Day Thirty-One

Sweetwater, TX to Snyder, TX

I was really nervous this morning. Maybe it was because I had too little sleep, or maybe it was because I had a hard day yesterday and was afraid of having another. Maybe it was my concern about beating the imminent thunderstorms to my next stop. Whatever it was, I could barely eat my free breakfast. The food was decent, two thick pancakes and toast, but I just didn't feel right. I finished reading a magazine I'd brought from home while I ate. Back in my room, I threw those extra few ounces in the garbage, put on sunscreen and rolled out around 10:30. A nearby gas station had gallon jugs of water. They weren't cold, but with the 80 degree heat I figured it didn't matter--any water would be warm by the time I drank it. I drank about a quart, then filled my bottles. It seemed a shame to pour out the rest, but I'd gotten my money's worth anyway.

I rode out of Sweetwater on some of the same streets I took yesterday in my motel search. It seemed like there were more bugs around Sweetwater than anywhere else on the trip so far, but maybe it had to do with the heat. I had to be careful to keep my mouth closed--several bugs hit my lips.  Soon I came to US 84, the road to Lubbock. Just for grins, I took the business route through the town of Roscoe instead of the bypass. There wasn't much going on in Roscoe, but I did get a couple of good photos. US 84 was a pretty boring road--four lanes, divided highway, wide shoulders  and mostly straight. There were a few hills, but they weren't steep at all, just really long. One time I told myself I'd take a break at the top of a hill. About 15 minutes later, I was still pedaling  toward where  the road disappeared on the horizon. The north wind didn't seem as bad as yesterday, but it was enough to keep  my speed down.

The only  town worth mentioning along the way, Hermleigh, was 20 miles down the road. According to the green signs, Snyder was another ten miles, but that must not have included the businesses stretched out along the highway because it seemed like Snyder was just over the next hill. On the outskirts of town was the Beacon Lodge, my destination. Ever since I picked up a brochure in Anson describing the Beacon as " Restored To The Splendor Of The 1950s," I knew that was where I had to stay. But first, I needed to find something to eat. Since I didn't see anything near the Beacon (though I later learned that there was a truck stop 3/4 mile to the east), I had to go into Snyder. It was about 2:45, and almost every restaurant that looked promising had closed at 2:00 or 2:30. At least I got to see the town and take lots of pictures. The courthouse was disappointingly  modern (courthouses built after WWII don't really interest me), but there was a nicely restored theater on the square, the Ritz. Best of all was an old Sinclair station that had been restored as a flavored ice hut, of all things.  I would have loved a " breakfast anytime" place, but I ended up at yet another Dairy Queen. Fifteen percent of all Dairy Queens are located in Texas, so it's no wonder. Since it was Good Friday, I had to settle for another Blizzard for lunch. I was glad that Lent was almost over. By the time I finished eating, gray clouds had begun to appear in the west. The West Texas weather was pretty wild--I'd been facing northeast winds all day, now suddenly a front was moving in from the opposite direction.

I hurried back to the Beacon and checked in. I talked with the clerk for awhile, then walked the bike over to my room. The Beacon was made up of six six-room buildings arranged in a semi-circle with a park in the middle. In the room, there were replicas of old advertising hanging on the walls. Some of the " 1950s" touches, like those signs and the lobby filled with Coca-Cola things, were a little disappointing. Those weren't really authentic they were more like a Disney version of the past. However, the bathroom was much better, with colored ceramic tile halfway up the walls. That was a real feature of a motel from that era, not a nostalgic embellishment. I soaked up the ambience as I soaked my body in the bathtub. Mr. Rogers was right--I didn't go down the drain after all.

The thunderstorm began about an hour after I checked in, and it was impressive. The whole building shook as  the storm rumbled across the open plains. I ordered dinner since I didn't want to go walking in the ensuing downpour. The delivery guy said this storm was nothing compared to others in the area. He also announced that he just found out he's going to be a father. It was kind of funny that he was sharing this with me, someone he'll probably never see again,  but I guess he was just excited.

Sunburnt body part of the day: my left calf. Somehow I missed it with the sunscreen, and just my luck I rode north so the sun was on it all day. I went to sleep fairly early, hoping to get my body back on track. Rain was predicted for Saturday, so that was a good excuse to enjoy the fifties bathroom for another day and work on getting more photos online (no, I'm not actually working on the web site in the bathroom!).

Totals for the day: 43.80 miles in 3:59:25 for an 11.0 mph average.

Click here to see today's photos.

Copyright 2002-2013 David Johnsen. All rights reserved.