Date: November 13th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 36 min.
Avg. Speed: 11.4 mph
Max Speed: 20.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 889.03
Weather: sunny and cool 67 degrees (Starks, LA) to 68 degrees (Beaumont, TX)
Time of Departure: 10:25
Arrival Time at Knights of Columbus in Beaumont, TX: 4:30, set up the tent at 6:30
NOTE: The temperature dropped down into the 30’s our sleeping bags did a great job of keeping us warm.
We moved on from Starks in the morning after talking to Reverend Shields for a few minutes. He offered to drive us over the bridge in Beaumont if we couldn’t get over it (legally).
The wind again was slightly for us. We made it into Texas after just a few miles of pedaling. We stopped at the welcome sign to celebrate and record the occasion.
We are well over 800 miles in now. We accomplished one-third of our goal. No matter how tough the road ahead grows, we can look back fondly on what we’ve already done.
We reached the outskirts of Beaumont and had to contend with the bridge that took us to Beaumont. The main problem is that the bridge is on I-10, as in interstate. It is perfectly legal in Texas to use the interstate, but doesn’t always mean it’s the safest way. We carefully and slowly made our way along the interstate and then up and over the bridge.
We stopped at the visitor’s center in Beaumont to figure out our route. We decided anything at this point would be better than I-10. We rode through the city and before long we were nearing the end of Beaumont on the west side. We didn’t realize we would ride past most of the hotels and motels. By the time we were on the west side, there was nothing except gas stations. We didn’t want to back track but at the same time it was getting late.
We called a few churches that were close by but had no success. We decided to pitch our tent on the side of a KC lodge on US 90. This was our first time ‘stealth’ camping. The night would be cold (39) so it gave us the opportunity to check our cold weather gear.
After setting up our tent, we walked across the road to grab some snacks and use the bathroom at Fuzzy’s Mobil Station. We were received warmly by the attendant named Edye, we later found out. We spoke a good while with Edye and enjoyed hearing the stories she shared with us. You may remember Luke and I ‘hunting’ squirrels at the Burleigh’s. As it turns out, Edye and her husband lived in the woods in Georgia and survived by eating squirrels or anything else they could catch. Edye is a gem of a woman. Nothing bad to say about anyone. She talked friendly to each and every person that entered the station.
She was really interested in hearing our story also. She mentioned that the following night she and her daughter were going to see Paul McCartney in concert at Minute Made Park. She was excited.
Before we left she surprised us by buying our snacks and coffee. How nice of her. We called it a night and crawled into our sleeping bags. The tent and bags were actually quite comfortable temperature wise. After Luke and I were done joking around, sleep came.
Date: November 14th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 29 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.3 mph
Max Speed: 16.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 925.04
Weather: sunny and cool 55 degrees (Beaumont, TX) to 60 degrees (Liberty, TX)
Time of Departure: 10:30
Arrival Time at Scottish Inn and Suites in Liberty, TX: 4:40
Repairs: Luke’s right pedal kept unscrewing off.
We awoke the next day at 7:30 because a woman was talking to us on the outside of the tent. I thought that someone was asking us to leave until I opened the tent to see Edye (yes, that Edye). She said she had picked us up breakfast, handed us two bags and said she was running late. As quickly as she had arrived, she left.
This woman who we had met the night before, not only bought us breakfast (4 of everything), but also brought coffee and a brand new thermos filled with coffee for Gail and I (one each). We were speechless. She hadn’t done it for the cause. She hadn’t done it because money was plentiful.
She did it because there is a part of her on the road with us. It’s just her. What a privilege it is for our family to meet people like Edye at Fuzzy’s Mobil on the west side of Beaumont, Texas.
Thank you. We won’t forget you.
The pedaling wasn’t bad. We did have some winds and only a few small hills. Texas seems to be gently easing us into the Hill Country ahead of us. We aren’t being lulled into a false sense of security. We know. But, we take what we get.
It was late (once again) and no churches offering an invitation, we decided to take residence at a Scottish Inn for the night. We ended up walking to a Whataburger to see what all the fuss is about. They are the burger of choice in these parts.
To be honest, they are a step above McDonald’s in our opinion. Not a huge step, but a step. The walk was about 2 blocks each way which would have been easier on bikes, but even in the cold, we were done riding for the day.
We showered, and called it a night. Disney for Dakota and Luke, and sleep for Gail and I.
Date: November 15th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 47 min.
Avg. Speed: 11.4 mph
Max Speed: 20.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 968.27
Weather: sunny and cool/warm 63 degrees (Liberty, TX) to 69 degrees (Houston, TX)
Time of Departure: 10:04
Arrival Time at Comfort Inn and Suites in Houston, TX: 4:52
Repairs: Rob needed to replace some clamps on Luke’s right pedal. Gail had a flat on her rear tire. One of those mysterious type of flats, the inner tube was punctured on the inside of the rim, not the tire side.
We left the Scottish Inn after missing breakfast by two minutes. No, seriously. I figured we missed it but was a little surprised that we couldn’t even get a cup of coffee at 9:32 am since breakfast ended at 9:30. Nothing was out. The kids didn’t mind since I bribed them with McDonald’s for getting out of the room by 10:00. Hey, it worked.
We left Liberty and headed to Houston. We pedaled a few miles to Dayton where we decided to take FM 1960 until we reached 290. This route would take us on the northern end of Houston but would bypass much of the city and traffic. Some of it was without shoulder. It turns out the busiest sections were without.
The drivers were mostly courteous (wink wink). It was getting late and decided to stop at a Comfort Inn and Suites for the evening. We negotiated as low a rate as we could (about $80). The owner allowed us to leave our gear in a back hall which was very helpful. Not so easy bringing it into rooms.
While bringing our gear in people were asking questions. One man named Tim Pritchard was very friendly and talkative. He was from Mississippi and was in Houston on business. We talked with him for over an hour about many things. After getting unloaded we were heading out to Walmart to grab some groceries and we saw Tim at the front counter. It turns out that he was paying for our room for the night. We got a refund.
Another nice surprise for the Four the Road Family.
Sidenote: Tim Pritchard was adopted and his story seems to still hold some pain for him. We want him to know that no matter where his story began, it clearly had (and has) a good ending. We want him to know that his infectious smile and laughter touched us more than the room. We want him to know that he is part of our family.
We loaded up on some groceries and ate our little hearts out. We called it a night (well, most of us).
Date: November 16th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 51 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.8 mph
Max Speed: 24.0 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,010.18
Weather: sunny and cool/warm 65 degrees (Houston, TX) to 66 degrees (Hempstead, TX)
Time of Departure: 11:00
Arrival Time at Comfort Inn and Suites in Houston, TX: 5:23
Repairs: Gail’s trailer had a flat due to a wire from a truck tire. Rob replaced the inner tube in just a short time.
We were up before 9:00! The Comfort Inn and Suites (3555 FM 1960 Road West) had the best breakfast that I’ve had at a hotel. They offered omelets, bacon, yogurt, waffles (shaped like Texas), muffins, etc. The point is that it was actually good. We filled up on protein, carbs, sugar…and sugar.
We took a few pictures with the owner Kenny and pedaled off.
It’s hard to shake Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as Texas becomes home for about the same amount of time for us. We know that there is a lot of pedaling we have ahead, but we still appreciate what is behind us.
We got back on FM 1960 which is a farm to market road. The state of Texas has a bunch of these for good reason. It isn’t ideal for bicycling as there isn’t a shoulder, but the drivers were courteous.
Sidenote: There are three types of cars in Texas: Ford Pickup, Chevy Pickup, Dodge Pickup. Also, it seems the cows look upon us with wonderment. “Hey Bessy, have you ever seen the likes of this?” “Can’t say that I have” replies the brown cow with white face.
We hit another milestone today. It is one we celebrated on the side of 290 with a dance. It was the 1,000 mile dance. That number actually sounds like something. That is a long car ride. Be honest now. Did you think we would get this far? We weren’t sure either!
