I believe I’m safe in saying that most people are in a daze the first 10-15 minutes after they wake up. So you can hardly blame Heidi for being confused when a large, scruffy, bearded man wearing a leather biker jacket approaches her as she packs the car early in the morning. He bluntly asks “Do you have a cooler?”. “What?” “Do you have a cooler?” he firmly asked. At this point I walked out of our motel room and watched the scene before me. At first I thought I was going to have to fight this guy to the death over who gets to have Heidi as biker babe on the back of their motorcycle. Being the large, scruffy, bearded man that I am, I was ready for the task. Sure.
Heidi looked at me, confused and the biker turned to me and asked “Do you have a cooler?”. As I mustered up a teeny-bopping, voice-cracking “Yea” he continued “…cuz we got this giant sub that we bought and we can’t take it with us on the bike. Ya want it?” Now with a little more confidence in my voice I said “Sure”.
Lesson #24 from the Haun Road Trip: Never turn down a bologna sandwich from scary biker men.
With our free lunch in our cooler, we headed back to Carlsbad Caverns where we’d watched the bat flight the night before. We hiked the mile and a half down 750 feet underground to the massive “Big Room”. It’s like a whole new world down there. (cue “Little Mermaid”s song “A Whole New World”) The place has miles of explored cavern and even more miles that have never been explored. I can’t really explain the place with words – the Big Room is like a small stadium. And you are 750feet underground!! As always, we’ve got some great photos – none of which quite do its size justice – on the website.
After Carlsbad came the part of our trip we dreaded. The drive across Texas. Now let me preface this by mentioning that our fuel gauge was acting up the night before. I filled the tank up and we drove 200 miles before the meter budged from the FULL position. Now 25 miles from the nearest town, in the middle of the desert with a quarter tank of gas, the gauge decided to play “catch-up” and began visibly plummeting towards the E. In only five miles the meter said we were completely out of gas. I slowed down to 50mph, turned on Cruise-Control, and we began to pray. 15 miles to town. 13 miles to town. The countdown continued, the gauge still read EMPTY. 4 miles to town.
We finally made it to the town. I’ve never been so happy to see a Chevron sign peek out over the hills. When I finished pumping the gas into our empty 15 gallon tank, the gas pump meter read 17.1 gallon. Heidi and I believe we were running on gas credits. Apparently, the Lumina likes us and lent us two gallons, knowing I’m an honest guy and would return the two gallons of credit promptly at the next station.
After that Texas was pretty dull. Desert, desert, rodeo sign, more desert. Not much goes on there. I must commend them on their safe driving slogan though. Along there highway there are signs with the Texas flag and phrase that reads “Drive Friendly”. Much more optimistic than our state of Florida’s quite morbid “Arrive Alive”. And the Texans seem to abide by that slogan. When you come up behind another car or truck on the highway, they literally go off the road to let you pass them. Dangerous, yet friendly. Or maybe I was just driving them off the road…. Hmmm.
San Antonio was a nice city. They have a gorgeous Riverwalk and some great Mexican restaurants. We stayed in the oldest hotel west of the Mississippi, the Menger Hotel, right next to the Alamo. I must say that our visit to the Alamo was a bit disappointing. Growing up and learning about the Alamo in Social Studies class you have this picture of a larger-than-life fort. When really it is quite small and all that is left to visit is the chapel or “shrine” as they call it.
On our drive through Houston on the way to Louisiana we stopped at several Folk Art sites we had heard about on the Internet. We saw a house made of Beer Cans, the Flower Man, the Art Car Museum, and the Orange Show. All very odd locales that none of which quite made much sense. Interesting though.
And then we arrived at Sea Rim State Park in the bayous on the stateline of Texas and Louisiana. We were excited about this stop because we were going to camp on the beach. I guess the 31 oil rigs I counted off the coast were a bad sign. When we got on the beach it was absolutely covered with thick, black, gookey mud and trash. The stench was terrible and our visions of pristine white sands were no where to be seen. Another clue I failed to pick up on was when the lady at the camp registration booth said, “It’s good you’re only staying one night. I recommend you try the place out for one night before committing to more.” Why would she say that? The bugs. As soon as the sun set they came out.. By the billions. We had to seek refuge in our tent as the kamikaze mosquitoes dive bombed our tent. Literally!! There was a constant drum of bugs seeing our light and running into our tent.
Texas managed to slightly redeem itself when we took an airboat ride the following morning with Ranger #5 (see attached photo). The ride through the swamps wasn’t all that exciting in and of itself, but Ranger #5’s narratives along the way were great (in between his tobacco spitting that is). Oh, and one other thing redeems Texas – its AM radio talk shows. Were I to live in Texas, I think my favorite past time would be listening to fishing shows on the AM station. Genius. That is the only word to describe them. GENIUS.
Almost home and past the 7500 mile marker,
William and Heidi