From Nacogdoches we head west looking for the Texas Bluebonnets that,according to wildflower web sites, are at their peak. Around Conroe Texas we have our first sighting. After lunch we head east to Navasota and south west toward Brenham. At the Lonesome Dove Ranch we come upon a field of Bluebonnets as far as the eye can see. It is spectacular and fragrant. Simple incredible. We drive around looking for the Dos Brisas Inn where Linda and her Barbara will be staying while I go back to Atlanta to get the bike. We enjoy an afternoon of seeing beautiful pastures, fields and roadsides covered in Indigo, Reds, and Yellows all at peak and stunning. In Brenham we head west on Hwy. 290 in the direction of Austin. We have read on the Texas wild flower web site that this route is the prime bluebonnet viewing area. We find, however, that what we have seen earlier that is far better. The flowers are so beautiful that motorist pull their cars to the side of the 70mph road for photo ops. Lovers, pets, babies, and even grand parents are all piling out of cars and launching themselves into the fields of flowers. Cell phones in hand they are taking group shots and selfies. We were worried at the possibility of accidents, but no one else was. Later in the evening we arrive in Bastrop a small town not far from Austin. Now Linda has to admit that she is wrong and James is right. On our drive over, James asked her to call ahead for reservations in Bastrop. Linda refuses to call since it is a Saturday evening when hotels usually have vacancies. There should be plenty of choices. Wrong!! There is a big international motorcycle race and a charity bicycle race in town. I learn this as I approach the front desk at the Hampton Inn. No place else has rooms either. While I am standing at the desk, a person calls in with a cancellation. We get it! No divorce yet! Bastrop is the filming site for “Friday the 13th” as well as “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” It is a quaint community with well kept historic homes and buildings and a vibrant small downtown. Just east of town a 2011 forest fire was the worst in Texas history destroying nearly 1700 homes and killing 2 people. We have a good time at an outdoor bar listening to Texas music and drinking beer with some of the unusual locals. Linda almost buys a six foot tall metal chicken for the front yard in Lakeland. Good sense prevailed and we left him behind. The next morning we have an awesome breakfast at Maxine’s on Main home of the Texas sized stack of pancakes. They are each 12 inches across. We order just one and can barely finish it. We stroll along the east bank of the Colorado River birding as we go. We return to our precious hotel room to pack up. This is a new hotel and they have a very unusual problem. More than 1000 protected cliff swallows have decided to make the hotel their home too. They are building mud nests all the way around the eaves of the hotel. They are also dive bombing guests and their cars from dawn to dusk. The desk clerks say nothing can be done since they are protected. Linda loves it, I take the car to the car wash. Today we backtrack to Houston so that I can fly back to Atlanta and get the motorcycle.Linda has planned a birding route for the day. We drive through Dime Box, Texas to Lake Somerville State Park. Nice park with lots of folks camping with their horses. We see our first Scissor tail Fly Catcher. Today it is exciting. Over the next few weeks we will see hundreds of them. Back on Hwy 290 once again going into Houston. More flower seekers on the road everywhere. Many more than yesterday. We are passed by a Viper Car Club going a little faster than the 70mph speed limit as we hit the outer limits of the City of Houston. Seems the Texas Highway Patrol has decided to welcome the car club home with speeding tickets. The Viper Car Club needs to urge its members to get the WAZE iphone app. James built 3 office buildings in Houston but he no longer recognizes all the new development. Houston has sprawled out so far from where it was when he was working here. We get on the outermost loop road ( which in many places is 12 lanes wide and requires a toll) and proceed around it to the Intercontinental Airport. We find the airport Marriott hotel and check in. Now Linda considers herself so clever to get to the hotel, do laundry, find a nail place and put me on the plane Sunday afternoon. Then she can relax and watch the Masters Golf Tournament on TV. Her best friend, Barbara flies in on Monday morning landing at 8:00am. She will be here for the next few days. Everything is wonderful until Linda realizes that Barbara is flying in on Southwest Airlines and it lands other Houston airport 28 miles away. That’s right, 8:00am and the airport is miles away in the 4th largest city in America at rush hour. It is decided that Linda will need to leave very very early. She considers sleeping in the Captiva at Hobby Airport parking garage. She suspects that 4 million miler James knew this before hand. Linda leaves the Marriott at 6:00am and makes it in plenty of time. Barbara lands on time and off they go in the rain to Dos Brisas Inn. The Inn is known food, wine and cutting horses. They, being horse women, are all set. Unfortunately the Inn let the man who handled the cutting horses go at the end of last year. They have a great time anyway riding, shooting, walking, wine tasting, and learning how to make Gnocchi’s in cooking class. Great time for two buds who do not get to see each other enough. James arrives on Thursday having ridden in the rain for three days. After riding 900 miles, he is coming down with a cold. James gets a massage while I take Barbara to the airport to fly home. We have another great meal that night and leave the nest morning for Austin. James is looking forward to seeing his good friend, Eckhard Vedder, who lives in Austin. We have to stop at a UPS store to send back home all the things that we had in the Captiva that will not fit in the motorcycle luggage. It is
Good Friday and we hope that everyone has gone home for the holiday. No such luck. Traffic is very bad as we drive to Austin airport to drop off the Captiva. We are now two up on “Nell” our faithful BMW. Linda sheds a tear for the little Captiva she is leaving behind at the AVIS counter. Austin has experienced Houston type growth but has not built the roads to handle it. Stop and go on major highways and James is grumpy with his cold. This is not what Linda was hoping for. Her vision was the Oasis Bar, Bat viewing from the bridge, shopping for boots at Allen’s, dining at Trulucks, not to mention scoping out the music scene. Yeah, she is ready, but ole grumpy James tells me it is not happening this trip. The city is pretty with lots of hills and trees( which are rare in Texas). Zoning is very strict. Nothing can be seen from the street. We can’t find a place for a quick bite to save our life. We do not want to show up at Eckhard’s home starving. We finally spot a Mexican restaurant and grab some chips and salsa, check out our maps and arrive at Eckhard’s on time.