Posted by: Beemer Bob | June 8, 2011

Tour of Honor – Segment 2 (Full Trip Report)


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TOUR OF HONOR – SEGMENT 2
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Well as you know, Rapture was to have occurred Saturday ((May 21, 2011). But I’m still here and if you are still here to read this, we may both have a problem.

Saturday evening, the wife and I were waiting for Rapture time
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We prepared an appropriate “last supper”
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We were just sitting there having a pleasant conversation when all of a sudden POOF!!
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She was GONE! Rapture came and took her but you and I are still here. That can’t be good for those of us still here.

I moped around the house not sure what to do. It occurred to me a motorcycle trip might cheer me up and I better do it now before the locus (or whatever) comes. So I decided this would be as good as time as any to work on my “Tour of Honor” quest.

You may recall from my previous post, the “Tour of Honor” was a challenge to ride to several designated memorials throughout the state. This trip, if you chose to ride with me, will take me south to San Antonio, then to Harlingen down In the Rio Grand Valley. While doing the designated memorials I will also visit sites significant to Texas history.

While at Harlingen I wonder if I will go play on the beach in South Padre Island?

I began the Tour of Honor on the Ural so I am going to continue thus quest on the Ural.

Come join Raven and I on our quest. There is room in the sidecar, so hop in and let’s go on a trip.

Beemer Bob

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DAY 1

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Let the trip begin!

I head south and make in to San Antonio without any problems. In fact, the weather was mild and it was a pleasant drive/ride.

My first stop was the Alamo Cenotaph. Towering 60 feet high and located adjacent
to the surviving buildings of the Alamo itself, San Antonio’s “Alamo Cenotaph” pays tribute to the men who died defending the ancient mission in 1836 rather than surrender to overwhelming odds. According to tradition the Alamo Cenotaph marks the spot where the slain defenders of the fortified mission were piled after the battle and burned in great funeral pyres. The remains were later collected by local citizens and today located in a marble casket at nearby San Fernando Cathedral.

According to the rules, I’m supposed to take a picture of my bike, with my rally flag on front of the specified memorial. But sometime after the original guidelines were set, the “powers that be” blocked off the roads and there was no legal way to park in front. I thought briefly about giving my iPhone to some stranger and asking them to take my picture as I passed by. But I would probably never see my iPhone again so I did the best I could do without getting in trouble or having my phone stolen.

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And of course, a stop at the Alamo is required

The next stop was the San Antonio Missions Historical Park. This is the site of the San Jose Mission. Known as the “Queen of the Missions”, thus is the largest of the missions and almost fully restored to it’s original design in the 1930’s by the WPA (Works Projects Administration). Spanish missions were not churches, but communities, with church the focus. Mission San José shows the visitor how missions looked over 250 years ago.

Again, time has not been a friend to thus old mission and much of it was closed for restoration. But I will provide a few outside shots.

One could spend several days exploring the rich Texas history in this town. When you think Texas History, think San Antonio.

But, it’s time to call the day done. Hap Hazard lives just a few miles south of San Antonio so it’s time to head to his house for a beverage and a bed.

After doing my best to deplete his wine supply, I enjoy a nice steak dinner prepared by my sweet sister-in-law.

G’nite Y’all

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DAY 2

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I bid Hap Hazard and his sweet wife farewell and headed to Harlingen.

That ride was the most uneventful, and boring ride in my life. Almost 300 miles of nothing. There was about a 90 mile stretch traveling through the King Ranch with no gas stations that had me concerned, but I made it thru on fumes OK. This was my first trip to the Rio Grande Valley on a motorcycle or a rig and will be my last. High, hot, head winds the whole way. All in all, not a fun ride, but I made it through.

I was able to locate the Iwo Jima monument for these photo opps.


From here I head to South Padre Island!

I thought about trying to make it to the open beech area up the island to camp, but when I passed a Motel 6 for $30, that looked too inviting. It’s been a long day.

The motel was right next to a seafood restaurant with an outside patio and that too looked inviting.

