February 16, 2017
It’s been tough finding time to post blog entries. I’m getting way behind; I hope to catch up when I am in Houston this weekend. The days have been long, as I need to be in Houston Friday evening February 17 (tomorrow) to meet my wife Cristina, who is flying in for a belated Valentine’s four-day getaway.
To skip ahead briefly, tonight I’m in West Columbia, Texas, about 60 miles to the south of Houston. This small town (population 4700) has a special place in history as the first capital of the Republic of Texas. School children in the Lone Star State take a required Texas history course, although it was mentioned to me that they don’t pay attention like we did in our day (did we pay attention?). At any rate, it should be remembered that Texas spent almost 10 years as an independent nation before joining the United States in 1846. Someone said this is the reason the Lone Star flag can be displayed on an equal footing with the Stars and Stripes. I don’t know if that’s true or not; I’ll have to do more research.
In a park in West Columbia stands a replica (the original was allowed to deteriorate and was finally destroyed by the same hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900) of the first Texas Capitol. It’s an unassuming wooden structure by any definition, but it was where such notables as Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston first called the Texas House of Representatives and Senate to order. Surprising to me is how poorly marked is the site; I made a couple of wrong turns and found it pretty much by accident. I wanted to take photos before I checked into my hotel and lost the daylight.
Today wasn’t a bad day, at least in terms of the weather. While the morning was on the chilly side at 41 degrees, it quickly warmed into the upper 60s with high pressure and clear skies. The best part was that the winds were light and variable. I spent the previous day and a half working into a headwind as strong as 20 miles per hour. As I have said, South Texas is flat, but those kind of winds take their toll. On the windiest day, it took more than eight hours of riding time to cover only 47 miles. I rode the last two miles basically in the dark.
About 10 miles from my overnight town today, I heard a sharp “ping!”–the unmistakable sound of a broken spoke. I was able to true up the rear wheel well enough to get me down the road. When I got to my motel, I found I had later broken a second spoke. It’s a testament to the quality of the rim that the wheel didn’t turn into a potato chip. In fact, at the motel I was able to replace both broken spokes with spares I carry, and the wheel didn’t even require trueing beyond merely tightening the newly installed spokes to the pitch of the others on the same side of the wheel. Thank goodness I’m a decent bicycle mechanic; I have great affection for the simple technology that a few basic tools and a little experience allows me to maintain.
I promise to fill in the gaps in the trip with my next post. They include some interesting and worthwhile stories.
The replica of the first Capitol of the Republic of Texas:
I stayed at the 114-year-old Luther Hotel in Palacios, Texas. I felt like I was living history:
Here are a couple of local characters I met along the Texas Gulf Coast: