Texas Coast (1 Viewer)


Dec 29, 2015
Durant, United States
Although the flooding from Hurricane Harvey was truly disastrous in the Houston area, the severity of the event didn't strike me until I reached Tivoli.

Tivoli is a small Texas village in the heart of the coastal cotton growing region. I'd planned to camp there perhaps at the volunteer fire department which I'd noticed on my maps. Fire departments and bicyclists have a special relationship and they are a place of almost certain refuge.

When I got to the village, I was immediately struck by the extent of damage. Every property had trees down, windows blown out, roofs rolled, and or buildings completely crumpled. The town store was open though and a simple minded man immediately asked me if I needed help.

My new friend was differently abled but loved to talk and introduced me to everyone in the store. When I mentioned that I had planned to ask for a place to camp at the fire department, they pointed across the highway at a half destroyed building and said, "there's our fire station". They were kind though and offered three different locations including right behind the store.

I returned to the store in the morning after a night on the grounds of the local catholic church and filled a coffee. Two men were sitting at a table and invited me to join them. The older man had been a shop teacher and then the principal at the local high school since 1957 and the other man, a sixty year old Hispanic who had lived in the town his whole life, said, "there's not a person in town who hasn't been paddled by this guy".

The second man bought my coffee and insisted that I get a taco too. I listened to their stories and witnessed of the miracles I've encountered in my travels. As usual, this led to a profound brotherhood. The same engine gave them a good life as gives me good travels. We passed half an hour like that then I rolled on.

Again it was windy but this day in my favor and I made good time towards Rockport. My route bordered the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and was pristine until I reached the drainage into Aransas Bay. From there, the ditches were strewn with debris and the fences strung with boards, mattresses, and plastic flung and floated by the storm.
The first town I reached was devastated. All the stores were still closed and there were no properties undamaged. I stopped at the base of the bridge over Aransas Bay. The fishing pier was closed pending "inspection for structural damage" and the bait shop at the head of it was destroyed although it looked like someone had been squatting there.
Rockport was just across the bridge and buzzing with activity, the roar of chainsaws clearing fallen trees, the beep of trucks backing up to debris piles, and the staccato of nail guns hammering shingles on rebuilt roofs.
I went to the laundromat and discovered that my work clothes that I'd bagged in Hamshire were moldy. I washed what I could save and figured out where the relief operations were staged.
The Cajun Army had relocated to Refugio, thirty miles back the way I'd come so I went to the other camp. I was greeted, but the first thing they said was that there was no additional camping there. They offered me a shower though and I cleaned up.
Without a place to stay I could hardly volunteer so I decided to ride on. The town itself is flooded with people who've come to help so it was truly no loss to them. I stopped at a grocery store though and while I was loading supplies on my bike, made a new friend.
James had seen me riding through town earlier and he took it for a sign that he should take to the road too. Seeing me again at the store validated this feeling. He went in for his shopping and brought me out a huge deli sandwich.
James was also on a bike. It was his only transportation although he had a VW van that he used for storage. We rode together down a bike trail then sat at a bench talking for most of three hours.
One of the most beautiful things ever is the glistening of a tear formed from realization of truth as it rolls down a cheek. I'm not sure what I said but just as I noticed the tear, James said, "I'm crying". We shared our truths.
James suggested several areas where I could camp nearby but I found a completely different place and passed the night peacefully.
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