I ordered a margarita and it was smoking. Literally.

They put dry ice in the drink to make it smoke. Looked really cool. Tasted like crap, but looked cool. The next drink was a shiner. A plate of fresh cold shrimp made the perfect meal.

Tomorrow is beach!

G’nite Y’all

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DAY 3

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I checked out of the motel 6 and headed for the beach.

There is an $8 charge for access to the beach, but they do not open the toll both until later in the morning so I was able to get to the beach without charge. I was told that they will charge you when you leave, but If I spent the night on the beach and left before they opened the booth in the morning, I could escape the charge. Being the cheap SOB that I am, that is the plan.

I make it to the beach early in the morning. Beautiful.

And head north

As I traveled north up the island I would come across groups of crains resting on the beach. I would kill the bike and try to quietly walk close to take their picture, but the would always fly away before I could get close. So the following is the best I could get.
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The beach is beautiful and only sparsely populated. A lot of folks in big 4x4s though. I make it to an area called “Mansfield Cut”. This is a ship channel that cuts through the middle of the island.
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Apparently the fishing is good here because there are a
Lot of folks here fishing. Too populated to camp here so I head back south.

As I head back south I encounter a jeep that got stuck in the sand.

I’m driving around the beach, in and out the drifts, and having a great time, until …

Oops
No one around, so I break out the winch and anchor (I forgot to take pictures). All I was accomplishing was plowing a trench in the sand. I then realized that I had left it in gear, so it was never going to pull out. About then, my new best friend, Dee, comes by in this

We hook up to his big truck and pulled it out lickady split. I don’t have a beer to give him in appreciation, so he gives me one! See what I mean, my new best friend.

I find this UFO from the planet Cerveza

This craft uses beer cans for its heat shields.

There do not appear to be any little green men around. Perhaps they went to town to buy some more heat shield material. This seems like a good place to set up camp with my hammock. I attach one end to my rig and the other to the space craft

My beach! No one, no where. The specs you see near the bottom is my campsite.

As I walk around the other side of this UFO, I noticed some words painted on the lower half, oh oh

NUDE BEACH! Not only am I going to have to deal with drunk little green men, but they are going to be naked too !
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I’ll let you know in the morning how this works out.

G’nite Y’all

PS. It’s only a nude beach during spring break.

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DAY 4

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I got a good night’s sleep, but it did get a little damp and cool. I should have put up the rain cover.

Good thing was that no naked little green men (or green women) came back to the UFO to disturb me last light.

There was a gorgeous sunrise and I was able to take a great picture of it. However, I accidentally deleted it and it seems that once you delete a picture on an iPhone, it is gone forever. So just pretend there is a picture of a great sunrise.

Shortly after daybreak, there was an army of ATVs zooming by. Would you believe Border Patrol. No seriously, it really was the boarder patrol having a great time on the beach protecting our country???
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Time to head to Corpus Christi. Goodby beach. The beach here was deserted and all mine, I spun a few donuts in the sand for fun and headed north.
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After leaving South Padre Island, I pass through the town of Port Isabel and find their famous lighthouse.

For $3 a senior citizen can clime the stares to the top (cost more if you are young and able). As fun as that sounded, I passed and proceeded on my journey.

Again, another miserable ride though the King Ranch area. As the crow flies, Corpus is not that far, but one has to take the only road (Hwy 77) that veers west out of the way until you can get on a road heading northeast to Corpus.

I stopped for an uneventful lunch and Kingsville, and was then able to start heading in the right direction. I notice however, that my left foot is soaked in oil. This is not good. I see that my oil filler cap has come undone although I’m sure that I tightened it down good last time I checked the oil. I had lost a lot of oil and was able to bring it up to the line with what oil I had with me. I turned around and went to the nearest station and purchased some more oil. I brought the oil to the proper level and cinched the filler cap down good and resumed my journey. After a few miles, my foot was again drenched in oil. I stop, bring the oil level up, and continue on. This process continues until I make it to Corpus. I find a motorcycle shop (a Yamaha dealer) and they put a rubber grommet on the cap to see if that holds. (and I bought more oil). So far, so good.

I make it to Padre Island (as opposed to South Padre Island) although they don’t call this section of the island North Padre Island. I don’t know why.

I proceed down past the National Seashore and come upon this sign

Being known as one that always exercises good sense; I heed this warning and turn around.

NOT!!

I proceed forward and encounter a few sections where I begin to bog down in the deep wet sand, but I find as long as I keep my speed up, I do OK.

I call it quits at about 7 pm and find me an area to set up camp. I looked for another UFO, but no such luck.

I did find a spot that had some firewood from a previous camper and decided to call this spot home.

Not having a UFO to suspend my hammock from, I have to resort to using my hammock in “tent mode”.

Last night, the dew from the ocean was damp and cold, so I put out the rain fly as well. Since I will be sleeping on the ground (sand) I am using my air mattress and sleeping bag. It’s more comfortable to be suspended in the air with a hammock, the air mattress does, however, make it OK.

I spent the remainder of the day walking in the beach and swimming in the ocean. The water was great!

G’nite Y’all

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DAY 5

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The previous tenants on this spot of beach had left some firewood so I got to have a little campfire last night.
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I spent some time singing campfire songs and that was fun, but then I started telling campfire ghost stories and got scared so I had to go to bed.

The winds were high during the night that caused my rain cover to flap loudly making sleep difficult, but hey, that’s part of the fun of sleeping on the beach. Wind is always high around the Corpus Christi area. You can always tell if someone is from this area because they tend to lean to one side.

By morning, however, I was greeted with a new day as the sun rose over the ocean.

Part of my goal was to make it to Mansfield cut on the north side but I had not realized the distance involved. Even though I was several miles past the “4 wheel drive Only” sign, using my GPS to roughly calculate the distance, is seemed that I had another 40 miles to go, so all in all it would be over 100 miles before I could make it to a gas station. Unfortunately I had not topped off before I got on the island and even with my spare gas can, I had doubts if I had enough gas to make the distance. I have not seen anyone for a long time, so I was thinking this would not be a good place to run out of gas.

So, let’s just say I made it to the cut. It will be our little secret. Instead, I chose to spend the morning just playing on the beach. The water was warm enough for a nice swim and I enjoyed some walks along the beach. I seemed to have miles of beach all to myself.

My beach
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But, beach time is over and it’s time to move on. By early afternoon I head back north and ride up as much beach as I can through Mustang Island. BTW: For those that are not familiar with the Texas coast line, South Padre Island, Padre Island and Mustang Island are, for the most part, the same island, the name jut changes are you traverse north. I don’t know why.

I stop for lunch at Port “A” (AKA: Port Aransas), then take the ferry of to Aransas Pass and head to Goose Island State Park. BTW: Goose Island is not really an island. Don’t blame me, I don’t name these places.

While there I have the opportunity to see this big tree.
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The name of this big tree is, well … “Big Tree”. At last a name that makes sense. Oh, but wait. This tree also goes by the name “The Goose Island Oak” or sometimes “The Bishop’s Tree” and at times “The Lamar Oak”

The Big Tree is Texas’ largest and quite possibly oldest Live Oak tree. Big Tree is estimated to be 1,100 years. The tree has allegedly been a hanging tree, a pirate’s rendezvous, and even a ceremonial site for the cannibalistic Karankawa Indians.

I check in at the state park, secure me a nice shady spot with trees, set up camp, break out the wine and call it a day.
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G’nite Y’all

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DAY 6

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It cooled down a bit last night with a light breeze making for a great night to camp. My I was sung as a bug Hammock. After some strong camp coffee and a bole of yummy dehydrated Ramen noodles (artificial pork flavor for breakfast), I’m ready for a new day.

I tour for a bit and find this inviting beach.
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Doesn’t that seem like a beach that you just want to go for a nice refreshing dip?

As you may recall from previous posts, there is this unorganized organization called “Two Wheeled Texans”, which has as their primary purpose of existence is to travel the great state of Texas in search of the perfect pie. This noble undertaking is heading to the small nearby coastal town of Ingleside, so I go to join my fellow knights in this quest.

This month we invade a place called “Floyd’s Ranch House Restaurant”
in Ingleside Texas. I meet up with fellow rider as we stage outside to invade these poor unsuspecting folks.
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The invasion begins. We enter and eat up everything in sight.
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Now that we are properly fortified with large quantities of food and pie, the journey continues. This time, my friend Carl joins me for part of the quest.
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We travel north to Goliad. The winds are out of the south so I have a nice tailwind and I get the Ural to cruise at 70!!! I’m a speed demon!

We stop and tour the Presidio La Bahia there in Goliad. This presidio has some interesting, although not pleasant, history. After the fall of the Alamo during Texas’ war of independence from Mexico, this presidio (fort) was held by Col. Fannin and his troops until he received orders to join General Sam Houston’s troops. On the way, Col. Fannin’s army was overtaken by the Mexican army. Col. Fannin and his troops surrendered under the condition they would be treated as prisoners of war. Col. Fannin’s troops were marched back to the presidio and on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, the able bodied men were marched out to a field and executed in mass. The wounded were laid out in front of the chapel and shot. Col. Fannin was the last to be executed. Col. Fannin made three requests, not to be shot in the face, his personal possessions be sent to his family, and that he be given a Christian burial. He was shot in the face, an officer took his personal possessions, and his body was burned along with many of the other bodies. Not all bodies were burned; some were left where they died. There were 342 men who died in the Goliad Massacre, which is almost twice the number of men who died at the Alamo and San Jacinto combined. Twenty-eight men did escape from the three massacre sites to tell this story.

While the battle cry “Remember the Alamo” is well known, it was this massacre that is reported to be Gen. Houston’s biggest motivation to defeat the Mexican army.

Presidio La Bahia
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After the surrender of the Mexican Army at San Jacinto, Texas General Rusk was escorting second in command of the Mexican army, General Filisola and the remainder of the retreating Mexican army out of Texas. In Goliad (the area around Presidio La Bahia), the ghastly remains of the massacred men of Fannin’s Command were found in the partially covered trenches where they had been dumped and burned. Some bones, gnawed by coyotes and dogs were on top of the ground. General Rusk immediately gave orders for a formal military burial of the bones.

This is the burial site of Col. Fannin and his men
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There were several independent flags used by Texans during this fight for independence. One of the flags used as Goliad was the “Bloody Arm” flag.
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The meaning of this flag was that they would rather cut off their right arm than to submit to Santa Anna’s tyranny. They had these flags for sale in the gift shop so Carl and I had to buy one to bring home. I’m not sure what I will do with mine. I’m sure my wife won’t let me hang it in the house. Perhaps in my “man cave” garage next to the poster of the scantily dressed girls advertising Budweiser. I’m not sure why I have been allowed that poster.

There is a lot of Texas history around Goliad, but it was time to move onward to another place of significance in Texas History and that is Gonzales, the site of the first battle for Texas Independence. We arrive at the historical pioneer village site at about 5:10 pm. It closed at 5, and the gates are locked and no one in sight. I guess I will just return some day in the future.

Carl and I bid each other and we head home.

I make it home by about 8:30 that evening and greeted by my sweet wife that understands my need to take these silly trips.

This trip is over. I traveled about 1,300 miles on this trip which is not that significant, but to travel it all on a Ural is significant. I survived well without injuring any part of my body (this too is significant). The Ural performed well and with the exception of a small problem with my oil filler cap coming off, I did not have any problems or mechanical issues. Raven, however, is coated in sand and from the encounters with the saltwater; rust has already begun to set it. Raven will need to have a though cleaning and removal of rust.

G’by Y’all. Thanks for traveling along with me.

Until my next trip ………

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