I stayed with two different, yet spectacular hosts in Austin. Both Zoe & Walt were very accommodating and had been able to give me quite varied experiences. I’d got to go to a party, get a new tent from REI, sightsee and even help volunteer at meals on wheels. I hadn’t managed to achieve everything I set out to do, and the rain clouds that had been lingering over Austin had matched my mood about that failure. However, when I was finally ready to leave and packed my bike up, the sun was shining through and brought a smile to my face. Walt had offered to let me stay longer to work things out, but I took it as confirmation that I was going at the right time and felt wonderful during the ride out of Austin.
With Christmas coming, I wanted to do the 150 miles to Houston in 2 days. That meant being on US-290, a fairly busy highway, for a good portion of the day. While the shoulder had a fair amount of debris just outside of Austin, it did clear up. However, it then vanished. It meant that there were good stretches where there was nothing to ride in and that cars were getting rather close, which made for a not too thrilling or pretty ride. That lasted until I turned off onto a country road about 15 miles away from my destination. There was a stark contrast and it became much more pleasant as I was on a quiet country road which felt strangely like cycling back home in Cheshire but with larger ranches replacing the small farms found in the Cheshire plains.
Arriving at Carol’s place I was pleasantly surprised to see two other cycle tourists. Kera, and her friend James, were riding to New Orleans. Kera had started in Seattle back in October and James had joined her in Austin. They had stayed nearby the night before and then been persuaded to stay longer to go to a BBQ where they had met Carol.
After arriving I had just enough time to drop my things off and get cleaned up before we headed out. Carol is a member of her church’s choir and had a performance that evening, to raise funds for a habitat mission in El Salvador in February, which we were invited to. I jumped at the opportunity as outside of a couple of experiences like going to see the Christmas lights in Amarillo with Lori, it’s been difficult to feel properly festive. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, but it was a wonderful evening filled with carols, soup and meeting some fascinating people including a friend of Carol’s who has travelled around the world 32 times and been to Brazil 81 times.
Walt going for a ride