Day Two: Saturday, June 9, 2001
I guess it is just a case of nervous excitement, but I didn't sleep much last night. About 6:30am I roll out and just go take a shower. Typically, I am the last one out of bed and the last one to get ready. So this move takes everyone by surprise. John is up early as well. We decide to take the truck and head to Whataburger to get some breakfast. While I am waiting for John, I go outside and take in the pretty morning. Hopefully, the beautiful weather is an omen for the whole trip. I snap a shot of the truck with all the bikes loaded before heading to Whataburger.
We have had some bad experiences with the drive through at this particular Whataburger in the past. I start to pull into the drive through, trailer and all, then wisely think better of it and try to pull around to the far side of the restaraunt so John can just run in and get the food. There is a delivery truck blocking us so we wind up having to wait in line anyway until we get far enough up to pull between the delivery truck and the cars waiting in line. It turns out that this is no quicker and it takes forever for John to get back out with the food. We finally head back to Will's to pick up Beth and Will and get out of town!
As luck would have it, Will can't leave until sometime after 9:00am. It seems that in the weeks before the trip, he managed to wait until the last minute to have some work done on his bike. This means he had to pick up the bike last night and did not get a chance to take his exotic birds to the aviary. The aviary doesn't open until 9:00am. He gets there early and fortunately someone shows up early to take the birds. Will get's back to his place and we are ready to roll at 9:00am, one hour late. Not too bad.
We pile into the truck, Beth and John taking to the rear bench seat. Will and I have our seats up as far as we can get them. I look like a granny with the steering wheel right in my face. We head out of town on Hwy. 290. And so begins the long drawn out trek across West Texas.
It is early in the morning and already the temperature is rising outside. As we wind our way along Hwy. 290 towards Fredericksburg, the temperature is nearing the mid nineties. All we can think of is how nice it is to be riding in the truck with the AC cranked up on high. Hwy. 290 eventually drops out onto I-10 near Junction, Tx. Then it is superslab drab for the next 500+ miles. We stop in Fort Stockton for a break and lunch. Then it is back on the road.
The thing that I really notice about the towns and cities in West Texas is that they all look slightly like junkyards with people living in them. Any vacant lot is full of trash and abandoned equipment of all sorts. All around the roads and medians is loose blowing paper and assorted trash. There is little if any grass growing anywhere because it is so hot and dry here. I don't think the wind ever stops blowing. Everywhere we look, as far into the distance as we can see, there are huge dust devils reaching up from the dusty ground transporting the dirt high into the sky like an offering to the clouds. Several get quite close to the interstate. They twist with an intensity we had not expected. I would not like to ride through one on the bike.
Just outside of Van Horn, we spot giant windmills along the North side of the freeway dotting the mesas so prevalent in this area. We don't see any actually spinning. This is one of the power generating windmill farms that one would expect to see in the deserts of California. When we near Van Horn, we slow up a bit. We have been warned that this area is a known for heavy patrolling by the State Troopers. Why the speed limit out here is not 100mph is beyond me. It is not like there are any dangerous curves, or any curves for that matter! Oh well.
It is now getting late in the afternoon. We seem to be on track for getting to Las Cruces in plenty of time to have dinner and hang out for the evening to relax. Outside of El Paso, there is mile after mile of agriculture along the Southern side of the freeway. I am not positive, but I think this valley is irrigated by the Rio Grande River. It looks to be mostly different varieties of fruit trees. We stop for diesel and I call the Moens to let them know when to expect us.
As we get nearer to Las Cruces, I can sense everyone in the truck starting to get fidgety and anxious. It has been a long day in the truck. Seeing such a beautiful day from the indside of a vehicle is depressing. I make a last minute phone call for directions to the house and we are there in a few minutes. It is still early in the evening and it has cooled off considerably. We decide to wash the bikes and then go get dinner at a local favorite Mexican establishment, La Posta.
After dinner we stroll around the historic old down town area. This place used to be a stop on the many trail rides up from Mexico into the lower states. Many of the buildings date back to the early and mid 1800's. The cool dry evening air feels good against my face. The sky is crystal clear and I can see stars I would never had known existed. After a quick stop for a brew at a local establishment, we make our way back to the car and head for the house.
When we get back to the house we settle in for a brief conversation with the Moen's (Don and Mary). They are long time family friends and want to catch up on all the news. After an hour or so we make our way to bed. All of us are anxious at the prospect of getting on the road and really "starting" the trip. Despite the anxiety and nerves, I am out like a light after hitting the bed. Apparently all the nervous energy of the last few days, getting everything ready and the last minute weather nightmare have caught up with me. I dream of wonderful roads and incredible scenery.