“If you’ve ever driven across Texas, you know how different one area of the state can be from another. Take El Paso. It looks as much like Dallas as I look like Jack Nicklaus.”
— Lee Trevino, professional golfer
KOUNTZE, Texas — A massive storm front extending from the Gulf of Mexico to Chicago has stalled the progress of our transcontinental bicycle journey and kept up us from getting out of Texas on Friday.
We’re holed up at a Super 8 motel in Kountze in East Texas waiting for the weather to improve. Actually, as I write this, the rain has abated and the forecast doesn’t seem to be as dire as predicted on Thursday night.
The TV meteorologists had promised rain throughout Friday, some very heavy and possibly accompanied by hail, flash flooding and high winds. So as we gathered for breakfast just after 7 a.m. at the Super 8 motel, where we had sought refuge from the rain and wind Thursday afternoon, we decided to take a rest day in Kountze, instead of in Merryville, La., where we were scheduled for a rest day on Saturday.
The ladies at the historical society in Merryville, across the Sabine River that forms the border between Texas and Louisiana, had promised us a Cajun meal on Friday night, a visit to the homecoming football game at the local high school and a campsite with a pavilion where we could take shelter from the rain.
And the ladies in Merryville promised to save the makings for the gumbo and jambalaya and lay on the feast on Saturday instead of Friday. But we’ll miss the homecoming game.
Actually, I’m quite happy to take the rest day in Kountze. All of us are fatigued by riding more than 60 miles per day day after day, sometimes in rain and high winds, and one rider is fighting a cold. So a rest day will allow us to nap, dry out wet gear, clean up and lube our bikes and launder wet, foul-smelling biking clothes.
Also, ride leader Dave has a worn-out bottom bracket on his bike that needs to be replaced. The closest bike shop is in Beaumont, about 25 miles to the southeast. So he had to rent a car in Silsbee, 10 miles from Kountze along our route for Saturday, have it delivered to our motel and take his bike into Beaumont for repair. Several of our riders went along with Dave to see the sights in Beaumont and visit the bike shop.
It almost seems that this vast state of Texas has a hold on us and won’t let go. More than 1,000 miles of our 3,160-mile transcontinental trek has been in Texas.
We entered Texas on Oct. 9 from New Mexico at the town of Canutillo, on the western edge of El Paso. That night at a hostel in El Paso, I logged that we had traveled 923.01 miles since setting out from San Diego on Sept. 20. On Thursday night in Kountze, I logged that we had traveled 1,948.01 miles so far. And we still have to ride about 60 miles on Saturday to get out of the state.
As the late Democratic Gov. Ann Richards once said: “I thought I knew Texas pretty well, but I had no notion of its size until I campaigned it.”