18/1/17. After the sojourn in Village Creek we have been making our way slowly towards Houston.
On the first day, Monday, we woke to rain and a strong southerly wind. Our plan had been to head south west for a campsite about 80km away in Ames, with a fallback option of staying in a hotel in Sour Lake which we had passed through on the way to Village Creek. (Because of the roundabout route we had had to take from Beaumont we would be retracing our steps for the first half of the journey.)
With the sky looking brighter we decided to pack the tent away wet and hope that it would dry when we erected it in Ames. Although the first section was mainly westwards, there were southerly stretches which were a clear indication that Ames was an ambitious target and when we hit the last 10 km into Sour Lake straight into the wind Christine was adamant that Plan B was the one for her. To reinforce the point, she resorted to walking the last mile into town so, even though it was only 12.30, we headed for the only motel in town! In her defence the wind was so strong that she was travelling at less than 8k per hour when pedalling hard, so 5k per hour with easy walking seemed the sensible option!
In the afternoon Stephen reconnoitered the routes to Ames as suggested by google maps because we were both somewhat sceptical that they would turn into tracks or, worse, disappear. Each of those which he explored very quickly became gravel/loose surface or was barred as “private property”. So the choice for Tuesday morning was easy – head due south, hoping the wind had died before joining the US90 and heading due west.
We managed to dry most of the tent overnight by draping it over the shower rail albeit at the cost of making quite a mess of gravel, sand and leaves in the process (which Christine did a sterling job of cleaning up before we left).
Amazingly the wind seemed to have disappeared or, even better, turned to a more northerly direction next morning. We set off making good time towards our old friend, the US90, which, when we reached it, was on one of its less busy streches thankfully. And, for most of the way, there was a decently wide hard shoulder to keep us safe from the large trucks that seemed to comprise 50% of what traffic there was.
As we approached Ames, Christine again felt we should stop and so we headed for the previous day’s Plan A stop of a campsite right by the highway on the eastern edge of town (population 1,003 aapprently so “city” or even “town” seems to be stretching a point to us!)
We had a very pleasant welcome from two ladies in the reception which doubles as a local convenience store. They didn’t even baulk at Christine’s use of the word “autumn” as they come from Minnesota where they use that word rather than “fall”.
Parts of the campsite where quite squelchy from all the recent rain but we were shown to an area a few inches higher than the surrounding ground so we we felt reasonably relaxed even though the tent pegs went into the sodden soil very easily.
The forecast on the TV which we had seen in Sour Lake had not been promising for the next couple of days – and so it proved with a thunderstorm hitting in the early morning. We both lay there in the dark listening to the rain and thunder thinking “I don’t fancy this”.
As dawn broke the rain was still falling intermittently. Stephen took the opportunity of a brief respite to dash to the convence store/reception for orange juice and was told that the forecast was for more thunderstorms throughout the day and that there were reports of floods in the Houston area.
This decided us. We would stay another night. Inevitably the rain stopped and by 11 o’clock the tent was dry! But by then we had paid for the second night so we settled down to a day of reading, playing games, listening to podcasts and wittering away on the blog.
In the afternoon Stephen made a break for the local Walmart to top up on supplies. Going was fine but while he was buying the yoghurts and beer another storm arrived so he was Soaking Steve when he got back at the tent!