Saturday, April 19, 2003

Ezell's Catfish RTE - Lavaca, AL

As usual, the morning starts early as I awaken to the friendly and pleasant beeps from a Timex Indiglo clock. I'm not sure if you've had the pleasure, but it's a nudge compared to the outright slap from a screamin' meanie. I want some time to get out of the metroplex before the sun comes up. I enjoy watching the sunrise and a good two-lane country road is the perfect setting.

There's something special about experiencing the birth of a new day. As the sun begins to illuminate the eastern sky, there's a moment in the space/time continuum when the cosmos has yet to orchestrate the events of the day. At that moment there are an infinite number of possibilities to choose from and the best part is that we have the ability to affect the choices of the cosmos by throwning our intentions into the realm of all possbilities, easing back and taking the day as it comes. I intended to have a damn good time zig-zagging my way east from Dallas and across Lousiana, Mississippi and into Lavaca, AL for catfish the next afternoon at Ezell's Catfish Camp with a boat load of other folks in LD and general riding public. Sometimes the cosmos listens. Sometimes it could care less.

I got to the northeast side of the metroplex around 5a and took the FM-35 exit off I-30 in Royse City. The air was thick and humid and the fog was a little heavy in places. I left my breakfast in the microwave at home so I decided to stop for a nice country breakfast at the first cafe I spot along the way. As luck would have it there's a nice little cafe in Quinlan called the Star Lite Cafe. I decided to stop and nourish the body for the day's ride ahead. Good service and good food at the Star Lite.

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Breakfast couldn't have ended at a better time. As I geared up in the parking lot, the eastern sky was brightening quickly and the sun would soon peek its head over the horizon. The waters of Lake Tawakoni and Lake Fork Resevoir were calm and littered with a few anglers taking advantage of the early morning.

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According to the Texas HSTA FM-852 between Winnsboro and Gilmer is number eight out of the top-ten Texas roads. It's a nice country road and, for the area, one of the better ones, but number eight? No offense, but I think the good folks over at the HSTA need to ride more.

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An old, dilapidated building hidden in the trees along FM-852

I haven't ridden the northeast Texas area as much as I'd like and you're damn skippy I'll eventually get to it. One of the areas I'd like to wander is the Caddo Lake region. The state park at the lake is supposedly awesome. We'll see. The lake itself straddles the Texas/Louisiana border. It's wierd too because once you cross into Louisiana the landscape takes on an entirely swampy feel. I'm fond of turtles form some odd reason. Whenever I see them on the road I feel compelled to help them along. I always wonder if that's the right thing to do. I do take them across the road in whatever direction they're pointing so I don't reckon it could be all that bad.

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The Lucky One

That Swamp Thing

The ride through northern Louisiana wasn't that bad at all. Admittedly, I wasn't expecting much of anything at all because the vast majority of my Cajun road experience is with what is still some of the worst interstate highways in the US. But I'm forced to give some props to a few sections of road. Namely, LA-151 between Dubach and I-20, LA-548 between Lenwil and Chatham, LA-4 between Chatham and Grayson, LA-126/LA-124 between Grayson and Harrisonburg.

I ran into this little gem of a farm somewhere near Enterprise, LA, I believe, along LA-124.

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Two roads in southwestern Mississippi caught my eye while perusing a map - MS-552 and MS-550. Being in Natchez, MS I decided to ride up the trace to MS-552. I still haven't ridden the entire Natchez Trace Parkway, but I'll get to it. From what I understand the northern half is the most scenic. I look forward to running that stretch soon.

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MS-552 is a great little road and just right when you're getting used to the twists you come around one corner and there's a sign that reads, "Pavement Ends." And it does, but being on the GS means it doesn't matter much. I reckon there was about five to six miles of dirt road before reaching pavement again a few miles before MS-28.

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I stopped in Union Church for some go-go juice and took the opportunity to look over the bike. I had been running a set of Michelin T66s on the GS. They had 12.5K actual miles on them before I left on the trip and I thought there was at least another 2K on them minimum, but no dice. They were just passed the wear bars and I was a little concerned about making it all the way to Alabama and back home without reaching chord. I decided to carry on and inspect them again when I reached I-55 at Hazelhurst which was an ideal go-no-go decision point. The ride over to I-55 from Union Church on MS-550 was a nice one. Just a nice, narrow and semi-twisty two-laner.

So I stopped in Hazelhurt to inspect the tires again. I decided to err on the side of caution and ride the 450 miles home rather than the 300 to Lavaca. I was sorry to miss out on the food and friends, but in the end it was the right decision. When I got home the tires were well-worn. 13.8K actual miles on the T66s. Not too bad. I may run a set of these in August, but I'm trying a set of Tourances now. They feel better than the T66s, but they need to last as long or longer. Miles will tell.

So I wish I had more pics, but I wussed out and went home. I'll try again next year.

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