Sometimes I need to give wanderlust a purpose - things just seem more rational that way. Not that there is anything wrong with just wanting to throw a leg over my scooter and take a long ride - it just seems like there should be a reason for spending six hours out in the open on two wheels.
I mean - where would we be without at least one good rationalization each day?
And my rationale was that I wanted to see if the Vietnamese food at the Fai Foo Cafe - in Rockport, Texas - was any good. Rockport is 190 miles away. Long ride - Vietnamese food. Sounded like a fun day.
Deep south Texas is not an exciting place to ride - most table tops have more bumps than our landscape. Worse, if you want to go north along the coast, there are only two roads, and both are four lane divided super slabs.
There is one thing riders in other parts of the US will not see - Border Patrol checkpoints. On both of the highways heading north, there are permanent checkpoints every vehicle must go through to get north. Illegal immigrants trying to get into the interior of the US are dropped off by their smugglers (known as coyotes) before they get to the checkpoints, and they try to walk around the points. Every vehicle that goes through the checkpoint gets sniffed by dogs, poked by uniformed agents, and drivers are asked if everyone in the vehicle is a US citizen - which by the way, means when we go north with any of our Vietnamese students, they always have to bring their passport along to show the Border Patrol. It doesn’t take long, and when they see an old man on a scooter, they just ask the perfunctory “US citizen?”, then say “Have a nice day.”
Out in the flat cotton-growing area south of Corpus Christi is the ghost town of Chapman Ranch. Well - almost ghost. There are some farm implements parked in a big shed, but the houses are all shut up and boarded. I found this little fixer-upper.
Then on through to city of Corpus Christi. I took the expressway through town so I could go over the bridge spanning the harbor. It was a very windy day, and the wind made riding interesting up towards the top. No problems though - just motored on across and kept heading north towards Rockport.
And the seacoast town is a nice little touristy town. If you are football fan, then you know it was the home of Dat Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American to play in the National Football League and one of the best and most famous of all players at Texas A&M University.
The downtown area is kind of a funky, artsy sort of place with all the requisite craft shops and galleries. Maybe not the sort of place I would seek out, but I must be sure my wife doesn’t find it or she will find a reason to go there and spend lots of money.
But - there is a photo missing from this story - I have no photo of either the Fai Foo or the owners. The restaurant itself is not a very imposing place - just a little joint in a strip mall and well away from the tourist area, and the inside is as much tailor shop as restaurant. I doubt it could seat more than twenty people. But, it is the fault of Kim, the wife part of the team, that I don’t have a photo. Kim is a chatterbox and she totally distracted me. I had to know her story, and she regaled me with the tale of their journey from Vietnam in 1979 - she and her husband were boat people. Though only eight years old at the time, she told what is was like to leave her hometown of Ban Mê Thuột in the Central Highlands in 1975 and become a refugee in Sài Gòn, only to risk capture and prison by escaping the country in 1979.
Now - to be honest - the phở was so-so, and the spring rolls rolled too loosely, but I’d go there again just to talk to Kim.
Belly full, mind stimulated and the gas tank refilled, it was time to head back home. Going through Corpus Christi again, I went by the old aircraft carrier Lexington, the second World War II carrier to bear that name.
It was a very windy day - the trip back home took me straight into the wind. And it really irritated me. No - I don’t mean it was unsafe - the bike was as stable as a rock, nor was it tiring. Its just that it ruined my gas mileage. I normally get about 60 miles to the gallon while cruising at 65-70 mph - but my mileage dropped all the way down to 54 miles per gallon!
Ruined an otherwise perfect day.