Texas landing

20Dec09

On Saturday morning December 12th, as if transported through time we left our hotel room at Motel 6 to venture into the Texas frontier.  The temperature was noticeably warmer and we were able to wear just our bike shorts and t-shirts, it felt amazing.  We rode past numerous natural gas production facilities and the shoulder of the road was as wide as the lane for the cars.  Things certainly are bigger here.  We rode 40 miles to Cleveland, Texas.  We wild camped on some overgrown commercial property that was for sale across from the local high school.  For most of the evening there was a football game being announced over the loudspeaker.  It was funny to be setting up camp and hearing the thick Texas accent excitedly announce the game.

our campsite in Cleveland, Texas

We woke up Sunday morning enveloped in fog that would remain with us for half the day.  That half included riding through a rather impoverished area on Rte 105 West headed toward Conroe.  We passed elephants, and we regret not snapping a photo.  It was truly odd.  We also passed many flea market stands including one with a Santa that waved to us enthusiastically.   There were also lots of folks selling puppies on the roadside out of the back of pickup trucks-just in time for the holidays.

Sunday felt like two days in one.  We rode about 20 miles in the fog and had lunch at a McDonald’s in Conroe, the first time we’ve done that on our whole  journey.  We were a bit chilled and wanted some inside time to warm up from the fog.  We left McDonald’s and the weather began to break and we rode 48 more miles into the setting sun of Navasota.  We treated ourselves to another hotel room at a Best Western and rested our weary bones after 100 miles in two days.

Foggy Texas countryside

As always, we stayed in our hotel room until the very last-minute to get our money’s worth.  Time flies in the morning at a hotel and we always wish we had more time to lounge around.  We pedaled away from the hotel on Monday and headed southwest.  We had a destination in mind with a campground for that evening.  We rode 62 miles to Lake Prairie Lake just outside of La Grange.  Incredibly, we managed to fit all those miles into about 5 hours of riding.  We got to the campground just before dark and prior to the rain.   The site looked great, picnic tables under giant Live Oaks.  We quickly pitched our tent, changed into dry clothes and took a seat at the picnic table to relax for a few minutes before delving into dinner preparation.  Bryan commented on how he had just brushed a couple spiders off of his legs and Debi noticed one on her as well.  Debi quickly said “Stand up right now, we need to check this table out!”.  We shined our headlamps under the table and lo and behold there were hundreds of spiders under it, and then we started to realize they were on top of it too.  Bryan had leaned his bike against the table and it was cover in spiders already-it had been only about 20 minutes!  We quickly moved everything away from the picnic table and then we checked the other tables, hoping to find a spider-free area, no such luck.  They were everywhere.  We then began to investigate the trees and we realized that’s where they were coming from.  We then took a look at our tent and there were already at least 20 spiders setting up camp on our rainfly!  Now we were completely freaked out as we realized they were dropping from the trees.  It was now starting to rain harder and we made the decision to move out into an open field in the rain to get wet rather than be taken over by the evil spiders!  It was a moment of realization for us northerners as we realized that critters can live year-round in temperate climates.

Looks idyllic doesn't it?

Freaky spiders out to get us!

We left Lake Prairie Lake on Tuesday morning with another camping destination ahead of us, Bastrop State Park.  We broke camp in a strong wind that made taking down the tent like flying a kite.  This was helpful in getting the last spiders and webs off our stuff.  We thought we’d have an easy day with only 42 miles to go, but we didn’t expect the wind to be so fierce the entire day.  It was absolutely the windiest day yet.  We averaged 8-11mph all day through cattle country.  The wind was blowing so loudly in our ears and it was impossible to communicate with each other.  We finally made it to Bastrop State Park and set up in a lovely site.

Campsite sweet campsite

We were the only campers and we had a peaceful evening to ourselves spider free.  We went for a small hike before dark and decided to go for another in the morning.  Bastrop State Park is a beautiful park and has a rich history with the Civilian Conservation Corps thanks to FDR in the 1930’s.  There are still structures standing that the CCC boys constructed and we admired them for their structural integrity and simple designs.

CCC Rain Shelter-Front

Back of Rain Shelter with beautiful amphitheater style seating in front of a fireplace

We went for a 4 mile hike on Wednesday morning through the pine forest.  It was also the habitat of the Houston Toad, an endangered amphibian living only in nine counties in Texas.  We kept our eyes out for Houston, but didn’t see him.  The hike was great and it felt good to use our legs for something else other than pedaling.  It was also a great warmup for the day.

The vines and the pines

Another CCC structure

The happy hikers

We got back on the bikes with Austin as our destination.  We rode 38 miles into Austin directly to Debi’s friend BethAnn’s home.  We are parking ourselves here through Christmas and it will include house sitting and dog sitting for BethAnn and her husband Kyle.  It’s great to be here and we can’t wait to get our share of the music scene and the food.  We’ll post about our adventures in Austin in the next few days.

See y’all soon,

Debi and Bryan

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2 Responses to “Texas landing”

  1. 1 Kate Cross

    You two are just amazing! Please enjoy your time in Austin. I’ve always wanted to visit that city. Renew your spirit, your energy, your love. Merry Christmas! Aunt Kate

  2. 2 John Friedrichs

    Hello Folks……Merry Xmas and a Happy New year!…..Ira arrived last nite from A’viile and we are going to a Friends home to be together at their house from Xmas Eve.We Quakers usually gather at the Meeting House and have Potluck and Candle Liting Service expressing our thigs to be grateful for .They are calling for freezing rain tonoite so the prudent thing to do was to cancel that and meet in homes with a shorter drives……….So glad to hear that your clothes are matching your surroundings now that your so far South………Elephants???……So Glad to hear that your trip is going well and safe….Lets hear it for broad shou;ders on the road!!………..Ill keep this short……..Warmly…….John


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