The ride from Dallas to Houston was relatively uneventful until I got into Houston. I decided to turn into a Shell station and call my cousin Joni who lives in Houston. A car making a right hand turn decided he didn’t need to yield to me, even though I had the right of way. A quick avoidance to the left gave me the necessary room I needed to get around him and into the station, only after I let him clearly know what I thought of his driving skills.
For those of you who have never been in Houston, there are really two sets of highways. The main highway which is 4-5 lanes and the “frontage road”, which is 3 lanes with a speed limit of 50-55 MPH. In Chicago, we call these frontage roads the Edens, Kennedy and Dan Ryan. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas!
After a little confusion due to my two GPS’s dueling it out as to which route I should take, I arrived at Joni’s house unscathed. I cleaned up, and then we went to dinner at a local favorite of hers, and now mine, Goode Company (see photo). The story goes that Jim Goode opened up his first BBQ restaurant in 1977 and was so successful he then open up a seafood restaurant and then a hamburger/taco restaurant. We went to the seafood restaurant. I wanted to eat the local speciality of the house so we ordered a Campechana and a shrimp PoBoy. The Campechana De Mariscos is a Mexican Seafood Cocktail that is served in a tall glass similar to a sundae. If you ever have a chance to go to Houston this is a must restaurant to hit. The crabmeat gumbo was out of sight!
This was virtually a no riding day, which I needed. I hung out with Joni and we spent the day walking the area around Rice University, which has approximately 6,400 students. We walked the commercial area, had lunch and got caught up. It was wonderful to have one on one time with her. Whenever Joni comes into Chicago there are always tons of cousins, nephews and relatives that command her attention. It was great to be able to connect with Joni and hear all the history about the family that I wasn’t privy to because I’m a few years younger than her.
At around 4PM, I packed up and went over to my college roommate David and his wife Joy’s house for a spectacular seafood dinner. David is quite the chef and he has a total command of the kitchen. I was quite impressed by his abilities. The only thing I remember from our college days, which isn’t much, was ordering pizza and beer. For dinner, we were joined by his son Adam and his step-son Sammy. I could tell, by just my short interaction that they make their parents extremely proud. They even listened to us reminisce about our college times at University of Illinois. I think they were looking for dirt on their father! What a treat to be able to reconnect with a friend from 40 years ago! It was like we were 19 years old again, what fun.
First of all I want to wish all the fathers out there a very happy Fathers Day. This entry is going to be fairly lengthy because a lot happened today, all good. I awoke at 6AM (its starting to feel like work!) and got the bike ready for the ride. Joy was already out the door and on her way to spin class by 7AM, impressive! David was the gracious host and got out of bed on Sunday morning to see me off. I decided to hop onto I-10 West because I need to be in Phoenix no later than Wednesday night and didn’t want to waste valuable time on the side roads around Houston. As I was driving west on I-10 I felt that I was on a Jed Clampett Memorial Ride. Every pick up truck, and there are many in Texas, were overloaded with every item the family owns. The only thing missing was granny in the rocking chair at the top of the pile! Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but being on a motorcycle and seeing potential projectiles held down by a few pieces of rope always gets my attention.
I arrived in San Antonio at 11AM and went directly to The Alamo. The Alamo is right in the heart of the River Walk Area (see attached picture). After the required picture, I set my sights on The Hill Country, which is northwest of San Antonio and is one of the best motorcycle roads in all of Texas. There are three main roads in The Hill Country: Ranch Road 335, 336, and 337. They are called The Three Sisters. Initially, there were mostly other bikes on the road, but as I ventured further west and onto the other two roads the traffic died off and I found myself riding for 1+ hours without seeing another car or bike. I must admit that it did give me the creeps realizing that no one would come upon me should something happen to either me or the bike. Thank goodness for “Spot” my GPS locator. Judi was able to follow me on her computer because it sends out a locational signal every 10 minutes. During the ride a number of interesting things happened. I was first dive bombed by a hawk to within 5-7′ of my bike. I don’t know if she was trying to scare me off, but she succeeded! Nothing like seeing a hawk with a 4-5′ wing span coming straight at you at 70 MPH. The next animal story involved approximately 10-12 cattle that were walking on the road. Now remember this is hill country, so when I crested the road, guess where they were standing… right in my lane. Fortunately for me they responded to my air horn and ultimately moved off the road. However, as I passed the herd I could have sworn the last one gave me a look like he wanted to mix it up. I decided that my best option was to shift to second gear and get the heck out of there. Lastly, if I wanted to test out how it feels to apply 100% of my bikes anti lock braking capacity, I got that opportunity this afternoon. As I crested (remember hill country) I stumbled upon 6-7 miniature deer on the side of the road. I guess the only small thing they make in Texas are these deer, which are about the size of a large dog. They can still do a lot of damage if they decide to be stupid and jump out in front of you. The best way to describe some of these roads, is to compare them to the roller coasters at Great America, lots of ups and downs! Finally, I pulled into Junction, Texas and booked a room. They tell me that it really becomes barren once I start heading further west tomorrow. I’m not sure that’s possible based upon what I saw today
PS. The last picture, I think is of an old Harley rider without SPOT, the GPS locator!