Saturday, February 22, 2003

MTF Lunch - Huntsville, TX

Well it was another late night before a ride. Earlier in the week I had mapped out a nice 400-mile trek through east Texas. I needed to hit the road by 4:30a to be able to scamper through the route and have enough time to chill, take some pics, explore new areas on the GS and... did I mention chill? In the end, I wound up chillin' a little too long. The unfortunate part was that all that chillin' was done in my bed with my head on the pillow. Sure. it felt good, but meant that I would not be able to follow through with entire route. But, hey! I can try.

I hit the road shortly after 6a. The temperature was a nice and balmy 45 degrees and the sky was clear. The day was suppose to be spectacular and the weather didn't disappoint. I planned on popping down into east Texas just a little east of Terrell off of I-20. Specifically, FM 429. I wanted to follow a similar route I ran sometime last year and try out some new roads along the way. Here's the northern part of the route:

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I like FM 429 because it gets me off the slab as quickly as possible and because it's a nice little road that heightens the senses and prepares me for the roads ahead. FM 858 from Hwy 19 to FM 314 is a nice little stretch of road. There are some nice turns, a couple of sweepers and an overall nice road through the east Texas country side.

The real treat through east Texas, however, begins with FM 314 and continues on through Brownsboro, down onto FM 315 through Poynor and, eventually, all the way to Palestine. This is a spectacular stretch and there are some amazing ridges that overlook valleys and make me question just where the hell I'm at. I bet these roads are even better in the summertime when the trees are full and leaning over the highway.

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From Palestine just east on 84 is FM 323 which runs in a southerly direction and is another little gem in this region of east texas. Coming into the Davey Crocket National Forest is FM 227. While the pavement isn't all that spectacular, the scenery and curves are excellent. I recommend checking 227 out whenever you're in the area.

Here's that section of the map:

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After 227 I ran up 21 and saw a sign into the Davey Crocket National Forest. The sign was for an overlook or ridge above the Trinity river, but what was most interesting was that the road was dirt and I felt obliged to give the GS a little workout. All the rain had filled the holes with water and made the dirt nice, soft and gooey.

I finally got to the trailhead for the overlook, but there wasn't a distance marker for the trail. I decided to hike back about a half-mile and hope it wasn't any further. Besides, I wasn't on a hiking trip, I was on a motorcycling trip. Well, I wound up disappointed and turned back after about a half-mile. All I wanted were a few pics from the overlook and I'm sure it was just around the next corner. Back to the bike.

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Since I wasn't going to be able to make the entire 400 mile route to Huntsville, I decided to waste some time exploring some of the dirt roads through DCNF. There were a lot of potholes filled with muddy water and a few hairy turns and hills that got the GS sliding from side to side. I'm just thankful I never had to pick the damn thing up on this trip.

After getting out of DCNF I had to make a b-line to Huntsville. When I got there, Ray had already arrived and the others showed up over the next hour. We had a fantastic turn out and the weather cooperated a great deal. If you've never been to New Zion Missionay Baptist Church for BBQ, do yourself a favor and head on over. The BBQ is excellent and it's a downright authentic place. Just what you'd look for in a shack that serves BBQ.

Here are some pics:

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Saturday, February 15, 2003

MTF Lunch - Bossier City, LA

I woke up Saturday morning after a long night of trying to figure out why something on the computer wasn't working like it was only 3 hours ago. What the hell did I change? I was missing something, but it was eluding me. So I took a breather and came back to the computer and, bam!, there it was. So my stupidity cost me some sleep - again.

A few of us met at Jim's home away from home - the fire station house at Irving Blvd and Story Road. Shortly after 7am we saddled up and headed for the Owens Restaurant by the freeway. After all, you can't start a ride on an empty stomach. After a hearty breakfast, we blasted down the freeway toward Bossier City and another meal at Ralph and Kacoos. While gassing up in Canton we decided there was enough time for a detour through east Texas. Dave had a map with the top 10 roads in Texas marked and there was enough time to hit number 8 - highway 852 between Winnsboro and Gilmer.

I was nominated to lead this motley crew at this point so I decided to take it up a notch. The good thing about Texas farm roads is that there's relatively little traffic and the speed limit on most of them is 70. From Canton we headed north on 19 to Emory where we hooked up with 515 east. 515 is a nice little road that crosses Lake something-or-other a couple of times. It's a typical Texas lake - man-made with trees still sticking up out of the surface and fishermen all over the place taking advantage of the ideal conditions. When we crossed the second bridge over the lake we were treated to some thick fog which was very cool.

We got to Winnsboro where I saw signs for 852. As we traveled on down the road we found ourselves at a T-intersection. Son-of-a... We must have missed a turn. Have I mentioned that we were just winging the directions from a state map and my GPS didn't have detailed maps loaded for the area? Oh well, we're just chillin', relaxin' and ridin' anyway. We found 1647 not too far down the road and took that south to hook back up with 852. While we missed the first few miles of 852, the rest of it was a nice, country road through northern east Texas. While I wouldn't travel hundreds of miles to ride this single road, in relative terms it's a very nice road for that region of Texas.

We gassed up in Gilmer. Here are a few pics from that stop:

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Jim, Dave and Dawn


Dave and Dawn


After filling up and taking a few pics, it came time to boogy to Bossier City for lunch. We took a leisurely route down to I-20 for the final blast to Bossier and get there in perfect time to see and meet a few folks before sitting down for lunch. As always, it's really good to see new folks show up and join in on the food and fun. It's also good to see some of the familiar faces that, for whatever reason, feel inclined to ride across time-zones to be there and break bread with people of like mind.

The food at Ralph and Kacoo's is fantastic. I didn't hear anyone complain about the food or for not getting enough to eat. I know I was a packed pup and the meal I had was awesome. It was called The Ruby and consisted of two baked filets, with crab, shrimp stuffing and Holandaise sauce over the top. Mmmmm and definitely good.

Here are a few shots from there:

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Russell, Uncle John, Terry and Mike

Dave and Jerry

Bo and Dawn
Richard, George and Uncle John
Holding up the Wall

Russell and Dawn
I think Dawn wants a GS

Getting Ready to Boogy

Dawn's POS in a Trailer

The Downer-of-the-Day award goes to Dawn and her not-so-trusty Nomad. After riding through east Texas and the bike firing up on the spot without hesitation, the doggone thing wouldn't start after lunch. What a real bummer. A few folks who are more mechanically inclined than I (which isn't very difficult) tried a few things. The bike started a few times, but never had any guts to remain running. Dawn called a local dealer who stopped by to tow the bike to the shop. I reckon they'll take a look at it and, who know's, perhaps they'll be able to find a problem that no one else has been able to find. Time will tell.

We ran into some pretty heavy rain on the way out of Shreveport. The speed limit went up to 70 and I decided that was the least I could do so I twisted a little harder and finally broke through the rain around the Texas border. Dave caught up with me soon afterward. As the sun settled, it began to get cold. Thankfully, I had stored my fleece liner in the saddlebags and was toasty warm for the ride back home.

Overall it was a great day. Thanks to Larry and Martha for thinking of a great place to eat and making arrangements at the restaurant. And thanks to everyone that showed up. It was a great time and I look forward to seeing everyone again sometime soon.