The coast of Maine - Acadia National Park
The new Salem harbour
Boston, city of contrasts, the old and the new.
A Normal Rockwell classic, "I showed the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed."
The thunder ride, Pennsylvania HOG Rally.
15/8/04 - Maine
Crossed the busy border into Calais without any hassles and enjoyed a good value US breakfast of poached eggs on muffins.
The coastal road of Maine winds through many small interesting villages. Travel was slow despite being on highway 1 with hundreds of Sunday day trippers. Lots of antique shops, yachts in the harbours and many lobster pounds. An interesting feature of the coastline is the trees which grow right down to the water line.
Stopped briefly at Acadia National Park near Bar Harbour where tall hills rise out of the sea fringed with boulders and trees. Not as impressive as we'd hopped - perhaps because of the light rain and overcast skies. We couldn't resist stopping at a lobster pound and picked up a reasonably sized lobster for $US15.00 and took him to Belfast (1- map) where he became our dinner for the night.
17/8/04 - 18/8/04 – Massachusetts
Boston, Home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Marathon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University. It's where JF Kennedy had his constituency and where John Kerry (US Presidential hopeful) is based. It's also the site of the Boston Tea Party and where the war for Independence began. Boston also has the second greatest student population in the world and is where the TV show Cheers was inspired.
We left the bike at Salem (2 - map) to the north and took the train into the city. We'd been warned that the traffic is horrendous and that there is no parking anywhere. Once in the city we took a trolley (bus) ride that visited most of the famous landmarks and Boston it seems has either the first, oldest, most famous, greatest or whatever in the USA! This area is steeped in history from the first settlers, through colonisation to the battle for independence and Bostonians it seems are proud of their heritage. Our trolley guide was most interesting keeping us informed with all sorts of snippets of information. For instance the bit about General Hooker, one of the civil war generals. Seems the General was quite liberal in his thinking and used to arrange for 'working' girls to visit his troops every night. They came to be know as "Hooker's Girls"!
Before we left we spent some time finding out about Salem as it also had a colourful past that included the Salem witch hysteria and trials of 1692 and the once busy and wealthy wharves of this old sea port. This waterfront is now Salem's Maritime National Historic site which encompasses the wharf, warehouses, stores, merchants houses along the waters edge and the Friendship, an original masted ship used for trading.
Heading southwest through Massachusetts and traveling on the smaller country roads to make the most of the area. Unfortunately this slows our progress so we have to occasionally get on the Interstate Highways. We don't enjoy traveling on them as there is nothing to see and the traffic is heavy with lots of trucks and one needs to concentrate as some drivers do silly things.
On the smaller roads we passed through "wooded hills", the area where the poet Longfellow lived and described in his poetry.
On to Stockbridge in the Historic Berkshire hills. We visited the Norman Rockwell museum and enjoyed the artwork of Americas favourite artist and his record of American life. He is perhaps most well known for the numerous covers he illustrated for the Saturday Evening Post.
Onwards, forever onwards as we head SE through the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and on into Pennsylvania.
20/8/04 - 21/8/04 – Pennsylvania
We had been trying to make it to another HOG rally (3 - map) and had hoped to attend the one in West Virginia. However since we were running late that was not to be but all was not lost since there was another rally in Pennsylvania, en route, the same weekend.
Registration was at the Scranton visitors centre and we were made to feel immediately welcome. This rally was different to what we are used to with no organised camping and with events happening at different locations, some 15 miles apart.
We checked into a cheap hotel that offered us a good deal, but there were only 2 other HOGs there. Seemed strange to be at a HOG event without HOGs all around. There was a meet and greet though, at a venue 6 miles away, with a good band.
The next day we rode south 15 miles to the other venue, attended a service seminar and checked out the vendors. That night, yet another venue for the main welcome, a bike show and another good band. The weather reports had forecast storms and they were right. The skies opened up and there was a torrential thunder storm. During a lull in the rain they put on a fantastic fireworks display and Dianne and I showed the American HOGs how to have some fun as we danced the night away.
It was still pouring down the next day, an ideal opportunity to catch up with some web site building. The highlight of the rally for us was a long thunder run, as we call them, or parade of flags, well organised through the local area. The closing ceremonies awarded us for the longest distance traveled and again there was a good band and we danced the night away.
