Wednesday, October 22nd.

I was so wound up last night that I got no sleep at all.  Despite that, It’s been a productive day.

I located the local Ford dealer, who recommended a towing service.  I was clear with the towing people that this was a big truck with a big camper behind it.  The lady on the phone was typical Oklahoma nice: “Aww, hun, I better transfer y’all to the big boys, then… hang on, sweetie.”  We were in business.

Truck gets towed.

They weren’t kidding.  The gentleman who showed up was definitely a big boy.  With a big truck.  He was very friendly and worked quickly, scampering all over and getting us ready to roll in under half an hour.  The initial choice of dealer fell through- they wanted us to leave the trailer somewhere as they didn’t have room.  Plan B had us going to a different dealer slightly further away that had plenty of room.  Some maneuvering through OKC traffic, a bit of paperwork and exchanging of phone numbers, and the truck was set to be looked at ASAP so an estimate could be made.  Then, apparently doubled.  Turns out the truck needs a new transmission on top of the transfer case and drive shaft.  It’s a rather depressingly large number.

While I was waiting for the tow truck, I scouted up the road and found all sorts of interesting bits of metal that looked like they had once been part of the transfer case.  This explains some of the noises I heard.  I never did find the rear part of the driveshaft, though- that should have been a very large piece indeed.

Transfer case shrapnel.

After getting the truck set to be fixed, I took off on the bike.  Oklahoma was uneventful.  I hit rain pretty much as soon as I entered Texas, but it wasn’t too bad so I was content with my Klim jacket and Tourmaster pants.  I didn’t even need to put any insulating layers on to stay warm, though I will admit to flipping the heated grips on once.  Polaris bought Klim a little while back, and I will admit to being a bit skeptical until now as their gear is top shelf and really expensive.   Even at a heavy discount and on sale, my eyes watered as I placed the order for my jacket.   I’m a believer now- a jacket this easy to make fully ventilated shouldn’t be this waterproof.  Plus, I keep finding little features on the jacket that seem obvious in retrospect.  The only serious gripes I have are that it’s heavy (fully armored gear usually is) and that there are so many pockets I’m losing things while I figure out where to keep everything.  First world problems…

Midland/Odessa is running so hot right now because of the oil boom, you can’t find a hotel for less than $300 a night, so I opted to stay in Snyder, Texas.  It’s a sprawling little town that seems to go on for quite a way.  Regular freight trains would ordinarily worry me, but I expect to sleep pretty well tonight.  It seems a lot of people here are actually working in Midland/Odessa based on some of the conversations I had and overheard.  At least commuting in Texas can be done at 85mph with no worries about traffic.  This is one of the few places Ive been that the speed limits make sense (I’m looking at you Wisconsin *cough*.)

On the way into Snyder, I passed through a wind farm just as the clouds came in low.  It was too surreal to pass up the photos, but they don’t really do the place justice.  The constant noise from the turbines gave the place an otherworldly feel, and riding through the clouds as they obscured then revealed the upper parts of the windmills was a little spooky.  The cheapo motel WiFi isn’t really cool with staying connected for too long or for allowing uploads, so the pictures will have to wait until I can get a stable connection.

Surreal wind farm near Snyder, Texas.
Surreal wind farm near Snyder, Texas.

I listened to podcasts and some music as I rode, then as the scenery changed to more interesting vistas, I turned everything off and enjoyed the noise of the bike, the wind, and the tires.  This was exactly what I needed.  Rolling through a different landscape, smelling the different vegetation and letting my mind wander… until after 100 miles of silence a rather annoying voice in my helmet said “In one mile, turn west on highway 270”

I was so startled I nearly fell of the bike.

Tomorrow: Terlingua, La Kiva, and seeing my parents and Gilli.  Only 5 hours’ ride, and the last bit should be really pretty.

Dinner at Taqueria Guadalajara was tasty.
Dinner at Taqueria Guadalajara was tasty.