We danced and enjoyed a meal on the side of the road. We ate the remainder of the turkey and cheese we had bought the previous day. We also ate two of the gargantuan oranges that our new friend Tim had given us. Chips, coffee and a cookie each rounded the meal out.
We had one stretch that we were hitting 16 mph with a tailwind. Nice. It didn’t last as we got onto 290 heading in a north west direction. That slowed us a bit but we still managed to pedal over 40 miles. Much of that was on frontage roads while they lasted. The frontage roads offered a bit more solitude from the passing cars and trucks on 290. We see a lot of Red Tail Hawks which Luke loves to point out. He also points out the Vultures that have been plentiful for our entire ride starting in Jacksonville Beach, FL. We try to point out the roadkill to them so they quit circling us. I believe we saw an Osprey today which seemed odd out here.
We got our first flat on one of the trailers shortly after we hit 1,000 miles. It only took about ten minutes to change it out. Nice.
We stopped at a McDonald’s in Hempstead (on 1488) hoping to work for a while but there were no outlets. We decided to push on a couple of miles to another McDonald’s in Hempstead which did have outlets. Perfect, catch up time…
Lodging for this evening is a bit up in the air as there is only one hotel but it is a drive in the dark. We will probably find a secure location to pitch our tent. Will let you know…
Date: November 17th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 53 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.6 mph
Max Speed: 24.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,051.66
Weather: sunny and cool 60 degrees (Hempstead, TX) to 63 degrees (near Burton, TX)
Time of Departure: 10:15
Arrival Time at our warmshower.org host’s near Burton, TX: 5:00
Repairs: Dakota’s trailer tire had a blowout, we patched the inner tube from the previous day’s flat.
We left Hempstead and the small motel we stayed at close to 10:00 am. The motel wasn’t fancy, but we wanted safety/warmth, and it afforded us that. We already knew where we would be spending this evening (more on that later) which was nice. We needed to knock out about 40 miles to get to our destination.
After getting a flat on one of the trailers the day before, we needed to stop at the Walmart in Brenham so that we could pick up a spare or two. We stopped to no avail. They had no 16” tubes in stock. Okay, no problem, we still had the one that went flat that could be patched (more on that later).
We left Walmart with some groceries that we brought promptly to a nearby Starbucks. We splurged on fancy drinks while we made and ate sandwiches at an outdoor table. We enjoyed some relaxation while conversing with curious people. It’s fun to have people ask if that was us they saw on the road 15 miles back. Good possibility (wink wink).
We had already pedaled 22 miles by this point in our day and we were feeling anxious to knock out the other 20 or so.
Shortly after leaving Brenham guess what? If you guessed a flat tire on a trailer, you would be right. This time it wasn’t a small hole in the tube. A whole section had blown out. Now, the tube that had previously gone flat needed to be patched. We patched it and put it on the rim and it seemed to hold air. This situation was not ideal. Over 1,000 miles and no trailer flats. Now, we had two flats in two days and no spare or nearby spot to pick one up.
We continued on to our Warmshowers.org host for the evening with the trailer tires on our mind.
Before reaching our turn off, a pickup truck pulled to the side of the road. A man emerged from the truck. I could see that smile from 30 feet away. It was Rev. Shields from Starks, LA. What a pleasant surprise to see him. He was driving a friend to a hunt club and wondered if he would see us in Texas. We talked for a few minutes. He is such a warm and gentle man, with a smile that would brighten anyone’s day. It did ours.
We turned onto spur 125 off of 190 and it seemed to instantly change the scenery. Trees, hills, valleys were surrounding us. We pedaled through the little town of Burton. It was only made up of a few buildings but alive just the same. We stopped at the Short Stop (small grocery/gas station) on the outskirts of Burton because we there was another cross country cyclist there. His name is Mark Moberly and he was traveling from San Diego to St. Augustine. We told him that we were staying with Carol Montgomery and he wondered if he could pitch his tent there. Dakota called Carol and got the okay, so Mark rode the few miles with us which was nice. It is always nice to have someone ride with us and share stories.