Thanks Pennsylvania HOGs.
Union canons facing the enemy attack, Gettysburg battlefield.
Impressive monuments mark historic sites
The Amish, Farming with 4 horse power
Amish washing day
Amish kids out of another era.
Amish family heading into town
Trying out one of those new bikes
We watched the motorcycles assembled with love and passion in the Harley Davidson factory.
Armstrong's actual space suit in The Air and Space Museum, one of the collections in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the worlds largest free museum complex.
Washington is also about the people...
... and the monuments
... and the monuments
Enjoying the curves and freedom on the skyline parkway, Shenandoah NP
History maintained by the National Parks along side the Parkway
This is why it is the Blue Ridge Parkway
The City Cafe Diner, Chattanooga, huge healthy meals for less than we could make ourselves.
The guys who looked after our baby.
Off to Gettysburg (4- map) today to learn more of American history. After several days of rainy stormy weather, today is perfect. Cooler and with blue skies and no wind we head south initially on I 81 but then turning off and following the minor roads through small villages and farmland to Gettysburg, the site of the biggest and most decisive battles of the American civil war. During the 3 days of July 1 - 3 1863, more than 51 000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing in the fiercest battle of the civil war.
This occurred about 100 years after the war for Independence and as a result of Lincoln's decision to abolish slavery and tax the produce of the southern states. The southerners being mainly farmers relied on slave labour and consequently decided to succeed from the United States. The war lasted 4 years and the results are history, but in the south, even now, there is still some resentment.
The battlefields are part of a National Park and we rode on a marked tourist route past many monuments and memorials depicting the events of the battle. Quite a moving experience to look over the fields and imagine the carnage that occurred.
Decided to spend the morning taking in some more monuments and battle fields on the tourist route. On this route there are numerous stops and the events of the battles are explained. Picketts famous last charge for instance where 1,200 Confederates advanced toward the Union forces in a last desperate attempt to gain victory, and also marked the 'high water mark' of the Confederate onslaught. 5000 soldiers became casualties in 1 hour and from here on it was all downhill for the Confederate forces. "With the repulse of Pickett's charge the battle of Gettysburg was over. The Confederate army that staggered back into Virginia was physically and spiritually exhausted. never again would Lee attempt and offensive operation of such magnitude".
Lunchtime and we're heading east to Lancaster and towards Amish country (5- map) . We struggled to find a campsite and stopped at a Gas station to ask a couple of bikers. Well we ended up being invited to stay the night at Todd's house. he invited his mate Ryan and Wife Alison over as well and we had an excellent night with good food and company. Wish we could have stayed longer.
When we were last in the US, one of the highlights that we remember was stumbling across the Amish communities particularly around the town of Intercourse. The Amish community shun mechanisation, electricity, most modern conveniences and still ride around in horse drawn buggies and use horses to harvest their crops. When we were here before we recalled the Amish being remote and detached from mainstream society, but I suppose in 20 years things progress, or regress. Urbanisation now surrounds the Amish communities and it's hard to imagine how they have coped. Here they are with none of the conveniences of modern life, but they are surrounded by evidence of it. They were here first but now sprawling communities have almost devoured them.
A highlight for me on this trip was to visit the Harley Assembly plant in York. This is where the Softails and FL series bikes are made in a huge facility. The reception area and exhibit are what you would expect from Harley Davidson but the tour through the factory was more than we expected. Tour groups of about 20 people followed a guide right through the factory floor. At times you could just reach out and touch newly pressed fuel tanks or fenders. This was not a show put on for the public, but a fully operational factory and we felt a part of it with all the heat, noise and general activity you would expect. Touring bikes take about 2 hours to emerge, from start to finish and at the end of the line all bikes are dyno tested. I was surprised to see the speedo registering 80MPH during the brief 'test ride'.
Our tour took about an hour and we watched 'Harley' Tattooed workers both male and female assemble the best motorcycles in the world with love and passion. Just over two years ago our bike would have rolled off this very assembly line. Now it's outside in the parking lot with 90 000km on the clock.
