Texas Courthouse Tour Part 4
This is the last post in a 4 part series, Texas Courthouse Tour by Dana Woods. Thanks to him and his wife for sharing this with us!
When we pulled out the next morning the temperature was 34 degrees. We had on our leathers and rain suits on top of those. But after about an hour of riding it had warmed up enough to take off the rain suits. It was mid-afternoon before we arrived at the first county we needed, Coke County with the county seat of Robert Lee. It had been over 24 hours crossing from near the Texas coast to this part of West Texas. We were now back in courthouse mode and the list was shrinking fast. That night would find us in San Angelo, Tom Green County seat. The next two counties would both have retired courthouses but very different stories. Irion County has a beautiful retired courthouse in Sherwood, built in 1901 and used until 1937, which the small local community still uses for different social events and local festivals. Irion’s county seat now is in Mertzon. Reagan County’s seat is in Big Lake but the first courthouse was in Stiles until 1925. Stiles is now a ghost town with the only building being the shell of the 1911 courthouse. The end of this day would find us in Sweetwater, county seat of Nolan County. If you have ever traveled in this part of Texas you know there are a lot of open spaces out there and not a lot of good motorcycle roads unless you like to go straight!!! Our total count now stood at 253. We were about 140 miles from the goal line.
The following morning we awoke with much anticipation knowing this would be our last day to travel on our Courthouse Tour. On our fourth trip, we had bypassed, without knowing at the time, the first courthouse of Taylor County in Buffalo Gap. So a stop by the retired 1879 courthouse was most interesting as the local community has built a small historic village around the courthouse and jail. It was ironic that the next to last stop was a courthouse we had missed two months after starting our tour.
It was now on to Goldthwaite and Mills County. As with all the other buildings, we rode completely around the square to find the best place for our last picture. I parked the bike for the last time in front of a Texas courthouse and Kelly and I took turns taking pictures of each other beside the bike. As luck would have it a gentleman was walking by and we told him what we had just accomplished and asked him to take a picture of us with our Goldwing. He was more than happy to help out and congratulated us on our accomplishment. It was now time to go celebrate with a nice lunch, might as well be fried chicken. Goldthwaite is not a very big town but they have delicious chicken.
Our goal was now complete. We had ridden our Goldwing to all 254 Texas counties. Taken a picture with one of us and our bike beside 294 buildings. Traveled 21,271 miles inside Texas just to and from courthouses. There was a total of 59 days of taking pictures. The most counties covered in one day was 13. The most in one trip entirely in Texas was 40, with 42 being the most counties traveled to in one trip but the trip carried us outside the state. It had taken 23 trips in only 9 years, 7 months and one day. But who’s counting. During that time period we had also been to 46 states and 10 Canadian provinces / territories on the same Goldwing. Along the way we met a lot of nice people and saw many interesting things and places in our beloved state. We had experienced the summer time heat, smelled the beautiful Texas wildflowers – along with our share of skunks, encountered the migration of grasshoppers crossing the roadway and learned a lot of Texas history. But the best part is we had done it together. Two of our trips were with family and friends but all the others were just the two of us and the road ahead. I say thank you to my wonderful wife for asking me that day in July of 2003, “Why don’t we just do it”? Let’s do a Courthouse Tour – Texas Style.
Side Note: In June of 2014 we rode to California and Nevada completing our quest of riding in 49 states on the same Goldwing. In the spring of 2015 we decided on getting a new Wing. We sold our beloved Goldwing to a local gentleman on the last day we rode as the odometer turned over 118,000 miles. As of this writing, he has added over 9,000 more miles to a well-traveled motorcycle. The only problems we ever had with the bike was to replace the left front fork on the way to Alaska and of course keeping good tires on it.