Woke up to 33 degrees and sunny in New Braunfels on Thursday. Pieced together breakfast from the hotel spread. Snugged up the chain on the Triumph a bit. It was warming up quickly so I tempted fate and packed away my jacket liner and heavy gloves. Yeah, I'm crazy.
Rode up through Gruene. All you non-Texans, how do you reckon it's pronounced? My understanding is you pronounce it "green". I had guessed about 11 other variations, and none of them were "green". Gruene is a neat old town built on a bluff looking over the Gruene river. They had a riverside grill I would have checked out if it had been closer to lunchtime. This is their 'landmark' building. It's the oldest continuously run dancehall in Texas. Willie Nelson, George Strait, and many others have played here.
My destination for the day was Port Aransas. As I looked at the map, I saw I could make it an "Independence" ride and go through a couple of significant sites... Gonzales and Goliad. First stop was Seguin though. Named after Juan Seguin, he was probably the last guy to leave the Alamo as he rode off to try and get reinforcements. He went on to fight in several other battles, became a senator, etc. He's buried in Seguin. I stopped and saw the tomb, which is on a hillside next to the fairgrounds. I guess any day is a good day for rodeo...
As I rode toward Gonzales, I went through the 3 house town of Belmont and noticed an unusual amount of cars at the Belmont Social Club. That's a good sign. Hmm. I could eat.
This is the forensic evidence of one of the best bbq sandwiches I've had. She asked if I wanted the brisket sliced or chopped. I said chopped, which in the end, made the sandwich really close to a Sloppy Joe type consistency. Dang it was good.
Gonzales is recognized as the first "battle" of the Texas War for Independence. The Mexican army came to take a cannon they had given the town for protection against indians and the towns people wouldn't give it back. They whipped up a snazzy flag for the confrontation, ended up firing the cannon at the Mexican troops (possibly by accident), wounded one Mexican soldier, and then the Mexicans retreated. So Texas won the first battle.
Goliad on the other hand is the site of the "Goliad Massacre". A group of Texans fought nearby and had to surrender, they were marched back to Goliad as POWs. They were being taken care of when word came down from the Mexican general to execute them all. About 300 of them were marched out and executed. I really didn't have any stops planned for Goliad per se. I rode through town and crossed the San Antonio river where I briefly considered whether a loogey hawked along the river walk in San Antonio would have beat me to this spot or not. Not that I did...
Then sweet baby jesus I came up more historical importance.
Presidio La Bahia. It's actually a fort and not a mission, although it has this church for the soldiers stationed here. This location was one of the most fought over forts through several wars. Luckily though, it's still in really good condition and was never turned into a warehouse or a Walgreens for awhile. The Catholic Church has always owned. All the walls and the buildings are there. Very cool to walk around this place...
Keeping watch over my Triumph in the parking lot:
Monument to the massacred soldiers
The ride had been rolling hills with sweeping curves, but shortly after Goliad, I saw the speed limit sign go to 75mph so guessed the terrain was about to get flat and the road straight. Good guess on my part. The 800 has a super-sweet spot right at 81 on the speedo which is about 77-78 on my GPS. Rev Theory's song "Hell Yeah" came up in my playlist, sun was warm and shining and it was a great run on into Port Aransas.
Port Aransas, or "Port A" as the locals call it is a neat town on the north end of the Padre barrier island. I didn't realize it, but to get to Port A you have to take a ferry. It was a slick set up though. Free of charge and you just pulled up just like you're at a stoplight, next thing you know, you're on the ferry and headed across the channel. I don't think I've been on a ferry on the bike before and it was a bit of a weird feeling having the boat move while you mentally thought you were sitting still.
Ferry headed back to the mainland and the pilot house:
Port A reminds me of most beach type towns... like a smaller Daytona Beach. Took a short ride up the beach as the sun was setting behind me.
You can park and spend the night on the beach free for 3 nights a month and there were several RV's parked right off the side of the beach road. Pretty cool. Later on a heard a guy telling how he's figured out how to stay out there pretty much all the time and lives on $10,000 a year but didn't get all the details... "I live in a van... down on the beach..."
It's been dry in Texas and apparently land sharks are becoming a real problem...
Found an ok place to stay and went for food at a seafood place called Castaways since it seemed to have the most cars in the lot. Well, I think it's the early bird specials pulling in the customers. Lots of snowbirds down here. And when I say snowbird, that means oldsters. Food was just ok. Walked out and heard some live music coming from the "Tarpon Ice House" across the street so walked over there for a beer. The band was the "Free Beer Band". Ingenious name. Noticed it on the sign as I left later... you mentally read it as "Free Beer, Band".
Nice day of relaxing riding. Started to get some bugs splattering on the windshield and passed guys mowing the ditches (been a while since I smelled cut grass)... I do believe I've escaped winter. One more days ride and I'll seal the deal.