Day 4. Wednesday April 18 – Mathis to Corpus Christi, Texas

Thursday 19 April 2018

It was so quiet when we left this morning along the smoothly paved frontage road; a comfortable 68° and no wind.  Once turning on the main highway, we gained our roughly paved wide shoulder, but without a headwind it was much more tolerable. We actually managed just under ten miles our first hour; dreadfully slow, but better than the last few days.

The wind joined us after about an hour, but only at about 15 mph and just off our right shoulder; bothersome, but certainly more doable than the last couple of days (everything is relative).  The morning ride was scattered with small towns, beautiful ranches, interesting homes and wildflowers along the shoulder.  Several times dogs gave chase, pushing our legs a little harder than they wanted, but enough to get out of the way of our persuers.

A brief stop at the crossroads that would take us east, was just enough time to allow clouds to form.  The sky looked like it was going to release buckets of rain, but we enjoyed temperatures not climbing above the comfortable mid 70’s.  A long stretch of road filled with farms and pretty ranchettes was lost when we entered the city limits of Corpus Christi.  Surrounded by food shops, we opted for an early lunch along with every cowboy in town; understandable considering the size of one lunch.

The next twenty plus miles were filled with nondescript businesses with large lots enclosed by fences; a few colorful signs definitely stood out.  

Corpus Christi is the fifth largest US port handling mostly oil;this refinery stretched for miles.

Six miles out, the wind decided to escort us all the way into town with a full frontal assault.  It was a bit insulting, but the shoulder was wide, the traffic light and the view once we arrived, worth it.

Five hours in the saddle only got us 43 miles; tired and hungry we were rewarded with our first sit down and served dinner since starting the ride.

We wanted to bike one more day for a day off in the next town, but the wind is projected to switch in the same direction we were headed.   And since “our” mantra this trip is to take it easy, we opted to give our legs a break.  Tomorrow we will  show you the sights.

Day 5. Thursday, April 19 – Day Off in Corpus Christi, Texas

Thursday 19 April 2018

Corpus Christi has one of the highest average wind speeds in North America….Great….not sure how we did not see this statistic before planning our trip.  And we were worried about the heat and humidity.  True to it’s reputation, the wind was howling this morning.

Not sure what we imagined Corpus Christi to be like, but this was not it.  The clean and quiet streets were almost void of tourists or people in general.  Our sightseeing included the Texas Surf Museumand the Corpus Christi Cathedral (locked up tight, no inside glimpse).  WhataBurger began here in 1950 (now in 10 states and Mexico), so naturally, we had to try it for lunch; decor is festive, but it’s fast food.  What we found most interesting on these downtown streets was how they had custom painted the utility boxes on the street corners, truly unique and colorful.

By early afternoon, the cloudy morning was now warm and sunny, yet still windy.  We covered the art museum filled with Texas talent, the Selena memorial, a very impressive seawall with an equally impressive history and in the distance, the USS Lexington (WWII).

 Shrimp trollers lined the walkway to the three waterfront dinning options, we choose the one uniquely connected to Virginia; interesting lineage Berkeley Plantation and better food.  Unique Iced Teas, crabmeat, mango, guacamole appetizer, incredible live music and fresh fish and shrimp!  We enjoyed the evening, but the setting sun was cooling the evening beyond our tolerance.  Tomorrow we fight the wind…..but that is tomorrow!

Day 6. Friday April 20 – Corpus Christi to Aransas Pass, Texas

Saturday 21 April 2018

Though we saw the sun rise from our balcony, it was not shinning when we pushed away at 7:30 this morning; but the wind did show up.  Our first seven mile stretch was past beautiful homes overlooking the Corpus Christi Bay; some looking like second homes with hurricane shutters still on.  We got a break from the wind when the homes lined both sides of the street and the constant scenery helped to distract from the wind.

Our direction today went from southeast to northeast, so the 20 mph east wind always found us.  The causeway that connects Corpus Christi to the barrier island was particularly challenging, thankfully we had a frontage road for half of it and on one bridge a bike path.  But the one mile long high-rise bridge going over the intracoastal was hairy, directly into the wind with a one foot shoulder and very heavy traffic.

