When I set out on April 15, 2017, I didn’t exactly know I was starting something big. My intent was to get a closer look at some counties I hadn’t really spent much time in. Specifically, I was getting to know Texas State Senate District 5. If I was to be perfectly honest, I was harboring secret thoughts about a possible run for political office, something I had never done before.
I rode out east and north from my home in Round Rock. US Highway 79 takes you through corn and cotton fields interrupted every few miles by another town, with the Union Pacific railroad tracking alongside. Hutto, Taylor, Thrall, and Thorndale, which is where Williamson County ends and Milam County begins.
The first photo of my bike in front of a county courthouse was in Cameron, the seat of Milam County. There’s a big sycamore tree obscuring the courthouse in my photo, and I almost immediately regretted not trying to get a better angle. Eventually, I’ll get a better shot. Unfortunately, I’ve had several cases where getting a good photo of a county courthouse from the street is impossible because of the thick foliage of trees. But this is one where I could have done better by just moving to the left a bit.
I ate lunch at Clem Mikeska’s Barbecue in Cameron, then got back on the road. The highway crosses the Brazos River on the way to Franklin, in Robertson County.
Then I turned north and hit Groesbeck, in Limestone County, and Fairfield, seat of Freestone County.
Texas has some beautiful county courthouses. Often, it’s the most prominent feature of a small town: A historic and beautiful building surrounded by a grassy square, with cafes and antique shops across the streets. But just as often, it can be a nondescript concrete structure, off the main street, with little around to draw shoppers or diners.
No matter what they’re like, every county has a courthouse and each one is unique, which makes it a great reference point to document my journey.
From Fairfield, I took I45 down to Buffalo, where I connected with 79 all the way back home to Round Rock. About 322 miles, round trip. As it turned out, it would be another 3 years before I visited all the county courthouses in SD5. Some very capable people stepped up to run in that race, and I was happy not to be one of them.