Sentimental as Greg was waving goodbye to Texas, He moved on into the brave unknown called Louisiana.
Silsbee, TX to DeRidder, LA
Last night we studied the map like we do every night and realized that again, we would ride over 70 miles. We got off to a better start this morning, about an hour earlier than usual, but we are back in a coastal climate so humidity soaks our tent every night. It is humid enough in the morning that it takes awhile to dry everything out. At least when we crawled out of the tent this morning, sore and stiff as we were, the sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be a nice day.
We headed off on a larger US highway with big shoulders but heavier traffic. These highways are usually fine for riding, but the shoulders are covered in more debris from stuff blowing out of trucks, and also due to semi truck tires. There are always scraps of blown up tire everywhere, and they usually contain sharp metal wire that can puncture your tire if you are not careful. It is amazing how flat it is around here, seriously. We have not seen any riding this flat for this long on the whole trip. Our maps no longer even carry an elevation profile. The biggest hills at this point would be 400 feet in elevation.
About 15 miles into the day, we cut across a tiny sliver of the Big Thicket National Preserve. We see why it is called Big Thicket, I would not even want to set foot in this place. It is filled with bramble bushes and trees so thick I don't even think sunlight or maybe even oxygen can penetrate into this shrubby forest.
Imagine this, being 30 miles into your day of riding, thinking now it is time for lunch, and realizing you are not even half way to your destination yet. Then imagine that this day is the fourth day in a row that this has been the case. Well that was us today. Instead of trudging on, we spotted a Subway and decided to eat early on instead of running out of energy later. We really hate what our diet has become, but when you are spending 7-8 hours a day on your bike, going to a sit down restaurant isn't really an option, and that is if that option even exists. It seems like lately our other choice is either Dairy Queen, or some fried chicken. So, Subway seems like a good compromise.
El Nino is really having its way with us. Today, we had pretty good weather, don't get me wrong, but we are almost in Louisiana and it feels down right chilly. At least there was no rain, but even the locals are all bundled up like Minnesotans for making their Superbowl beer runs. We will be fine though, as long as the rain stays mostly out of the forecast.
Around 50 miles into our day today, we reached a very important milestone. We actually reached the other side of Texas. We went back and counted the days. We entered Texas on January 11th and left it on February 7th, that is 27 days if I am not mistakin'. Nearly a month of Lone Star travel. We were in Texas for so long, we started to feel like honorary citizens, but the Atlantic is still out there, just waiting for us, so we continue on. Texas, it has been nice seeing you. Maybe we will meet again.
When we reached Louisiana, the roads were deserted. We quickly realized this was because the New Orleans Saints were about to play in Super Bowl. Hopefully they win so we have a bunch of happy Louisianans. On the way to DeRidder, we saw numerous swamps and a bunch of standing water, even in the fields. One of such fields was mowed and cleared and filled as far as we could see with FEMA trailers. It was unbelievable to see all of these things just rotting away in some deserted field. If they weren't poisoned with formaldehyde I would take one off of their hands. When we finally reached DeRidder, we were so happy to be at the end of our day. This was just so many miles to ride back to back. Our bottoms were unbelievably sore and our legs were awfully tired. We think tomorrow looks like a good day for a rest day.