The memories from our last Texas Tour lingered. As we completed our wide arc around San Antonio and angled northeastward, I looked forward to revisiting the forested part of the state. Aptly called Piney Woods, East Texas receives a lot more rainfall than the more desert-like land we had been traveling. And it hosts plenty of pine and deciduous trees.
For a warm-up, we spent a night at Lake Somerville State Park camping in our humble tent. The campground was deserted, with only one other couple and the campground hosts holding down campsites. The park is designed for heavy equestrian use, with huge cages to hold horses right at the campsites. I’ve never seen that in Minnesota!
The washrooms were a bit of a hike, and just in case he spotted a bird, Rich carried his camera on his trips through the woods. Indeed, he returned from one such journey with great elation. It wasn’t a bird. It was an armadillo! A live one! And by virtue of his foresight, he managed to get a picture of it. We’ve seen many a dead, squished armadillo on the roads while cycling, and were convinced there were no live ones to be seen. We now know differently. I’m still envious.
We truly reached Piney Woods when we stayed in Huntsville, on the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest. We could already detect the increase in rainfall, with far more underbrush and roadside wildflowers that had to compete with the additional vegetation. With an AirBnB right near the Sam Houston Park in town, we spent a warm evening walking through the well documented exhibits and buildings that were part of his heritage. Once again, we felt enriched by being right in town surrounded by local history.
Not only did the heavier precipitation levels produce beautiful forests, but it also presented us with our first real threat of rain. While we have cycled in soggy conditions numerous times, if we can avoid it we will. In this case, the prudent thing seemed to be to book two nights in Crockett, and make plans for the in-between day based on the weather.
It turned out to be a winning strategy. Although I mourned losing out on spending a couple of days cycling all the way across the Davy Crockett National Forest and back, we dialed back our route to reduce it to a short day trip. The morning held heavy clouds, but remained dry. The clouds even broke enough to give us brief moments of sunshine. We could feel the heat and humidity building as we passed through the lush green and towering pines, and savored riding bikes liberated from all our gear.
Finishing up about lunchtime, we could see the line of angry dark clouds approaching. Instituting our contingency plans, we bought a bottle of wine and stopped by Pizza Hut to make sure they delivered. It wasn’t long after returning that the rain started. Thunderstorms rattled the air throughout the afternoon and by evening it was pouring. Snug in our B&B and smug about our dry dinner plans, we set up in the front parlor to enjoy our repast.
The rain ended by morning. We’d beaten the weather. And it was time to begin moving out of the woods. I wasn’t so ready for that. But no doubt Texas has plenty more to show me in our final remaining week of cycling.