Monday, February 19, 2007

Leaving Toledo Bend, LA

We didn't ride today although it was such a nice day in the low 70's. We slep in, packed up the trucks, had a nice lunch and I was on the road by 2PM heading North. I had to be at work tomorrow morning.

Grilled turkey and cheese sandwitch

In central Illinois I started to see that white stuff again. 15 hours of driving and one 2 hour nap later, I was back in Illinois. I got delayed in rush hour traffic and instead of going home first, I had to go directly to work. It was a long day of sitting in front of the computer and then unloading the truck, but it was totally worth it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Day 2: Toledo Bend, LA

Sunday was in the low to mid 50’s and calm. We took off toward the Texas side again and explored some roads, then took a road that Mike was on last year, the Nine Mile Road, which was pretty cool.

Nine Mile Road, my first exposure to lots of mud puddle crossings

The Nine Mile Road ended up at a clearing that reminded me of UP Michigan. Not much activity here in these woods, we only saw a few dirt bikes and some pick up trucks go by.

Then we rode out to the Indian Mounds Rec. Area.

It was another clear and chilly night, we spent it sitting around the fire.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Day 1: Toledo Bend, LA

Saturday morning at sun up we woke up to the loud sounds of bird calls, woodpeckers pecking and other creatures scurrying about the woods.

Fresh Starbucks coffee in the woods, oops... we forgot the cups

After breakfast, we unloaded the bikes and took off. It was in the low to mid 60s but very windy.

The winds were really blowing today

We explored some dirt roads on the Louisiana side and then headed out to San Augustine, TX to find a place to grab some lunch, many places near Toledo Bend were still closed for the season. To our surprise, we could only find one restaurant in town. The food was edible but nothing to write home about.

Texas/Louisiana border

Lunch: Mike's Burger, my shrimp po' boy and our onion rings

Fausto's Restaurant in Augustine, TX

Louisiana/Texas border

Mike and I

Trying to get to the camp site before dark

An amazing sun set, we had to stop for some pictures

Dinner is served, chili and hot dogs

The night was cool and clear, the sky was dark and full of stars, the fire was warm and the marshmallows were sweet and gooey.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Arriving in Toledo Bend, LA

After some more driving, I arrived at the North Toledo Bend State Park just before 5PM on Friday and grabbed a camp site for us. The park was totally empty, there were only about two RVs there.

Toledo Bend, LA

Mike left for Toledo Bend right after work today and by the time I came back to our camp site from taking a shower, Mike was already there making a fire and setting up the tent.

Trucks at the camp site

Unfortunately the overnight temperatures were only in the 30’s, but our camp site had electricity and Mike brought a 50 ft extension cord and an electric blanket. Usually this time of the year the lows at night are in the 40's, this was going to be a cold weekend.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Heading down to Louisiana

I haven’t been on the bike since Big Bend in SW Texas over the X-mas holidays. I was overdue for a bike trip, winter has been cold and snowy, and last night we had another big snow storm come through.

My driveway last night

Originally Mike and I were planning to meet half way between Louisiana and Illinois to ride somewhere around Tennessee or Mississippi, but the temperatures were still very cold in that area and this weekend the arctic air was moving as far south as Louisiana. The further south we went, the warmer it would be.

We decided to ride at Toledo Bend, LA, we have both been to this area before and enjoyed it. Toledo Bend Reservoir is a large man made lake on the border of Texas and Louisiana, sorrounded by dense woodland of pines and hardwoods known as the piney woods, and Spanish moss and bald cypress trees. This is a large area with many roads, paved and dirt.

So I came home from work today, finished packing up the truck and secured the bike down with the ratchet straps. It was 9 degrees outside and my hands were freezing up on me, so it took forever to get the bike secured. I was beginning to think driving to Louisiana for just a long weekend was a crazy idea, but I knew it would be totally worth it, even if the temps were in the 50's.

Truck is ready to go

By 7:15PM I was finally on the highway heading towards Louisiana, some 1000 miles away. It was only 13 degrees around North Memphis, TN where I decided to spend the night sleeping in the back seat of the pick up truck curled up in a zero degree sleeping bag.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Galveston, TX

A warmer day today, in the upper 60’s. We grabbed lunch at the Fisherman's Wharf on Pier 22. I must say the views were great from the restaurant, and the atmosphere was nice too, this looked like a touristy place. It was located in Historic Strand District just a bit further from Joe’s Crab Shack we at last night, but the food just wasn’t all that great. The place was packed, probably all tourists. For the money we spent, Gaido's Famous Seafood Restaurant yesterday was a gazillion times better, minus the atmosphere and the nice views.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Galveston, TX

I flew in to Houston last night; Mike drove from Louisiana and met me at the airport. It was already late and all we could find was a Bennigan’s next to the Courtyard by Marriot.

Today it was overcast, the highs only in the mid to high 50’s, but heck, it’s been only in the teens back home, some days just single digits, so to me this was balmy.

Today the only agenda was to drive from Houston to Galveston. Both of us have never been there so that seemed like a good enough reason to go. Galveston is a small island tucked deep within the heart of south Texas possessing the charm of a small southern town and just 40 minutes south of Houston.

By the time we got to Galveston, we were starved and decided to find a place to have lunch before trying to find our hotel.

Gaido's Famous Seafood Restaurant at on Seawall Blvd. looked interesting. The restaurant was across the street from the gulf, so the view wasn’t all that great and the interior of the restaurant looked a bit “mature” but man oh man was the food tasty. Mike and I both ordered fish, and both dishes were amazing. Funny thing is, I usually take pictures of the food I order so years later I can remember what I got and how it looked like, I also believe that a picture of a dish tells a lot about the restaurant, but somehow taking a picture of the food slipped my mind, maybe I was just too hungry or since I wasn’t on a bike I forgot my routine. Either way, I highly recommend this place.

We were stuffed after lunch, we got in the truck to find our hotel and it turned out, it was just across the street from the restaurant. Commodore on the Beach on the Seawall Boulevard overlooking the Gulf. “Each room features a private balcony with breathtaking view” a website had written. Don’t know about the “breathtaking” part but we did have a view of the gulf.

View from the balcony

We ate so much at lunch today and so late already, we weren’t hungry for a real dinner, but as we walked the Historic Strand District we did stop in at the Joe's Crab Shack on Pier 19. The restaurant was right on the water, a great location for a Joe’s Crab Shack.

Funky Monkey at 2029 Strand, a store that only sells monkey stuff