First, some history
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to travel. After high school I chose to enlist in the Navy, not only because of the great education I could get but because their ships, by definition, go different places and they provided me a great opportunity to see the world. Between active duty and reserves, I put in a little over ten years. I made some good friends, saw a lot of cool places and collected some pretty good stories in the process.
After my time on active duty I kind of got burned out on traveling (living on a ship for four and a half years will do that) and I decided to settle down in one place for awhile. Awhile turned out to be eleven years. There were road trips and the odd work sponsored international trip, but for the most part I went home to the same place for a little over of eleven years.
All of that time in one place started to make weigh on my wander lust. In early 2014 when I had the opportunity to take a new job that was pretty much 100% travel I jumped at it. I sold 90% of everything I owned, rented out my house and I was gone. In the last 3 years I’ve been to 21 countries and probably at least as many states in the US. If you’ve been following my blog, you have gotten to read about some of my more recent travels.
Chasing the Summer
As much fun as the last three years have been, all the travel has been on someone else’s schedule. It’s time to change that. In mid-March I gave my employer my 2-week notice and bought a new motorcycle. Once that was done I set about planning my ultimate road trip, from Prudhoe Bay Alaska, to Ushuaia Argentina. The trip should look something like this:
For obvious reasons, I’m calling this road trip Chasing the Summer.
I chose May 30th for my departure date, the day after Memorial Day. The unofficial start of summer. I got a bit of a late start due to packing issues (I was packing too much), but shortly after noon I was on the road. First stop: Las Vegas! Las Vegas New Mexico that is.
I didn’t get any pictures while I was in Las Vegas because there was a thunderstorm sitting on top of the town and everything was soaked. So on I continued, towards Taos NM. Taos is a nice little tourist town. The hotels are too expensive, but the place that I stopped at for dinner had good burritos.
After dinner I found a motel and got a room for the night. The next day I was back on the road, headed to Amarillo TX. And it rained, again. This is going to become a reoccurring theme I think. It wasn’t a lot of rain, 5 to 10 minutes of it. Just enough for me to question if my Goretex lined gear was still waterproof.
Before I made it into Texas though I stopped for lunch in a little no stop sign town called Mosquero.
It was an interesting little hole in the wall town. All the buildings on the south side of highway 39 were in good condition and had murals painted on the side. The north side of 39 looked like it had been forgotten and was pretty run down.
I spent the night in Amarillo with my Aunt. Her oldest son came over and grilled steaks and generally a good time was had by all. By 8 am I was back on the road. This time I was headed south towards Dallas where another cousin lives. And it rained some more. Yup, definitely a theme.
As I was making my way towards Dallas, the rear end developed a really bad wobble. I checked the chain tension, made sure the axle nut was torqued properly, verified the tire air pressure and double checked the suspension setup. Everything was good. Finally, as I was sitting in a rest stop on US287 I decided to pop the bike up on the center stand, put her in first gear and watch the rear wheel spin. The tire is way out of balance. Odd that it would show up 800 miles into a road trip. I made it this far, so I figured I could make it to my cousin’s house only a few hours away.
It had been several years since I had seen my cousin and her family, so it was nice to get a chance to visit with them for the evening. I had some friends flying into Austin, so I decided to hit the road the next morning so I could catch up with my friends before they left Austin.
Before I departed the next morning though, I found a local motorcycle shop and paid them a visit. They pulled the rear wheel off of Overkill and rebalanced the tire. There was no more visible wobble in the tire and an OK from the tire ballancer machine, I was good to go.
I got on the road and set my sights towards Austin. As I was passing to the west of Fort Worth it started pouring down rain and any question about the waterproof integrity of my gear was answered beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s not waterproof anymore.
About an hour or so of a steady downpour, I decided it was time to dry off a bit and find the quickest way out of the rain. I pulled over at a convenient gas station and consulted Google Maps and the Weather Underground. That done I got back on the road. A half a mile down the interstate the rear end starts feeling weird again so I take the next exit and slow down as I’m looking for a place to pull over. The fates were not going to give me that much time though.
The rear end started fishtailing all over the place and I tried to ride it out. I think I managed to stay upright for about 3 seconds before I low sided and went skidding down the road. My gear may not be waterproof anymore, but it is still very impact and abrasion resistant. Other than a sore shoulder the next day I was fine.
A good Samaritan helped me move the bike off to the side of the road just as a local fire fighter pulled up behind us. The ground on the side of the road was so soft from all of the recent rain that we had to lay her down. The kickstand was just sinking into the dirt and she would have fallen over anyway.
The fire fighter called a wrecker for me and waited with me until it arrived. The wrecker deposited me at a Mobil gas station in Weatherford Texas about 100 miles from my cousins house.
I called my cousin and let her know what had happened. Before I finished explaining the situation she was already figuring out how they were going to pick me and my bike up and get us back to her place. A U-haul trailer and two hours later and I was headed back to where the day began.
The next day, in the comfort of a nice dry garage, I pulled the tire and tube off of the wheel. I inflated the tube and sure enough there was a hole in the side. I have no idea where the puncture came from. The tire pressure had been stable since I left on Tuesday and it was pumped up to spec after the tire was rebalanced the previous day. I checked the tire, but I didn’t find any punctures or sharp objects in the tire. I’m flummoxed.
Yeah it sucks having a tire blow out on me at 45mph but there is a sliver lining to this. I got to spend more time with my cousin and her family. A huge thanks to them for the support as I dealt with my motorcycle drama.
My cousin’s son is 13, so we have a few things in common, namely a love of video games. I tried my hand against him on several Nintendo Switch games and he beat me, repeatedly. Now I know how my sister feels when she plays against me. In an effort to even the odds a little bit I suggested we visit the National Video Game Museum which is located in Frisco Texas, about 15 minutes from where we are. These are the games I grew up playing, so hopefully I’ll have something of a home field advantage.
If you’re ever in the Frisco area and looking for something to occupy a few hours of time, I highly recommend this place. Many of the exhibits have games that are playable and they have a classic arcade too. It was time well spent.
Alas, I have a new tube and tire mounted on my wheel and a new helmet. It is time to depart my cousin’s house and continue making my way south. Tomorrow’s destination: Houston.
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