Date: March 19th 2017

From/To: Decatur, TX/Iowa Park, TX

Daily Mileage: 85 miles

Total Mileage: 1165 miles

Conditions: Sunshine, mid 80s, minor winds

People often say there’s nothing to see in Texas. “It’s flat, hot, and utterly barren.” While they’re certainly not wrong, these people miss much of what this place can offer, especially at 75 mph. You’ll find a variety of land with mountains, lakes, ocean, and canyons that rival the Grand Canyon. The problem is most people don’t see these parts of Texas by car. They don’t have time to view their surroundings as they drive by. That’s a major reason why I find this journey so interesting. I get to see things in slow motion.

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Todays trek, from Decatur, TX to Iowa Park, TX.

I woke up around 9:15AM today to catch continental breakfast at my hotel before it closed at 10AM. I wasn’t in much a rush today, but then again I wasn’t sure where I was going tonight either (classic). I left around 10:30 for Wichita Falls, about 75 miles away. I decided to check Warm Showers part way through my trip. I found a couple named Gary and Gay, located in Iowa Park, ten miles northwest of Wichita Falls. I called them up and spoke with Gay, she told me they were more than willing to host me, even though I was very last minute (lucky me, once again). So I had a game plan, but I also added on about ten miles to my daily trek. I was alright with it because I could then subtract those miles from tomorrows trek, seeing that they were farther but in the right direction. I took a highway called 287 northwest for almost the entire way. The road was smooth for the most part, and the only struggle I faced came in the afternoon when the sun was at its strongest. I was proactive with the sunblock, but even so I was starting to burn.

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A view of the road, changing very slightly, if at all throughout the day.
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Blue sky, and sun. Lot’s of sun.
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My first cactus sighting! I’m sure I’ll see plenty more cacti as I travel further west.

So yes it was hot. I had some minor cramps and I was sweating a lot but I couldn’t complain because 85 Fahrenheit is still considered cool in Texas. I can’t imagine the heat during the summer, or anyone crazy enough to attempt a trek like this during that time of year. Temperatures reach up to 110 Fahrenheit, not to mention the added heat from the asphalt. No thanks.

I was still a few miles out from Wichita Falls when I came across a store that apparently sold the best beef jerky in all of Texas. Being a sucker for claims like that, I figured I had some time to kill and stopped by to test out this acclaimed jerky. I was immediately sold, and ended up buying some jerky for the road (maybe an ice cream sandwich as well to combat the heat).

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A view of the store from the road when I was passing by.
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The owner of the store, Troy, is seen in the center of this picture. He killed that rattle snake before he was even ten years old. Apparently, a childhood in New York has nothing on a childhood in Texas. Maybe the times have changed as well, but I thought that was really impressive.

I met Troy’s aunt, she was managing the store when I was there. She told me that Troy had been making jerky for over 30 years now. He took a family recipe, changed it up a little and made a fortune off his new beef jerky recipe. It was interesting to talk to her about growing up in Texas, and how things have changed over her lifetime. We talked about how the towns have grown, open land had become built up, and the people and culture of Texas has changed too. She mentioned that I would be hitting some drier Texas as I made my way west. Apparently there have been some bad grass fires and much of the hay has been destroyed. Farmers from all over the country have been shipping hay out to the victims of these fires to help them feed their cattle. I thought that was really amazing. People looking out for other people, who would’ve thought. I was soon on my way to Iowa Park after our conversation, but I was happy I stopped and I certainly learned something new.

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The laziest train I’ve ever seen. The engine, followed by the caboose.

I was planning to stop in Wichita Falls for a rest break, but I kept pedaling. At least from what I saw, it was a quiet town with no cars on the road and no people walking around. I had a weird feeling like I was the only person around, everything looked empty as if Texas had its own Chernobyl. I’m sure there’s a nice part of town, but GoogleMaps decided to keep me away from there. I completed the final stretch of the trek, reaching Gary and Gay’s home in Iowa Falls.

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The garage where I stored my bike for the night. Clearly it was in good company with all the other bikes around!

Gary and Gay were welcoming hosts who served me dinner and put me up in the guest room for the night. We enjoyed some casual conversation over dinner, and talked about our experiences with tour biking. Gary and Gay are really into biking (specifically recumbent biking), and they had a lot of great advice for me moving forward. In fact, Gary mentioned something really ironic. When I told him I was heading through parts of Arizona, he told me to visit Page, Arizona. I cut him off and asked if he was referring to Antelope Canyon. He enthusiastically responded yes! I had read about Antelope Canyon online somewhere, but other than that it seemed like a hidden gem to me. Nobody I met really knew or talked about it. When compared to the Grand Canyon, Moab, Monument Valley, etc it doesn’t get nearly the same amount of attention. They told me about their experience out there, and how beautiful the place was. I’ll certainly be counting down the days from here on out, I’m even more excited to go there now that it’s been recommended by someone. After dinner I worked on the blog for a while before joining Gary and Gay in the kitchen to go over their upcoming trip and my progress moving forward. Gary broke out his itinerary, maps, and all the other information he was gathering for their trip. He was planning this out for 14 people so he had it broken down into the finest detail. It was impressive to see and I learned a lot about planning things out, a skill I’m still working on. They gave me some advice on my travels into northern Texas, where to go and how to get there. I’ll take their advice and see what comes of it. Even so, tomorrow’s another day of uncertainty. Gary mentioned that there’s not much in the 200 miles between Iowa Park and Amarillo, so I’m sure I’ll have some exciting story about tomorrows adventure!

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Mom FaceTimed me tonight to hear about my trip. She then put Blue on the phone. He didn’t look too enthused to be woken up from his nap but I wanted to see him. I guess he misses me a little.

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt