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Day3 - Clute to Galveston - 47 miles / 75 km/

Clute to Galveston 46 miles

5:30 AM - This will be my shortest day. The traffic is already pulsing on the highway outside, contrained by traffic lights, then released. In addition to darkness, there is also a heavy fog.  My first challenge of the day is to navigate an interstate exchange.

More perpetual heat and light from the BASF plant:

Last night, the last miles of my ride had no breakdown lane. I was concerned that this might continue over the concrete spaghetti that made up the overpass complex with little/no shoulder, with that shoulder being filled with tire destroying sharp objects.  There were no alternate routes.  Do I wait until daylight (with higher traffic and still foggy) or do I go now and count on my flashing lights and reflector strips to stand out in the darkness?

I decide to go early into the dark. I make my way up to the traffic light, thankful to see that the ramp up has a six-foot wide shoulder. 

I'm able to slowly weave my way through the mile of embedded reflectors, stones, bits of metal and broken glass and make it down the other side without incident. Some hardy Black-eyed Susans along the way:

 The foggy darkness lightens to a foggy greyness(!)  Even though it isn’t raining, my clothes are damp and condensation drips off the rim of my visor. 

Oxbow lakes, vestiges of a slow meandering river, nestle up to both sides of the highway. I stop to admire the misty aquatic scene replete with all types of waterfowl.

I feel a prickling on my legs. Looking down, my legs are peppered black with mosquitos, and each swipe leaves red lines on my legs.

I go through this frantic dance on the side of the road with my arms flailing and much jumping around prior to hopping onto my bike and getting moving, and doing a check of all exposed skin parts to make sure I'm not bringing along any unwanted passengers.

Up and over the intercoastal causeway -

and my first view of the Gulf of Mexico

and the colony of Surfside, with all houses on stilts:

surfside TX

I hit the coastal Blue Water Highway and spend the next hour in a hemisphere of fog with the sound of gulf waves crashing on my right and the northern breeze whispering in my left.  The road drifts back and forth and the miles roll by, with nothing to look at because of the dense fog.

The bike runs silently beneath me save for the sound of the tires on the asphalt, and even that sound disappears as I play a little game to see how long I can keep the wheels on the painted white traffic line.

After a while the road rises up before me and turns into the Vasek Bridge, stretching out over land and water. 

The lanes were narrow, but no cars marred my solitary crossing. 

Two fisherman bob up and down in a small boat waved as I coast past.  The (now) tail wind and the slight downward arc of the bridge allows a 15-16 mph speed without pedaling.

Open Water

Then it's back onto land. Houses melt into view, also high on stilts.  There's money here, given the size and designs of the houses.

Geodeisic Dome:

Finished House, really:

Faux Mansion - Garages and entrances on ground floor, nothing else

Church on stilts

Galveston State Park appears in the mist – it's still early morning and I'm in no rush (this being my easiest cycling day) and so I turn into the park entrance.

Galveston State Park

Park Picnic tables

Galveston State Park

Galveston State Park - riptides The walkways has signs announcing no lifeguards and cheerfully written instructions on how to survive rip tides.

I park my bike, strip down and do a symbolic skinny dip, my only companions being the gulls.  I sit down on my clothing and munch on a granola bar and drink Gatorade as I stare out beyond the waves into the ever-present morning fog.

The ebb and flow of waves drains through the beach sand around me, creating patterns that look like Jackson Pollack paintings, except these are the originals and forever temporary and timeless. A nice moment.

My reverie is interrupted by a parade of youth led by a sunburnt, portly, panting man.  It's the geology professor from Texas A&M with 32 years tenure leading his gaggle of sullen education and geography students on a field trip.

He brought them here to demonstrate the existence of a freshwater “lens” sitting right on the sandy island of Galveston that is surrounded by saltwater.  He has the more interested students dig a series of shallow holes from the shoreline up towards the dunes.

The accumulating water in the hole closest to the gulf is definitely salty, the second farther up the shore less so, and the final hole salt-free.

Given the amount of condensation that seeps into the ground from the (virtually) daily influx of fog, plus freshwater is lighter than saltwater, you have the conditions to create, within the sand of the seawater island, a lens of freshwater floating on top of saltwater.

Iinteresting. and with that I pick up my bike and tramp away to a more secluded part of the beach.  The fog is now burning off, and far to the east are more stilt houses as well as RVs parked directly on the beach.

It's time to get back on the road, and I pass more new housing developments, bright with pastels and with roadways regularly marked with “Hurricane Evacuation Route” signs.

And now the famous Galveston Seawall. 

Galveston Seawall

Back in 1900 a terrible storm washed away close to 6000 souls.  In the aftermath, the remaining Galvestonians began rebuilding their city, first by erecting a seawall with a special curve designed to send high incoming waves back onto themselves. They then used the subsequent decades to backfill behind the seawall, effectively raising the elevation of Galveston by close to ten feet.

I ride along the top of the seawall the rest of the way to my hotel. More Galveston info here.

There was a reason for making Galveston a stop along the way - The song "Galveston" (a 1968 hit performed by Glen Campbell and written by the incomparable Jimmy Webb) was the first song I ever played on my guitar when I was 13. You can find the song file here.

My hotel for the night, The Commodore on the Beach:

After a trip to a Laundromat, it's time for lunch and I'm off to the locals’ favorite, highly recommended “Shrimp and Stuff” for one of their world-famous “Po'Boys”.

There's multiple stories has to how a Po'Boy got its name - it's generally conceded to be a Louisiana contraction of "poor boy's lunch"

A Po'Boy which is a whitebread sub-like bun 6"-12" long, with shredded pale lettuce, mayonnaise, pickles and your choice of heavily fried seafood layered on top. Jack up the spiciness with your favorite Hot Sauce and off you go. . . OK, so I’ve had a Po'Boy. My life is complete.

Dinner is at Casey’s Seafood Café, and the American penchant of “more is good” approach to servings is on display with my supposed one-person meal of black-fried shrimp, scallops and “redfish” a type of Gulf bottom feeder (related to the reef-dwelling snapper) than is probably too ugly to contemplate when live.

Fixings consist of some kind of potato/butter/cheese convergence that makes me feel fatter everytime I look at it.

Time for bed.



Dawgs in Pursuit



Zero, and I was grateful for it


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