Glad not to Be a Construction Worker in South Texas

English: Texas Hill Country, Route 187 heading...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Texas Hill Country is somewhat legendary among motorcyclists.  That is why I welcomed the opportunity to ride my moto for a little over an hour today to meet a friend for lunch.  I planned a route from San Antonio north and east to San Marcos, gracing Canyon Lake with my V-twin presence, up and over a delightful ridge called Devil’s Backbone by locals (on Purgatory Road no less), then east on an almost traffic-free Hugo Road—smack dab, in other words, through the heart of the Hill Country.  All went very well during this the first leg of my journey.  The outside temperature was a delightful eighty degrees, just perfect for traveling on two wheels at sixty mph with a mesh jacket so the air flows right through.

The trouble began when I met my friend.  He had suggested throwing eighteen holes of disc golf before eating lunch, an activity I was entirely amenable to—in theory at least.  So I found the course, I found my friend, and I parked my moto, shedding my outer protective layer (helmet, gloves, mesh, and boots).  By now the temperature had climbed to something like eighty-five.  I was sweating noticeably.

I’m of Scandinavian descent.  I’ve never been to the fatherland—I hope to visit someday—but that’s beside the point.  Rather, I’d like to think that this, my genetics, is why I don’t do well with heat.  Never have.  Never will.  Just a fact of life, I suppose.  This not-doing-well-with-heat usually manifests itself in the form of migraines.  And that’s what began to happen now, on hole five.  Headache.  Strong one.

Fortunately I came prepared.  My twenty-four ounce aluminum water bottle was still mostly full and I had a small bottle of Advil in my possession.  Two pills went into my mouth, followed by a generous mouthful of water and a swallow.  I was good for another thirteen holes, surely.  Sweat be damned.

By the time we finished—with a score of twelve over par for me, not too bad for a first attempt—the outside temperature was ninety-two.  The headache seemed to be more or less under control.  But by now I was soundly drenched.  I may as well have jumped into a swimming pool.  I’d emptied my twenty-four ounce aluminum water bottle too, by the way, back at hole fifteen.

“The Tap Room for lunch?” my friend asked.

“Sure,” I answered, wiping my brow with my sleeve.  “Meet you there in a few.”

Ninety-two isn’t that bad in Arizona or southern California.  And sometimes it’s downright pleasant in south Texas, especially when water is involved—swimming pool, ocean, river, whatever.  But today’s
particular ninety-two was accompanied by a high percentage of humidity, making for a heat index of something like ten degrees warmer still, meaning it actually felt like 102 by now.  The short ride then from the disc golf course to the restaurant was not enjoyable, mesh jacket or no.  Not to mention the Advil wasn’t really doing too good of a job: now the headache was on the less side of being under control.

English: Hays County Courthouse at San Marcos,...

Hays County Courthouse at San Marcos, Texas.  You can barely see the Tap Room in the background on the far right.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia.)

So after tooling around downtown for a while looking for the place—traffic lights stay red a very long time in downtown San Marcos, incidentally, especially when you’re sweating profusely and your head is throbbing—my moto’s cooling fan running nonstop, feeling quite overheated myself, I found my destination and a place to park.  Then I entered the blissful sanctuary of a restaurant with the air conditioning set at about sixty-six.  But not before I’d caught sight of a wretch of a man, miserable, sweaty, dirty, apparently dizzy, and fair-skinned, a construction worker moving slowly behind a fence with a sign on it reading “hard hat area.”

“I bet I look something like that guy right now,” I muttered.  Then,

“Ahhhh,” I groaned audibly as I threw down my outer layer and sat at a table across from my friend.  I carelessly interlocked my fingers and rested my hands at the back of my head, necessarily raising my arms in the process.  And there I sat, taking it all in, perhaps offending the people in the next booth over but nevertheless content to sit that way for ages if need be, as long as it took to diminish the flow of sweat and ache of head.

“Hi y’all,” a table server said to my left with a friendly smile.  “Are you aware of today’s free pint special?  Just order a burger and a side and the pint’s on us.”

An hour or so later that heavenly lunch came to an end.  I was still sweating slightly, but it was mostly under control.  And the headache was mostly gone.  So I put on my outer layer and high-tailed it home.

It was ninety-seven when I pulled into my driveway.  I wish I could say the effects of lunch were still upon me.  But nothing doing.  The steady stream of sweat was back as drenchingly as ever.  My headache was worse than ever too.  And I’m sure the pint hadn’t helped.  Three more Advil went into my mouth, followed by a large glass of ice water.  I then resolved, legendary or not, not to ride my moto through the Hill Country again until the weather cooled, or at least until the heat index wasn’t so high.

Later today, at the dinner table, some four hours after taking the three more Advil, I asked the kids how their days were.  The conversation was full of the wonderful daily adventures that kids always seem to have at the start of another school year.  Then it was my turn.  “How was your day, Dad?”

“Well,” I said reflectively, still sweating slightly from the day’s overheating, and with just the slightest twinge of a lingering headache, “let’s just say I’m glad I’m not a construction worker in south Texas.  We’d probably need move to Seattle or something.  By the way, I hear there’s great motorcycling in the northern Cascades.”

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