Day 34(Sunday, May 22):Liberty to Vidor,TX–52 miles
May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Another day is done. Furthermore we anticipate this being our last night in the large and extremely friendly state of Texas. Perhaps a ceremonial burning of the wrinkled, frayed map that has been our trusty guide for the last 19 days and 900 miles is in order!
The winds continue from the SE; the humidity continues in the 80% range. There is nothing new there, so I’ll move on to other subjects.
It is a good thing we stopped in Liberty last night; the small hamlets we passed through today offered nothing in the way of lodging.
The people, however, were great. In Devers we stop at 7:30 am on this Sunday for a water break in front of Shamrock Equipment Rental. As we ready to leave, the owner shows up and asks if he can get us water or anything; of course I ask about using the facilities. No problem. Bless this kind man!
We pass through Nome, believe it or not named during the Texan Oil Rush after the gold rush town of the same name in Alaska.
Our next stop is in China, named for the Chinaberry tree; besides being yet another rail and then oil boomtown on our route, it was also a venue for the Walt Disney Company. First for pre screenings of the movie “Mulan”, complete with a giant Great Wall of China in the town football field and then a release party for “Shanghai Knights”, this time with a giant eggroll accompanying the show. Remember this is the Fenn Fun,Film and Food Festival Bike Tour.
I found yet another interesting factoid about the towns around here; during WWII they housed German prisoners of war, who maintained the rice fields while the farmers were away at war.
We stop in Beaumont at the Waffle House for a breakfast break. We have a great server, Cilla, and various patrons are interested in these two sweaty characters who just came rolling in on bicycles. One couple even passed by us on their way to eat here. Everyone is both friendly and congratulatory; we feel great. We ask for our bill and Cilla tells us the couple who passed us on the road already took care of it; they asked that she say nothing until after they were gone. I run outside to see if I can thank them before they drive away; no such luck. We are truly astounded at their exceptional kindness and generosity. Cilla lets us know they come in daily to eat; we ask her to thank them for us the next time she sees them.
We are off again, crossing the Neches River via I-10; we must be less gutsy than in New Mexico. It seemed a bit fast and loud to me.
Off the bridge there is an exit for Old Highway 90. We take it and immediately come upon not one, but two, unsigned intersections. I make a choice; Joe hangs in there with my choices, though on the second one he does mention several times that this is another unmarked road I am expecting him to follow me on. I say it looks like a go. So off we sail into the hot, humid and excessively verdant bayou. It feels and smells like the Disneyland ride; maybe I will see fireflies tonight.
We arrive several miles later at Vidor, our day’s destination. Here too, there is more to the backstory than meets the eye.
Newswoman Paula Zahn gave the town its moment of notoriety in 2006 while investigating the town’s history of “no blacks after dark”.
More on this from Wikipedia:” Vidor has a legacy of being a sundown town, a place where African-Americans were excluded from being present after dark. African-Americans were effectively restricted from living here because of its reputation as a Ku Klux Klan haven. In 1993, the U.S. government tried to end this racial separation by unsuccessfully locating a few African-American families within the town. These families moved out after a Klan march. Although blacks are no longer shunned, demographics reflect Vidor’s past, with the number of blacks in the town rising from zero in 1990 to eight in 2000 and 13 in 2010.”
The town’s name comes from lumberman Charles Shelton Vidor, father of director King Vidor and the owner of the Miller- Vidor Lumber Company, basically then the only employer in town.
This town was severely damaged from Hurricanes Rita and Ike, in 2005 and 2008, respectively, but has since been rebuilt.
Texas is a land of contrasts.
Until tomorrow when we see what Louisiana has in store for us…