont seem to be a hindrance to Tex, maybe his Doctor…..but not Tex. I am well instructed on the ways of survival in the west Texas desert before I am allowed to depart.
BLESSED, while riding thru Goldthwaite. Tragedy is averted. Upon leaving a store in this small Texas town, Jeremiah drops his wallet unknowingly and rides on in search of Peabodys Diner. Found the diner, but also found it was shutdown and for sale…….a passerby recommends that I head up the street to the Wagon Wheel Cafe. In I go, happy as can be on a beautifully warm sunny day, going to eat a nice meal in a cafe. Jeremiah spots a fellow sporting a well waxed mustache, not a common sight here in Texas…..something more common to say Elko County, Nevada.
Mr. G.L.Daniels is my conversation partner for the next 1/2 hour or so. We talk about all things pertaining to the west,cowboys, ranching and waxed mustaches………….(“anybody mention losing a wallet” sounds a small voice within the din that is eating diners.) The time has come, I need to move on and put somemore miles in on Shirley Surly. Jeremiah gets his bill and heads for the cash register only to have the shock wave of dread rip thru your mind when you realize somehow you have misplaced your wallet. As I am trying to explain to the cashier that somehow I have misplaced my wallet, and at the same time do a vain mental search of my most recent wallet memory…..off to my right a yound lady mentions that someone from the Newspaper next door asked about a wallet maybe 45 minutes ago. News too me, and yet she did walk in and ask the patrons about’a lost wallet. Jeremiah runs…..yes, runs nextdoor and inquires about the wallet……….finding out it has been handed over to the Sheriff…….right over in that building as she points it out to me. Jeremiah does his best impression of Usian Bolts as he sprints for the Sherriffs Office. As I walk into the fortified alcove awaiting you once thru the front door…..I can already see my black nylon wallet containing my whole life, laying on the desk. After describing what should have been in the wallet, it is handed back over to me. Absolutely everything in the wallet is intact, cash, euros, credit cards…..everything. my continued faith in the protection offered us thru faith and Prayer is fortified. And my faith in human good and kindness is restored. If the entire world is not good…….then at least I know that Goldthwaite is for sure.
Cycling north by west thru Texas and its arid western desert, with its scrub brush, cactus and rolling hills is taking me ever closer to Lubbock and a chance to visit my niece Kipty Watt, a student at Texas Tech getting her degree in Animal Nutrition. It will be good for the soul to be able to stop and visit actual family for a change. From Lubbock I will be headed further north towards House NM to visit yet another niece, but before that I leave for 4 days of business taking me out of Texas and into another state for that time. If all works out, I should be mounted up and riding towards Clovis NM by late Saturday or for sure Sunday departure. In the meantime, I pray for safe roads, good weather and blessings on all those who follow not only my blog but Christs word on living our lives……and yes, that includes you Bill at the Jerky Store.