For most of us, cruising the road less traveled is what riding is really all about. The chance to get away from the city and twist our way through the corners of some road that time forgot is the stuff of daydreams, for sure, but sometimes we still find ourselves on a super slab on the way to somewhere in a hurry. Which is exactly the situation I recently found myself in as I was scooting across the sunny Southwest on a schedule.
Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with traveling through arid states like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, you learn really quickly to keep an eye on your fuel level since 100-mile stretches of nothing but sagebrush and tumbleweeds is pretty common. The places where you can pull off for a little tending to you and your machine are usually interesting if not downright entertaining.
Watching the billboard advertisements for petrol means also reading about stuff like dinosaur parks, Indian jewelry or even “The THING” that includes a painting of a monster of some sort. This last one promises to shock visitors who dare to stop by, stokes the curiosity and is its own form of amusement along Interstate 10, which stretches from California to Florida. Not advertised, however, are things like the old rest stop shelters that offer a little sanctuary along the road. Once a common sight, these simple niceties are a throwback to a time when families traveled with picnics and a little break along the way was normal part of the journey. The structures vary in decor but are usually in keeping with the surrounding landscape. Slowly but surely, these bits of Americana are becoming extinct. I found one area in West Texas where the picnic tables are shaded by teepees and the ones in the Texas hill country look like inviting little cabanas that are great wind shelters. These are accented by the famous Texas wildflowers in the spring, but my all-time favorites are the ones I found in New Mexico.
Adobe structures painted in Native muted tones, the mini-haciendas are shaded and a comfortable reprieve from the highway traffic. The picnic tables make a great makeshift bed once you roll out your sleeping bag and the bike is easily backed in out of the weather if you need a place for the night. Pitching a tent is not only unnecessary, it’s a bad idea since the highway constables get a bit cranky about squatters who look like they’re taking up residence.
Plus, being out in the open offers an opportunity to turn on your Steel Horse Audio speakers and play a little Bob Seeger or maybe some Steve Earle before you close your eyes for the night. Steel Horse Audio systems are perfect for riders who own a motorcycle that didn’t come with a factory audio system. For those of us who ride Dynas, Softails, Sportsters, or any of the many Pacific Rim cruiser models, Steel Horse Audio has the perfect motorcycle speaker system for you. They are easy to install and come in small, medium, and mega to fit your taste in road tunes.
By the next sunset I was cruising a back road surrounded by the aforementioned Texas wildflowers and mesmerized by the perfume that wafted from the fields. I’d seen all those pictures of the bluebonnets that bloom in the hills, but I was tripped out to find a carpet of pink Indian Paintbrushes springing up out of a field of green as I was drifting along a river road near New Braunfels.
I’d wanted to check out the Gruene Hall that I had heard so much about, which is reported to be the oldest continually running dance hall in Texas. With 6,000-square feet of dance floor covered by a steeply-pitched, old tin roof, the place still has the original lay out since it was built in 1878. Various artwork adorns the walls, much of which has been hanging there since the 1930s.
Musical greats such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keene, and Jerry Jeff Walker have performed at the hall and are still known to play for audiences now and then. The area has a few shops and a restaurant, and it is fun to wander around on the cobbled sidewalks for a trip through the past.
When I mounted up and turned the 21-inch front wheel towards home, I cranked up the tunes on my Steel Horse Audio ST400 speaker system and let those soulful tunes drift me away, melding with a perfect desert sunset and the steady rumble beneath me. Life is good.