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Winnie to High Island TX

We’ve spent the day today at the High Island RV Park, a real haven, especially with our hosts Regina and Ronnie. We’ve got a campsite on the grass next to the bird feeders, and it’s got shade much of the day. There’s a great pavilion with electrical outlets, so we can sit outside to work, and charge all our electronics at the same time.

There’s a real home-feeling, very clean bathroom with a shower, right next to a washer-dryer room. The washateria has chairs, a big television, and free Wi-Fi. Last night we took our first showers in seven days, and we looked forward to getting our laundry done first thing in the morning.
But first, let me catch you up on how we got here.

We worked non-stop on our giveaways in Winnie, but by Sunday night we knew we wouldn’t make it out on time. We did get up by five a.m., though, and continued working. By noon, stressed and irritable, we knew we wouldn’t make it out on Monday either.

Test riding with the panniers. Full speed ahead!

Monday was spent doing the last sorting of our goodies to give away and packing the to-go items in the panniers. I’ve bent your ears enough about the difficulty of having ten black and yellow bags, so I’d like to report that it miraculously solved itself, but it’s still a challenge.

However, we weren’t in a position to have it not work, so we made it work. We had several hilarious, tear-inducing moments, however. The first was when I saw the look on Chelsea’s face as she tried to manage her awkwardly loaded bicycle the first time we finished. Two days later I was still laughing at her look of shock and bewilderment, as in, “I can’t possibly do this!”

The second time was at least our fourth round of trying to get our awkward and huge portage bags packed so they’d hang on the bike like duffle bags with evenly spaced weight. It sounds easy, but it was horrible. Chelsea finally got down on her hands and knees and crawled inside the portage bag, carefully arranging things from inside the bag as I handed them to her. I SO wish I had a picture of it!

We needed to leave, in fact we were several hours overdue for leaving, but there we were still struggling with those !#% portage bags. I started to laugh at the sight of Chelsea on her hands and knees inside the portage bag, with just her bums and lower back hanging out, then Chelsea started to laugh from inside the portage bag. I couldn’t stand up straight for a while for laughing so hard.

We did eventually get it done, but we sure need to make some serious adjustments. Check out our photo albums for pictures of the fully loaded trial runs around the city park.

Finally by ten-thirty we were ready to go, our bikes loaded but feeling unstable, with twenty-five pounds of paperwork divvied up into backpacks on our backs. Wobbly, hot, but determined, we headed off to the Winnie post office, right into city traffic.

Thankfully the post office, once we found it, wasn’t full, and the post mistress had a great sense of humor. Before long we had mailed out the twenty-five pounds of paperwork to Alex, even alerting him to their arrival by a text.

All that remained was to get on the road to High Island.

I’m very happy to report that we did very well, despite not having traveled with fully loaded bikes in three years and never having traveled with panniers. Add to it all the fact that we urgently need a different solution than our portage bags, and we are downright proud of ourselves.

It was reasonably miserable to leave after eleven thirty, I will confess. We are early morning folks. It was hot, we had more traffic than earlier in the day, and we’d been up since five struggling with packing our gear. By eleven-thirty we were ready for a nice rest and a cold drink, not taking off on a hot long ride hauling a lot of gear.

I had a bad attitude by our first rest break, but the rest and almond butter-bread snack helped tremendously. The time didn’t seem too long at all by the time we saw the bridge.

Let me get this out in the open right up front. Chelsea and I hate bridges. Neither of us likes the height at all (!), we hate the cross winds up so high, the shoulders are always full of road debris, and the traffic always seems to be heavier just as we cross the bridge. We are just shy of terrified when we have to cross a tall bridge. And never mind having to work hard hauling the bikes and gear up.

Bridge on Hwy 124 just before High Island

This bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway was one of those short-ish and steep ones. I told Chelsea well in advance that I’d likely walk it, no matter how long it took. When we finally saw the bridge I was certain I’d be walking it. But hey, never say never, right?

Not only did Chelsea and I get at least halfway up without walking, it was far easier walking our bikes with panniers than it was with the trailers, and I even managed to get back on the bike and ride the rest of it. Chelsea was in too low a gear and couldn’t manage to balance, but she’ll get that down with experience.

At the top of the hill the wind really picked up. I stopped to look back for Chelsea and found her crouched down next to the guard rail with her camera hanging over the side. After a moment of panic, I suddenly realized she was avoiding the wind that way, so I crouched immediately and felt much better myself.

We didn’t have a real guardrail. It was merely a two-foot high concrete wall. Talk about easy to go over the side on that one! But Chelsea wanted views from the top and she’d spotted a two-barge push-boat combo. Of course we wanted photos.

The ride down was awful, a real white-knuckle ride. We still have some adjustments to make on our riding system, so the bikes are truly wobbly. It’s scary enough on the flats, but give us a hill with strong side winds, and wow! We somehow got down quickly and safely, heaving a collective sigh of relief, and unashamedly proud of ourselves.

Landing here at High Island RV Park has been truly a blessing. We slowly got set up…too tired to move fast, especially when we had the siren call of that outdoor pavilion. I finally roused myself to take the first shower while Chelsea read happily and charged the phones, Kindles and laptop.

While Chelsea took her shower I continued getting set up, at least until the hostess, Regina, called out to me. I wandered over to her trailer. Out of the blue she asked me if I’d like a haircut, free. She said she is a licensed hair stylist with twenty years’ experience and wanted to “pay it forward” by giving me haircut! Less than thirty minutes later I walked out of her trailer with newly shorn hair.

By the time Chelsea had finished her shower, Regina was ready for her. Chelsea got a haircut too!

Not only did we both get haircuts, but Regina has fed us since we arrived. Last night was leftover baby back ribs and hot potato salad eaten in mosquito-free comfort in the tent. Today was ham and cheese sandwiches complete with fresh lettuce and tomato for breakfast (at ten-thirty), popsicles a bit later, with beer and sweet pretzels for snack midafternoon.

Dinner was a small steak, like a Salisbury steak, macaroni and cheese, and a mix of lightly cooked beans with bacon, accompanied by a frozen pina colada.

Have we died and gone to heaven?

The food was especially appreciated as we were up for a long time during the night with lightning lighting up our tent, followed up with a noisy thunderstorm at four a.m. To our dismay we realized the tent was leaking, and by morning we knew we’d have to deal with the leaks. My fleece blanket lay in a puddle of water.

Getting very little sleep made for a slow start, then we had a major line of storms coming in mid-morning. We were ready though. We moved fast and got everything together so we could work in the Wi-Fi room, wash our clothes, find couchsurfers in Galveston, write the blogs, get the photo albums ready to upload, check the weather again and again and again, and pick where we’ll stay tomorrow night.

We’re heading off to bed now. The bathroom is free so it’s tooth-brushing time. Chelsea has been busy ferrying our things back to the tent (no leaks from the storm today!). I’ve been at the computer all day getting caught up, with a few short breaks to talk to Regina.

We’re well fed, clean, we have clean clothes, we have a couchsurfing host set up for Galveston and she sounds wonderful, and we’re uploading two photo albums and two travel journals.

I still haven’t caught up on the amazing two weeks with JoAnn Nunez, so hang in there till I have the time to write. It’s been a bit of a challenge with all the sorting and packing.

Say a prayer for us that we run into nice weather until we can get our tent leak-free. It’s not looking good, though. We are spending tomorrow night on the beach at Crystal Beach, and the weatherman is calling for a forty percent chance of rain throughout much of the day and night. Hmmm, camping in a thunderstorm on the beach in a leaky tent? Could be another amazing story.

Signing off from High Island, Texas

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