The Dallas Interlude
Rick Fairless’s Chopper workshop, retail outlet and bar was just a short taxi ride from our hotel, so the next morning we went over to look around and introduce ourselves. The choppers he makes and sells are not just motorcycles, they are works of art, and it is hardly surprising that many will be transported by trailer by their owners, to be ridden for a few short miles before being parked up to be admired. As I said, they are works of art and deserve to be preserved in pristine condition. Rick, as I understand it, has a beat up old motorcycle that he gets on regularly to get the real feeling of the road under his seat.
Even the toilets carry motorcycle motifs!
We eventually met this very busy man and his lovely wife, before retiring to ‘The Ice House’ for a couple of beers and a chat with one or two of the regulars. All in all an enjoyable time at our namesakes business, and it was a pleasure to make his acquaintance.
‘Downtown Dallas’, the shopping area, was very up market, and most of the shops were international top brands in plush malls where simple clothes cost ten times as much as they are worth, IMHO, and the beautiful people go to shop and be seen, so sad.
I wanted to show Norman more of the country than just the city, so I hired a car at the airport and planned a few trips out of the hotel before leaving Dallas behind and doing our own thing.
The first of these daytrips was to Waco, to visit the Texas Rangers museum. As you would expect this museum was full of the apparatus for law enforcement from both the early period, when this country was untamed, right up to the modern day, which means that principally it is full of guns of all shapes and sizes. I, however, was drawn more to the saddles, statuettes and paintings than the guns.
Norman gets the feel of a Navy Colt
We also made a visit to the ‘Stockyards’ at Fort Worth. This was formerly the place where cattle were loaded onto trains to be sent off to the food processing factories of the industrial north east. Today it is a tourist spot; I hesitate to use the words ‘tourist trap’, because we all have the freedom to choose what we get out of this experience. We chose to move on.
Leaving Dallas behind we headed SW, towards El Paso, passing through Abaline and Odessa then swinging south across the desert/chaparral to Fort Stockton . Some people say that East Anglian landscape is flat and uninteresting, try driving through SW Texas!
Heading South through Texas
Coming out from Alpine the next day, we saw a lone figure trudging along a long straight desert road and stopped to give ‘Bill’ a lift. Bill was heading for his home town of
La Cruces in New Mexico, after being thrown in the slammer for being drunk. Since all his credit cards were in a questionable hotel, he chose to use his one free phone call to ring his bank and cancel his credit cards. Now with no money to pay a fine, and just being a drain on the local resources, they slung him out onto the road and told him to move on. He was a professional caddy and had visited Europe many times; I expect it was the environment surrounding the golf circus that led to his love of alcohol, and this unfortunate incident. He asked for a lift to Van Horn but when we got there and said we were heading for El Paso, asked if it was ok to go on there. What could I say, but when we reached El Paso I dropped him at the truck stop, gave him $10 for a meal, and we headed on our way.
It was really good to be able to travel and talk, and keep cool in the air conditioned cab as well. Also driving a car is much easier than driving a motorbike, the road surface, wind conditions and rain have much less effect on you, and you can easily pull off the road to take photos. On a bike this is often difficult due to the condition of the verge or the steep step at the edge of the road, but the pull-offs in Texas are very good with shade from the sun, tables and benches and a trash bin; often a BBQ pit as well!
Typical road pull-off in Texas
Soon we headed north into New Mexico, and the landscape now boasted mountains and desert, the white sands and salt flats of the USAF missile range to be precise.
Salt flats in New Mexico.
Heading into the Guadalupe Mountains there were several places we wanted to see, but since we also wanted a bed for the night we were forced to go past them, vowing to return the next day to see at least one of them. So we ended up in a motel in Carlsbad and had a very nice meal at a Chinese buffet.
The next morning we headed back the way we came so that we could explore the Carlsbad Caves. The winding mountain road led us upwards and eventually into a car park already half full with tourists, but thankfully no coach parties yet. There are two options for reaching the caverns, walk or take a high speed lift, we decided to walk the mile or so into the depths of the ground.
It’s ok I already have the weak knees, lets just have the exhaustion this trip!
Journey to the centre of the earth
Now this reminds me of something, but I’m not sure what!
The caves are just too massive to get a good picture with a simple camera, and require time exposure with a tripod and professional lighting, but I expect there is a web site with better pictures than the dozen or so we took showing black caves at night!!!
After spending the night in a motel in Ruidosa we continued on and further up the road I saw a sign to the site where there were ancient rock pictures; so we turned off the highway and after a mile or so came to a small car park with picnic tables and a few RV slots. Paying a small entrance fee we took the path up towards a tumble of boulders. I was expecting a cave or small rift in the rocks to have several cave paintings on its surface; instead no cave, but nearly every rock amongst the tumble of boulders had a picture hammered onto its surface! There were hundreds of pictures all around us, an incredible sight, and we spent an interesting hour or so trying to get good photos of those that took our fancy.
Just a tumble of rocks, but….
Every where you look here there are rock pictures.
Moving on through the mountains of southern New Mexico we next stopped at Fort Sumner, the town that has the grave of Billy the Kid, and wandered through the museum looking not only at relics of a time when a six gun was all the law a man needed, but also icons that we recognised from old TV programmes of our childhood. The owner tells us that his father was collecting stuff since the early 1900s when he fell off of a sled as a kid into a ditch and discovered a small cache of military arms still stacked in a wigwam shape, but now supporting a roof of dried grass for a family of rats! He became good friends with the family of the man in whose house Billy the Kid was shot by Pat Garret and later was given the furnishings for his collection, long before he opened his museum in the 1950s. Later he bought up items of interest at local sales, saddles, buckboards, old farm implements etc and added to his large stock of local items of interest. A great place for a stop off!
Billy the Kid relics.
and lots more besides
There is a replica of Billy the Kids grave here, but we pulled off the highway just out of town to see the actual site, which is in another museums garden, however we were both ‘museumed out’ and contented ourselves with a brief glimpse of it from the car.
Moving on again back into Texas and just south of Amarillo, (we can both now show you the way to Amarillo); to see the canyons at Caprock. They had so fantastic little cabins set among the vivid orange coloured arroyos, and we both wished we could have stayed in one for a few days, but with just a couple of days left before Norman had to fly back to England, there was no time.
Norman amongst the red rocks of Caprock Canyon.
So back to Dallas/Fort Worth and an emotional farewell as Norman headed back to England on a plane and I headed for my newly service motorbike, complete with replacement windscreen, in Plano. Except that it wasn’t; serviced I mean; the screen had arrived from Steven in Red Deer, but it was to be another five days before I headed west once more on my trusty steed. Five days in which I felt I was imprisoned in that motel, and even the $2000 price tag for new tyres & tubes, new chain and sprockets and 24,000 mile service seemed worth it just to get back on the road again, even those so frantic highways around Dallas!
New boots please
Next: Gila Cliff Dwellings, the Grand Canyon and Mexico!Posted by Derek Fairless at January 20, 2008 02:56 PM GMT
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