Texas Courthouse Tour Part 3
This is part 3 of the Texas Courthouse Tour by Dana Woods.
In addition to going to all the Texas counties we were also setting our sights on riding our Wing to 49 states. We were only 8 states shy of that mark and 5 of those states were due north of us with 4 on the Canadian border. So in late June 2012 we head toward Michigan and the other four states. While passing through Kansas City the odometer on the Wing turned over to 100,000 miles. Our Wing had been in Canada the last two summers but not in Manitoba and Saskatchewan so might as well add those to the Canadian list. Kelly had stated in the beginning that we would stop by the courthouses on our way to or from other places so might as well get the remaining 9 counties in the eastern Panhandle on our return trip home. So here we go again riding in the Texas heat in late July. She came up with a way to cool off for a short while. About every hour we would stop at a Sonic or similar place for a large ice water. These places usually have a water hose nearby, so I had the job of turning the hose on her and totally soaking her. I know the people that saw us are still laughing at those crazy motorcycle people. They have to be crazy to ride in 106-degree temperature. That 65-degree temperature of Winnipeg, Manitoba was a faded memory. With the addition of those 9 counties we were up to 214 and only 40 remained. We were now finished with the entire Panhandle and only had two trips left. We needed 26 counties in deep South Texas along the Rio Grande River and along the Coastal Bend, 13 in the area between San Angelo and Odessa, and then Mills County in the center of the state. The light at the end of the tunnel was getting bigger and we decide to finish our tour the next year in 2013. That would make our mission come to a conclusion ten years after it started.
After that trip Kelly said if we were going to finish our goal in 2013 it will have to be in the spring and/or fall because she was not going to ride in South Texas in the summer time. North Texas is hot in the summer but South Texas can be brutal. But the good news is South Texas can be really nice early in the year. She would rather bundle up and deal with cold temperatures then go through the heat of mid- summer again. The route I planned for South Texas would take seven days and the West Texas trip would need about four days. In mid-February luck came our way when the weather forecast was for mild temperatures, 60’s – 70’s in South Texas and no rain. However, the day we planned to leave home our forecast was for severe storms to pass through the area followed by a rapid clearing. For once the weather people were correct. By 11:00 a.m. the sun was out after a 2.8 inch rain and we mounted up and took off southwest just behind the storm. Just before dark on the first day we had pictures of the 2 courthouses closest to our home that was not on our “been there, done that” list. Over the next four days we finished the remaining 24 counties of South Texas. We now had every county bordering the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico.
We awoke on the 6th day in Wharton, county seat of Wharton County, with a total count of 240 and plans to take our time going home, only 6 hours away. We would reminisce about the things we had seen on this trip and make plans for a fall trip for the remaining 14 counties in West Texas. That all changed with a phone call. After checking in at work I learned my services would not be needed for another 8-9 days. It was great news, so I looked at Kelly and said we have time to finish this tour now. We checked the weather forecast and no rain was expected, however a cold front would drop temperatures into the lower 30’s in the mornings in that part of the state for a couple of days. Just as she had stated almost ten years earlier, she asked, “Why don’t we just do it”? Therefore, instead of going north toward home, at mid-morning we pointed our Goldwing west and had a day of riding across Texas. We had planned on spending the night in Ballinger, Texas but when we fueled up in Junction the temperature was already in the upper 40’s. Kelly was silent because of last summer’s heat. Ballinger was 90 miles away and it would be dusk by the time we got there. I asked what she thought about staying there in Junction. She was very much in favor of my idea.