Texas New Year

07Jan10

We have some catching up to do with all that we’ve done since we left Austin on Monday December 28th.  It’s been an interesting ride, here’s the details:

We rode 72 miles from Austin to Palmetto State Park in Luling, Texas the first day back on the road.  We just made it to the park at sunset and had a beautiful descent down into the park with pink skies above us.  The rain started the next morning and didn’t stop for the next 24 hours.  We moved our tent to the driest  spot we could find and basically spent most of our time in the tent-sleeping, reading, and eating.  On Wednesday morning the rain let up and we were able to pack up and explore the park.  This is yet another park in Texas that the Civilian Conservation Corps worked on and we ate breakfast underneath a stunning rain shelter.

CCC Rain Shelter in Palmetto State Park

We headed out from Palmetto State Park with a destination of  Cuero where we had planned to stay at a free municipal park within the town.  Little did we know the town had set up elaborate Christmas light displays throughout the park and camping was not allowed until after the 1st of January.  We asked to stay anyway as we were not informed about the lights via the town’s website but we were denied.  Traveling as we are is so odd sometimes, you can plan but you never know what’s around the corner.

Faced with darkness in the next 15 minutes we were left without shelter.  We ventured back into the city of Cuero and went to an RV/Motel just inside of town.  Debi went inside and negotiated with the owners to get a site for 10 dollars.  Our site was right behind the bushes outside of a Chinese Takeout restaurant and the RV park was filled with mainly permanent dwellers who like to play their Spanish music late into the night.  At one point a crew of three small dogs ran through our site, one of them was a beagle who wanted some of our food.  They kept on running right on to the main road and the next thing we heard was a yelp, one of the dogs had been hit.  As we’ve been traveling in Texas we’ve seen the number of stray animals increase greatly and it seems that there just isn’t the resources to keep up with it.

The next morning, Thursday we ate breakfast out at the Bahnhoff Cafe in downtown Cuero.  It was so foggy that we’re lucky to have even found the place.  It was New Year’s Eve morning and we enjoyed a huge breakfast with the friendliest waitress takingg care of us.

Big shoulder on the road to Goliad State Park

Interesting ranchland scene

We're on the road to nowhere...

That night we stayed at Goliad State Park in Goliad.  It was a beautiful place to be for the turning of the New Year and the  blue moon.  There is a restored Mission on the grounds, actually restored mainly by the CCC and there was a light display at night and we were able to walk around it.  We also enjoyed nice hot showers in the campground.  We camped by the San Antonio River with a couple other folks-Susie, a self defined “Global Nomad” who has been traveling alone around the country and the world for a number of years, and Thomas, an avid hunter who came to the park for the night to rest up for hunting just about every animal you can think of on New Year’s Day.  Both were terrific New Year’s neighbors.

Mission Nuestra Senora del Espíritu Santo de Zuniga

Shadows and light play on the side of the mission at night with images of Vaqueros of the past

Ghostly shadows represent the Indians that the mission tried to convert back in the 1700's

Interior chapel of the mission, beautifully restored

exterior wall of the mission cuts between 2 trees

We left Goliad on New Year’s Day under a brilliant blue sky with a destination of Aransas Pass in the attempt to get us close to Padre Island.  We ended up pedalling 60 miles through some barren country with some of the worst roadkill we’ve seen yet.  Roadkill is a part of our daily scenery, but what we saw on this day shook us.  We saw not one, but two giant wild boars.  Buzzards had ate the guts but nothing else because their hides are so tough.  We didn’t know what we were coming upon as  we approached the first hog.  We took a photo because it was just so bizarre to be alone on the side of the road with a giant hog.  We were thankful it was dead and not chasing us.

no caption necessary

We arrived in the outskirts of Aransas Pass in dusk, wishing we had another hour of daylight.  We pulled into the first hotel that looked halfway decent and called it for the night.  The room had a small kitchenette but no phone.  So were we able to cook a nice little dinner but we were unable to give our families a call for New Years.  We don’t have a cell phone and we’re finding it harder and harder to locate payphones.  We like the freedom of not having a cell phone-no bills and no obligations.

January 2nd, 2010 we rode a short distance.  We stocked up on groceries and  took to a ferry that would take us to Port Aransas.  The ferry was free and lasted all of 3 minutes to get across.  We then had an awesome tailwind that took us to Mustang Island State Park where we camped on the beach for the night.

