Feb19 (RD18) (AFHD41)
.The next day after visiting Fr Ken took us through some intensely cultivated, but, to me, totally unidentifiable agricultural areas. Many of the fields were obviously rice paddies, but there was no crop growing at this time. Many fields looked like they may have been rice paddies, but were now dry. To add to the mystery, many of the flooded fields had hundreds of “tethered cages” in rows across the entire field. Shrimp? Crayfish? Crabs? Didn’t find anyone I could talk to for the information. I did stop one farmer doing something I totally recognized; he was spreading manure on one of the huge perfectly flat fields. I wheeled of thee road to catch him as he came back to refill his spreader. He was a transplanted Illinois farmer (former Army Ranger, 101st Airborne) and we had a very congenial chat. The field is was spreading was going to be growing corn (as in, Iowa corn), planting date set for March 1, and the chicken “litter” he was spreading had been trucked in from 100 miles away! This astounded me as we don’t think we can economically transport that kind of manure more than 20 miles at home. The corn crop they raised last year (following a wheat crop the year before) made about 175 bushels/acre; another big surprise as the soil looked very sandy and “weak” to me. We both thoroughly enjoyed our impromptu conversation.
We had a more difficult time than usual trying to find a camping spot for this night. We had about given up and were playing the “last hand card” of Walmart parking lot when I spied an RV sign about half a block off the street. It didn’t look promising, either, as most of the vehicles there appeared to be at least “semi-permanent”, with porches and out buildings attached. Willing to give it our best shot, we sought out the manager, Allen. HIs headgear of “Proud Veterans” ball cap and his “in charge” demeanor clicked well. Just one look at our Purple Heart insignia on the license plate on STella made it an easy decision for Allen. “Purple Hearts stay here for free”, says Allen. He really didn’t care whose it was.
The next day we passed into Texas after crossing over the Sabine River border with Louisiana. It seemed like a real milestone, yet daunting knowing the size of this biggest of the “lower 48” states that was all ahead of us. We lucked out yet again in our choice of noon lunches with Janice’s Restaurant. We both ordered the “hickory burger”, thinking we’re away from the coast so now we eat beef again. Great choice! Finger lickin’, lip smackin’ good!
A drenching downpour caught me about 10 miles short of our goal of Silsbee. The rain could have been dealt with, but combined with the extremely heavy traffic on this end of our route, discretion ruled out over valor and Cathy came to the rescue and hauled me back to our home for tonight at the Red Cloud RV park. Just one more reason those folks who do their own supporting have my admiration. In cases like that, they just have to get off the road and set up a tent and suck it up.
February 18 dawned cool, cloudy, and “iffy” but I set off anyway after looking at the forecast for clearing later in the day. The constantly changing terrain has now put us in the “Big Thicket” area of SE Texas. As late as the end of the Civil War, every known species of both hardwood and pine that grows in Texas could be found in abundance in this sprawling area of tens of thousands of acres. The railroad and building boom following the Civil War depleted this seemingly endless supply of lumber, with 4 sawmills spewing out over 200,000 board feet of lumber PER DAY! A sizable section of the Thicket has been set aside as a National Preserve, and remains much as it was before the white man came.
Our lunch stop was again at the crossroads of a couple of busy Farm Roads in Rye, Texas. Plentiful food, even if not quite up to the standards of Janice’s Restaurant of yesterday.
Cathy’s recon and discovery of the evening’s camp spot made up for it though. Shepherd’s Sanctuary was easily the most eclectic and fascinating spot we’ve stayed at on the whole trip. Connie and “Peach” have put together a practically indescribable (even for me!) rest haven geared primarily to bicyclists. They are prominently advertised in Adventure Cycling literature, and deservedly so. The eye-catching eclectic clutter was literally, everywhere! And not ticky tacky junk stuff, really COOL stuff. For those tough-it-out-self-supported bikers I’ve talked about here, it amounts to Shangri La! Many stay for at least a day or two and soak it all in. Sweeter ladies you’ll never meet, and we parted in the morning with huge hugs and big smiles. I had the chance to give them a “plug” before noon today as I stopped an East Bound Southern Tier self-supported gent and told them he owed it to himself to stop in to the Sanctuary. He was a 72 year old Former Marine also, and we had a nice chat before I gave him my card and he continued east and I, west. We each figured we were getting near the half way point for each of our journeys.
If you look closely at the large circular picture, you can see the neon “Buffy” sign which the ladies bought from Warner Bros at auction when the show ended its run on TV. Our Collette probably knows it better than most 🙂
Today’s promise of cool temps and the possibility of a REAL tailwind had me setting the bar pretty high for a an overnight stop at Navasota, TX. It would be one of the rare “three map section” treks, and was worth the effort as it would also be the last map in Southern Tier Booklet 5! Well, the breeze held mostly favorable all day and the threatening rain never got to be more than a steady mist, so the goal was met and we are now on the west side of old Navasota, TX. An exceedingly simple place compared to last night, but travelers now how to adapt, if nothing else.
The choices before me are, to send this out now without pictures, and add them as edits later, or save it all until pix are attached. Looking westward from here on the maps, it seems unlikely I’ll get any better cell coverage until we get to Austin, so, here it all comes. Better late than never, and with promises to add the appropriate pix when the technology is in hand to support it.
Tonight and tomorrow’s weather promises to be pretty rugged, with heavy thunderstorms and wind. Might be “holed up” for a while.
It’s all good.
Went way over my self imposed 1000 word limit, but hey, it’s 4 days worth!
We want all our kids and grandkids to know how much we miss them! Show the little ones how to “reply”. I know Gunner can do it 🙂 Just remember they have to show the name and email before they hit “send”.