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Houston, Louisiana, Texas

Days 41,42,43,44 Houston. We have a problem.

Don’t take the title to this post to seriously. I just couldn’t resist using that line. I’m ok and the trip is continuing.  Actually the only problem I have is knowing that I’m leaving my good buddy Daniel for another long stretch of time. Having friends spread across the country is great while traveling. It’s not so great when you settle down. Who knows when I’ll see him again? I hope it’s sooner than later. We’ve known one another for over six years now and it didn’t take any time for us to click and become really great friends. During that six years he’s moved around a bit and I haven’t been south to see him. It was quite relieving to put my effort into making the trek to his place instead of the other way around. I’ve learned a lot from being a home owner. I’ve learned just how limiting life can become when you get involving in so much debt that you become land locked to your little piece of the earth. When I make it back home, my  life will be organized in a fashion that will allow me to travel more and avoid these long stretches of time away from friends. Daniel will be a father for the first time in less than a month and I’d like to see the little guy before he’s walking.

Day 41 I woke up to a Louisiana morning for the last time of the trip. To me, Louisiana represents the end of the first chapter of my journey. It’s the eastern chapter and also the end of the most familiar chapter I’ll experience.  That’s ok with me though. I’ve been looking forward to heading west and crossing into the giant state of  Texas for a long now. The drive from Iowa, Louisiana to Texas’s state line on interstate 10 was incredibly easy. Within a half  hour of hitting the road, I finally made it. Texas greets you with a giant star semi-submerged in the ground at its welcoming station. I thought “oooh oooh! I’ve got to get a picture of that thing.”, so I whipped the Goose into the parking lot, snatched the camera and got a pic with the giant star. While standing still, waiting for the picture to take, I was greeted by my first native Texan. It was a giant tiger mosquito that bit me right on the cheek. Excellent! I thought I left those guys behind in Florida. Apparently not. My new, tiny, winged Texan friends motivated me to get back on the road and it was off to Houston after that. Daniel and I spoke before I arrived. He wasn’t going to get off of work until later in the day so I had to kill some time on my way there. I decided to get off of 10w and take route 90w to slow down a bit. In the town of Liberty Texas I passed my first Jack in the Box fast food restaurant. Jack in the Box used to sponsor MX racing back in the 90’s and I’ve been wanting to eat there for years now. I know it’s only a little burger joint, but it was a first for me. The burger I ordered was pretty good and for a fast food place the meat wasn’t nearly as bland as most of the other places that run rampant along Americas highways. I’ll eat there again.

Leaving Liberty, I stayed on 90w all the way into Houston. On the way I passed some really small towns with populations of only a few hundred and several large pastures full of cattle. It felt great to know I’m heading west and the scenery is soon to change into something completely different than what I’m accustomed to. My first little experience with the Texan countryside came to an end and the huge industrious city of  Houston took over the horizon. As it turned out, I didn’t burn up enough time and I arrived at Daniels place about an hour before he did. James, Daniels girlfriends son, was there and he let me park my bike in the garage.  Within no time an hour passed and Daniel and his girlfriend Laura were home. It was good to finally meet her and also see my friend again. He went on to fire up the grill and we did a lot of catching up. After dinner we did a wirl wind night time tour of  Houston. He took me uptown, downtown, and to what I’m going to call oil town. Houston is kind of defined by these three areas. Up town and downtown are separated by a few miles and both have a cluster of skyscrapers right in the center. For the most part, those two areas look similar to any large city that I’ve ever seen. What really got my imagination working was what I’m calling oil town. It’s actually Pasedena Tx, and it sits right smack in the middle of Houston. What the Pasedena area is, would best be described as thousands of acres of oil refineries. I saw it at night for the first time and my mind describes it as a cross between a cold industrial complex of massive proportions and a hellish, fire breathing, sinister looking world. Huge stacks shooting  flames thirty feet high, rise above the thousands of thin towers full of dimly lit yellow work lights. Giant cylinders containing the refined black gold stand around the edges of this oil city. Here and there are small signs indicating what massive oil company owns the harsh looking refinery that you’re looking at. As we crossed over the bridge to head back to the real city I felt a sense of amazement when I thought about the sheer scale of mans capabilities and an equal sense of alarm that came from thinking about the tremendous amount of pollution that those refineries help create. Our tour of Houston ended and so did evening number one at Daniels place.