Leaving York late afternoon we continued south to Baltimore (6- map) and then Washington DC (7- map) . Our brief stop in Baltimore was at the inner harbour. We were going to leave the bike briefly to take in some of the sights, but were advised by a couple of locals not to leave the bike - even for a moment. We took the advice with first me then Dianne taking in the harbour sights, then headed further south to Washington DC.
A horizonsunlimited.com community member had suggested we camp at Cherry Hill as this was the closest campsite to the city. We found the site easily enough but were stunned at the $US36.00 an night fee. After some haggling and pleading Dianne got them down to $US30.00 but that's still nearly $A40.00 for a patch of grass!!!
Although expensive, the site did have good facilities and advice. Some of that advice was to take the bus to the Metro station and catch the train into Washington DC. $1.20 each for the bus and $7.00 for the train return seemed good value so that's what we did.
Arriving in DC central we had a short walk to the various exhibition halls in the Smithsonian Institute and decided on the Air and Space centre first. Our recollections of this display from 23 years ago is still sharp in our minds and we were keen to re-live our earlier experiences. Again things have changed since we were last here and things are now even more impressive. A surprising snippet of information gave us a reality check. In this one huge building the history of flight and space was showcased from the Wright Brothers first plane to Skylab, yet everything in this building was less than 100 years old! Hard to comprehend but true. A highlight for us was the 3D IMAX showing of the development, in space, of the new Space Station. Amazing footage and in 3D, it seemed like we were there.
We ended up staying at the Air and Space centre till 5.30pm then took a walk up to the Capitol and around some of the city streets. As we have progressed further south from Maine, we've noticed a steady increase in the number of Afro Americans and in Washington is seems they outnumber the whites. Sadly many were begging or sleeping on park benches in stark contrast to the opulence of DC in general.
Whilst the bus and train were certainly convenient, we wanted to visit the various monuments in Washington DC and felt nobbled yesterday without our own transport, so today we braved the traffic and took the bike into town. The traffic on I95 is extremely heavy with 4 lanes almost chock a block nose to tail traveling at 120KPH. Since entering Maine the traffic has been getting steadily heavier and more dense in contrast to the relative wilderness of Alaska and northern Canada and riding in these conditions is very stressful as you not only have to watch the traffic but watch out for the odd blown truck tyre treads and potholes that pop up from nowhere. The drivers in DC are also the most erratic we've seen often switching lanes at will without indication.
The National HOG Rally this year was in Richmond Virginia, less than 100 miles from Washington, but we decided not to go. If the HOGs can't camp and all be together then we're not interested. After the rally in Pennsylvania we're disappointed with some HOG events which seem to lack the camaraderie of most Australian events - the Alaskan State Rally excepted where there was camping on site and where we had a memorable time.
Left Washington DC and looking forward to hopefully less traffic as we head for Skyline Drive, the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. A stressful trip to the Skyline Drive but then the traffic eased and we were on one of the best biker roads in the world. The route winds its way up and down and around over some beautiful mountain scenery on a road that was made for motorcycles.
Found a good campsite at Waynesboro for the night.
Rest day today. Dianne and I are both taking the strain a little. (a lot) Too much sight seeing and taking on the Washington traffic was taking it's toll so today we had a break. A chance to wash the bike and check it over and Dianne updated her food section of the web site. (Check it out)
As I write this tonight, 8.00pm, in the site alongside there is huge gathering. A karaoke machine and gospel to 60s music - great fun. Hope they don't mind the smell of our garlic cooking!! Tomorrow is Sunday and we're expecting a large church service here on the camp site.
Religion dominates life in this part of the states and this morning our fellow campers are rehearsing for the big service held on site. A banjo, double bass and a couple of guitars and some excellent vocals playing and singing country gospel music that really set a mood for Virginia.
Departing Waynesboro at about 10.30am we entered the Blue Ridge Parkway and rode for 400km on a continuation of one of the best motorcycling roads in the world. The 'Parkway is built along the ridge of a mountain range and there are spectacular views to the left and right as you meander your way along it. Progress is slow because of the strictly enforced 45MPH speed limit but we probably couldn't go that much faster anyway because of the constant curves and we eventually stopped for the night in Fancy Gap, just off the Pkwy, at around 6.00pm. As I mentioned before religion plays a big part in life here and I was disappointed when I went to the checkout at the fuel station with a couple of beers to be told I couldn't buy beer in this county after midday on Sunday. If I went 6 miles down the road then I could buy beer no problem, but not here!!
