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Wi-Fi Travels – Chasing Windmills Over High Plains

October 12th, 2012 · Tags:Cities


Faster than a failed administration, I was swept out of DC and sent back home to Texas. Oh there was a little sightseeing around the Capital, but I wanted more.

Then again it was great to be back at the PingWi-Fi oval office.

So what did we do?

We hit the road. Thanks to Colorworks motorcycle gurus out in Keller, who had the Triumph Speedmaster pieced back together when I returned to Texas.

So … we are off to ping Pike’s Peak and the hotspots in its shadow, in Colorado Springs and the happening little Manitou Springs.

What a ride.

And what better way to start the day than a brush with the law.

I spent the night in Wildorado, Texas, then mounted up for Vega, Texas before sunrise. Man the hundreds of wind generators along old Route 66 look so cool in darkness, red lights blinking like Christmas lights on towering trees.

As I slammed down a roadwarrior breakfast of coffee and a banana at the Alsups in Vega at 6 a.m., it occurred to me that I probably made the two young ladies at the counter a bit nervous as I hovered. Obviously, I would never hurt a flea (even the obnoxious one who plays bass for the Chili Peppers). However, with this long, down-the-back hair that Locks of Love soon will rescue and give to a good home … plus the five-day scruffiness … the big black boots/leather jacket thing …

Oh, couple that with me asking questions about who owned the restaurant down the street out of hometown curiosity. … Pretty sure they thought this unknown caller was casing the joint. Seriously, I thought “I bet they call the cops.”

Ha … I think the two cashier girls flinched a little and ducked for cover behind the cash register when I reached inside my zippered pocket for my iPhone.

It wasn’t five minutes later that a State Trooper cruiser pulled up to the convenience store. The trooper walked in, gave me the old up-and-down profiling glance, and proceeded to the counter to order some Copenhagen tobacco dip. Meanwhile, I did a little detective work of my own, spotting the trooper’s nametag. Oh lady luck she was a shining on me.

I didn’t recognize the face, but I knew the name. I knew the man’s older brother. And a few years back, the then off-duty trooper and I met in a little watering hole over in Red River, New Mexico.

“Is that you ‘Trooper X?,'” I asked, as I re-introduced myself.

Ha … I had him at a disadvantage, but he didn’t draw on me. Being the consummate ex-public relations type I reminded him that we are friends and then we quickly chatted up all the town news and old home week updates on people.

Soon we were on the common topic of motorcycle love … he told me the town’s one high school had an ex-student football game the night before for homecoming. Ha … he asked me why I didn’t play. I did not remind him that I am 10 years older than his older brother.

Anywho … the trooper pointed out that I had apparently not learned much at dear old V High, because the temperature was in the 30s as I prepared to remount. And no, I am still too reserved to wear full biker regalia, although the cold has given me a new understanding why bikers do.

I sped off with some level of assurance that I might not get pulled over in this part of The Panhandle since I had built bridges with the law.

North of Vega on U.S. 385 travelers pass another group of windmills. What a great foreground for a sunrise photo. I snapped a few and rode north.

Somewhere along the way it donned on me that the roadtrip … actually traveling on 2 to 4 wheels is what has been missing at times to fuel this blog … the hundreds of miles at the wheel or behind handle bars is a great time to observe and reflect … no doubt the muse has been somewhat lacking as I jet around the country lately. Well … this trip, the wheels are turning and these moments I am savoring. I hope you enjoy.

As the miles added up the memories flew by.

I sped over the Canadian River bridge, above the campsite and the sandy riverbed where my buddies had celebrated the end of our high school days … with six packs, singing, motorcycles and other tomfoolery.

A few miles later, I spotted a simple green highway sign printed with “Prayer Town.” As a budding newspaper reporter, I once wrote a feature on this Roman Catholic retreat and the holy sisters who live there smack dab in the middle of ranch land. Vividly, I remember one tough old sister — as we walked and talked — squashing a baby rattlesnake on the road, in her open-toed peasant sandals, as if to nonchalantly eradicate satan in his tracks … So many years ago … even before the Internet. That newspaper feature went viral old-school. The sect mailed it worldwide to their faithful.

A few more miles north I passed the ranch where one of my high school buddies showed me the stand of cottonwood trees where Billy The Kid actually holed up while on the run from the law, near Old Tascosa and now Boys Ranch. Ha … Boys Ranch the site of my very first muscle cramp in a sporting event — one of the prettiest places in Texas.



Even further north, the tiny town of Channing. More glory days. Channing had some of the best basketball teams in the area, if not the state, back in the day. And I am happy to say we beat them. So many memories from their tiny gym they called The Eagles’ Nest.

In the blink of an eye, I was speeding through Hartley and on to Dalhart, noting the redundancy in their names and wondering about the history of the names … From Dalhart, the trek switches to Highway 87/64.

And then Texline, the final Texas stop on the trail, as my bike allowed me to time travel into Mountain Time Zone.

After Clayton, NM, the road twists up beside Capulin, NM and one of the most unique places in the United States – a dormant volcano. This time, I sped on. In another blog I drove around the mountain and up into the cone and blogged on location — not with Wi-Fi, but 3G wireless technology. Now tell me … how many blogs have you read written from inside a volcano?


Capulin Volcano


Within site of the volcano, I pulled over in a tiny store, my first realization that I was shivering. There I had some of the best coffee ever, for its warming effect. The lady who owned the store was from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and her other customer was an interesting fellow. He had made his living for decades by doing the custom painting on the floors of gymnasiums throughout Texas and New Mexico. I asked him if he had painted Channing’s Eagles’ Nest, but he had not. I couldn’t resist. I also asked if he had painted floors that bear the likeness of my two favorite Texas mascots. No, he had not painted the floor with a Kress Kangaroo or a Trent Gorilla in those towns, although he had pitched to them many times … hoping to put kangaroo on his resume …

When my hands had stopped shaking, I slammed down my first smoked elk sausage, and off I rode. It wasn’t any warmer, fyi.

From Clayton, N.M. on, the drive is just immaculate. I know the polarized shield of my motorcycle helmet was altering the colors somewhat, but I have just never seen such pastel skies and terrain …. soft, powdery blues, whisps of chalky white, puffy clouds, stark terra cotta bluffs, faded green mesquite … antelope … and remnants of ancient lava flow everywhere. But the color show ended as the sky grew gray and the winds picked up, blowing the bike and its frozen rider all over the place.

Soon I was in a favorite mountain village – Raton, NM — once home to a tiny snow ski basin, where a junior high buddy taught me to snow plow on the small slopes. It is the pass … the gateway to Colorado. The Triumph shot on through.

It was at Trinidad, Colo. on Interstate 25 that the sun finally peeked from behind the clouds and the temperature got up into the 60s. And thats when the motorcycle ride seemed really smart. The speed limit legally zooms up to 75 there, but you would be hardpressed to catch anyone on the highway driving that speed … especially me. Man what a ride.

In record time, I pulled into Manitou Springs, a funky little affluent suburb of Colorado Springs and hooked up with my Fort Worth friends … for a few days a touring and Wi-Fi exploring.

Know what I sayin?