Twilight with Spock

In the morning I discovered that Nick was up early, finishing a meeting with a co-worker.  Afterwards he announced that he’d completed work on the feature he was co-developing.  Awesome!

As usual, the grain towers are the highest buildings in the town, by far.

Coffee and noise canceling headphones. A perfect combination.

It was going to be another long day or riding, possibly into the night.  We packed up and I decided that I needed even more calories for the road, so I gave the remains of my chocolate shake to Nick and then got a donut on the way out of Dalhart.  Nick took the chance to grab a cup of coffee.

We were both in good spirits as we threaded our way to the main highway and turned the bikes due east.  The land was flatter here, making progress more consistent, but the wind was being less predictable and gusted around us.  We passed a chunk of hours listening to The Worst Hard Time and watched the fields roll by.

The combination of sun, soil, flatness, and heavy machinery made for some astoundingly productive land.

Inspecting roadside foliage.

Old corn cob by the roadside.

Grains by the roadside.

We're road warriors and whatnot.
I had to get a shot of Nick enjoying his sausage snack.
Notice the cool new grain accessory on the bag.
Giant rolls of cotton ready to be trucked out.
Taking the opportunity to poke at the largest cotton bail he'll ever encounter.
That flag on the right actually says "ALL ABOARD THE TRUMP TRAIN."
Grain drying and storage facility.
This is an actual town in Texas, yes. You etter check it out.
Local farmer makin' bales.
Another town, another massive collection of grain elevators.

After a while we passed a dairy factory farm on the left, and the sheer size of the installation compelled me to just stop the bike and stare for a while.

Then we passed through the town of Cactus, which was dominated on the west side by a meat packing facility.  Out of curiosity I switched to “satellite view” on the phone and looked at the place from above.  A tangle of piping and big rectangular boxes next to bare-dirt holding pens with many hundreds of cows milling about, a couple of square lagoons as big as football fields, a feeder line into the railroad that passed through the town, and a giant parking lot full of truck trailers.   A massive intersection of power, water, and transportation, preparing meat consumed by millions of people a year.

We stopped for snacks and a bathroom break.  Nick was worried about how much ground we still had to cover.


“Seeing as the next town doesn’t have anything in it, what do you think about hitchhiking?”
“Sounds like a great way to end up biking very late at night.”
“Won’t we end up biking later if we don’t?”
“You’re assuming that standing by the side of the road waving our thumbs for several hours of remaining daylight would result in a ride.”
“I thought we may be able to get a ride while we’re still moving. Perhaps with a little cash clutched in hand.”
“That’s … An interesting idea. I’ve never even heard of that working.”
“I was thinking maybe a 10 or a 20. That would get the message across combined with the classic thumbs up at passersby.”
“Sorry, I’m not willing to endorse this plan.”
“I’d put up half of that since it’s my idea. It would more than cover their gas given the prices around here!”
“Uh, I guess you can try it if you want? Assuming your mom doesn’t reach through the internet and kill me?”
“Well I wouldn’t want to do it without your approval.”
“I’m not saying I’d prevent you.”
“Nah, I would hate to leave you alone here. So I’m going to tough it out with you.”
“Aww. Thanks man!”

We continued due east, eventually reaching the town of Sunray.

So that's where Zoe keeps her stuff!

Nick found a convenience store and purchased a selection of canned items.  After he went in, I made him guard the bikes and got some snacks of my own.

When I came out, Nick was chatting with a guy who’d been in the store ahead of me.  The guy was telling a story about how his grandmother was driving too fast on a highway nearby, and t-boned a cotton harvester that was entering the road from a field, and died on the spot.  He finished his tale by admonishing us to be careful on our bikes.  We said we would.

On the way out of Sunray we turned left, going east again.  The sun had set and the wind was dying down, and the sky was going through that deep indigo transition marking the final stage of twilight.  Stars were appearing.  I paired our headphones together and started playing a selection from a playlist I’d made, aptly called “Twilight.”  It was perfect for the moment.