Yesterdays rain cleared overnight and we looked forward to another wonderful days riding on the 'parkway. Stopping at the numerous pull outs to take in the views and also several historical highlights.
Passing from Virginia into North Carolina the mountains got higher peaking at 6000ft. With the altitude came afternoon rain showers but the luck was still with us as we missed them all. We had been crossing paths with another Harley rider since we joined the 'parkway' 2 days ago. He was either behind us or in front as we followed our own schedules but every time we chatted he had just been through a torrential downpour and all we had had was wet roads.
Stopped the night in Cherokee (8- map) and with the weather looking ominous decided to book into a cheap motel. We had no sooner booked in and as we made our way to the room the sky's opened up. Another 2 minutes and we would have been soaked.
Cherokee is named after the proud Indians that inhabited this area. Sadly "The Indian Removal Act of 1830 called for the voluntary or forcible removal of all Indians from the southeastern United States to the state of Oklahoma. May of 1838 marked the deadline for voluntary Native American removal. The military was prepared to use force and did so under the command of General Winfield Scott. General Scott ordered the round up and removal of over 17,000 Cherokees who refused to leave. So began the Cherokee 'Trail of Tears', one of the darkest episodes in relations between the United States and Native Americans."
"The process was swift and brutal. Detachments of soldiers arrived at every Cherokee house and drove men, women and children out of their homes with only the clothes on their backs. They were placed in concentration camps where conditions were horrendous. Food and supplies were limited and disease was rampant. Many perished."
We passed through the Great Smoky Mountain NP into Tennessee and since our arrival we've noticed cheaper prices for most things. Fuel, food and motels - some down to under $20.00 (with breakfast).
Managed to get free wireless internet connection at a flash hotel this morning so an opportunity to send and receive emails etc. Some of our tasks took a lot longer than anticipated and we eventually got away at 3.00pm.
We were going to do some maintenance on the bike in Texas but I wasn't overly happy with the people I spoke to down there. Dianne suggested I call the dealer in Chattanooga (9- map) and we received a warm friendly welcome and cheaper prices so we booked the bike in for tomorrow. The labour to replace the drive belt in Texas varied from $250.00 to $600.00. At Thunder Creek Harley Davidson in Chattanooga they would do the job for $200.00, not worth struggling away without the proper facilities to do it myself. Mechanical things have what is sometimes referred to as a "Mean Time Between Failure". When considering preventative maintenance, the plan is to replace items before they fail. That's what we're doing with the belt and also the rear wheel bearings. It's convenient to replace them now rather than at the side of the road when they fail. While the bike was in the shop I decided to check the cam chain tensionors, a known weak item in the otherwise bullet proof twin cam motor. Unfortunately they were also badly worn and so we had to replace them too.
An expensive stop, but remember the bike has done over 90,000km. These items would have lasted longer but not the full trip through Central and South America. Replacing them now gives us some piece of mind for the rest of the trip.
Jack Daniel distillery
It's the charcoal filtering that makes JD so smooth.
We passed small towns as we headed south through Mississippi where life is a struggle.
These people live in small houses in bad repair but...
... in strong contrast this mansion could be right next door!
Life's' hardships and differences forgotten in a powerful morning of gospel singing.
Most towns seemed to be dying with run down buildings and closed businesses.
Swamp lands along the trace
An expensive road system built on pylons in the swamps
Bourbon Street, the main street in 'the French Section, New Orleans.
Dancing on the New Orleans streets, it gets worse!!
New Orleans cemetery
A ride through the swamp and bayou country, very relaxing watching the water which is in no hurry to get anywhere.
Our guide on the swamp tour hugs the beast, obviously not a Croc.
Historic plantations on The great river road, following the Mississippi River.
