Day 11. Wednesday April 25 – Lake Jackson/Clute to Galveston , Texas

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Industry and highway is how we started the morning and both remained for a good stretch.  But the shoulder was smooth, wide and not as trashed as we had been warned, so the ride was comfortable considering the surroundings.  At seven miles we lost most of the traffic, which was good timing since the shoulder was under construction.  Two miles later we approached the Intracoastal bridge that would take us to the barrier islands.  The climb was steep, but with no wind to fight, it was not bad and the view from the top, rather impressive.The half mile difference from end to end of the bridge was deafeningly quiet.  Surfside Beach looked deserted, so we had the Blue Water Highway all to ourselves.  Vacation homes of all sizeswere scattered along the shore. There was no protective sand dune on the island,so surprised that vehicles were allowed to drive and camp on the beach

By ten this morning, we reached the two mile long bridge to Galveston Island.  It is a two dollar toll, but we were waved through.

Thirty miles into our ride with very little seat break, Jerry spotted a picnic bench in the shade.  We poached an RV’s vacant spot and enjoyed the rest.  Another hour later, as we approached another stretch of fields, we stopped for lunch.  This was only the third food stop in thirty miles, since arriving on the islands, so we grabbed it.  This is a beautiful area with long stretches of homes in every size, shape, and color (a lot more below) and then miles of farms. After 46 miles of biking, we finally came into the retail/commercial/tourist end of Galveston and the seawall.  Galveston has suffered and survived through many a storm.  The seawall was created after the 1900 hurricane and tidal wave, when 6,000 lives were lost; a beautiful sculpture now stands to commemorate the loss of lives from that storm.  The beach, non-exixtanst at the beginning of the seawall grows nicelyas you move further up the island.  There is so much to see, so the rest of the story is below (in photos).  Today was an enjoyable ride, sun was hot (90° in the sun), but only 76° in the shade with a cool breeze off the water.  A perfect finish after 52 miles.

Day 12. Thursday April 26 – Galveston to Winnie, Texas

Friday 27 April 2018

Last night’s colors from “The Pleasure Pier”!

What a difference a day makes!Yesterday’s warm sunshine and light cool breeze off the water was replaced with a blistering cold wind out of the north and no sun to warm the morning.  Pedaling hard into the wind could not warm us up in the four mile distance to get to the ferry that would take us to the Bolivar Peninsula.

Our wait for the ferry was just long enough to snap a few pictures, before heading across the channel that links the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston Bay.  Inside the warmth of the ferryboat, we met Rick; filled with great info about the area and the affect of both Harvey last year and Hurricane Ike ten years ago.  He pointed out the “innovative” concrete ship that did not make it far from it’s berth and how the color of the water here was not as blue, as further south (Padre Island) due to the proximity of the Mississippi River.

Almost an hour after arriving at the ferry dock, we disembarked on The Bolivar Peninsula; wide at this western end and the only homes perched near the water in the distance.  Between the ferry and the wind, we had only traveled ten miles in two hours; it was going to be a long day.  As the island narrowed, we got a true taste of the character of the east part of Galveston County; not as polished as Galveston.  This is the area that really took the hit from Hurricane Ike ten years ago with a lot of empty property for sale.   Vacant slabs still show the destruction (this is where the most dramatic photos of the hurricane came from).

After a ten mile stretch of homes and interesting, splashy and creative (a drive-up coffee shop) businesses, we had a long straight stretch of flat land, only occasionally sprinkled with homes. Right next to an oil field was this very extravagant new development, selling million dollar homes.  This little gem rents for about $750. a night!

We were amazed with how low lying the entire area is; a two foot rise of the sea would flood everything.  New construction was obvious by the elevation, this is the high school.

Homes disappeared as the peninsula narrowed, giving full view of the shrimp trollers we hoped were catching our dinner.