We were happy to have arrived safely on Padre Islandyet feeling as beaten up as this flag.  This island is the longest (70 miles) undeveloped barrier island in the world, except for one block of tourist stuff.  As we turned north the homes and business dropped from view.  Our road was away from the water, the dunes just high enough to block our view of the Gulf, but the rest of the land very low.  We reached the outskirts of Port Aransas at 27 miles, it would take us almost ten more before we actually got to town.  Small clusters of condos and homes both large and smallwere scattered among the sand dunes; some showing damage from last fall’s Hurricane Harvey.  Once in the cute little town, hurricane damage was even more evident.  We took the three minute ferry ride over the narrow pass heavily trafficked by tankers and massive oil rigs.  Once across, we turned with the wind and sailed our last six miles over yet another causeway and bridge.  As we checked into the hotel, we met Annita (check out her web site on the area) who invited us to join her and her husband for dinner.  They took us to a wonderful waterfront restaurant serving delicious fresh seafood, cajun shrimp and scallops with pasta.  Chuck gave us a tour of the protected harbor and the spot where his office as harbormaster stood before Harvey.  Soon this peninsula will blossom with homes, condos, boat slips and a park with beautiful views of the intercostal.  They were delightful company, full of great insights on the area and how devastating Harvey’s 150 mph had affected this small town.  We enjoyed the evening, but needed to rest.  It was a tough 47 miles in the wind, today and if the weatherman is correct, tomorrow will be a long ride.  As a note, the distance we covered today was 22 miles, as the crow.

Day 7. Saturday April 21 – Aransas Pass to Port Lavaca, Texas

Saturday 21 April 2018

Overcast skies and a warm 71°, as we were hit by our first day of Texas humidity.   Not a free standing retail sign remained intact, but the town was mostly cleaned up from the hurricane.Some business were closed forever, while others welcomed customers with warmly glowing Open signs.  Outside of town, a rough road awaited us, but a 15 mph tailwind made it much more tolerable.  This area took a lot of damage, the towns of Rockport and Fulton getting hit with 180 mph winds.  Last night, Chuck told us of this boatel that had just completed the removal of the mangled boats from the buildings (after 8 months).  But there were some beautiful areas and all the towns seemed to be making the best of what Mother Nature had dealt.

Twenty miles in and after climbing a two mile bridge, we managed a flat tire about the same time the heavy sky started spitting on us.  Less than thirty minutes later we were back on a long (25 mile) flat road of a hole lotta nutting’; beautiful wild flowers about all there was….…except for this guy….thankfully very dead.

By the time we reached Tivoli (locally pronounced Tie vole E) our bodies were scrambled from four hours of bumpy riding.  We had two choices for lunch, DQ and a Mexican restaurant, both mainstays in every Texas town; we went local.

Shortly after leaving our lunch stop, we crossed a county line and gained a wonderfully smooth road.  Unfortunately, the slight turn in the road put the now 20 mph wind directly at our side, punishing our tired legs.  With 19 miles to our destination, we knew we could push on.  But both Google and the mile markers lied, we had 25 miles more.  Had we known this when we planned today’s ride, we would have reconsidered.  However, once we arrived at our hotel after 69 miles, we were happy to have gotten this far; justly rewarded after six hours in the saddle.

Day 8. Sunday April 22 – Port Lavaca to Palacios, Texas

Sunday 22 April 2018

In the old days, we would have cranked out the 55 miles into the north wind to get to Bay City,  but with this new attitude to take it slower, we opted to do the mileage in two days.  Maybe we are getting wiser!

It was a very crisp 63° degree, with the wind chill in the 50’s, when we left late this morning.  The sun was glistening off the water and there was not a cloud in the sky, absolutely gorgeous.  Just yards from our door, we crossed the three mile bridge to Point Comfort with no way to hide from the 16 mph wind, tough warm-up.  Thankfully, our northeast direction avoided a full frontal assault.  The tall structures in the distance are a manufacturing plant and oil refinery, both went on for miles, but provided good wind protection.  With the smooth road, little traffic and occasional line of trees offering protection, the ride was enjoyable and scenic.  Farms and ranches lined the road as far as we could see.  A slight turn and our route skirted several bays with vacation homes and long docks stretching into the shallow waters.

