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May 27, 2013

Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 8: Galveston to South Padre Island

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Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in the peaceful, border town of South Padre Island, Texas.

Motorcycle Odometer: 1847
Miles driven today; 400

At night, I have to copy all of my photos onto the laptop, archive them onto the Lacie Rugged external drive, uploaded them to my home server using DropBox, etc.

Have to clean the motorcycle visor, charge the Macbook Air, iPhone, camera batteries.

All of this, so that at the end, I'm sort of this little over-organized neurotic rainman type of person, not really an adventurer, per se.

I wake up around 10:00 a.m. and climb out of bed. I have little rituals for when I'm on the road. Lube the chain every morning.

A motorcycle needs gas and oil and chain lube...all of these things to keep it running. But those things don't make the bike go, really. I mean, you can fill up the tank, lube the chain, change the oil and filter, and the bike won't go anywhere, of it's own accord.

The thing that the bike runs on, is pain. And without pain, there would be no reason for the bike.

I tell people that I'm driving to Panama, and most people assume I mean Panama CIty, Florida. Some people don't know that Panama is a country. Still others are aware it's a country, but weren't aware you could drive there.

But thanks to my psychotic ex-gf, I have plenty of pain to make the bike run. Probably, you'll never know what it's like to be out shopping for an engagement ring, and then get home, get in bed, and have your fiance tell you that it's over. Time to hit the road.

I was like..."Uh...what'd I miss?"

But it's fine. It doesn't matter. She gave me the pain that I needed to make the bike run. Enough pain to fuel the bike for thousands of miles. And for this, I am grateful.

In the morning, I get up. I never set an alarm, as I'm not that excited about getting up and getting out of bed. I'm kinda lazy, truth be known.

I decide to drive down the coast for a way, to Freeport, and then sort of wander down to South Padre by dark, if possible. This is sort of how I plan my trips...one day at a time. I'm trying to go about 400 miles per day, which is a lot, but I've got a lot of distance to cover, so driving more and shooting less.

The truth is that the beach on Galveston isn't all that nice. I mean, it's sort of muddy and covered with sea weed and not very white, per se. I mean, the island was hopping like mad. Crazy chics drunk, running through the streets wearing next to nothing. Galveston was insane, but the beach didn't really impress me that much. It was a nice drive, but nothing to write home about.

I end up cutting inland and following US 77 down to South Padre. Stop along the way and pick up a little cigarette-lighter-to-USB adapter, so I can now charge my iphone while I'm driving down the road. Also pick up some oil for the bike. Not clear where I could get an oil filter for it at this point, though.

The funny thing about the police in Texas is that, you pretty much couldn't get them to pull you over if you wanted to. I mean, the speed limits on the roads are insane. Like...we're going down US 77 and the speed limit is 75, and they won't stop you if you're doing 90. So, pretty much you can just drive however fast you want, which is nice.

And for a while, the bike sort of goes away. When you don't have to worry about gas, or cops, or anything, the bike sort of just fades away and I'm just moving through these flat farmlands of South Texas. Really beautiful. Serene. Calm.

And the problem with this is that, pretty soon, you're going 90 mph down the road, and it's hard to even believe that you're on the bike, really. It's not hard to drive a motorcycle. It's fairly simple. What's hard is to stay focused when you're driving 400 miles a day and going 90 miles an hour and there's nothing as far as the eye can see but flat fields, growing corn, or Lord knows what else.

I miss the camaraderie of the open road. Every bike I pass extends a long-armed wave. Well, not every one. I'd say about 85% of them do. And if I wave, and they don't wave back, it doesn't matter. It doesn't bother me. I don't get upset. It's all good. Life on the road is a dream.

And the truth is, I don't mind it. It's true that, I'm alone at night, but I don't really care about this. There's no one screaming at me, telling me over and over what a jackass I am, or explaining to me that, even though we're engaged, somehow it makes sense for them to be dating someone else. All of that nonsense is gone. It's all out the window.

Now, all I have are fields and farms and Memorial Day Flags and kites fluttering in broad Texas skies.

Every time I stop for gas, people ask me who I am. Where am I going. What am I doing. I've taken to giving them my website so that they can follow me. Not that what I'm doing matters. I'm not clear that it does. But people do seem somehow invested in my adventure. I think that this is the curse of being the village idiot. I'm in a situation to do what many people can not. Many people seem inclined to live vicariously though me, and who am I to stop them?

This one guy at a gas station asked me today what I was doing, and when I told him, he said..."Oh...you must be independently wealthy..." and his voice sort of trailed off. And I'm like....dude...this is the cheapest way to travel on earth. I get 40 mpg. I'm sleeping in the cheapest motel rooms imaginable. Like..no...I'm not rich. Not by a long shot. But I'm not living hand-to-mouth, either. So everything is relative, I guess.

As I get further south, the law enforcement picks up noticeably. Whereas you couldn't get pulled over for anything north of Corpus Christie, south of Corpus Christie is a totally different story. Now, there are cops everywhere, pulling over everyone at once. Writing tickets. Playing that little game I hate where they come running up behind you to see if you'll run, and then turning around and going the other way. I don't like this part. This makes me nervous. I don't like the borders. They're always the most terrifying part of the trip. The border towns in Mexico are not good. Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Reynaldo. These are all bad bad towns. In Matamoros, they were taking Americans and sacrificing them in some sort of bizarre cult ritual. So, this is a not a place I want to spend any more time than necessary.

Tomorrow, I will get up somewhat early and get across the border into Mexico. I'm not sure how far I'll make it. I'm tentatively shooting for Tuxpan, Mexico tomorrow:

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Posted by Rob Kiser on May 27, 2013 at 8:15 PM


Love you Bro! Glad you are out on the open road getting bike therapy;) Keep the posts coming...

Posted by: Molly on May 27, 2013 at 10:17 PM

I live vicariously through you for sure...and you are dead on that you are doing something that I cannot do. It's fun to follow your adventures cousin. You are an inspiration. I wish you nothing but good times and safe travels! Cheers

Posted by: Carlisle on May 28, 2013 at 5:05 PM

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