Memories Fade (DJ Fixed OVA Rip Mix)1 of 12:54CorneliusGhost in the Shell Shin Gekijouban OVA
Surveillance (DJ Fixed Half-Edit)3 of 103:34Noise UnitVoyeur
out of body29:35InnersphereAmbient Soho Vol 1
Sputnik Sunrise10 of 134:56DesolateLunar Glyphs
The Third Planet10 of 138:31BiosphereTrance Europe Express 3
Nightstalker7 of 111:45Kenji KawaiGhost In The Shell OST
Bardo Thodol5 of 95:35Demdike StareTryptych: Liberation Through Hearing
Sunspot8 of 116:49MobyPlay: The B Sides
Three Years3 of 145:48PlateauWild Planet
Trust (Jealousy Mix)2 of 167:36MicroglobeEl Mondo Ambiente
Time Reflects (excerpt)1 of 114:59Mick ChillageSonitus Liberabit Vos
The End (Remix)7 of 118:15ScornMacro Dub Infection Vol. 1
Silver Rain Fell (Deep Water mix)9 of 125:25ScornA Brief History Of Ambient Vol 4: Isolationism
Novelty Waves (Biosphere Darkroom Mix)3 of 57:03BiosphereNovelty Waves (2-Disc Single)
Modring_intro1 of 105:16S.E.T.I. (Lagowski)Temporary Distractions
Signals42:47Brian EnoApollo: Atmospheres & Soundscapes
35.7c14 of 171:47Yoko Kanno (菅野よう子)Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex OST 3
Download11 of 1111:40Skinny PuppyLast Rights
Gebirge2 of 521:26Biosphere + Pete NamlookThe Fires of Ork

To keep us both moving I unwrapped a chocolate bar, and as we drifted past each other on the road I held out pieces to Nick, which he grabbed and chomped.  With this pleasant combination of cool air, music, and chocolate, we passed well into night.


“I finally have a stable rhythm and my knees are in equal amounts of pain!”

Eventually we stopped to take a break from riding, and let the circulation adjust in our bodies.  We’d been doing the equivalent of sitting in recliners for most of the day so it felt good to just stand for a while.  I busted out the remains of the Chinese food and chomped it.  Nick said he wasn’t hungry.

The entire time we stood there, we were passed by only one vehicle — a giant truck, which we saw approaching from miles away.  Excluding that, the highway was entirely ours.  It was cool with a mild breeze, surrounded in all directions by fields of long grass shining faintly blue in the moonlight filtering down around the clouds.  With all the heat in our bodies and the layers of clothing, we felt absolutely no effect from the cold.

I recognized the moment as one of those fairly unique to bicycling.  We were on a random patch of road, but between the darkness and silence and insulation, and the convenient collections of useful stuff kick-standed nearby, the spot felt more like the living room of a house.  A private spot to relax — one that we’ve been to a dozen times before and might wander into again later.  Except in reality, as soon as we put our feet back on the pedals and cycled away, the spot would be gone forever.  We’d never return for as long as we lived.

I got the impression that Nick was subconsciously getting this and enjoying it, even if he didn’t quite have the words.

We moved on, leaving the spot in the past.

After a while we hit highway 207 and turned northeast.  Vehicles began to pass more frequently, though still at a rate less than one every ten minutes or so.  One of them turned out to be a police SUV, which activated its lights and pulled over about a hundred feet in front of us.  The officer got out and chatted with us.  “Just wanted to check in and see if you were okay,” he said.  We thanked him and he drove off.  We were probably the weirdest non-illegal thing he’d seen in a week.

With about five miles to go, Nick cued up an episode of classic Star Trek on his phone, and we paired headphones again and listened to it together.  It was “Spock’s Brain”, the one where aliens physically extract Spock’s brain and replace it with a remote control device.  Goofy, anachronistic, outrageously sexist, and full of cantankerous Kirk-McCoy-Spock bickering.  It carried us all the way to Spearman, where we checked in to our room for the night.

Preparing for another expedition into a snack store.

Nick decided it was time for Second Dinner, and turned the microwave area into a laboratory.

Combine all the canned things into one vessel, and dinner is served!

In what new and exciting way is the interface broken on this particular microwave?

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