Day Twenty-Seven

Mineral Wells, TX to Breckenridge, TX

This was an interesting day. I could barely drag myself out of bed, and I thought about staying for another night. I had no motivation, and that usually means I need a day off. When a light rain started just as I stepped out of my room, I had even less motivation. I decided to stop at a nearby chain restaurant/store, Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy Store,  for breakfast. Well, of course they only served breakfast until 10:30, and I naturally arrived at precisely 10:35. I do that all the time. So my rant for the day is, why do these places end breakfast at 10:30 instead of 11:00. To me, it's still breakfast time until 11:00. I don't want a burger until it's within an hour of noon. Am I the only one who feels this way? In any case, I was already pretty much committed to eating something, so I had a bacon cheeseburger. Although it was a very good burger, my heart really wasn't in it.

Back outside, the rain had stopped, but the weather was still unpleasant, 40 degrees and overcast with 25 mph winds. It was like that  all day. As I rode through Mineral Wells (my motel had been on the east end of town), I still didn't want to ride. Knowing that the forecast for Tuesday was more than 20 degrees warmer, I even thought about checking into the motel at the west end of town and calling it a day after only four miles. When I reached the Executive Inn, I hesitated for a moment, then went on. Heck, I could always bail out in Palo Pinto ten miles down the road instead.

A billboard  welcomed me to Palo Pinto, touting its tourist attractions. This was a cruel joke, as I still had to climb a mile-long  hill before I could even see the town. When I finally got there, I took pictures of the courthouse, the old jail and the now closed Palo Pinto Cafe. Across the street was the County Seat Grocery, Grill & Motel. I eyed the motel, but ultimately I went in for water and Coke instead. The clerk said there was a ride over the weekend and asked if I was lost (see yesterday for more about that ride). We chatted a bit, then I went back out ot my bike. With one last look at the motel, I made up my mind.  I was going to Breckenridge after all.

The green sign at the edge of town read " Breckenridge 39."   It was a good thing I stocked up in Palo Pinto because the " towns" on the map between Palo Pinto and Breckenridge were virtually nonexistent. There was only one store on US 180, and that was 25 miles from Palo Pinto.  The hills went on and on  today, and unlike yesterday, the wind didn't help me at all. It's really bad for morale when one has to pedal hard just to maintain 10 mph downhill. I had reached the point where I didn't even want to go downhill anymore. Not only was it disappointing to go down slowly, but I knew that Lubbock's elevation would be some 2500 feet higher than that of Fort Worth. It stood to reason that the more I went up and the less I went down, the sooner I would be done with this climbing business.

I had just read about the Chicken Ranch of La Grange in Kinky Friedman's book. The Chicken Ranch was the inspiration for the Broadway  play and movie The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. More importantly, it inspired ZZ Top's signature song, " La Grange" :

Rumour spreadin' around in that Texas town

'bout that shack outside La Grange

and you know what I'm talkin' about.

Just let me know if you wanna go

to that home out on the range.

They gotta lotta nice girls.

And then  the band kicks in... " Have mercy. A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw. A haw, haw, haw." On a vacation with my wife, I drove about 25  miles out of the way just to go through La Grange, Texas, and she had to endure my singing the whole way, mostly  " a haw, haw, haw." Funny, at the time I thought I didn't remember all the words, but I did--there's only one more verse that I haven't printed here. The rest of the song is all guitar.  Well, the Chicken Ranch was long gone and I wasn't anywhere near La Grange  (which is between Austin and Houston) on this trip, but that Texas boogie groove going through my head kept me pedaling for miles.

Just past Caddo, home of the one store mentioned above, a sign told me I had 15 miles to go. It reminded me of what was once my favorite song when I was a kid, " The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (I was a morbid kid). I put a twist on that song, and I even made it rhyme: " The searchers alleged they'd have made Breckenridge if they'd put 15 more miles behind 'er."

Actually, just knowing that the next town was my destination was enough to make the pedals turn a little faster. An hour later, I reached the outskirts of Breckenridge. In the wide open spaces of Texas, towns stretch out for miles along the main highways. I went past two miles of buildings before I reached the city limits. Downtown Breckenridge was a treasure trove for me as an admirer of small town murals. It seemed like every available wall was painted. During the oil boom years, the town had more than 30,000 people, but now there are only 5,000. That might be part of the reason there's so much space in town.

At the west end of town were two options for the night, the Ridge Motel and the Breckenridge Motel. Both looked decent, but I opted for the latter. When I went inside, two older ladies were at the desk. They were very friendly, and they were impressed with my 54 mile ride today. This was the kind of day when it was really nice that somebody was impressed, because I was really worn out!

In my room, I flipped channels to see a special about  Raquel Welch on Lifetime. They call it " television for women," but I don't think any guy I know would mind watching Raquel Welch for an hour! After that was over, I fell asleep for half an hour. Fortunately, I still had time to go somewhere for dinner. After almost a week in Texas, I still hadn't been to a BBQ joint, so I decided it was time to make amends. The Double MM Barbeque (is that MM or MM MM?) was only a few doors down. I had the combo plate, perfect for the indecisive. The waitress brought me a huge pile of meat: ham, sausage and beef brisket. It was all right, not great. The meat was good but the sauce was only  fair. Their baked beans were a little bitter, not sweet like I like them. On the way out, I saw an ad for a T-shirt spoofing the more famous Breckenridge in Colorado. It said " Ski Breckenridge" ... with a picture of a jet skier on nearby Hubbard Creek Lake.

Language Abuse of the Day: at dinner, I overheard a woman say that somebody got mad at a woman and " scratched her car to pieces." Those would be some deep scratches. I don't think you could buff those out. It reminded me of the scene in The Gauntlet when the police shot up the house to the point that it collapsed.

Totals for the day: 54.70 miles in 5:05:28 for an average of 10.7 mph.

Click here to see today's photos.

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.