ACADIEN – resident of ACADIE, exiled by the British to resettle
in Louisiana. L'Acadie is the French spelling of a mythical greek paradise
and name of the new French colony in Eastern Canada, now Novia Scotia.
Impressive wall murals, Lafayette.
Bayous and marsh along the coastal route on the Creole Nature Trail.
Fishing trawlers along the coast
All wells are everywhere
Texans sometimes think of themselves as being separate to America.
Had hoped to get away early today to get to Lynchburg - home of the Jack Daniel factory, but I wasn't happy with the way the bike was running. We eventually left the shop late afternoon and battled with the heavy traffic on the I24 as we made our way out of Chattanooga. Camped for the night at a pleasant campsite near Winchester.
After Winchester, which is not a pretty town, Lynchburg was a quaint little village. Population about 360 and almost everyone is engaged in tourist activities related to Jack Daniel's. We strolled around the town square then headed on to the 'factory' for the tour. David, our tour guide gave us an entertaining and informative overview of the history of Jack Daniel, the man and also the distillery. We did struggle a bit with his southern accent but overall got the gist of the process. The overall facility is quite small and the process simple yet here they produce millions of gallons of "good 'ole number 7" every year. Seems one of the biggest problems is the storing of the barrels of whiskey. Each barrel is stored for at least 4 years then tasted. If a particular barrel exhibits exceptional qualities then the whiskey is further filtered through charcoal and is bottled as a single barrel brew.
Only a hand full of people work in the distillery and on the first Friday of the month each are given a bottle of whiskey. They refer to that as "good friday". Sadly, we were not able to sample this good whiskey at the distillery or in Lynchburg as both are located in a 'dry county'. What an irony!! One of the worlds largest distilleries in the world is located in a dry county, most inhabitants are employed directly or indirectly by the distillery, but you can't buy a drop of the product there.
After the tour we made our way to the Natchez Trace Parkway (map– 10) and followed it south towards the Mississippi river.
The Natchez trail came about when northern factories wanted to get their products to the south. They built barges to transport their goods on the Mississippi then sold the barge at its destination for its lumber. The crew then had to walk back north.
The parkway was a pleasant ride although we rode through several severe thunderstorms, a result of Hurricane Francis which was battering Miami.
Stopped the night in McComb, not one of the prettiest towns we've been to, and checked into a cheap motel. I realised things might be a little dodgie when I noticed the manageress sitting behind a security window with iron bars. The room was, well, interesting as were the other customers or clients and we parked the bike as close to the room as possible.
Despite the overall appearance the people, all black, were quite friendly and we didn't feel at all threatened.
Sunday morning and we're in the heart of Mississippi Gospel country. When planning the trip we had hoped to be able to catch a church service while in this part of the US and lo and behold, here we were. There are literally hundreds of Baptist churches around and we stopped outside a largish one hoping to hear some singing. Within moments we were invited in and joined the exclusively black congregation. The people gave us a warm welcome and we got to experience first hand some dramatic southern gospel preaching and powerful singing. Boy does the congregation get wound up singing their hearts out and clapping their hands.
Moving on we took the back roads to New Orleans passing through several small towns along the way. Most towns seemed to be dying with run down buildings and closed businesses. We also had to endure swarms of 'lovebugs' which splattered their juicy bodies all over the front of the bike. Why are they called 'lovebugs?'. Take a look at the photo, and you'll see why.
The weather is getting hotter and more humid as we venture further south but we're buoyed at the prospect of visiting Louisiana and New Orleans. Much of Louisiana is swamp land and the interstate is really a bridge supported on pylons. There are hundreds of miles of this hugely expensive road system here and it's a different experience to look out over water to the left and right.
We had planned to camp in New Orleans but frankly it was just too dammed hot so we found a reasonably priced motel close to the city - with security-. We have been warned by several people to be extremely careful in New Orleans as the crime rate is horrific, so we felt comfortable being able to lock our stuff up and park the bike in a locked secure area.
After a refreshing shower we caught a bus into the city and began exploring the uniqueness of New Orleans with it's French influence, jazz and Cajun cooking. Louisiana was originally French owned, then literally given to Spain, to prevent it falling into British hands, reacquired by the French and then finally sold to the United States for $15 million dollars in what is referred to as 'The Purchase'.
