Texas is great, but it’s so darned big, I thought we’d never get through it! In fact, I almost didn’t!
We have been pretty lucky with the weather here in the south. In fact, when I see the reports of the snow and cold back home, I think it’s fantastic here! In five weeks of riding, we’ve only had two days of rain. But last Tuesday’s storm was a real doozy. The day started out very promising. The small towns all along the route are huge antique markets, set up with both temporary and permanent antique display areas. In fact, the sign outside Wendleton proclaimed, “A little drinking town with a big antique problem.” There’s even a gasoline alley, featuring the signs of a dozen or more now-defunct gas stations.
I was having a great ride through the hills, even though the clouds around me were getting darker. I assumed it was like back home,where you’d get a few drops of rain falling. Then it might get a bit heavier, and eventually it might pour. In other word, you can see and feel it coming. Not here. The skies cracked open with thunder, and totally dumped on me. I ran for shelter under a big tree (I know that’s not safe in an electric storm, but it wasn’t the tallest tree in the area.)
The wind lashed at my back, the lightning flashed all around me, and the water moved in waves across the road. I waited and waited for Myrna to arrive while shivering and feeling hypothermia coming on. I thought I was going to die on that lonely Texas road.
By the time Myrna arrived with the van, I was almost frozen. I stripped off my wet clothes, climbed naked into the sleeping back, held the dog close for added warmth, and had a couple of nips of Crown Royal to warm my innards. Myrna drove on to Independence, where we parked, with the furnace on, and napped until the storm passed.
We camped at the municipal park in Navasota, cleaned off in what may have been the nastiest shower we’ve yet encountered , did the laundry and prepared for our excursion to Houston the next day. I met Charlie Dominguez and Dave Bourbeau at the Golder office to catch up on the latest company news. It was great to see them both, however brief our visit.
Then on to south Houston, to see former (and still honorary) Calgary Frontrunner Simon and Kirby and their three ultra-cute dogs — Paco, Lester and Rhys.
We went to Barnaby’s for dinner, a unique restaurant where dogs are welcomed — as are their owners!
When I awoke the next morning, Simon had already returned from a run before the day got too humid. We enjoyed a nice breakfast together, then hit the road, loaded with goodies Simon had packed for us. I was glad to leave the big city and get back on my bike and onto the back roads through the Sam Houston forest.
We get the last camping site at Cagle Campground on Lake Conroe — a gorgeous spot with big trees, big sites, bbq pits, hiking trails — the works. I knew that with the long weekend coming up, we may not be as lucky the net couple of days.
Critters, large and small. Some dead, some not!
There are a lot of critters on the Texas highways — most of them roadkill. Rabbits, raccoons, armadillos, turtles, possoms and bullfrogs, My experience with snakes last year had me a bit jittery about stepping off the shoulder, because there seem to be a lot more of them here. Most of those who have ventured out onto the highway are dead. So I am cycling merrily along, weaving between the asphalt repair strips, until one of those strips starts moving. YIKES! It’s a black snake! I leapt about two feet out of the saddle, and had to get my heart back in my chest. I console myself by thinking he was probably more afraid of me than I was of him. Yeah, right!
Louisiana, Here We Come!
Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana feature lots of mobile homes. One dilapidated dwelling with a tarp covering the broken roof had a sign posting, “You come lootin’ I come shootin’!” And there are LOTS of churches. In one small town of 500, I counted 11 of them, including one massive, brand new Baptist congregation. All are spiffed up for the Easter weekend, with brightly colored bunnies and eggs, promoting their family services.
We entered Louisiana at Bon Weir. The names are now sounding distinctly more French (Villes Platte, Mamou, Morauville and the restaurants feature more cajun than TexMex. A long day’s ride on Sunday brought us to Chicot State Park on Lake Chicot. Having just ridden 150k through the heat and humidity, I asked if the lake was good for swimming. “Well, Ma’am. I wouldn’t, she said matter-of-factly.”
“There’s alligators in the lake.”
Well, OK then. I’m headed for the showers!
Til next time, Happy Easter to all.