The day could not have been better - cool morning temperatures, low humidity, zephyr breezes - just right for a long scooter ride. Off I went to Galveston.
(Kinda small isn't it? Click on the map and all the photos to see the full-sized images.)
It is a 400 plus mile ride to Galveston. I was not in hurry, so the scooter and I took the back roads. If I am in a hurry to get somewhere, I just drive the car. I can take the super-slab and cruise at 75-80 mph in the car and, but a bike is more conducive to a lazier cruise at 65-70 mph, going through small towns and along two-lane roads.
Since I was only staying one night away from home, I didn’t pack much more than a toothbrush and a bar of soap. Well, a change of underwear too - something clean to put on after washing the bugs off at the end of the day.
As you can see, the topography of deep south Texas is flat - most people’s table tops are bumpier than our landscape. Worse, to get north of here towards the east, there are only two roads - neither of them Interstates, but both are divided highways.
In other words, boring.
But, once I got past Corpus Christi, the road was still flat, but it became two-lane and started weaving through small coastal towns. I found a little road side eatery - the kind patronized by construction workers and road crews - and enjoyed the “How ya’ doin’?” from the leather-skinned waitress. Not much chance of finding a “fit and lean” menu item here - the burgers were gigantic, covered with cheese and cooked with extra grease.
Ever heard of the town of Blessing, Texas? Neither had I, but there it was - a beautifully maintained old hotel surrounded by the typical small-town main street of deserted shops and dilapidated houses. The Blessing Hotel is on some sort of registry for old historical buildings. The hotel and the town were so named because it was considered a blessing when the railroad came through.
The scoot ran perfectly and its rider did okay too, but the rider’s butt was happy to see the motel at the end of the ride. A nice meal, a shower and the evening cigar made for a perfect day.
Morning brought another great day for riding, but before returning home, I wanted to see some of the local area.
Galveston was all but destroyed in the Great Hurricane of 1900 - 8,000 people perished. It was nailed again by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Across Galveston Bay is the Bolivar Peninsula - and Ike’s winds and storm surge left little standing in the fishing and resort villages along the peninsula. Four years later, there is still lots of evidence of the destruction.
People being what they are, total destruction doesn’t seem to deter them from building anew, as evidenced by some gorgeous new vacation homes.
After a breakfast of croissants (purchased at a shop run by immigrant Cambodians), it was time to head back home. There is only one way to get to the Bolivar Peninsula from Galveston, and that is by ferry. Surprisingly, it is free. I guess the Texas Department of Transportation figures running the ferry is cheaper than building a high bridge over the heavily traveled ship channel into the Houston area. The scooter nestled in between cars and three Harley-Davidson motorcycles on the way back. I find my scooter is always a conversation-starter with other two-wheel riders. Most don’t believe a scooter can travel at highway speeds, but once the Harley riders realize I haven't lost my masculinity because I ride a scooter, there is always a friendly bit of chit chat. Once off the ferry and on the highway, I passed the trio at 70 mph - and made believers that my little Burgman can boogie with the big boys.
Galveston itself itself is a neat old city, worthy of further exploration. There is just a little bit of a New Orleans flavor to the place, including some great old houses - and even better people. I think another trip to explore the town may be in the future - but not during tourist season.
Then, the long ride home. I don’t have a radio or music player on the bike - on purpose. Besides not wanting to be distracted (and therefore, less safe), I also relish the time alone with my thoughts - pondering ideas, reminiscing some great times or planning new adventures. It is like wakeful dreaming - a time to let the mind sort itself out. I cut contact with the world with the knowledge that it will still be there when the ride is over.
By afternoon, the sea breeze had turned into strong winds, and though the Burgman is stable in the wind, riding is just not quite as much fun in the stiff gusts. A stop for gas and a quick text to Cindy telling her to keep supper warm, I rode home with bugs in my teeth.
Riding is good for the soul.