Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day Sixty-eight, 090507 - Beaumont, TX

Day Sixty-eight, Date Thursday, May 7, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:53
Distance for the Day: 79.9 miles From Crosby To east of Beaumont, TX
Accumulated Trip Distance: 2981.3 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending ??/277’, Highest: 326’ Accumulated: 246’
Speeds: Avg: 10.1 mph, Max: 27.0 mph
Weather: Overcast, warm, humid 71°
Expenditures: $13

Got up around 6am and got packed and ready to go by 6:45am. Stopped in at a donut shop and got some donuts and a choco drink ($3). Entered Dayton at 8:30am, and got pulled over by cop car; they got a complaint about my being on the road, which was true – I didn’t ride on the shoulder as it was too rough. The road was a two-lane highway (both lanes going the same direction) so everyone would just go around me, but if cars bunched up, it would cause minor maneuvering problems for some of the drivers. Most people dealt with it fine, but I guess one must have gotten peeved (probably late for their appointment with the Queen of England) The cop was fine: friendly, concerned, interested in my trip, he checked my license and found my record was as clean as an astronomer’s corrector plate. He said on average, they give tickets to speeders going 100mph, and I should be careful about being on the road. I promised I would, and went in to the pharmacy to see if they knew anything about the efficacy of B vitamins against mosquitoes, but they didn’t know anything about that. I picked up some candy for the road ($5), and continued on. Stopped in at another pharmacy in Liberty at 9am to see if they knew anything about anti-mosquito vitamins, but, nope. I took a picture of the bridge over the Trinity River, there. Stopped at the Liberty Library for some wi-fi, and checked the weather (warm and humid – duh!) Also, found out that vitamins are not an effective mosquito deterrent (phooey!), and it seems to me that DEET is like salad dressing for the little buggers. The good news: I got a confirmation for a Warmshowers stay in the town of Lafayette, LA with Becky and John Williams (yay!) I left the library at 10:26am to continue east along Hwy 90 towards Beaumont, TX. Got flat #13 at 2933.9 miles, somewhere between Liberty and Deevers; another tiny stainless steel wire, and it took about 20 minutes to fix. I pulled into a gas station with an air compressor, and brought all three tires up to their correct inflation pressures (40 lbs in the two front, and 70 lbs in the back), and continued east at 12:30pm. Stopped in at Deevers around 2:15pm for a few minutes to get an ice cold water – drank about a quarter of it and put the rest of it on my head to clean and cool off a bit. Made Beaumont at 4pm, stopped in at Dairy Queen for a burger and choco malted for $5.40, and since it was still a little early, I continued on past town to go as far as possible before going to ground.
Found a nice spot to overnight a few hundred yards away from the highway at just about sunset. I asked permission of who I *thought* were the landowners of the grove of trees where I wanted to hang my hammock, and they said it was fine with them. So, I hung my hammock, ate the other half of my Subway sandwich, and was pleased to see that there were fireflies in the trees where I was set up. I settled in for the night, watching fireflies from the safety of my hammock. I still got some mosquito bites, but was more careful to lead them away and keep them out of the canopy, this time. Then, I see the flashes of another type: flashlights. Uh-oh. It was the police! I got out of my hammock and immediately began swatting away mosquitoes as I explained who and what I was doing, and that I had the permission of the landowners to be there, but it turns out I asked the wrong people. The *real* landowners saw me set up, and called the cops. Once the cops found out I wasn’t a criminal or troublemaker, they called the landowners and conveyed my request to stay. The man of the house said he didn’t mind, but the wife wasn’t “comfortable,” with me being there. Fine. In situations like this, always err on the side of the landowner, no matter how dumb they may be. I packed everything back up, all three of us (me and the two cops) getting eaten alive by the mosquitoes. The two cops were actually great: friendly, courteous, interested, and even sympathetic to my new plight. They thought the set of trees at the other side of the land tract might work. We talked a while, and I told them of some of my experiences. I gave them my blogsite web address, and Sheriff Keith Merritt gave me his card, to call him if I needed any help while I was in his area of ops. Like I said: they were great! I went over and took a look at the trees opposite the original location, but the trees and plants there were too dense to set up in, so I waved goodbye to the cops, and continued down the frontage road in the dark, looking for any place to set up. I actually did find a place less than half a mile down the road (N30° 7.771’ W93° 56.998’), just a blank spot next to a stagnant creek, less than 50 yards from the main highway. No trees for a hammock, so I’d have to set up my bivvy sack. In this heat and humidity, it would not be a comfortable night, damn that nervous wife. Once nice thing: this place also had fireflies. They were the one thing that made this, the longest night of the trip, tolerable. I set out my bivvy sack, put my air mattress and sleeping bag inside it, and got in and sealed up the mosquito shield, but the netting only covered the upper-half of my body, and there wasn’t anything to hold it off of me, so mosquitoes would just suck me dry *through* the netting. So, here’s what I did the whole night: I bent my knees to hold the lower-half of the bivvy sack up, and used my arms over my head to hold the netting up off the upper-half of my body. The whole night. I watched the nearly full moon rise up over the trees in the east, and crawl across the sky to drop below the trees in the west, and switched my arms and legs this way and that when they got fatigued from holding up the mosquito netting. I was generally too warm, and moist and sticky with sweat, trying to make sure no skin was touching the netting, where the mosquitoes waited hungrily, but I was still getting bites, anyways (probably from a few skeeters inside the sack). I could close my eyes and let my mind wander; I knew this was almost as good as sleep. I checked my watch every now and then: 10:30pm. 12am. 2am. 4am. The noise of traffic from Hwy 10 made a constant roar, interspersed with unmufflered motorcycles or revving semis, and there was a frog in that dead creek that would croak twice every 20 seconds the entire night – perfect. I would look out every now and then to watch the fireflies flash, blink, streak, and drift through the interminable night, and was glad they were there to keep me company. With a few exceptions, throughout the night, there was no cooling breeze.

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