Papa took his biker luggage to out to the parking lot to find Paco was out early preparing his bike for the day along with Doc, in a ridiculous t-shirt and short shorts ensemble that was accentuating his pearly white legs. Doc was detailing his bike. The sun was out and the skies were clear.
Soon, one by one the Pack began to emerge from their slumber and the bikes were readied for the day. At 7:15am, as requested, Papa and Paco delivered three bananas to Gordito’s room. A knock on the door revealed a human specimen with the hairdo of Lyle Lovett had he uses grecian formula for his black hair. (in all fairness, this hairdo has attracted both Johanna Williams AND Julia Roberts, he may be on to something). Gordito was also watching the royal wedding. Paco, feeling uncomfortable with Lyle Lovett and the royal wedding immediately extricated himself from the situation.
Bananas were handed off and Gordito commenced to concocting this precious protein shake recipe. His refusal to add a little peanut butter to the batch meant for Papa was a bit irritating. Papa went for some ice as Gordito was not yet fully prepared. Upon returning to Gordito’s room it was learned that the royal wedding was still on the TV. The first batch, without peanut butter, was placed in the industrial blender. A secret recipe consisting of a protein powder packet, ice, banana, and cinnamon. The mix was industrially blended and two servings were poured. Papa was instructed to consume one himself and hand on to Paco.
I need to explain that we are on motorcycles for 500 miles today… across the desolate tundra of West Texas. The last thing a biker wants to do is introduce an unknown substance into his/her digestive system just before departing on this journey. Paco and Papa can honestly attest to the pleasant “taste” of this shake. Of course, notes of peanut butter may be an improvement. Papa went to his bike and then to his room to quietly consume a known substance for breakfast.
Shortly before 8:00 the Pack assembled in the lobby to make their way to the bikes. Gordito was there as there was a commercial break during the royal wedding allowing us the opportunity to depart on schedule. First stop was fuel and then the Pack departed Roswell heading east on US 380.
The Pack followed US 380 east through the lonely high mesas of New Mexico and eventually on to the west Texas landscape. Gone were the tree lined mountains of Arizona and the dramatic canyon roads of New Mexico. Our entire landscape was slow rolling hills and plains dotted with oil derricks. We wound through these sleepy little towns with Pack precision. As we roared out of one particular town we ran through the gears and up to speed, which is a posted 75 on most any two-lane highway in Texas, and suddenly Gordito brought the pack to rest on the side of the road. Kickstands down and motors off. It was revealed Gordito’s check engine light had appeared. Time to do a bike wellness check. Slaw immediately wondered off the highway about 40 yards to a fence/urinal. He did jump back a bit when his big city senses wondered, mid-stream, if the fence was electrified. Thankfully for all of us it was not. Just a lone biker standing at attention facing south. Gordito’s check engine light seemed to have been an anomaly. Perhaps due to some excessive RPM during a passing of a semi. Now most of the Pack took Slaw’s dead and stood at attention facing south 40 yards from the highway.
The Pack roared to life and continued east toward Plano. As we made our way through the day we found fuel abnormally early as the chances for fuel are fewer and further between out in West Texas. We stopped about every 120 miles as opposed to every 180 or more. Given the length of the day’s trip and the heat/humidity these more frequent stops were welcomed. At the third of these stops Doc mentioned the striking similarity of all these sleepy towns. They were all small towns with boarded up business and residences. The fuel stations were all convenience stores from three generations past. The newest building the town was the Dairy Queen and they only thriving business was the Family Dollar / Dollar General. It is certainly lonely out on the plains of West Texas. The other striking similarity were the locals. All extremely accommodating, engaging, and truly interested in the Pack’s mission. We also experience something unusual and wonderful on day 3. Just about every time the Pack came up on a slower moving vehicle on these narrow 75mph roads, the motorist moved onto the shoulder and allowed us to pass without having to go out into the oncoming lane. It was unexpected and greatly appreciated. Thank you, West Texas.
We left one particular town and roared up to speed. About 50 miles out Papa noticed his American Flag which had been flapping in the wind for 800 miles was gone. In the rear view, he could see the base and housing was still attached. The flexible pole and flag appeared to have snapped off. First thought was to look for all riders behind to make sure it had not become a weapon of Pack destruction. This seemed not to be the case. Papa waited to the next fuel stop and found the trailing Pack members had indeed seen is snap off and roll to the side harmlessly but nothing could have been done. The other side mechanism held the AZ and Minnesota Gopher flags but it was intact. Off we went heading east.
As we began to get closer to the Dallas Fort Worth general area Papa again noticed the other flag pole had snapped and he was flag-less. Thankfully no one was impaled. It is fair to say, as the day was heading into late afternoon, the Pack was tiring and road weary. We had been fighting a prevailing wind from the south all afternoon. We were looking forward to showers and real food with the Muratec folks in the evening. On a narrow two lane we came up a slight grade as the road turned left. An oncoming pick-up truck was making the oncoming traffic’s slow right-hand turn but was assuredly distracted. Papa and Bert, in the left positions of the stagger had to veer right to avoid a possible oncoming mirror smack. Experience and alertness are necessary to avoid disaster. While on a particularly open stretch of 4 lane road with a grassy median, our road leader Gordito, suddenly leaned into the wind but to no avail. Soon the trailing Pack saw him on the rumble strip inches from catching a ride into the soft grassy median. Quick panic-less thinking resulted in a smooth transition back into the normal lane of travel. The only casualty may have been his undergarments.
We were approaching the DFW metro area. In past years the pack merged onto I35 south, took the I 35E route toward Dallas and then took the George Bush loop over to Plano as the hotel(s) were adjacent the George Bush loop. The past three years of construction and traffic caused Gordito to take a non-freeway loop across the top of the metro area and then down on US 75 to the George Bush loop. This seemed like a great idea. on paper. 4000 red lights, heavy residential traffic, and 45 minutes later the Pack merged onto US 75 south for the 8 miles or so down to George Bush loop. Stop and go traffic and 20 minutes later we mercifully merged onto George Bush east for the short ride to our exit. We pulled of onto the exit and looped around on the Texas style access lanes and into a church parking lot in between two hotel complexes. Gordito stopped and hollered, “Which hotel are we at!!” Papa knew he was hat Hampton which we had just passed. The others assumed the hotel we were at other years. Gordito decided to assume the Hampton. We could have proceeded on the access road, turned left under the George Bush and completed the loop into the Hampton. Instead Gordito lead us past the prior year’s hotel. New Pack pledge, Fish, was at this hotel and apparently watched us pass by and proceed on with some wonderment and trepidation. The Pack turned right at the light, right at the next light and right again at the next light and once again… by now were back around at the Hampton entrance. Gordito expertly lead us down an access road only to find we had missed the quick left into the Hampton property. This gave the Pack and opportunity to practice tight quarters u-turns. This was handled with aplomb. We all roared under the Hampton awning and put kickstands down. Bikes were being unpacked and road gear was coming off. Bert walked back out and exclaimed. This isn’t the hotel. Papa was adamant it was at least his hotel. Gordito was confident it was his hotel. Paco went to the front desk. It wasn’t his hotel. Soon it was revealed that Gordito and Papa were at their assigned hotel but Slaw, Paco and Doc were in the hotel where Fish was waiting. Bert, on the other hand, was two exits away from his. Paco too charge and told Bert to follow the balance of the Pack and would get his room moved to their hotel. The Pack splintered and the retired to the showers.
At the appointed time Gordito and Papa met Lone Star and his bride, Donna, as they were our Uber to the other hotel. There the Pack and their entourage gathered for our Muratec sponsored dinner at our favorite BBQ roadhouse. Upon arrival, we had a table prepared for almost 20 people. This dinner went well, for the most part. Doc, a rookie Packer was out of uniform. These Pack vests are earned and are required uniform for State dinners. This violation requires penance. Instead of a single song rendition at dinner Doc will require three to keep vest privileges.
Background: Vests are earned by performing at a State dinner. You must perform your choice of, high school fight song, university fight song, national anthem or something akin. GQ’s Tennessee Rocky Top is the current gold standard.
Drinks were flowing and appetizers were being consumed at an alarming rate. Paco bright the dinner to order. Lone Star welcomed the group with some eloquent words in Jimmy D’s stead. Honorary member Jimmy D was unable to make the event as he is at an arduous work function in Prague. Paco accepted the welcome from Lone Star and introduced Fish, Simon Vermooten to the pack. Fish is a 6’8 (203cm for the metrically inclined) South African living in Nashville riding a cough German motorcycle. Fish will ride three miles behind so as not to offend the rest of the Pack. Fish decided to regale us with a rendition of the “original South African National Anthem”. First, we heard the story of how his grandfather was an architect to Apartheid and thus Fish carries and affinity of the original anthem. Fish gave his all. Since it was sung in his native tongue we have no idea as to its authenticity but… it worked! Fish was officially vested in the Patriots Pack. Next up was Doc. He owed the Pack three songs. One for his vest, one for having his vest a week before earning said vest, and one for his uniform violation at a State dinner. Doc will be given a couple of State dinners to fulfill his duties. That is good for all because his abilities are on the weak side. Doc, a graduate of Boise State decided to give us the Broncos’ fight song… er chant. All we require is effort and with some artistic license we can say Doc gave effort. He is officially in.
Dinner began with Papa performing Amazing Grace in appreciation for three days of safe, rubber side down, riding. Muratec’s dinner was wonderful. We didn’t miss Jimmy D at all! Next stop is Little Rock Arkansas!