Mustang Island campsite

The next morning we rode about 5 miles on the beach and then 10 miles on the road to bring us to Padre Island National Seashore.  It’s the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world with over 60 miles of beaches, dunes, and a whole lot of plastic debris.  We had a couple of nice days there but the conditions were getting a bit unbearable with sand blowing every which way.  We learned late one night that there’s a way to pitch the tent for rain, and there’s way to pitch it for blowing sand.  We had to completely empty our tent and restake it the first night because a sand dune was building on top of us in the tent.  It was all we could do to not eat the sand.

Debi rides south on the beach

campsite on Padre Island with wind shelter created from found items on the beach

Heron on the dunes

view from the dunes

long walks on the beach

With colder weather and high winds on the way we decided to pack up after only 3 days and 2 nights on the beach.  We really wanted to stay longer as it was completely affordable-$5 a person for a week of primitive camping on the beach-awesome!  The weather just wasn’t going to cooperate.  We shook out all the sand at the visitor’s center and started pedaling north out of the park into a  headwind.  A couple miles out we were slowly passed by and old van towing an even older camper with Vermont plates.  We’ve only seen VT plates one other time on the highway in Texas but this was the first time someone was going slow enough that we could wave wildly in th hopes of them stopping and chatting with us.

Success!  The van pulled over and Jacob got out and we learned that he and his girlfriend Amanda were traveling around the country looking for warmer weather and new experiences.  We talked for a bit and then we started riding again out of the park.  Another mile ahead Jacob had pulled over an motioned for us to talk.  He offer us a ride-our bikes could fit in the camper and we could sit in the van with them.  This was fantastic, we had hours of headwind ahead of and a crossing on a 4 mile causeway with little to no shoulder.  We ended up getting dropped of at a Wal-Mart in Corpus Christi right on our route to our next destination-Kingsville.  We love meeting people like Jacob and Amanda, it really feels like time travel when we get a ride in a vehicle.  Thanks guys!

Jacob and Amanda-yeah for Vermont plates!

We rode 40 more miles that day to Kingsville.  We are now finishing a 2 night stay at a Super 8 Motel that gave us the chance to rest, recuperate, and organize.

We’re about to get on the road this morning with a strong North wind blowing down which equals the perfect tailwind for us today.  We have a lonely stretch of 70 miles between Kingsville and Raymondville to conquer. Tomorrow we’ll ride another 50 miles which will bring us into Brownsville.  We’ll stay there for a few days in preparation for going into Mexico.  We’re almost there!

We’ve been watching the weather that’s been going on across the country and we’re amazed that it’s so cold everywhere.  Thankfully we are just inside the warmest part of the country.  We are however a bit jealous of the amount of snow that we are seeing in northern VT, we bet there’s some great powder out there.

Stay warm everyone!

Debi and Bryan

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5 Responses to “Texas New Year”

  1. 1 Tre

    Love your heron on the dunes pic! So placid! And I can imagine you walking the beach to find objects for your wind wall! Very cool spot, to bad about the sand stormyness….

    I went birding (surprise, surprise) in Brownsville in 2004— there are SO many incredible species of birds in that part of Texas! Keep your eyes peeled for the Brown Jay (the immature have a yellow bill and eyering) or the Groove-billed Ani– could be mistaken for a blackbird, but their beak is very distinct, with a hump and grooooves.

    wishing you two continued grooovieness!

  2. 2 Kate Cross

    I am so excited that you are so close to your destination! I wonder about all the difficult encounters you’ve had for which you never planned. This is what education is for. How have your different types of education helped you confront problems? This might be a whole chapter in your book! I’ll look forward to reading it :)

  3. 3 Brian Doyle

    B and D,

    Be safe and be well.

  4. 4 Jacob

    Bryan and Debra,
    hi its Jacob,, from VT we met up at Padre island and get you a ride. im glad to see you are still on the move, down there where i should have headed..
    i got home awhile ago, we were on the road for 5 months, 29 states, 13,000 miles.. it was a good run. but you two are doing it right..

    happy travels…
    Jacob And Amanda


  1. 1 Texas Bicycling Blog and News Roundup for January 7th « Texbiker.net

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