Day 13 – End of the First Stage

Sea Rim State Park, TX – Houston, TX

144 miles

Today I’m heading to Houston! Once I arrive, I’ll be leaving my bike there for a few days while I fly to Greenville, South Carolina to attend a two-day BMW Off-Road Riding clinic that is held at their factory. I’m incredibly excited to attend the clinic, and hope to gain off road riding skills specific to my BMW model that will help me as I explore remote areas of New Mexico and Colorado as well as Yellowstone and Yosemite. Of course, the obvious question is why the hell didn’t I attend the school when I was driving by South Carolina. The truth is that I made the reservation for this clinic back in December before I had even formulated my cross-country trip. I didn’t want to delay my departure date any further so I just figured I’ll fly there and back to keep my journey on schedule. Every trip has detours. This is one of mine.

So, waking up on the beach is a pretty great feeling. A constant breeze coming in from the Gulf kept the tent cool, but I was pretty parched as I had run through the last of my water. I packed up my gear, said goodbye to the imaginary alligators and went in search of a decent breakfast.

Now here’s one thing that’s been driving me crazy in the South – I can’t find any damn diners for breakfast (or any meal for that matter). Nothing! I really try to avoid franchises and chains. Eating healthy on the road is obviously a challenge (I’m open to suggestions) and I don’t want to start off my day at Mickey D’s, Starbucks, or Jack In The Box. I keep seeking some mythical diner where a sweet matronly waitress calls me ‘hon’ and tells me I look like I could use a cup of coffee. She smiles kindly at me and asks me where I’m headed. If it’s lunch, she says she has one last piece of pecan pie she’s saving in the back for me. But I’m looking for a fresh breakfast somewhere. Or at the very least, a place where I could maybe get fresh egg whites, perhaps even some granola.

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So instead, I went to Waffle House. Bear in mind, I was raised in the Northeast so my experience with Waffle House is regrettably limited. I enter and quickly realize my hopes of an egg white omelet with spinach, heirloom tomato aioli, and a gentle crumbling of Greek feta are substantially diminished. Instead I order an All-Star breakfast with consists of 2 fried eggs, bacon, crispy fried potato mush, and of course a waffle (with fresh corn syrup on the side).

Waitress: “Anything to drink with your Grand Slam Breakfast?”

Me: “I’d love an ice coffee.”

Waitress: “Coffee?”

Me: “No. I like some ice coffee.”

Pregnant pause.

Waitress: “We don’t have that.”

Me: “You don’t have ice coffee?”

Waitress: “I mean, I could bring you a coffee and a cup of ice.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure that would do it.”

We finished the conversation both confused about the other person’s motives, but at least it resulted in a bit of enlightenment for both of us.

After ingesting a soulless glass of ice coffee and enough breakfast calories to sustain a West African pygmy tribe through the monsoon season, I blasted towards Houston to store my motorcycle and see my good friend Randall.

But as soon as I breached the Houston city limits, the first order of business was to get the bike serviced at Gulf Sports BMW in Pasadena. I’ve already put 1500 miles on the trip, and I had that little overheating snafu on my first day so I figured it was a good idea to let the doctor check over the patient and at least get the oil changed. After all, if the bike dies – the trip dies (as well as a little piece of my heart).

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Patty and her staff at Gulf Sports BMW were so incredibly kind and asked lots of questions about the trip. They fit me on short notice and gave the bike a minor overhaul. She also explained that I should be using different motor oil considering the heat that I’m riding in. They changed my oil, checked the fluids, and pronounced my beautiful bumblebee of a bike to be healthy.

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From there, I took off to see Randall, one of my closest friends for more than a decade. He lives in Houston and was kind enough to let me store my bike with him while I attend the Off-Road Riding School over the weekend. It was terrific to see him and his wonderful children (who have tripled in size since I had seen them last).

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Everyone wanted to check out the bike and hear about the trip. Most importantly, I was kindly offered a shower of which I was in desperate need having gone a few days without, while driving in 100+ heat. After I was made somewhat fit for human company again, we had a great steak dinner at a new restaurant that apparently also doubled as a cougar support group for the local women of a certain age. Lastly, Randall was kind enough to drive me to the airport at 4 a.m. to catch my flight. Just an awesome, awesome guy.

Off to BMW school! So psyched!! 2 days of crazy riding on GS Adventures (my bike model). Next post will be when I get back from school!

WHAT I LEARNED / DISCOVERED TODAY: Heavier motor oil is better in warmer weather. Also, cougars are very demanding of the personal hygiene of their partners.

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