Friday 2 August 2014. Texas Velo, at Last!

Greetings from Rockport, Texas!

It was 70 degrees F under cloudy skies this morning at 8:25, when I finally got “Texas Red” the rental trail bike, on the road.

It took a surprising amount of doing to get this far!

This year my family left for our annual trip to visit my husband’s brothers in Texas on 29 July, the day before my birthday, which they all know I love to celebrate. I had only one birthday request of my family: to ride a bike while we were away. There are no bike shops in Rockport, Texas, and cycling has never been on the menu of activities during our visits here. But this year my desire to do a little exploring by bike reached critical mass and was determined to make it happen.

Fortunately, my brother-in-law and his wife found a relatively new bed and breakfast in town that offered bike rentals. The bikes were not exactly top of the line, but neither were they heavily used, so the red Schwinn “Suburban” I chose (and temporarily named “Texas Red”) was functional and reasonably comfortable. Rented it on Thursday afternoon and promised to bring it back late Saturday morning. It would cost $50.

But even when the bike was procured, there were obstacles to riding it. First, I missed the prime riding time (really important here where it’s very soon in the nineties and ultra-humid) because we’d been up till 3 with the alligators (handsome healthy-looking ones, at that!) and jellyfish on a flounder-gigging trip. Then decided to get a little riding in around 8:30, but found the front tire hissing and mysteriously soon flat. đŸ˜¦ There was not enough time to both fix the flat and ride. Aargh!

But today it happened, later than planned because of a thunderstorm, but which also helped hold off the day’s heat a little longer.

Rode on the paved path along Little Bay, which was bordered by an assortment of wildflowers, including prickly poppies

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and horsenettle.

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Also there were plenty of sunflowers, among which saw a great blue heron wading close to the shore.

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Did not try to make an exhaustive list of either the wildflowers or the birds, the array of which is exceedingly rich and lovely down here. That will have to wait for another trip.

Must note that although Rockport is not an especially bike-friendly place, it is full of non-packaged, as it were, natural beauty. As a vacation spot, Rockport exists for fishermen and duck hunters, but the less-conspicuous bird watchers have much to see here and nearby, including (in winter) endangered whooping cranes. I do think it’s a little more bike-friendly than it used to be and that interest in providing bike trails is increasing.

Turned a little away from the water on a side street when the path along Little Bay ended, where there was a nice view of a clump of windswept (on the Gulf coast the wind blows from the direction of the water frequently and for long periods, bending them to one side) live oak trees. It seemed to be a heron roost, there were a couple at the very top, maybe on a nest.

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Got a shot of a very non-Illinois landscape: windswept trees, palm trees, and prickly pear cactus, which were really loaded with fruit.

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Noticed a fair number of wading birds on the ground under the trees, perhaps off of their usual routine because of the rain.

Rode by the line of businesses (Walgreens, Walmart, HEB, DQ, as well as hair salons, real estate offices) as well as the Rockport Elementary School, which was built in an unfinished office building, along Highway 35, fortunately on a sidewalk. The neighborhood was a bit gritty but not without, e.g., plenty of bent and twisting live oak trees to remind me I wasn’t in central Illinois.

Stopped at a nice little local nature preserve, “Tule Marsh,”

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where I spotted a giant millipede on the wooden walkway.

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Tried unsuccessfully to get a sharp photo of the bright red Turk’s cap (named, I think for the buds) flower; meanwhile, a couple of deer walked into the frame.

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Liked the shapes of the tree trunks in the path under the canopy of live oaks, some covered by grape vines, though the light made it hard to capture on the camera.

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Riding back to the hotel enjoyed the combination of urban and natural landscape. It reminded me of riding my bike on the southwest side of Chicago where I grew up, through parks among all the concrete, though the connection is one I wouldn’t expect anyone else to make.

Stopped for one “touristy” sight; couldn’t resist the crab and frogs.

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Though didn’t get a really long ride in the countryside or along the bay (would have done a long bay ride if there were a long path), did fulfill my dream of getting a bike ride, being mobile without a car) in Texas!

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About Velo du Jour

I am a 61 year old mom/wife, former biologist, and presently certified Iyengar yoga teacher, and I love, besides biking (and other things), nature, swimming, drawing, photography, yarn, exploring adoption themes, and putting people at ease. In April 2012, I participated in "30 Days of Biking "http://30daysofbiking.com/ on Twitter, sponsored by a group of "joyful cyclists" in Minneapolis during the month of April. I loved tweeting about each day's ride so much I didn't want to stop! "Velo du Jour" is a continuation of recording and sharing my rides post-30 Days of Biking.
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