Day 24 – Hitchhiking from Vinton to Houston

I’m breaking my streak today, I’m finally accepting a ride (for some reason people’s first instinct is to offer to drive you when you tell them you’re on a biking trip). There’s a cold snap around Austin so the weather is about 20 degrees after I cross into Texas. The place I’m staying is about 5 miles from the Louisiana-Texas border. Laura, a doctor visiting from Texas offered to drop me off further west when she heads home for the weekend.

I ate my last meal before leaving the Border Town Plaza, a Subway Italian B.M.T. Apparently B.M.T does not stand for Bacon Meat Tomato. After trying to break down the acronym for a while with the resident sandwich artist I ended up looking it up. If you’re reading, you were right! It’s where Subway started.

Before the city unified the subway system, The New York Times explains, the BMT controlled a component of it, which today encompasses the B, J, M, N, Z, and L trains. According to Delish, the popular sandwich was named after the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit System “to go along with the chain’s transportation theme.”

It was a pretty good sandwich.

I checked out of my room and hung out in the lobby while I was waiting for Laura to finish up at work. I got access to a computer for the first time in a while and caught up on some of the previous blog posts. (I’m writing this one as I wait for my train in Houston)

Laura was ready to go so I jammed my bike into the back of her rental (I only broke one speaker) and we headed off. We got a little caught up in conversation and accidentally drove to Port Arthur, but we got back on track. She offered to take me as far as Schulenberg, but I asked her to drop me off at the George Bush Airport in Houston. I figured if I’m gonna be snowed in for a while I’d want to rent a car and do it in Austin. I’ve wanted to check out Austin for a while so this seemed like a decent chance even if it would be uncharacteristically cold.

After getting lost trying to find the rental car center for a while, Laura and I said our goodbyes. Thanks for the ride, you’re awesome!

I found my way through the maze of Avis booths and drowsy-driving out-of-towners in the rental garage and went to pick up my car at the Thrifty counter. After waiting in line the agent told me that they actually didn’t have any cars for me. I resisted the urge to reenact a classic Seinfeld skit and just chuckled and moved on.

When something goes wrong all you can really do is laugh. You’d think fortune would be on your side when you’re desperate or trying to do something cool but it’s the opposite. You’ll run into a whole mess of cosmic pranks the second you try to do anything good. Assuming you haven’t lost a limb or something, all you can do is laugh at the absurdity and keep moving.

Now stranded in Houston I went to find the nearest lodging. A more intrepid cyclist would have made a cozy shelter out of the manicured shrubbery of the Houston Airport, but I long for the pampering creature comforts of a motel. I found a nearby Wyndham motel and, not realizing the airport offers a free shuttle straight to the hotel. Began the 3.6 mile ride down the narrow airport roads in the frigid night. It became apparent that it was unsafe to ride on the roads so I hopped off of my bike and onto the grassy shoulders on the side of the road for an impromptu hike through the still wet grass. Fortunately, it was worth it, the hotel was great, I’ve been staying in motels for the most part so walking into a room with more square footage than a parking space was a huge win.

I got to chat with some of my friends still back in the trenches at my loving alma mater, RPI, and promptly passed out.

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