Saturday, March 23, 2013

On the Road Again

Mason's Construction Themed Birthday Party

We arrived at our daughter Lauren’s home outside Houston on March 3 and spent two weeks relaxing, enjoying time with our daughter, her husband and our two year old grandson.  The highlight of the visit was the grandson’s birthday parties, the first with the family and the second with about a dozen two year olds and their families.   Our eldest daughter, Janet, flew in from San Francisco to visit for a few days and celebrate Mason’s second birthday.  

Spring Foliage 
Hank spent part of the two weeks filing income taxes, planning routes for the next stage to South Carolina and trying to regain some of the 12 lbs. he lost in the first 7 weeks.  Tuesday, March 19, we were back on the road heading east toward Louisiana.   The weather has been mild and roads good and flat.  Signs of spring are everywhere.  The trees are turning green, the pollen is everywhere, and the azaleas and dogwood are blooming.  We are also seeing lots of oil pumps and oil storage facilities.  Much of eastern Texas and western Louisiana is timberland.  We have seen lots of logging trucks on the road but most of the roads have had wide shoulders so the trucks not a problem.

Azaleas and Dogwood Blooming

Roadside Flowers
East Texas Oil Well

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Houston on the Horizon

“The sun has riz, the sun has set, and here we is in Texas yet!”

Thirty days and 970 miles after entering Texas, we arrived at our daughter’s home outside Houston on Sunday, March 3. 

After leaving the hill country we spent a planned rest day in Blanco.  We would not have been able to ride that day anyway with cold winds from the north at 30 to 40 mph, downed power lines and falling branches. 

County Seat in Lockhart
Another windy day.  Because of the crosswinds, we had to walk about a mile and half along one stretch of road with no shoulder and heavy traffic.  We stopped for lunch in Lockhart.  Lockhart seems to be doing reasonably well economically, taking advantage of its historic buildings and its proximity to Austin.  Our destination for the night was Bastrop, another historic town with a restored downtown area where we ate before riding to the motel out by a major highway with no nearby restaurants. and a large state park.  The next morning our route took us through Bastrop State Park.  Unfortunately much of the park burned 18 months ago but it did allow us to see some of the reforestation work, which is ongoing.

Burned Section of Bastro State Park
View from Hills in Bastro State Park

Scenic Ranch on Road to Burton
We decided to break the ride from La Grange to Navasota into two days, spending the night outside Burton.  The roads from La Grange to Burton went through rolling hills past cattle and horse ranches, many of which appear to be weekend retreats or retirement homes.  The scenery was close to how I envision the ideal Texas ranch (think South Fork Ranch on the Dallas series with Larry Hagman).  Because there were no restaurants near our B&B/motel, we had our main meal at noon and then toured the Burton Cotton Gin Museum.   If Texas were a nation, it would be the 6th largest producer of cotton, almost all of which is exported.  Our B&B/motel at the Nueces Canyon Ranch was on a working horse ranch.  The motel was hidden from the road by a show ring and the stables so we initially missed it and had to backtrack.  The accommodations were excellent. 
Ranch near Burton
Cotton Gin in Burton
Nueces Canyon Ranch (and B&B/Motel)
Victorian House in Navasota
March 2 is Texas Independence Day, the anniversary of Texas secession from Mexico.  At lunch we talked with some people who favor secession from the US.  We weren’t sure if they were really serious or not.

Half Way - Arriving at Lauren's
The ride from Navasota to our daughters was very pleasant with the hill climbs less steep and less frequent.  We arrived at our daughter’s to a reception of balloons, a finish line tape and a sign reading “Half Way”.  We are excited to have completed the first leg of our journey and are looking forward to two weeks off the bike.  The next installment of the blog will be after we leave our daughter’s on March 19.

Arriving at Lauren's