Truth be told, I am more'n a little bit fond of that particular music genre. It wasn't always so, however, as I was actually a fairly committed be-bopper back in my misspent youth. Yep, good ol' rock 'n roll was 'where it was at' for this impressionable youth, and I was tuned-in 'n turned-on to it practically from the git-go: Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, plus all the Motown artists... Those cool sounds and hip lines just seemed to resonate so completely with members of my generation, and I was captivated by 'em right along with everyone else I knew.
As time passed, though, and especially as rock evolved and morphed in new and ever expanding directions, I began to loose my connection with most of it it. Ahhhh, but the soul music of the heartland, the folk poetry with a melody that bespoke the lives and experiences of the fine people that comprise my genology was there to fill the void... only by then; it actually touched me in ways I hadn't imagined.
Now I ain't hardcore or nuthin', you unnerstan. Nope, I don't spend small fortunes attending concerts, buying CDs, or selecting brand name products because of artist endorsements and such... but, I still like it just fine. I will normally choose a bar with that form of entertainment over other options, but I don't go out of my way for any of it... heck, I don't even have a radio or other type of sound system on my scooter.
Each of us has our own special way of transporting ourselves to that unique 'place' that is the perfect balance of physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional harmony. A motorcycle, and particularly a Valk, is the common thread that links us in this respect, but in nearly all other ways, we each have our very own combinations of ingredients that produce the 'zone' for us. There are no wrong ways and certainly no one right way to achieve that, as we all know... there are only different ways.
I hadn't gone even one block on that gloomy lookin' spring mornin', before I was already 'zoning'. I'd been hanging out in Oklahoma City for a spell, but the thought of gorging myself on BBQ and nanner puddin' down in Friendswood, TX, that weekend was simply too much for this good ol' boy to resist. OK, the realization that being around a bunch of like-minded spiritual pilgrims and dozens of good friends to boot also factored into the decision-making process... So there I was... all loaded up, goober grin plastered all over my face, and headed out for another adventure...
I'd purposely dilly-dallied that morning so my departure would come sometime shortly after 9am... I ain't particularly fond of city traffic, you see, especially the rush hour variety. Perfect! I easily glided onto the pleasantly efficient freeway system there and soon found myself south of town bucking a rather serious head-wind on I-35.
The plan was to go all the way to Winnie, TX, if the weather looked too iffy and if other things worked out exceptionally well; or, to get far enough along so I'd have a really easy leg to do the following morning. Winnie was the meet-up place where I was to join a dozen or more other, mostly Cajun, riders going for the same camaraderie and celebration of life that I was pursuing.
I'd chosen the slab thing as my primary option because of the weather forecast. This great expanse of territory that lies between those major mountain ranges that gird our nation's flanks happens to have the dubious distinction of being known as 'tornado alley'... and Sooner-land is smack in the middle of it! The possibility of an outbreak of those windy boogers had been mentioned repeatedly the last couple of days, so I wasn't about to take any foolish chances... not with puddin' and 'Q' on the line.
I did have a route down some interesting looking back roads scoped out, but I had reserved the trigger-pull decision until I'd actually reached the first turn-off possibility south of Norman. Ummm, those clouds to the west looked a bit dicey when I stopped to top off, so I leaned towards playing it safe. It turned out there were many tornados that day, but luckily all were well west of my route.
Those brilliant colors of spring in these parts were muted this day because of the heavily overcast sky. Still, the white of the Bradford Pears and Dogwoods, and the red and purple of the Red Buds were soothing nonetheless to these tired ol' eyeballs of mine. Slabbin' ain't the best riding circumstance, of course, so I figured I'd just spice it up some by singin'. Y'all ever do that too? Since I don't know all the words to any song, I'm forced to make up most of the lyrics... but, don't expect to ever hear any of 'em on any 'labels' though.
The wind remained strong all the way to Houston... and it was out of the south-southwest, meaning it was nearly dead in my face. I went on reserve twice after only 100 miles or so! Of course I did have the throttle cracked open a bit too... you know, for safety reasons: Gotta flow right along with the other citizens of that 'asphalt community', or you risk being run over...
I stopped just north of Houston to get my bearings and check my situation. I wasn't sure how things would be traffic-wise just ahead, plus I was growing weary, not to mention my bladder had to be the size of a beach ball by then, and I had not a clue what time it might be... When I retired nearly ten years ago, I came home following that final day in the salt mines and took off my watch... I haven't worn one since.
