Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 6 & 7: Abilene, Austin & Galveston

I woke up a bit late on day 6 after a late night. I split out of Abilene and headed south on the 84 towards Brownwood. The scenery was a bit better than north western Texas, and the wind wasn't as bad either. After a while it got genuinely pretty.


A gas stop in, Coleman was next and as soon as I pulled up, a nice guy named Conan started talking to me. He and his mother were taking a trip to California from Texas, in a truck, with his motorcycle in the back. He was very interested in my travels and we talked for a while, about the proper ways to walk a bike up in the back of a car. I'll have to do a video-podcast on how to do that after I return home. He mentioned he had a friend named Cale that I'd probably get along with well, that he lived in Austin and would probably even put me up for the night. He gave me his info and told me to go to where he worked (Cypress Valley Canopy Tours) and he'd call them and let them know I was coming. Unexpected, and very cool.

I stopped in Brady for lunch, and ate at the 84 Cafe. It was a small diner, run by a nice Mexican woman. I had chips and salsa served with my hamburger. She even volunteered to mail a few postcards for me.


Continuing south, the flatland turned into rolling hills. I passed thru Llano, which had a great bridge and a little waterfall that a bunch of kids were playing around on and jumping from. Tempted tho I was, to jump in with them, I decided against it in the interest of time.


As I made my way down the 283 towards the meetup place Conan had suggested, Texas became very pretty. It was hot, but real nice. I stopped by the roadside again to stretch.

I turned off onto Paleface Ranch road to head to the the Cypress Valley Canopy Tours to try to find Cale.


I arrived and everybody working there knew about me...since Conan had called ahead. They were all pretty young, between 17 and 22-ish, but real nice guys. I met Cale and he turned out to be a really cool guy...has a Triumph Trophy 4 touring bike. He and his brother Aaron led me back to their place in south Austin. They gave me food, shower, washed my clothes and set up a couch for me to crash on. We talked for hours about all kinds of things, including a cool idea for a social t-shirt company they want to start. What awesome guys.

Woke up the next day, thanked Aaron and Cale for their hospitality and headed out towards Galveston. I took the 71E towards Altair and the 90 to Sugarland. I passed some pretty cool homes on the way into Galveston.


The traffic getting there was pretty bad, lots of stop and go lights and tons of cars. Galveston is neat, it reminds me of Coronado Island, similar homes, beach, surf, long peninsula with an island attached. I was headed to the far end of the peninsula, to take the Port Boliver ferry across to the other side and continue my journey along the coast. I finally made it to the ferry line and was bummed to see that it was really long and moving really slowly. But getting there was bad too so I wasn't going to turn around now. My bike was running pretty hot, and I was happy when I finally was flagged to move into the lanes to get on the ferry, about 45 minutes later. But I found out that was actually a parking lot to wait...it took about another hour and 15 minutes before I actually got on the ferry, and it was scorchingly hot. I took off my gear and sat in the shade of my bike, hoping the hot blacktop wouldn't give way under the weight of my heavy bike and topple it off it's kickstand.


But it was worth the wait. The ferry was really neat, the view was great and it came with a cool ocean breeze.


I continued east after the ferry ride while the sun started to set. This part of Galveston had been destroyed by hurricane Ike last year and it showed. It looked like an nuclear bomb had been dropped, it was wiped almost clean, with rubble piles all around and a few houses still standing with warped frames and wall and windows knocked out. There would be a sign for a business and nothing left but a foundation. Very much like a ghost town, a bit lonely and freaky. I can't imagine what it must have been like to live through that storm.


After the 'sceneic' route thru Galveston, I hit up the I-10 east. I wanted to try to make it to Lafayette, LA that night, in the hopes I could potentially meet up with Cale and Aaron's uncle, Donny. I phoned him and he offered me a bed too! But it was 3 hours away and I wouldn't get in till nearly midnight, so it'd be hard. 30 minutes into my trip on the I-10 towards Louisiana, I hit mega traffic. It was inching forward with no stops, and after an hour of it, my left arm was killing me from all the clutch use. Pulling over for a bit gave my hand a much needed break. It cleared up soon and I slabbed it East. Unfortunately, after the additional 1.5 hour traffic delay, I was too tired to make it to Uncle Donny's house. Some German students were in a car in front of me and by coincidence, we kept seeing each other as we both were hitting up hotels along the interstate asking room prices. I stopped at 3 before I settled for a motel in Crowley around 11:45pm.


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