East Texas

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers

And left my self-respect, on down the road I guess. And they won't catch me. I planned my getaway. And things are lookin' great 'cause it's a one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight..."Longneck"by The Von Ehrics*

The raucous vocals and jackhammer drum lines of Texas punk / country combo band The Von Ehrics seems magically conjured by the surrounding mosh pit of metal, concrete, and humanity. The driving chops pulse through my head with an intensity that nearly matches the staccato cadence of the Victory Cross Roads' 106-cubic inch V-twin. Under a Texas-sized mid-morning sun, piston strokes, ringing guitar riffs, and a heavy wrist push me further along the incessant stream of traffic on Interstate 35, taking me away from San Antonio's oppressive suburban sprawl.

All that s**t I disrespect is getting old too...

And the grip around my neck, keeps me loaded...

Breaking Free

The previous night's stay in the old-west tinged oasis of Gruene, TX was superb. Despite being located just off the rat-racy corridor linking the Alamo City and state capital Austin, the folks here have been "gently resisting change since 1872." My porch and rocker room at the Gruene Mansion Inn overlooked the hypnotic, hazy-emerald ripples of the Guadalupe River and was the perfect place to plan my getaway.

Soon, the maelstrom of the Interstate intersection is little more than fading flashes in the rear view mirror as the vast, empty east Texas canvas unfurls ahead. Endless lines of barbed wire outline the road's right-of-way, stitching together intermittent clumps of mesquite. Distant groups of cattle made tiny by the sheer scope of the land, lugubriously munch at the low greenish-brown ground cover. Occasional "nodding donkey" oil pumpjacks can also be seen grazing on patches of petroleum deep beneath the earth's surface.

Hurtling south through Nixon, I realize that warm breezes and expansive blue skies have given cause to pause my internal iPod. The static-like thrum of turbulence sneaking around the Cross Road's wide windscreen has put the Von Ehrics on hold. The feeling of solitude is calming and the throttle begins deescalating from escape-mode. By the time I roll through the dusty streets of Nixon, I have truly made that getaway. Though road signs identify the same towns featured on the map, indicators of civilization prove few and far between. Gillett, Helena, and Pawnee - all materialize as little more than crossroads. This is where people are few and loneliness is freedom.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2010 back issue.