Turned out to be a little after 6pm, so I decided to just extend the break and eat din-din too, in order to allow the rush hour follies up ahead to simmer down a mite... By the time I got back on the road again at some o'clock or other, traffic had joyfully become downright tolerable... well, with one itty-bitty exception...
Right beside the I-610 bypass a huge, multi-story building had really angry lookin' flames shooting out of its windows and clouds of smoke billowing from cracks in its roof. There must have been at least a hundred emergency vehicles parked around with lights flashing and personnel watchin' the event plus half a dozen helicopters hovering overhead. Even though our lanes were completely clear, the inevitable 'gawker-block' developed, as my fellow travelers all had to take a long gander at that curious spectacle. Heck, I even snuck a peek myself...
It always feels mighty good to have Houston in my mirrors, so the final fifty miles or so went quickly and easily, and my thoughts were mostly about where to spend the night. I decided to go with the motel I've visited several times before, since all rooms are downstairs, and it's only a hundred yards or so from a Waffle House... and GRITS! There also just so happens to be Al's Cajun Restaurant across the road, and they even have a lounge in back... Might oughta do a warm-up party thingy, I mused... gotta stay in shape, ya know, if'n yer gonna try 'n hang with the big boys 'n girls.
George Jones was wailin' on the jukebox and the camo baseball caps with a sprinkling of Stetsons were prominent, as I pushed open the door to this now familiar beverage emporium and did my first look-see. My kind of place, all right, and since no fights were goin' on or nuthin', I ventured on over to the bar and ordered my very first 'grain sammich' of the evening.
A few vintage patrons at the bar were all engaged in earnest dialog with each other, so I figured they were local members of a rather tightly knit social group. The rest of the crowd was closer to my granddaughter's age than to mine, so I just squared my shoulders to the bar and settled in for a pleasant couple of hours lost in my thoughts.
Bar room attrition had been well along as folks naturally came and went, when my train of thought was interrupted by a young trucker who had wandered in and taken his place at the now nearly empty row of stools around me. He sat for only a few minutes before starting up a conversation.
I figured he was young enough he probably hadn't learned yet that one can spend time alone and be quite content. Oh well, I wasn't ponderin' nuthin' profound no way, so I granted him a courtesy chat. He was savvy enough to steer clear of the cardinal sin topics of religion and politics, but he was not particularly well versed in the ways of the world beyond his limited range. He reminded me a bit of myself thirty years ago... Still, time passed rather quickly, and soon enough we heard the inevitable official entreaty to prepare for departure... "Last call". One more longneck, and then I found my way 'home'...
Owing to a somewhat long day in the saddle and a fairly long evening perched upon a bar stool, that bed felt mighty good to this weary gypsy, as I left my clothes in a heap where they fell and collapsed into it... I'm sure the pillow felt just as sumptuous, but I wouldn't know, ona counta I was already fast asleep by the time my headbone got to it.
As previously mentioned, I am right partial to country-fied music... most of the time, that is. One of those rare exceptions, though, would be after only a couple of hours of sleep following a day and evening like the ones I'd just had... and that's why I jolted upright in a less than gregarious state of mind, as the strains of 'Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off' ricocheted from the walls and down my ear canals... Now I'll be the first to admit this could be some downright useful information to have under certain circumstances ... this just didn't happen to be one of 'em...
Dang, gotta fix that crapola pronto, I groaned! Fumbling around in the dark pushing buttons and sliding tabs on the clock radio next to my pillow, I vainly sought relief. Feeling like we all do when a relatively simple task totally confounds us, I accepted the obvious, bit the bullet, and turned the light on... Yep, it really was 4am... I revisited every knob, button, and tab on that thing, but still nothing happened!
OK, time for desperate measures now, I finally reasoned, so I pulled the plug... again nothing! By this time I was wide awake and really couldn't have cared less what Tequila or anything else made her do... I just wanted some peace and quiet. I tried concentrating really hard on how to remedy this bewildering conundrum, but possible solutions were coming slow and hard... Then a really nasty little notion popped into my thinker muscle: That diabolical noise was actually coming from the next room... and it could be unoccupied. I waited a few minutes to see if I might luck out... nope.
Dang, should I call the front desk? No point now, I concluded, as I was done with slumber long about then anyhow, and coffee was starting to dominate my list of priorities... no need to trouble another poor soul at this hour... Besides, Willie Nelson had begun crooning about how his heroes had always been cowboys... and that did sound rather soothing. I didn't know then if I'd still be able to party heartily with all my buds who would soon be heading that way, but at least I had managed to get in some practice...