Marlene Smith

Texas Road Trip

by

Marlene Smith

Well, I was going to title this “How I spent my summer vacation”, but realizing it isn’t even summer yet, as much as it feels like it, probably wouldn’t work. Also, how would I tell you about what happened for the rest of June, July, and August! Of course, Liz Smith taught me how to start a good story while we were down in Wildwood, but I don’t think I can do it justice here!

I’ve just had the pleasure of returning from a wonderful (but too short) vacation in Texas. Over the past year, I have become fast friends with the person who built my Betty Boop bike, Jaxon Fyffe of Wild Card Customs (www.wildcardcustoms.com). He is based in Dallas, TX and I have been looking forward to visiting there again. He mentioned that every year, Austin, TX hosts a huge motorcycle rally, called the ROT (Rally Over Texas, www.rotrally.com) that rivals Daytona and Laconia. Since he was going, and some other friends, I thought it was a good enough excuse to head down south and go too.

I flew in on a Thursday morning and arrived in the early afternoon at the bike rental shop (www.eagleriderdallas.com). There, I picked up my burgundy GoldWing, yes, a GoldWing. Considering that it was my birthday the day before, I figured I was now old enough to ride one! Like Janet says about Bill’s GoldWing – it’s a sportbike on steroids and she’s not kidding. Now, I’ve ridden GoldWings on occasion, but never for an extended period of time. I am now considering the possibility that I may have to make more room in my garage! What a great riding bike. I couldn’t find where the cappuccino maker was hidden, but I figured it may have been a factory option that wasn’t installed on my model. Did I mention I figured out how to run my MP3 player through the GoldWing’s stereo system?

I met friends for dinner that evening (BBQ, of course), and did a short amount of riding. Jaxon and I were supposed to meet some other riders (www.dfwroadies.com) about an hour south of Dallas on Friday morning and head from there down to Austin (about 200 miles). The thunderstorm warnings were enough for he and I to delay our start until the late afternoon. After we got on the road, and only about 45 miles into our ride, we could see the dark ominous clouds rolling in. Folks coming north from Waco were telling us about the rain, hail, and tornadoes that were waiting for us. This is the same storm that was to have moved out of the area as we started our ride from the north – the same storm that decided to stall over Waco during our ride.

We waited for about an hour and the storm hadn’t moved, but knowing it was still several miles south of us and moving east, we pressed on. If it was only rain, it didn’t matter so much to me – I had some rain gear and behind the windshield of a GoldWing, I wouldn’t feel a thing. It was my friend on his custom bike that would take the brunt of it, but we were both ready.

We rode another few miles and found a terrific BBQ place off the Interstate (did I mention they have some pretty good BBQ down there?). The kind of place where they only cook their meat by using a smoker. While dining, we hear the emergency warning system on their radio issue yet another tornado warning, but it was about 80 miles south of where we were, but in our direct path. We had an idea of what we had to look forward to, and decided we had waited long enough and the storms should be cleared out by the time we get down there. We were right and the worst we encountered was the residual wet roads from a storm that just passed.

It was after dark when we arrived in Cedar Park, near Round Rock and just north of Austin. Jaxon has a friend who lives in the area and we stayed at his place. A great host and I am very appreciative of him opening his house to me – as he didn’t know me from any other person on the street. Fresh coffee in the morning, great air conditioning, and his Iguana Onid was quite the looker. A former rock star turned corporate warrior – let’s just say we told interesting lies, oops, I mean stories, while I was there.

Saturday was spent on a scenic ride put together by Shawn, of the DFW Roadies. Shawn actually was the person that delivered Betty to NJ during our blizzard in January. Of course, she was trailered up, but she had to come through the snow to get into her home. That is also a great story, but for another time.

Shawn and his crew put together a 300 mile ride through the Hill Country of Texas. Traffic around any major city in Texas is somewhat of a challenge to get around in, to say the least. Couple that with temperatures in the upper 90’s and humidity, it really cooks you during the day. Once you get out of the city, the scenery can take your breath away.

We passed beautiful Lake Travis during the beginning of our ride and it got more and more beautiful after that. After some twisty, winding roads, we ended up stopping at a valley stream, pictured to the right and below:

 

After we left here, and several stops later, we made it to Luckenbach, TX. If I had any sense of country music, I would know that this place had some special meaning. Since I didn’t, and after the sympathetic looks from my riding companions, it was explained to me that musically, it was memorialized in a country music song. It is the kind of place that famous musicians show up to, unannounced, all the time. A fun place to gather for cold drinks and hot music.

After we left Luckenbach, we headed off to Fredericksburg, TX for dinner. It is a quaint town with Victorian facades, and arts and crafts. After I teased the group about most of the HOUSES in the Northeast being older than that – and the facades are real, we sat down for some good food and conversation. The ice cold peach cheesecake, with real peaches, was delicious, and so good after such a hot day of riding.

Some of the group had spent some time living in New Jersey. I promised to send a care package of bagels and Tastykakes down south. It was great to hear these people speak so highly of NJ - the activities, people, scenery…our great state gets such a bad wrap sometimes that it was nice to hear all the positives from the folks that had an opportunity to experience what we have to offer.

We were all full from dinner and it was time to ride the 100 miles back to Austin. We made good time as we decided to take the highways back, and even that ride was beautiful. We rode directly to the rally and stayed for just a short time. I didn’t have a chance to experience the full flavor of the rally, but am told it is quite the sight.

The next day was spent riding back to Dallas and sadly, returning the GoldWing back to the rental place and flying home. I rode a total of about 800 miles this past weekend and all of it went by way too fast. Jaxon will have a booth there next year, so I am already planning a way to get Betty down there for the show. Anyone interested in taking two weeks and riding there and back with me? I guarantee a VERY fun time – good food, good people, lots of fabulous riding, and just a general good time…never mind the BBQ! I’m going back just for the BBQ!!!

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