Sunday, January 27, 2013

P4W2 Day 22 Sam Houston National Forest - Sillsbee, TX 101 miles

One of the most interesting things about a bike trip is that it is a 'blind voyage.'  By that I mean that you don't really know what anything is going to be like until you get there.  There are exceptions, like well known national parks and such, but for the most part you just see things as you bike to them, without any pre-existing knowledge.   The same goes for where you plan to stay each night.  In the morning, it kind of goes something like,  'the weather looks good, I am not sure about the winds, the road is pretty flat, my legs are wicked tired but will eventually cooperate, and there's a town like a hundred miles off that I think I'll go for. '

The camping in Sillsbee couldn't be any more different than last night's quiet sleep under the tall wispy pines in a national forest.  I am in an RV park with barking dogs, railroad tracks nearby, and U.S. Highway 96 right next to me.  A couple very pleasant southern men needed a bit of computer help this evening, and we took up conversation.  One of them asked me which RV was mine.  I pointed to the unformed backpacking tent that was laying in the grass between us.

My route today took me through loblolly pine flatlands of southeast Texas.  I passed a really nice westbound rider from Stockholm.  I reckon these parts are different than Sweden (and cheaper!).   Strong south winds blew threatening clouds off the nearby Gulf of Mexico all, but the raincoat stayed in the panier for a 22nd straight day.  Wood chips lined the side of the road for almost every mile, indicative of the importance of wood products to this part of the state.  The motorists were quite pleasant today, given the many narrow roads I found myself on.  The many stray dogs left me alone.  Some were simply content munching on dead stuff along the side of the road.  Trash was plentiful along the roadsides.  Robins and bluebirds were active.  Spring is definitely here...I saw two magnolias in full bloom.  And Ms. Lona, at the cafe that bears her name in Rye, Texas, sold me fried catfish, french fries, and fried okra....southern flare for the first of my 3 dinners tonight.  I think I am in the deep south now.  She threw me a softball of a question and asked if I wanted homemade peach cobbler with my meal.  I should have told her I wanted the whole pan. 

It really is amazing that I am still in Texas.  I would now rank the state as one of the most naturally diverse in the country, behind California but ahead of almost every other state.  West Texas, its deserts, and its 50 mile views might as well be on a different planet.  Ironically, the one constant over my whole time in Texas was the south wind, which was surprising given that it is the middle of January.   Except for an occasional mile or two in Texas, I never got the three perfect cycling conditions all at once - light traffic, a smooth asphalt road, and tailwind; it is a real rarity in bicycling to have these all come together.

And on my last full day in a really big state, finally a 'biggie' sighting fitting of the state itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment