Houston to College Station, Texas
... and back
June 16/22, 1990

Michael J. Ferguson

Les Publications INRS-Télécommunications, Montréal

Journal Index


1  Sat. June 16, Montréal
2  Sunday June 17, Navasota
3  Monday June 18 / Wednesday June 20, College Station
4  Thurs. June 21, College Station
5  Fri. June 22, Houston
6  Maps

The 1990 TEX User Group (TUG) meeting was being held at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas this year. I am the ``Coordinator for Multilingual Activities'' and, to some extent was acting as a bridge between the European user groups and North America. Although I am not a member of the board, there were some board meetings that I was supposed to attend. The experience did not make me regret my inferior status. I started out very early Saturday morning, after having just come back from a meeting in Ottawa on Friday and then to Nice at the end of the week.

1  Sat. June 16, Montréal

I wonder if people naturally believe that bicyclists know where they are and where they are going or are they just more accessible. I get asked directions all over the world. Usually I am more ignorant than the people asking. This morning, on the way to the airport, it was a question as to how you get to Québec from Blvd. St. Joseph in Lachine. I was let off the hook when a Lachine Public Security officer came along.

It took about 40 min to get to the airport this morning. I doubt that I could do it much faster ... even though I lost a few minutes while almost giving directions.


I saw my bike and bag arrive in the vicinity of the plane to Houston. Although I did not see it actually loaded, I didn't see it taken away either.

We are flying over nice rows of small fluffy cirrus clouds. They are not completely even rows but are very close. Somewhat like beans in a field.


I totally misjudged the distances getting out of Houston Intercontinental, while attempting to follow directions. I was to go along Farm Road 1960 north of the airport. FM 1960 is 5 lanes wide with a center left turn lane. Farms in the neighbourhood seem rather rare.

I keep getting asked where I am going. I tell them and they say ``Boy that's a long way.'' I presume that is in reference to bicycle distance.

There don't seem to be any campgrounds in this part of the world. I asked at one of my Gatorade stops and the proprietor said he couldn't think of any. Motels are almost as rare. The nearest big (7500) town is Navasota. I arrived there just after sunset. There appears to be only one motel, the Vanguard, and a room is $20. I have spent almost that much at campgrounds in New York. Houston is 72 to 77 miles, depending on what sign you read, and that is about what I have gone (122km). One advantage of the cheap motels is that they don't care if you take your bike into your room. That makes it almost as convenient as camping.

Plantersville was having a barbecue social and a kid there was sufficiently bemused at seeing me go by that he asked the obvious question, ``Why are you riding the bike?'' My answer was to get tired - possibly unsatisfactory. My other answer was equally unsatisfactory, namely to get from Houston to College Station.

As expected, at least by the natives, riding became pleasanter as it became later. Today has been lush green, no unknown field crops, a few new calves but no other farm animals other than horses, sunny, and barely warm at about 34c (93f). A few houses are adding cacti in their gardens but there is almost none growing wild. Desert it is not!

2  Sunday June 17, Navasota

Dawn, according to the motel lady was to be at 6:00. It is now 5:40 and there is no ``first light''. It looks as though we have moved south and the days are indeed shorter.

I arrived in College Station at about 8:15 am and stopped for breakfast. I made coffee in Navasota but ate my breakfast rolls for dinner last night. This was almost, but not quite a ``voyageur'' morning.

The road all the way from Navasota has a wide ``bicycle'' bank that made riding very pleasant. By 7:45, the sun had made it above the horizon clouds and it started to get hot. Unfortunately, after following the highway all the way from Navasota, just as I entered College Station, bicycles suddenly became illegal. I had no idea where to go, so I stayed on the road - fortunately nothing happened.

3  Monday June 18 / Wednesday June 20, College Station

This was definitely a small town Hilton. They had jelly beans in the lobby and were not at all concerned about me taking my bike up to my room. We had meetings for three days on the Texas A&M campus. It was an easy ride for me but the others opted for the shuttle bus. One evening, we were treated to ``Texas Barbecue''. It was, unfortunately, rather dry. I was told many years later that, unlike the ``real'' Alabama barbecue that is made of pork, Texas barbecue uses beef. The result, according to the Alabamans, is a decidedly inferior product.

4  Thurs. June 21, College Station

I left the Hilton before dawn and stopped at the ``Huddle'', an all night restaurant by Texas A&M campus. It should be dawn by the time that I finish.

The weather channel indicated heat index of only 95 today rather than the normal 110 in the last few days. I shall believe it after the day is over. Probably the most distressing part of the forecast is the 10/20 mph south wind.

I was severely chastised by Bart Childs for missing this statue on my first time through.

I stayed on Texas 249, on my map as Texas 149, and followed this 6 lane highway all the way down to FM1960. I was looking for ``Namfas'', recommended to me as the best TexMex restaurant in town. I did not see one (there only are three). I arrived at my motel at about 4:00pm and asked if Namfas existed. The lady thought there was one about 3 miles away but recommended a small local one called ``Manuels'' as having outstanding food. I arrived first for supper at about 5:00pm and by the time I left there were three other groups. Randall, a 3 year old, had taken his parents to dinner and they were eating at the table beside me. They told me that this was the best TexMex restaurant in town. It was not clear the extent of ``town'' in this context. The fajitas were excellent, and Manuel's service was impeccable.

My observations on the restaurants as I have ridden along, makes me feel that this area specializes barbecue, hamburgers (+ fajitas in many cases), and egg rolls. My frequency analysis seems to suggest that Chinese food is more common than TexMex. Whether his observation would stand scientific scrutiny, or whether it has been modified by the surprise factor is not clear.

5  Fri. June 22, Houston

This place is warm. It is now dawn, 6:00am, humid, and 80.

As seems to be usual on these trips I had some semi-dry salami left over (unopened). As I was passing under I45, I noticed one of Houston's homeless living there. Rather than fight with Agriculture Canada, I gave him the salami. It is certainly much more useful than having it thrown away in Montreal.

Houston Intercontinental Airport (they are modest here) was 15 miles from the motel. I arrived there at about 8:15am, obviously enough margin for a 1:00pm flight. This makes it almost exactly 100 miles from the airport to the Hilton in College station. Norm Naugle claims that he can drive from College Station to the airport in an hour. Apparently everyone here drives with radar detectors.

We were held at Houston for about an hour because of severe thunderstorms in the Chicago area. When we arrived, our gate was not ready so we waited out in the wilds for about 15min. There was much more to come. Because of high surface winds all but one runway was closed. We have been slowly taxiing towards this runway for an hour and a half. I think there is only one more in front of us. We are off. The queue behind us stretches for miles. There are only 20 now. I thought things like this stopped in the 60s.

6  Maps

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.02.
On 28 May 2004, 04:36.