Adam writes on 2013-11-02:
Greetings! We are currently held up in San Angelo, Texas. This is fairly small town just over 200 miles from the Fort Worth/Dallas region, roughly 200 miles from Austin, and still quite far from El Paso. San Angelo is a little off the beaten path, or certainly the interstate.
We ended up here as we were en route to El Paso, Texas. Waking up in the rain at the campsite in Mount Pleasant, it was a windy, rainy ride to Forth Worth. Having opted for a hotel room in Fort Worth we were able to dry everything out including our tent, before we proceeded to head west. Thankfully the skies were clear as the prior day was a real soaker even with all of our waterproof-breathable outerwear.
What we were not thankful for, however, were the winds. They weren’t quite as bad as the winds we experienced in Kansas (Jenn: grrrrr…Kansas) a couple of years ago, but maintaining a reasonable speed in the wind with relatively light bikes amidst all of the passing transport trucks can be tiresome. Also, while we did see a little bit of eastern Texas two days prior, the previous day was really just dismal with all of the rain.
After a short rest break and attempting to heal diminished spirits, we decided to get off the interstate and try something different. The scenery instantly changed on the smaller highway. I commented earlier that during my 2010 trip I had seen some cacti way up north in Texas (i.e. road through Amarillo) but that we hadn’t seen a single succulent yet! As soon as we turned off the interstate, the scenario changed remarkably.
If you have never been to Texas before, you might assume that those big barrel cactus are found everywhere. They are not. Texas is a huge state with many landscapes. We were happy to see the cacti, and be riding alongside ranches, pastures, and scrub land, through charming towns that grew out of the old west, and relatively speaking, very few trucks.
Having arrived in San Angelo, we found a room. Apparently a recent oil boom has raised the prices regionally as the town is some sort of hub which acts as a temporary home to workers involved in the oil industry, likely on the company dime. The town is not without its charm, but not having travelled extensively in Texas, especially off of the beaten path, one could almost mistake San Angelo for a Mexican town – but please don’t over romanticize this vision. While we have made several jaunts through the more downtown areas, we are staying on the outskirts which has a dusty, seedy, lazy feel to it.
The Dun-Bar Hotel is apparently the “affordable place to stay” in town. It is pretty run down to say the least, expensive for what you get, and only sort of clean. “Rustic” is OK, but unclean and vermin ridden is not. To our delight, as we were getting into bed, we discovered blood on our sheets. The night guy swapped them out only to find blood on the pillows which he also swapped out. Perhaps we should have requested a new room right then and there, however, the night guy caught a bit of heat the next day for not just offering a new room outright. In the end, it turned out that there was a mistake and we were given a room that was only partially cleaned which we should not have been given at all since someone stayed in that room regularly. Said man apparently bleeds a lot – some sort of cancer patient, we were told.
The restaurant associated with the motel we are staying at is definitely a greasy spoon. It is close, affordable, and the staff are friendly and very fast on their feet. Speaking to our Torontonian audience who seek a “greasy spoon” for the hangover breakfast – once you have been small town Texas, what you generally speak of as a “greasy spoon” – ain’t. Even one of my favourite “greasy spoon” Tex-Mex type places back home – and while it is greasy – is faux-greasy spoon. Or chic-greasy spoon. I am certainly not knocking our local greasy spoon – but my new litmus test for “greasy spoon” is whether or not the salt and pepper shakers are greasy when you pick them up.
I think I have determined that said restaurant might almost be a destination for some or so, in that they may drive long and far to visit the place. That said, it is very, very safe from becoming a gentrified hangout for young people any time soon. All things said and done, being the weirdoes from up north who keep showing up wearing the same thing, we have received very little attention. We don’t have stetsons, or shit kicking boots (actually we do but they have articulated armoured ankles and lined with Gore-Tex), yet people don’t seem to give us a second glance. So much for the stereotype “you ain’t from around here, are ya, boy?”.
I know that I have been rambling a bit here. Admittedly, I am a little avoident of an important topic moment. The possible bike problem from our previous post has come to a head. By the time we reached San Angelo, we had realized that Jenn’s bike Millie has started to sound pretty bad even when warm. We have been trying to listen for this over the last couple of days but the problem didn’t really strike us until we stopped at San Angelo.
At this point we are trying to figure out what to do. We did take it down to a local powersports dealership but it sounds like getting work done through them is going to be cost prohibitive. We are not yet quite sure of what the problem is but have some leads. The good new is that we took off the side covers of the engine today, as well as drained the oil again, and don’t seen any obvious signs of massive damage meaning that with the right tools, parts and knowledge we should be able to get the engine fixed as opposed to replacing it with another one.
I think it is fair to say that getting the issue resolved properly is over our heads in terms of mechanical expertise, but we are going to have to get creative with the means on how we deal with this. I think that no matter what, this is going to take some time. We do have time, but will have to figure something else out with respects to the high cost of staying in motels. We have started to make some contacts with local riders in the area via the various adventure riding forums, so hopefully something will pan out in terms of finding some mechanical help or even just a friend to have a drink with in the evening.
While we didn’t expect to have so many bike troubles and hold-ups this close to the start of our trip, and apparently with everything we are carrying we couldn’t be prepared for this little annoyance, we are making the best of our situation. The temperature has been warm and sunny since our arrival in Texas, and even if we aren’t in the heart of excitement here (the highlight of my day was doing laundry at the local laundromat) it’s better than being surrounded by snow and cold, or stuck behind a desk (sorry, mates!). Until next time!