We pedaled the outskirts of our destination town in search of the grocery store for needed supplies.  One turn from the store and we were on a quaint tree lined street; lawn mowers and the occasional  barking dog was the only thing to break the quiet.  Reaching the waterfront, we were even more surprised at the lack of development and flashiness; this was the largest home on the water.  It was so peaceful.

Not knowing what to expect, we were surprised at how large our waterfront historical Luther Hotel was.  It was a lot of fun taking a step back in time and looking at their wall of fame (includes Rita Hayworth and Harry James).  On the way to dinner, we strolled through the small town and quiet waterfront, only a few families enjoying the beautiful Sunday afternoon.

The only restaurant within walking distance was Mexican, but this was a Fabulous find.  Bacon wrapped shrimp, fajitas and the absolutely freshest and best guacamole and pico de gallo we have ever had at a restaurant.  Not sure our 30 mile day deserved all this deliciousness, but…….we are on vacation!

Day 9. Monday April 23 – Palacios to Bay City, Texas

Monday 23 April 2018

Left at 8:00 this morning, much earlier than normal for a short ride, but we’d already toured the small town and coastal homes and breakfast was toast and coffee, so not much to linger for except one last photo.  Another gorgeous morning; sunny, crisp, 58° with a very light breeze out of the north.  It was a pleasant ride with the exception of the rough road.  We relished the small stretches of smooth pavement, only to be disappointed when it did not last.  But with ample shoulder and extremely courteous drivers, we really could not complain (too much).  Pretty farm houses and wild flowers again our entertainment.  This building was compelling from a distance, like a huge house with massive columns; it is a organic seed preparation plant.

We reached town by 11:00, wildflowers and a pretty park welcoming us in.  Tried to slow down, but there was just not a lot to see; an early lunch was in order.  While waiting at a stop light, we asked someone their suggestion for something other than a Mexican lunch.  Two block later we stopped for a most amazing lunch, The Fat Grass.  Had it not been for the recommendation, we would not have even realized it was a place to eat.  The menu was deliciously extensive, but we both opted for the lunch special.  So mouthwatering, we have to share the details.  An hour later, we pushed away from the table, pedaled the remaining miles and were fortunate to be able to check in early.  We spent a few hours planning our next several days and all of a sudden, it was time to eat again.  Only 34 miles and this is what we eat?  Definitely not a tour we will loose weight on.

 

Day 10. Tuesday April 24 – Bay City to Lake Jackson/Clute, Texas

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Our little highway was bustling with noise when we pushed away at 8:30.  Once we settled into the rhythm of our pedal strokes, the traffic thinned out and we almost had the road to ourselves.  The morning was warmer (68°) than we have had, but the humidity was low, the light breeze cool and comfortable.  Small homes and business were dispersed among farms with wonderful old growth trees.  All this countryside was suddenly replaced with a massive chemical company that stretched for miles.  Fortunately for us, there was not large truck traffic to go with it.

Once past the plant, we turned off the highway to our first country road since beginning this tour; the contrast was dramatic.  We glided along ten miles of small farms, country homes and treelined streets….…and a Willis.  Once back on the highway that would lead us into town, there was still very little traffic and the shoulder wide and smooth.  In fact, today’s course was the best roads we have experienced so far.  A quick stop at a bike shop for supplies and course/road advice and then on to our hotel.

Lake Jackson is a big area with a lot of hotel choices, but we picked tonight’s lodging based solely on the proximity of an Italian restaurant.  The choice was a very good call; a basket full of amazing fresh bread and a combo plate of five different delicious pasta dishes topped with mozzarella and baked together…..Oh My!

We are enjoying our new attitude of shorter distances, today’s 42 miles was perfect.