October 29th, Abilene, Texas

It has been a while since I have posted a blog entry. Part of this is because I have been outside of good internet, but mostly because nothing remarkable has occurred. Now–I say that, but what I really mean is that not much has occurred that I can photograph. But I have seen some very beautiful country, and met up with some old and cherished friends. That is quite remarkable, and I should not diminish its significance.
The talk at TTU was well attended and I met some very interesting physics students afterwards. Those of you who know me, know that I love helping physics students get connected into the world of research and development. But you also know that I never push. My answer to any request for help or advice is, “send me an email.” Most of the people will never do it, and it is a good coarse filter for people who are really interested. I like to quote Woody Allen who said that “80% of success is showing up.” Most people never show up, and you can make a reasonable prediction of future success for the people who do. I’ve seen exceptions to this, but not many.
The TTU Physics department is doing really well. They have added several astronomers to the faculty and now offer degrees in this area. I was impressed by their computing facilities, which have always been ahead of the norm. I was shown a room that was filled with Linux terminal servers on a cluster that–you may have guessed–is called “Archer.”
Linux Terminal Servers

Linux Terminal Servers

Charley Myles dug up an old class photo from about 1985. Do you recognize me? I don’t remember the photo being taken, but I do remember the shirt that I was wearing!
1985 TTU Class Photo

1985 TTU Class Photo

I got on the road out of Lubbock before the sun was up. I opted to take a road straight south out of town, then headed east to pick up highway 84, rather than cutting diagonally across the Lubbock metroplex. This avoided some traffic, but added 6 miles to the ride–probably not worth it in the long run.
Early start out of Lubbock

Early start out of Lubbock

I had planned to camp at an RV park about 10 miles south of Post. When I got to post, I called the RV park and found out that they didn’t really support “walk-ins.” This is really more of a trailer park, with 1-year contracts. I am glad I checked! (Yes, I am learning). I didn’t want to spring for a hotel. Besides–I really needed to make some more miles before calling it quits for the day. So, I used a trick that has served me well in the past. I called the local county sheriff’s office, told them what I was doing, and asked if they knew of a spot where I could camp. Of course they did! You see, whether or not it is officially allowed, once the sheriff’s office gives you permission, its’ a done deal. When you do this kind of “wild” camping, sooner or later you are going to talk to the cops. I find that it is much better to do this up-front, and on your own terms. Without exception, I have found that local law enforcement is the cycle tourist’s greatest friend. Once, early in The Tour, a sheriff’s deputy put it very succinctly: “if you show up as a cycle tourist, you’re probably not dealing meth.” In any case, the woman I spoke to at the sheriff’s office suggested a rest stop a bit past where I wanted to be. I got there and it was quite nice. I was careful to camp out in the open (see a previous post) and had a restful night’s sleep.
Wild Camping at a rest stop near Post Texas

Wild Camping at a rest stop near Post Texas

The next day’s ride was an easy 55 miles or so into the town of Sweetwater, where I stayed at an RV park. The only problem with this park was that the grass was full of goat head thorns, a cyclist’s nightmare. I discovered this after the first step I took barefoot and was careful for the rest of the evening. I had a 4:00 PM seminar at Abilene Christian University the next day, so I got an early start. It was only a 46 mile ride and the wind cooperated for a change. Most of the day, I rode on an I20 frontage road, but some times I could not avoid riding on the interstate. This is not something I want to do frequently in Texas. I made it to Abilene with an easy hour to spare and got set up for the talk. There was a good crowd of mostly physics students, but also some Elementary Ed majors. Originally, I had planned to give a more technical presentation, but switched to the general one given the audience, which was my preference anyway.
Later that evening, I was treated to a seminar that was called “Asteroid night” and sponsored by the West Texas Science Center. This included Professor Dr. Patrick Miller from Hardin-Simmons University and Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer at NASA. Dr. Miller spoke about an organization he has formed out of roughly 2000 groups world wide to look for Near Earth Objects. Lindley Johnson gave an informative lecture about the problem of detecting and avoiding the destruction.
After the talk, I was invited to stay with Michael Daugherity and his family. Michael is a professor in the Physics Department. I have enjoyed being in their home very much, and have had a chance to get some work and planning done. Tonight I am meeting with my old friend, Sam Cook.
Abilene Christian University is exploding! They have completely renovated the old Foster Science Building, and built two additional research buildings. These facilities are nearly completed and they are incredible! One of the things they are going to do is to build a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) simulator–everything except the fissionable material.
The new Onstead Science Building (old Foster Science Building), from the inside.

The new Onstead Science Building (old Foster Science Building), from the inside.

Tomorrow will start with a very early departure, so I can make it all the way to Brownwood before dark (78 miles). I am going to talk to some folks the next morning at Howard Payne University, before I get on the road again that same day. I will try to check in soon!

8 Responses to “October 29th, Abilene, Texas

  • I’m pretty sure I have seen that class picture before. Don’t remember when or where but it is very familiar. I really enjoyed talking to you the other day. Take care brother. Love you!

  • Scott, I enjoy your updates and photos very much. May Texas’s wind be at your back.


  • Sounds like you’re getting into a rhythm of speaking and riding in semi-familiar territory. Enjoy every pedal stroke, my friend. You’re on a life-changing journey that goes far beyond biking or speaking.

    Remember the dream!

  • I remember that shirt, too! Call of you want to chat. Love you very much!

  • Scott what a fantastic trip you are having! All the ups and downs, the unknowns and surprises, seem like a lifetimes worth of experiences presses into daily life. I am happy to see you doing well and having fun. I just caught up on your blog and loved it. Do you check an email as well?

  • Marcos van Dam
    5 years ago

    Hello Scott, it looks like you are having an interesting time on your bike. When you have time, maybe you can update us on the schedule for the rest of the trip? When are you planning to be in New Zealand? Marcos

    • Hi Marcos,

      I am looking at a couple of different options, but likely Australia and NZ will follow the ride to Miami. I am still debating when to ride across Cuba.

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