A lie in constitutes breakfast at 7:30 – luxury! The breakfast at the hotel was basic but acceptable and we were kickstands up at 8:30 to start the day’s adventure. Once again the weather was warm and sunny: all extra layers and waterproofs were now discarded.
We headed off, avoiding the likely chaos of the main seafront and before long were at the ferry to take us over Galveston Bay. Unsurprisingly, much of the traffic waiting for the ferry was motorcycles leaving the rally. In particular we got talking to a couple of ladies on bikes that happened to be queuing behind us.
Much to our surprise we all managed to get onto the ferry – it was much bigger than expected – and to our even greater surprise it was free. We made the short trip into Port Bolivar and, as an extra bonus, we got to see dolphins playing around in the bay.
Port Bolivar is on the Bolivar Peninsula: another thin strip of land with East Bay to our left and the Gulf of Mexico still on the right. There is pretty much just the one road, so we ended up riding as quite a large pack for a while until we spaced out bit along the route. Here the buildings are all still built on stilts as in Galveston – often quite high stilts – and some of the roads are still signposted as hurricane evacuation routes.
We followed Route 87 until we rejoined the mainland and took a sharp turn north on 124 through High Island, a nationally famous destination for birdwatchers, and on inland through Stowell and Winnie to join route 73 heading east into Port Arthur on the western bank of the Sabine Lake. Approaching Port Arthur was much like Freeport but bigger, with huge industrial complexes lining the road.
We only passed through the southern tip of Port Arthur and joined the 82, crossing an impressive bridge where we paused briefly to take photos, before following the road out along the south west end of the lake.
Lake Sabine is a 90,000 acre salt water estuary, 14 miles long and 7 miles wide. We cross its southern point where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico, over another bridge, which although longer than the previous one is less visually impressive. This is also the state line, where we cross from Texas into Louisiana.
I don’t know how they know where the boundary line is, but there are relatively few bugs in Texas: this all changes as soon as you cross into Louisiana. Within a few miles there were so many bugs on my goggles I feared they would join up leaving me unable to see. We continued along the 82, once again hugging the Gulf shore.
This part of the map seems to be predominantly water as we pass to the south of Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, the largest coastal marsh refuge on the Gulf Coast. It is home to more than 200 species of birds as well as a wealth of other wildlife, including a large contingent of alligators. Thankfully they don’t seem to stray this far from the refuge as we didn’t spot any.
As we were hugging the coast we took the opportunity for another photo break and Andy decided he needed to dip his foot into the Gulf of Mexico, not content to settle for just the Pacific and Atlantic. The rest of us decided to keep our feet dry.
We then came to our second ferry of the day, this one much smaller, crossing the channel south of Calcasieu Lake, taking us into Cameron, where we stopped at a garage for fuel and food.
The 82 continues past one huge lake after another and more wildlife refuges before heading north into Abbeville, south of Lafayette, where we had provisionally planned to spend the night. However, due to greater availability of hotels we decided to press on another 15 miles to New Iberia.
Here we found a Comfort Suites Ruby Tuesday Hotel. Not a moment too soon, as again I found myself struggling for the last 50 or 60 miles.
One of the great advantages of the hotel was the proximity of a Chillis restaurant, where we had dinner. I was delighted to find that it is always happy hour in Chillis: buy one beer, get two. I felt the need for beer, and after a superb steak I was glad to get back to the hotel room for an early night.
Tomorrow is a short day riding into New Orleans, so we have agreed to a lie in to preserve our energies to enjoy some night life.
Miles today: 240
Total miles: 2193