Breakfast filled the air the morning of Day 42. Laura fancies making breakfast and let me tell you, she is a good cook too. It would not be the only time that I’d be eating good that day since it was Thanksgiving.  The day was full of relaxation and I just wanted to have a day where making progress didn’t matter. The most complicated thing I did was watch Daniel skype four of his family members at once. He was in Houston making a video call to family members in West Virginia, North Carolina, and California all at once and everyone could see one another. I’m not to much of a tech guy so I was pretty impressed. After he was done I did the same thing on a much smaller scale. I skyped my family at my mom’s house. It was the first time in 42 days that I’ve seen my little brother and his wife and it was nice. Skype creates a bridge across all of those miles that take days to cover. Our thanksgiving dinner was planned for later in the day and was to be held at Laura’s’ sisters house a few miles away in Houston. Laura’s sister Deedee and her husband Eddie prepared a meal fit for a king.  The plan was to eat and then watch the Texas Longhorns play Texas A&M Aggies for their last time ever. The rivalry that these two teams have is legendary. They’ve met 118 times in the past and this game had to be one of the closest games they’ve ever played. It all came down to 2 seconds on the clock and the Longhorns kicker had the weight of the world on his shoulders. If he missed he would forever be known as the guy who blew the Longhorns last shot to end the rivalry. Luckily for him he made it. I not a huge football fan, but moments like that are truly special and I won’t ever forget it. With the game over and bellies still full we headed back to Daniels. Thanks for everything Eddie and Deedee and if you’re reading this keep in touch. It was nice meeting you guys. The night wasn’t quite over yet. Daniel, J.D., and I made a short journey past the  huge lines at Best Buy and over to the local Wal-mart. Black Friday madness was in full force. Daniel planned to just go in and buy a football. Once inside the belly of the beast, we realized that no football was worth the time required to wait in line. The place looked like an out of control circus with the main act being the shopping cart rally. Forty inch flat screens filled the horizon. That was my first and last black Friday experience. I promise you that!

Another morning and another tasty breakfast from Laura. Again I didn’t make any solid plans for the day. Daniel planned to take me downtown to get some good daytime pics since we went out the two nights earlier and I was having trouble getting a shot of the city that wasn’t grainy looking. We rode around and checked out some of Houston’s finer buildings and a park. Houston is also home to one of NASAs space centers. The actual control room that the astronaut was talking to when he said “Houston. We have a problem.” is housed at Houston’s space center. Daniel and I tracked the place down for a tour. The entry fee was a bit pricey especially compared to the free National Naval Aviation museum in Pensacola. Inside though, there are tons of interactive displays. Both Daniel and I sat on this simulator that measures and astronauts efficiency and dexterity at small tasks like operating multiple buttons while moving. We also took a trolley tour around the facility and through a few buildings where we got to see a real deal space shuttle control room, an absolutely giant rocket, and other places where the big decisions are made in NASA. The money that we spent in the beginning seemed a lot more trivial when we left. Back at the house, Daniel made a couple huge racks of bbq ribs and turned in pretty early. I found Forrest Gump playing on the tube and couldn’t help but watch it. I still love that movie! Right after that I watched Shawshank Redemption for the first time. Morgan Freeman stars in it  and since I just went to his bar in Clarksdale Mississippi, I had to watch it too. In my opinion it was a great movie also. I really like movies that are narrated in the background. After that movie marathon I crashed out.

11/26/11 is Daniels birthday and a day I won’t soon forget. It rained most of the day and I wasn’t motivated to get a damn thing done. I just wanted him to have a good day. He doesn’t miss a beat and decided to make a few plans for the day. First he wanted to swing by a bike shop so I could get a new shield for my helmet. I’m riding with a Scorpian EXO-550 helmet. It has nice styling and the price was right. Unfortunately a few screws and a lever for my tinted inner shield fell out about two weeks into the trip and I’ve been using a bright green earplug to hold the shield up. He took me to a place in Houston that only sells gear and parts. It’s called Cycle Gear and is located right off of Interstate 45. While there I met a few of the guys working the counter named    Brad and Baldo. Baldo hooked me up with a new shield and after talking to Brad for a bit about my helmet woes he hooked me up with a few extra parts. He also gave me some great recommendations for things to see in his native Oregon. One of them is Rogue Brewery and you know I can’t miss that. Before we left for the shop in the morning I had two huge cups of strong coffee and I guess it made some sort of A.D.D. kick in while I was in the shop, I kept forgetting to grab my things and walked out with the paper that I just gave him with my info on it. I couldn’t put a sentence together either.  Blame it on my A.D.D. lol. (that’s an AWOL song for all not in the know) I want to say thanks to you guys for your generosity and welcome to my road crew. Please keep in touch. The middle of the day was rather unexciting. Earlier Daniel and I purchased tickets to a comedy show starring Donnell Rawlings, AKA ashy Larry on the Chappelle Show. The show started at 10pm and we arrived a bit early to grab some grub. Donnell was overshadowed on the Chappelle show by Dave Chappelle but, when he gets the stage to himself he doesn’t disappoint. I left the show with a full face cramp from laughing too much. We walked out to the lobby and Daniel actually got a picture with ashy Larry. I wanted to get one too, but the crowd wasn’t really giving him any breathing room. I just snapped a mental pic and will post Daniels pic on the site. I met a fellow named Jose from Fairfax VA in the lobby after the show who was there with his family. He and I talked for a while and he really like the idea of taking the trip. He sits in a similar spot that I was in as far as workplace happiness and satisfaction. He already has a family though and may not be able to take a sojourn anytime soon. I loved his enthusiasm though and I think his mentality would be perfect for a voyage like this one at some point. I wish you luck Jose and I wish your family the best.

Pics coming tomorrow. My battery is almost dead. Thanks for checking it out.


About mikekrabal

I'm a fella who finally let the inner traveler come out. A non-standard sort.


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About Me

My name's Mike Krabal and I am from Jefferson County WV. I'm a thirty year old guy who still believes that you can be anything you want to be. I'm on a mission to find out exactly what that is.

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