Day 103 (2016-12-07): ~60 miles from Liberty to Village Creek State Park, Texas. Mainly country roads.
I am going to miss sleeping at baseball fields. After last night I think I only have one more night of stealth camping on this trip – I must find a good ball field! This morning everything is gray, a low-hanging mist leaving tiny droplets on my jacket as I ride. IT doesn’t take long to get myself onto one of eastern Texas’ many county roads and I ride for almost two hours with only a handful of cars passing me. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect though – I ride against a light headwind and continue to fight off dogs. Eventually I hit highway 105 and enjoy the wide shoulder as traffic picks up and more and more trucks pass me.
Is that a mirage? No, there is a dude on a bike, with touring bags, coming over to my side of the road. He’s real! Ryan is the first touring cyclist I have met since…I don’t even know. Maybe that one European lady I met in western Arizona over a month ago. He offers me the universal hit of camaraderie and we chat about our rides. He’s only started a short while ago and is on his way from Florida to San Diego.
I turn onto highway 770 north and suffer an increasing number of large logging trucks heading northeast with timber and returning unloaded. I am traveling through “Big Thicket,” a heavily forested area in East Texas that apparently provides a lot of timber. The road is narrow with no shoulder, so I am glad to turn off in Kountze and head southeast towards Village Creek State Park. I called ahead this time – they’re not closed!
Although open, the park has suffered a lot of flood damage from the overflowing creek. Of course, the water & electric RV sites are unharmed – only the cheaper walk-in sites are open. Once again I pay $18 for a combination of day-use fee and camping permit. Texas State Parks are stupid. Whatever. I thoroughly enjoy their hot showers and brainstorm my path to becoming a property owner/manager as I prepare dinner. Later I talk to Danial for an hour plus and call it a night. I miss my friends!
Also, FUCK DOGS. Today 23 dogs chased me out of their own yards. That is an average of more than one dog per mile. If you count the dogs that barked and chased me until the property ended that number easily doubles. Keep your fucking dogs on your property! It’s a good thing my dog yell is strong. “STAY!” I holler forcefully, throwing out my hand violently. It stops them in their tracks about one-third of the time and they almost always give pause.
Okay, so the majority of today sucked. I was pretty over it. As I near the end of my ride I don’t mind riding on the good days but I am getting tired of being cold and wet, battling headwinds and fighting off dogs.
Luckily, towards the end of the day the sun comes out and I enjoy a quiet ride along the last county road in Texas, reveling in the soft evening light despite continuing to fight a headwind. The vague Texas plaque without even “Welcome” written anywhere almost entices me to take a middle-finger to Texas selfie, but I decide to continue on. I like Texas, sometimes. I am overjoyed to be entering Louisiana and the last week of my ride. This time next week I will be walking around the streets of NOLA with a drink celebrating the end of my ride AND my birthday. Hell yes.
As darkness falls I cover the last few miles into Merryville and contact my Warmshowers host. No one is able to meet me, but they give me the code to access the cabin and the restroom/showers. I find a cozy bungalow with a space heater, fridge full of light beer, a classic ugly couch, and camo bedding. After eating and cleaning up I am sitting here with the little space heater journaling away. How perfect is this? I am sitting in a tiny bungalow in Louisiana, a week from completing my most intense solo adventure yet, listening to Johnny Cash and drinking classic American water-beer. Perfect.