Great American Road Trip: Week 3

welcome yankee

This week was much slower than the two previous weeks. I was passing through the Houston area so I stopped to visit my relatives.

NOLA to Houston

The week started with a weather delay. I wanted to leave New Orleans on Monday, but there was a Tornado warning in the area so I sat tight an extra day. Under normal circumstances I would have been grateful for an extra day at Auberge NOLA. It’s a fantastic hostel where every night they’re gathering the guests to have a fun time together. But, this road trip is mostly meant to help me make progress with my business idea for American Hostels. It was hard to seclude myself from all the fun and games and be productive in New Orleans. My last night I stayed up later than planned because everyone was having fun singing karaoke downstairs.

Tuesday morning it was pouring down rain but at least there was no risk of a tornado. Not wanting to stick around any longer, I braved the precipitation and hit the road. My first stop was actually still in NOLA. I was treated to a hardhat tour of the new HIUSA they’re building in New Orleans. I enjoyed the tour but felt bad as my motorcycle, with my luggage strapped to the back, sat outside getting pelted by the heavy downpour.

After the tour I got away from New Orleans. One of the first things I saw on the highway was a big warning that said “No motorcycles, RVs, or glass trucks on the causeway due to heavy winds.” Oh shit. I better not be headed towards the causeway! I thought to myself. I rely blindly on Google Maps for navigation. Google doesn’t realize that I’m riding a motorcycle/RV/glass truck. Fortunately, I stayed off the Causeway. Soon I was out of the city and into the swamps of Lousiana. The rain stopped and the cold took its place. My fingers quickly turned to ice and I did everything I could to keep them from going numb. Eventually it got so unbearable that I pulled off at a gas station. The tap water was nice and hot. My fingers hurt so much I nearly started crying. Not wanting to put back on my soaking wet gloves I looked for other options. The store sold little dainty cotton gloves and big heavy PVC-coated work gloves. I bought the combination and put them on. Only a minute later I realized the work gloves were too fat to effectively shift and break. I put my wet motorcycle gloves over my little cotton gloves.

I carried on for a few hours down the road until my fingers were numb again. I stopped at a Lousiana welcome center. You know those old-fashioned hand dryers that blow really hot air but are not very effective at actually drying your fingers? I’ve never been so happy to see one of those. I kept my wet gloves on and held them under the hot air as they  dried. Over inside the welcome center I helped myself to a free cup of coffee. The staff were so kind, the offered to set up the space heater from their office for me in the lobby and set me up at a rocking chair in front of it. This is that Southern hospitality they speak of! I politely declined the space heater because I needed to get back on the road.

The temperature continued to drop and even though I was no longer wet, my layers of gear were no longer keeping me warm. I had some nice hot fried chicken at Popeyes in Jennings, LA and woefully got back on the motorcycle.

The wind also started picking up. I guess it wasn’t tornado-speed, but it was fast enough to blow me across my lane. Riding in high winds is really scary. I know what to do when I see a curve or a hill ahead. A burst of wind pushing me aside is complete unexpected and all I can do is try to correct my steering without over-correcting.

Once an hour I made a stop to thaw my freezing extremities. My feet got so cold that at one gas station I took my boots off and tried holding my feet up to the hand dryer. What a sight to behold. Comment of the day goes to the clerk who saw me in all my motorcycle gear and said, “You look like you’re going snow skiing.” Not quite, lady.

Eventually I crossed into Texas. Besides seeing the sign it was obvious because I was now surrounded by pickup trucks with no regard for the speed limit. Here I am going 70 mph in a 60 zone and having Fords and Dodges whooshing past me. I finally made it to the Houston area where it was time to get off the interstate and head towards my grandma’s house. It was close to 5 PM and the traffic was starting to get backed up. I decided to have my revenge on all the trucks. I split in between the two lanes of traffic and left all the clogged-up pickups in my dust.

I finally reached my grandma’s house just as the sun was setting. She was standing in the driveway, all bundled up, with a sign in her hand that said “Welcome Yankee!” My mom must have been keeping her posted of my progress. It was the cutest.

We went inside and I quickly shed all my freezing cold layers and jumped into a hot shower. The sensation of a hot shower with strong water pressure after spending a full day in cold, gusty wind was sublime. My hands and feet turned bright red as the warm water brought them back to life.

Relaxing in Houston

tiba dinner
Enjoying a nice home-cooked meal with Grandma

What followed was four relaxing days and nights spent hanging out with my grandma, sharing a couple of meals with my aunt, uncle, and nephew, and doing some work from my laptop. I love hostels but its such a pleasure after a couple weeks of wearing flip flops in the shower and locking up your valuables to just make yourself at home, and at my grandma’s that’s exactly what I did.

The most eventful part of the week was on Friday when we traveled into the city of Houston to visit a couple of hostels. I brought grandma along so that she could see in-person what all this hostel hullabaloo was about.

Saturday morning I packed up my things and left. I was sad to leave the comfort and company. The next stop was only 40 minutes away, down on Galveston Island to spend a night with Papa Mapes and Glenda. We went out for a tasty Mexican meal and they took me to Walmart to buy a tire pressure gauge.

papa mapes and glenda

It was nice visiting my grandparents on my own. I normally see them on family trips with my parents and sister. I think they enjoyed having some one-on-one time and I certainly relished the attention 🙂

Houston to Austin

My trip away from Houston was almost as awful as my trip to Houston. When I left Galveston it was dry and warm and I was wearing my summer riding gear. A few minutes later it started raining. I ignored it because the forecast didn’t call for much rain, but it only got heavier and the temperature started to drop. An hour into the ride and I was soaked through my gear and still had two hours to go. I had no choice but to continue on. Even if I stopped I was already wet underneath my clothes so it was pointless. I carried on until I was about 45 minutes away from Austin. At that point I couldn’t bear it anymore so I stopped at a big beautiful Buc-ee’s. I didn’t realize that Buc-ee’s was anti hand-dryer. Can you imagine how many paper towels that place must go through? What a shame. I chugged some hot coffee and carried on until I got to Austin.

If you’ve never heard of Buc-ee’s they’re these Texas-sized gas stations

Road log

  • Week One: Madison CT, to Asheville, NC. Approximately 815 miles.
  • Week Two: Asheville, NC to New Orleans, LA. Approximately 1,060 miles.
  • Week Three: New Orleans, LA to Austin, TX. Approximately 672 miles.
  • Approximately 1,300 miles to San Diego. Estimated arrival: 1 week.

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