With only 108 miles left to go, it looked like it was going to be a difficult day but not an impossible one. I was half right.
We left the Oak Motel in La Grange at 7 o’clock, which gave us 10 hours to reach our motel in Houston. Every minute was going to count, so I got started on the right foot by making a wrong turn and going two miles out of the way.
Kristie was enjoying the fact that I am on death’s door, that I have the droops, the sags, and maybe also the dying beets, so she was happy to go to the front. One of the ways that she accommodates my worsening condition is to slowly accelerate on the hills so that I get dropped in the first third of the climb. After dropping me she rides about a mile up the road and then turns around like, “Oops! I did it again! Sorries!”
Next she drifts down the hill and apologizes for dropping me, usually saying something like this: “I had no idea I was dropping you, I was going as slowly as I could. I will try to go slower next time.”
This is always a big confidence builder but today she added a little chocolate sprinkle on the top by swerving wildly to the right and almost taking out my front wheel. When I screamed in terror and veered wildly off the road into the ditch she said, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were there!”
This made everything okay because, as she reminded me, when you run into the person in front of you it is always your fault, no exceptions. It took us three hours to reach the town of Industry, where we stopped and ate a second breakfast. As we were checking out, Kristie noticed a little plastic stack of cakes next to the register. “Oh look! It says they are called hummingbird cakes! They must be great! Let’s get one!”
We did, and along with the breakfast burrito, chocolate milk, coffee, and regular milk it was a magnificent feast, sitting there in a little oil spill up against the wall in the parking lot of Jimbo’s Feed Hardware and Grocery Mercantile.
I had told Kristie that after we left Bastrop State Park we would more or less officially be out of the hill country and onto the coastal plain which is pancake flat, although it does have a prevailing southeast headwind. I was right about the prevailing headwind but the flat roads never materialized. To the contrary we had rollers all day yesterday and all day today. “So where is all of this flat coastal plain you’ve been telling me about?” Kristie asked.
“Uh, It’s just a few miles up here.”
But no matter how few miles we rode, the undulations continued. After five hours we had eked out a paltry 42 miles and when we reached Belleville I checked my phone to see how many more miles we had to go before we reached our motel. It said 67. I looked at Kristie. “There is no way I can ride another 6 1/2 hours.”
“Really? I can.”
“That’s nice. Why don’t you just continue on because I am going to find a motel here in Belleville.”
I did indeed find a motel, and it was in my price range, but the problem is that it was not in Belleville. Instead we had to take Texas 36 directly into the headwind for 13 miles to the town of Sealy where we checked into the luxurious Cowman’s Inn, a recently remodeled prison that sported an exercise yard bordering the freeway that had been re-purposed for muggings, beatings, and drive-by rapes. The only other vehicle at the entire motel was a broken down pickup missing a windshield with a variety of rusty implements and a mattress haphazardly thrown in the back. It appears this part of Sealy is so down at the heels that the criminals cannot even afford a proper 1970s white van.
Given the state of security I wasn’t about to walk across the rape yard to the convenience store to buy Oreos, Coke, and ice cream. “Hey Kristie,” I said. “Would you mind running over there and getting me some food?”
She came back a few minutes later. “How did it go?” I asked.
“It went okay but the girl at the register didn’t like me very much.”
“Why is that?”
“Girls don’t like other girls who come into the convenience store looking like they just turned a half dozen tricks buying three pints of ice cream, a large bag of Oreos, three cokes, a half gallon of milk, and a bag of Twizzlers.”
“Well how else are you supposed to recover from something like that? That’s a lot of work. What do they prefer you buy?”
“A nice mixture of alcohol and sleeping pills.”
“I don’t get it.”
“It’s a girl thing. We always watch what other girls eat, and when someone is buying secret closet eating food in broad daylight and not even trying to hide it, it pisses us off.”
I pondered this about the same time that I checked the weather on my phone. It appears that tomorrow’s 60 mile ride to Houston may not go off because it’s going to rain like crazy. This means we will get to spend another relaxing day at this tropical paradise, swimming in junk food and making sure all of the security chains are engaged on the door.
I am pretty sure I’m going to make it to Houston, just don’t ask me when.