Shortly after noon our road took a turn directly into the wind.  Can’t say we had enjoyed the wind just on our shoulder, but we definitely did not enjoy it directly in our face.  This was a good time to take a lunch break.  A half hour later we were back on the road to face the wind and another tall two mile bridge over a shipping channel.  We much prefer traversing these channels via a ferry, but you cannot beat the view.  We were fortunate to be on top when a barge pushing quite the load, passed below us.  After the bridge was a long straight unprotected from the wind stretch of low land seagrass, brush and bayous.  We battled the wind as the wind battered our legs.  It was three in the afternoon, when we finally saw our first stand of trees, hoping it was a sign that our town was in sight.  Winnie is small, but our approach was……colorful.  A quick stop for a cold beer to go and we were checked in by 3:45.

We had felt so good yesterday after our 52 mile ride, but today’s blow made our 55 miles a struggle; six hours of saddle time was an hour longer than yesterday.

We were richly rewarded with a full on Country Cajun dinner, Chicken Fried Chicken with gravy, fried Okra and a pile of Shrimp of every flavor (maybe not as many as Gump named)……all Good!

Day 14. Saturday, April 28 – Day Off in Beaumont, Texas

Saturday 28 April 2018

Our original intention was not to take a day off here, but our ride into the wind two days ago had beaten us up.  And the very late hour we retired last night helped to convince us to sleep in.

Not much to report for the day.  We treated the duckies to a nice massage (aka: tune-up) by Tom and Bhavaniand in the afternoon an amazing tuneup on our bodies (i.e. massage).

We spent a wonderfully relaxing afternoon and evening; words cannot describe how theraputic the day of was.

See you on the road, tomorrow.

Day 13. Friday, April 27 – Winnie to Beaumont, Texas

Saturday 28 April 2018

We have been fortunate and very thankful for the cool days and low humidity (so far) in Texas and this morning was no exception.

The wind had tapered to 10 mph, though still in our face, it added just that bit of extra effort on our short jaunt out of the quiet town.  Passed one rusty, yet still functioning, refinery and then the obligatory cow fields,horses,large churches, curbside flowers and huge shade trees!  One the way into town, we were treated to a few of the beautifully painted roadside electrical boxes, but too slow on the camera to get more than one.

It was a short ride today; we had a goal to get to Beaumont to reconnect with good friends.

You talk to anyone in Texas or that knows Beaumont and their consistent comment is, “Why would you want to go to Beaumont”…..did we mention they are good friends?!

Arrived in town at high noon to have lunch with Jerry’s college track buddy, Lou.  Caught up in catching up, we neglected pictures.  After lunch, we biked the two miles to Rita’s home.  Little did we know, we had walked into an Architectural Digest home of the year……. indescribably gorgeous.

We were generally welcomed to to her home.After catching up and relaxing for a bit, our wonderful hostess throws us a party, including awesome music.  Everyone was so much fun and the food so amazing,including our first Boudainwe forgot all but a few photos.

There may not be a lot to do in Beaumont, but when you have a houseful of friends, what more could could you need!  We would have named this place Shangri-La, but the actual name is even more appropriate.

Day 15. Sunday, April 29 – Beaumont to Orange, Texas

Sunday 29 April 2018

Low humidity, 60°, no wind and brilliantly sunny; perfect for a Sunday morning ride.

One would think with two huge oil refineries and Lamar University that someone would be stirring at 8:00 in the morning, but the roads were empty.  It took us about eight miles to get through town; then a long straight road offering basically nothing in scenery except for oil refineries in the distance.  Rice production was the largest industry in the 19th century, until the “Spindletop” oil gusher in 1901, the town’s population tripled in two months.  Both still thrive in the area, but the refineries dominated this road.  Two hours into our ride, we stopped for a biscuit break.  Shortly before 11:00, we approached a two mile, very tall bridge over the Neches River.  Thankfully, we had the newer of the two bridges,so not quite as tall as the southbound bridge, but tall enough.  The view of Sabine Lake and then further to the Gulf, was serene.  Other than this view, our entertainment was counting the various number of paved road surfaces we traversed; can’t imagine having missed any.

