Day 5: PJ Gallagher’s Route 66 Diary

Route 66 Day 5‘Do you know where hell is? Hell is in hello, heaven is goodbye forever, it’s time for me to go.’

That song by Lee Marvin is going around my head all day. Partly because there’s a lot of country music around here, partly because this is my last day on the ride, but mostly because I’m a cheesy idiot having a blast pretending to be a cowboy in New Mexico.

I don’t know what it is about Texas but I’ve always wanted to come here, so arriving at the state line standing under the sign full of bullet holes and stickers was a great moment made better when a black cat crossed our paths. I couldn’t remember if that’s supposed to be good luck or bad luck until she came up to me and let me pick her up for a snap. I named her Sue Helen, made my apologies for having to go so soon and entered the most infamous of states. God fearing, steak eating, gun toting christian’s are everywhere here and all with the best of manners in case they’d let their mothers down. But as ever, there’s more to Texas than that.

Route 66 Day 5The first town we came into is a town called Shamrock, founded by an Irish man, and there’s a monument hidden off the main street with a piece of the Blarney stone in it. The local sports team of whatever ball they play here are called “The Irish” and a neon sign says ‘Go Irish Go.’ I know it’s none of my business but I’m taking it as a compliment. No stars and stripes fly around Texas, this is the ‘Lone Star State’ and the lone star flag flies free on every steak house. I wonder if these guys had the chance Scotland had would they run free from the US? No, of course not, this is the real capital right? When we do stop for something to eat there’s a glass case with a rattle snake in it in the restaurant. I’m not sure if this is the Texan version of picking your lobster or not but I’m not even gonna ask in case they cook the old boy.

The landscape changes again, no more greens just yellows and brown, and it’s flat here too, so flat you can see into another time zone, so flat I’m tempted to squint and try to make someone believe the next stop is Hawaii. Low ground means high wind and it gets blustery as we realise there’s nothing here to get in the way but us. After a while though you get used to it and the wobbles and rocks become almost soothing. Texas is rocking us like babies into New Route 66 Day 5Mexico and you can just about see the beginnings of the desert in the distance. For the first time on the trip we stay on the motorway to just look at the view, to watch the desert crawl closer. Now in the distance there’s some hills growing like teeth and I really want to keep on moving. West is best. The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and the Pacific Ocean are all in that sand and beyond but for me it’s the end of the road. Tomorrow I go back to my real wife and my real life. That’s a good thing but I’m sore to be missing the chance to finish this ride.

Route 66 is the Camino De Santiago for motorists. It’s the petrol-heads pilgrimage. It doesn’t matter if you do it in a Mustang, on Harley or even a BMW bike like me. It’s something anyone that’s passionate about the road wants to do. It’s one of those roads that will haunt you until you see the end of it. I can already see this group of lads riding onto Santa Monica Pier next week all pretending not to be emotional with each other and I want to be a part of that. Not only that but a part of what this trip has achieved. Since they started this in 2002 for Temple Street Children’s Hospital it has raised over €2 million for the hospital and the kids that go there. That’s a phenomenal achievement by these guys and I’m always going to be grateful that I got to share the road with them. For now though I’m just wishing them well and hoping they all get there safe. Keep the bikes rubber side down and enjoy every inch of that tarmac. God knows you deserve it.

For me it’s back to signing country songs and packing my case.

‘Wheels were made for rollin’ mules were made to pack, I never seen a road that didn’t look better lookin’ back, I was booooooorn, under a Waaaanderin’ Star.’

I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride.
PJ Gallagher.