We had to walk our bikes a couple of blocks to get to the house because of the dirt and rock road.
Sidenote: You remember the scene in the Field of Dreams when one of the ball players asks Ray if he is in heaven? Ray then replies, “No. You’re in Iowa.” I had that moment flush over me upon placing my bike against Carol’s barn. Every part of this land was alive and singing. The wind was gently blowing the tall grass and the leaves in the trees. The rolling hills surrounded us. The sun was setting.
Sidenote part 2: Even during the most difficult times of pedaling our senses seem hyper-sensitive. It is as if we were instructed to pay close attention to what is around us, but we weren’t. You just do. You can’t help it. Each area is alive with sound and visual candy. The clicking of the insects, the dancing butterflies contrasting with the colors of green, the caterpillars crossing the road, the cows chewing away. Each place leaves something in us, within us. Some part of us remains. We take it all in as we climb and coast, as we ache and sweat, as we slowly touch.
Carol has a loft above the barn that she houses cyclists (and probably others). She has been a Warmshowers host for over 5 years. The loft is furnished with several beds and every other convenience one would need. It has a balcony that showcases the land, setting sun, and the night sky. We unpacked our gear and took in the land as we waited for Carol to get back.
Carol Montgomery is an 80 year old student of life. Small in stature (maybe 5 ft.) but large in everything else. Think of an exotic land far away and she has probably been there. She has probably hiked or climbed it. She has been all over the world with Habitat for Humanity. She has built houses shoulder to shoulder with former President Jimmy Carter several times. She is a leader among women and men. She still lives life as if it is brand new every day. She takes classes, learns, and applies.
She built her house.
We have met many interesting and wonderful people along the way, but I’m convinced that Carol Montgomery is the World’s Most Interesting Person.
We had a wonderful home-cooked meal with Carol and fellow traveler Mark. We stayed up late swapping stories and shelling pecans.
Date: November 18th
Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 55 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.1 mph
Max Speed: 21.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,081.29
Weather: sunny and cool 60 degrees (near Burton, TX) to 63 degrees (Paige, TX)
Time of Departure: 11:20
Arrival Time in Paige, TX: 6:20
We were getting ready to leave the most interesting person in the world’s house (Carol Montgomery) when Bill pulled up. He is the kind of friend you would expect someone like Carol to have; intelligent, kind, and a man of ethics. He was more than happy to show us the buck he took down that morning (at least from the neck up). The rest was already cleaned.
We talked for a while before we had to get going. Bill gave us directions, and we said goodbye. Not only to Bill, but to this wonderful piece of Texas that we enjoyed immensely.
We pedaled nearly 18 miles before breaking. We were hoping that the Walmart in Giddings, TX would have the 16” tubes for our trailers as we had no spares at all. They did! We bought two of what they had, which were the no flat tubes. Nice.
We stopped at the Dairy Queen in town to catch up on our web work. We were still planning on another 22 miles or so, but we worked a bit longer than we planned, and decided on making it only to Paige (11 miles or so). Yes, dark once again while pedaling. We only hit 29 miles for the day which is a bit below our norm at this time. There are hills in Texas. There is wind. 29 miles isn’t too shabby.
We stopped for the night at the Paige Manor B and B. We were greeted by Chrysa (sah-ree-sah) who has the state record for most words spoken without a breath (397). She is a wealth of information with a sense of humor to boot. Her friend Sunni (a motorcycle riding, leather working 50 something gal) and her had us laughing out loud.
If you are near Paige and want to stay somewhere boring…don’t stay at the Paige Manor. On the other hand, if you are looking for lively conversation, meeting interesting people, and possibly taking a yoga class while you are at it…this is the place!
Gail and I were up late catching up on unfinished business (not enough hours in the day). Luke, watching Disney. Dakota spending time in conversation with Chrysa.
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