The wars between France and Britain have had a major influence on this continent and can be summed up in this article from the World Book encyclopedia - "The final struggle began in 1754. It is known as the French and Indian War in the United States. The conflict spread to Europe in 1756 and is called the Seven Years' War in Canada and Europe. The French were winning until 1758, when British forces captured Louisbourg and several key inland forts. In 1759, the British captured Quebec. The fighting ended when the British took Montreal in September 1760. France gave up Canada and part of Louisiana to Britain in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. France had given the rest of Louisiana to Spain in 1762. France reacquired Louisiana from Spain during the early 1800's and sold it to the United States in 1803".
It's not just a nationality thing though, religion has also had an impact. It seems the main reason that France 'gave' Louisiana to Spain was because they didn't want the British protestants to take over their catholic people.
We soon found our way to Bourbon Street, the main street in 'The French Quarter' and it is all we expected - and more. We sampled the Cajun food and Jazz in old pubs and courtyards from another world. As we progressed further along Bourbon St, we noticed (hard to miss) more and more gay men in skimpy costumes. Eventually the whole street was clogged with gays masquerading and dancing and carrying on. Little did we know but we had stumbled into New Orleans during 'Southern Decadence' a huge gay festival!
What an interesting day, beginning with attending a gospel service and ending up in a gay parade!!
Labour Day today (Monday) and we decided to take the bike for a tour into town. Fortunately the traffic was not heavy but we think the drivers are the worst we've seen. Most drivers have the customary cell phone attached to their ear, never use indicators and change lanes at will with no regard for other vehicles, especially motorcycles. Also the road surface, in common with many US cities on the east coast, is diabolical with potholes, bumps, debris and numerous other hazards.
Nevertheless we did get to see some of the attractions like the huge cemetery close to the city. They mark the edge of the city through the centuries and because of the water level it seems the Creole cannot bury their dead so a piece of ground is bought to build burial vaults above ground. Being expensive, these vaults are used for all the deceased family members and it was interesting just to walk around for a bit and look at the dates.
We also took several back roads through the many poor neighbourhoods, but were surprised by the friendly blacks who were always willing to offer directions and occasionally said, 'follow me' and went out of their way to get us on the right road.
A visit to Louisiana would not be complete without a swamp tour and we managed to get one for 5.00pm when it was a little cooler. An interesting boat trip through one of the bayous taking photos of the many alligators. Our tour guide must have thought he was Steve Erwin 'cos he hand fed and even semi wrestled an 8ft. 'gator.
Back into town and we'd arranged to meet up at Bubba Gumps with another Harley riding couple staying at the same motel. You may recall we had enjoyed a fantastic meal at the Bubba Gump restaurant in Los Angeles and when we saw there was one here in 'Norlins' we just couldn't pass it up.
Needless to say we had a great meal and a late night with our Harley riding friends.
Left new Orleans later than planned heading for Lafayette and passed through the 'plantation' area west of the city on 'The great river road', hwy18' following the Mississippi River, river of riches and historic plantations. This is where the slaves were used on vast sugarcane plantations and is the heart of the Cajun and Creole communities. Cajun is an abbreviation for Acadian, who were the original French settlers from eastern Canada and Creole refers to all other non anglo races born in this area. Many locals in this area still speak French and are proud of their French heritage.
We took a guided tour through the Laura Plantation and gained a valuable insight into the life and history of this 200 year old mansion. The 'Slavery in Creole Louisiana tour' is based on Laura's own memories of the old plantation.
In the north it is claimed that the Civil War was all about freeing the slaves. In the south there is a different interpretation and at Laura Plantation and many others, after the war the slaves stayed on. They had no where else to go and as a consequence of the war were now paid $12.00 a year. In reality they never received this money as the plantation owners charged them $12.00 a year for living on their land!!! So for many of the slaves and plantation owners life and business continued on as before.
Still trying to get our heads around all this history we continued on and stopped for the night in Lafayette. (map - 11)
Lafayette is definitely French with street and building names in French. We pass some impressive murals on the walls in Lafayette city as we make our way to the Jean Lafitte Cultural centre run by the National Parks. A good film on the Creole culture and we're now getting an understanding of how strongly the French want to maintain their heritage and how much they resent the British for what has happened to them in the past. The people working in the centre say they speak French and read French books and are from French descendants. Marrying non Acadians is definitely frowned on.