A few supply stops (beer & wine) on the way to the hotel and we were checked in by 1:00.  Staying close to the interstate and far away from everything, required pizza delivery with our (previously purchased) bottle of wine.  It wasn’t fancy, but a nice finish to a comfortable 40 mile day.

Day 16. Monday, April 30 – Orange, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana

Monday 30 April 2018

We had a two mile loop in the midst of construction to rejoin our course.  Trains waited on the outskirts of town to be called in to load and firework stations, waiting for the holidays, lined the road.

Outside of town, we enjoyed a wide shoulder and nice shade.  Traffic was not constant, but loud when the trucks and traffic barreled by.

Forecast was for a southeast wind to pick up during the day; naturally our first 13 miles was north, before the wind began.  An hour into our ride, we turned east onto a quiet road and felt the wind begin to rustle.  Shortly thereafter, we crossed the very flooded Sabine River into Louisiana.  We learned later, that this is a controlled flood of the river, but these two counties take the brunt of it; sometimes not able to drive the streets for the high water.

We were surprised to run across another touring biker, Jorg, from Canada.  He was doing a large loop from Jacksonville, Florida back to Cape May, NJ where he now resides.

One turn and we went from quiet to quieter.There was no shoulder on this road but there were no cars either, so we had it to ourselves, rice fields on either side.  We could hear a light rumble in the distance, and were surprised to see a plane on the side of the road.  Apparently, they had just finished loading his crop dusting fertilizer, as he took off right beside us as we pedaled down the road.  The country road was pretty, but the wind was tough and the swirling gusts punishing.  The protective tree lined road was replaced with farms and country homes. After 43 miles we came to our first opportunity for fuel and rest.  We were hoping the little gas station would have a cafe or deli and an area to sit, but our choice was limited to packaged foods.  We stood inside the air conditioning and ate our prepackaged sandwich and muffin and pushed on twenty minutes later.  Within minutes our swirling wind was further enhanced by dust from the construction of a massive refinery.  This is the closest we have been to one and it seemed to stretch on forever.  Once completed, it will cover over 3,000 acres.

We enjoyed an all too short five mile stretch with a tail wind, relaxing as we sailed along the road.  The smiles left our faces as soon as we took the east turn into the unrelenting wind.  Stopped every few miles, just for a break.

We limped into our hotel at 3:00 after 62 miles and almost six hours in the saddle.  The only restaurant near our hotel was a Mexican restaurant and it looked like a dive.  Having already had take-out the night before, we decided it could not be avoided.  The inside was small and had the same ambiance as the outside, but the food was amazing.  This huge vat of avocado topped Fajitas included a huge poblano and cactus leaf, most delicious and well worth it!

Day 17. Tuesday, May 1 – Lake Charles to Jennings, Louisiana

Tuesday 1 May 2018

First thought: What a Gorgeous Morning, soft blue sky accentuated with delicate clouds.

Second thought: One of these days we will have the wind to our backs, but this is not that day.

We had a one mile trek to our frontage road that was far removed from the highway.  Fields were pleasant, but we preferred the protection the trees and homes offered from the wind.  Small industry and farms existed side by side. Passing a graveyard, reminded us of the high water table in these parts; everybody is above ground.

We enjoyed almost 15 miles of scenery before our road bordered the highway.Pasturesand rice fields offered no resistance to the southeast wind.  Both Iowa

and this waterslide seemed out of place.

We had not planned to stop for lunch, but we needed a break from the wind and time off the bike.  After our relaxing forty-five minute break, we savored our pedal through town.This little pigmy goat definitely did not want his picture taken.A mile and a half later, we were thrust into the wind again.  We did our best to maintain 7 mph against the southeast wind.  It took us almost an hour and a half to go our last eleven miles.

Dinner choices were Shoney’s across the busy road or the truck stop diner next door (who said we do not live high on the hog), complete with a full size alligator.  We choose well.  Our 38 miles doesn’t sound long, but four hours in the saddle against the wind was long enough to be tired.

A nice sunset, then to bed.