Saturday, December 22, 2018
Here's Why 2018 Was Terrible
2018 was one of the roughest years I've had in a while. I talk about my father's sudden onset of blindness, related health problems, and my role as his caretaker. I also discuss the heartbreaking return of Matt's cancer, as well as the sad loss of my trusty dog Scout. On the bright side, I count my many blessings and share some of my favorite moments from Tim Kreitz Adventures this year. Fingers crossed that 2019 will be better. I'll definitely see you there. Cheers.
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
How the West Texas oil boom and wild weather made motorcycling a challenge in 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, I find myself looking back in a heavier than expected retrospect on just how strange this year's motorcycle riding actually was, here in the wilds of West Texas. Not only that, but I'm also mindful of how much less I rode for pleasure over all. Unusual swings in weather, combined with a dangerous contingent of oilfield traffic on the Permian Basin's frighteningly overcrowded roads, kept me closer to home in 2018 compared to recent years past. There was less day riding, less road tripping, and less rurex/urbex. Here's a breakdown of the dynamics:
The early drought of 2018
I dedicated a full episode of Tim Kreitz Adventures to the severity of drought we were dealing with as 2018 began. High-level warnings and lots of small brush fires had us frightened. It all harkened back to the West Texas wildfires of 2011 and the destruction they caused. Thankfully, it never got as bad as seven years ago, and was certainly much less severe than the utter obliteration caused by the California fires, but conditions were certainly prime by early March for West Texas to burn. Luckily, we dodged a bullet:
Crazy winds and dust storms through late springtime
By early June, high winds accompanied by just enough rain to keep everything from igniting had arrived. We fought it on every ride we took. It was miserable at times, and while it did get slightly better as the year progressed, it never really reduced to normal levels. This made filming more difficult in particular, especially with regard to getting clean audio and UAV footage. The high winds are apparent in this episode I made with Britt, and I even make mention of it on-camera:
Effects of the West Texas oil boom and the dangers it has created for motorcyclists
It is difficult to articulate just how bad the roads and traffic are in West Texas at the moment. Truck traffic to and from the oilfields has made the risks associated with motorcycling possibly higher than they have ever been in this area. This video from the Texas Department of Transportation, though itself little more than a state propaganda piece aimed at making itself look less incompetent, does a good job of visually illustrating the magnitude of the congestion and the dangerousness of the roads in general. Pay particular attention to the data on serious injury and death count:
Make no mistake, riding motorcycles out here requires more concentration and street-skills application than ever before to stay safe. We felt these very effects while attempting to safely traverse the roads in and near Kermit Texas in this episode of TKA:
Then came the rains
I'm not kidding when I tell you that drought conditions disappeared as if by magic. To get an idea of how quickly the drought ended toward the end of the year as torrential rains – driven by El Nino and bolstered by Hurricane Willa – doused the entirety of the LoneStar State, take a look at these images generated by the US Drought Monitor. They are only months apart, yet drastically different:
By the time November had arrived, we'd gone from a firebox filled with late winter kindling to a lush landscape featuring full lakes, waterfalls, and rapid rivers. Last month, we visited one of the areas in West Texas that had been most significantly effected:
Now it's just plain cold outside
2018 was a cooler than usual year in general out here. But since the middle of autumn, it has been generally cold and windy, with only a handful of truly nice riding days. Long-range forecasting has been all over the board and largely wrong to this point. Even the NOAA has made drastic revisions to its Winter 2018-2019 prediction models. What does all this mean as of December 2019 for riders? Apparently, nobody knows. But suffice it to say that I'm hoping things warm back up before long, so I can get back to motorcycling and filming on a regular basis.
That said, the worst of Winter 2018-2019 is unarguably yet to come for the entirety of North America, and that presents a potentially worrisome scenario for everyone in the deep south and desert southwest who enjoys the usual pleasures associated with riding motorcycles year-round. The first freezing precipitation since the last cold season is forecast for this weekend here in West Texas. That's early. But if snow and ice are indeed on the way, fingers crossed that we get it all over with early in hopes of a pleasant, dry remainder to winter.
In any event, I will do my best to keep the motorcycle-related content coming. I'm planning on doing long-term reviews of the Bonneville and FZ-07, along with searching out more ghost towns, so stay tuned. Cheers and thanks until next time.