Monday, March 7, 2011

From Hempstead to Houston

Alohas everybody! So since I last left off I have made my way into Houston. I woke up in a place called Chappel Hill Texas on Friday morning and made my way down the road to a Burger King with free wifi. Burger Kings do not always have wifi but with luck this one did. I hung out there for a bit and was able to talk with my parents through the glorious technology of Facetime. It is wonderful being able to talk face to face with my parents even though they are half way across the world in the country of Laos. It was a bad connection though and we were only able to talk for a short while. After leaving there I made my way to Hempstead. About 5 miles out of Hempstead I quickly realized that I was probably not going to be able to camp that night because the road had now turned more into a freeway and there was nothing but civilization all the way to Houston. So while I could have made it to Houston by pedaling, that meant I would have been there past dark which would have left me struggling to find a place to stay, as well riding through a large city at night. So I decided it would be best to stick out my thumb.
Within 30 minutes of doing so a small SUV pulled over and this gentleman named Chuck offered me a ride. He was a really nice guy and we spent the whole ride chatting about traveling and camping. He was a bit of an old hippie himself with an American Flag bandana and all. He gave me a bit of smoke and drove me to the outskirts of Houston. When he dropped me off he even gave me $13. My luck with people has been so wonderful and I cannot thank him enough for the ride and the money he gave me. This world continues to show me how beautiful it is and that the people living in it are still wonderful.
Like I said he dropped me off on the outskirts of Houston about 20 miles from downtown. Unfortunately for me I didn't bother to pay much attention to this. I rode a while till I started to get into the city and found a Starbucks. I decided I should spend a bit of time looking for a place to stay so I stopped and started searching for a couchsurfing host. About an hour later it dawned on me that I had no idea where any of these people lived, and even more so I really had no idea exactly where I was. That is when I decided to check my map and see where I was. To my somewhat alarmed surprise I was still 15 miles from downtown, where most of the hosts lived. It was now getting close to five in the evening which left me but an hour and a half to make my way to downtown before it got dark. So I quickly packed back up and headed out as fast as possible. I wasn't exactly sure how to get to the downtown area so I decided to ask people. Unfortunately this being Texas where no one really knows where they are, it took a bit of time to find someone who was quite certain how to get to downtown from where I was. Multiple people had told me many different ways, many of which would have led me in the wrong direction, hence why I asked so many people. Finally when I found the one person who was sure I headed back out.
I got about 2 miles from downtown and checked again for a couchsurfing host. I had written about 15 people when I finally wrote a gentleman named Gene. He was the only one to reply and luckily he was not far from where I was. It ended up being fate again as while riding to his house my tire went flat. So I went to pump it up and I noticed my pump had broken some time during the day. An important little piece had fallen off which left me stranded. So I found a payphone and called Gene to see if by chance he might be able to pick me up. Sure enough he was  and even had a truck to do so! Thank goodness otherwise it would have been a very long and difficult walk with my bike.
Gene picked me up at the gas station I had stopped at. Then afterwords he treated me to dinner. We talked about my travels and then went to a bar. I let my inner social butterfly go free for a bit and I roamed around talking with a bunch of different people. By the end of the night I had already made quite a few friends.
The next day Gene took me around to a couple of bike shops in order to find a new tire, since the one I had was clearly broken and causing my tires to go flat and also a new pump, since that was now broken as well. After that we went to lunch we eventually went looking for what he called the President Heads, I was curious and sure enough they were exactly that. Big giant heads of previous presidents made from a plaster by the side of the freeway. He then mentioned that supposedly the artists studio was somewhere close by and so we went looking for it. Sure enough we found it and there were even more president heads. Lots of them in fact, as well as tall sculptures of the Beatles. It was interesting and a little weird but provided for some good picture taking. Later that night he took me to see his friends bands perform. The first band was alright, not really my style of music being hard rock but not shabby. The next band was a Tool cover band called Toology. While I am not the  biggest fan of Tool they were actually quite good. Plus it is always funny to watch Tool fans, many of them get very into the music.
The next day Gene and I went to brunch with one of his friends and then ended up running into more of his friends at the restaurant, he knows quite a few people to say the least. They were all really nice and very interested in my travels. Like I have made mention before it is always nice to meet people and it is something that I cherish very much while on this trip alone.
On a quick little side note I have started working on a story, the first real creative piece I have started in a loooonnng time. While looking for couchsurfing hosts on Friday I happened on a woman's profile whose description coincidentally fit with the story I am writing. In a sort of weird way, being a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, I contacted her and asked if she would like to get together so I might pick her brain a little. I am thinking that she might have some sort of insight into my story, or something to contribute so I meeting up with her today at lunch to discuss it. We will see what comes of it, and go from there. I have opted to hang out in Houston a little longer because of this so New Orleans will have to wait.
I have talked with the farm though and they are still expecting me which is good and I am still really looking forward to that opportunity. Until then though I am going to enjoy another night in Houston and go from there! That is about all I have right now. I love you all, alohas.

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