We then turn south riding through yet more swamp lands and the old village of St Martins to get to the Tabasco factory on Avery Island. Here over half a million bottles of the stuff is produced daily and shipped to most countries of the world. All eating places around here have Tabasco on the table and locals slosh it onto almost everything they eat.
Heading west along the coastal route we pass marsh lands, alligators in the bayous and fishing boats. Even saw alligator road kill!! Tempted by signs for cheap shrimps, only $2.90 lb! We stayed on this Creole Nature Trail until we reached the Texas border. Camping for free in a favourite spot for the fishermen we sampled the Shrimp.
A long ride across Texas to meet a horizonsunlimited community member at Seguin, 30 miles east of San Antonio. Andy has recently spent two months in Central America and we felt it would be useful to speak to someone who has been there on a motorcycle. To be honest, I was becoming a little concerned about security. Several people we had spoken to claimed that the 'bagnios' were a major issue and 'they wouldn't travel there'.
Andy confirmed our belief that things are ok and gave us some good travel tips. Feeling reassured we found a cheap motel ($30.00) and collapsed into bed. The heat and humidity is taking it out of us and it's also time for our 'day off'.
left Seguin early to beat the heat and had a pleasant ride south on the back roads to Corpus Christi. (map - 12) We have been invited to stay with a Horizonsunlimited community member and are grateful for the opportunity to chat to a local who also has traveled in Mexico.
Corpus Christi has major oil refineries and as we rode into the city we passed miles and miles of them. This whole area from southern Louisiana and into Texas is a huge oil producing area and the landscape is dotted with either oil wells, pumps or refineries.
Arrived at Kerry's house about 10.30 and unloaded our gear.
Up early to try and beat the heat and unbearable humidity. The bike needs a service before entering Mexico and with 94000km it's been over 10 000km since the last oil change. Time also for front brake pads. Tyres seem to be holding up well and will hopefully see us to Panama.
With the bike running well we did a bit of shopping. My boots are worn out and we need some maps and toiletries and a few pharmaceutical items. It all adds up and we ended up spending more than anticipated, but at least we're now ready for the next part of our adventure.
This evening we followed Kerry to his weekend house on Lake Corpus Christi, about 80km north. It's a lovely house with lake frontage and air conditioning.
Had a restful sleep and today we're able to sit in air conditioned comfort in Kerry's lake house and get on top of all our admin. We know that after leaving the US things will be more challenging so we want to be on top of things now while we can.
Dianne is planning the next phase of our trip and has all the maps out. I know we'll see everything we should see 'cos she's done so much research. I'm checking the documentation we'll need to enter Mexico, concealing important documents or copies and updating the web site. We'll also sort and burn CDs of our photos and make some space available on our laptop's hard drive. There always seems to be lots to do besides actually riding.
Time also to check on a little history about Texas. Texans are fiercely proud of their history and we wanted to find out why. A little info from the World Book Encyclopedia reads:-
"Texas is called the Lone Star State because of the single star on its flag. Through the years, the flags of six nations have flown over Texas. Besides the United States, these nations were Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States of America.
Texas was part of Mexico when the first settlers from the
United States arrived there in 1821. In 1836, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie,
and other famous heroes died at the Alamo fighting for independence from
Mexico. Sam Houston led the Texans to their final victory against the
Mexicans. One of his battle cries was "Remember the Alamo!"
For nearly 10 years after the war with Mexico, Texas was an independent
republic. After Texas became a state in 1845, the settlers fought Indians
for many years to protect their families and homes.
Chill out at the lake house and complete tasks then back to Corpus this afternoon to upload the site, check emails and send some post 'back home'.
Kerry has a friend coming over this evening who has traveled extensively in Mexico so we'll get some good info. from him. Tomorrow we begin a new chapter in our travels and we're looking forward to it.
Click NEXT PAGE to continue our journey through to Mexico.
|©Haydn and Dianne Durnell 200|