At one point in time I imagined myself cycling into Fort Worth in December and hanging out there for a month or two, but things don’t always work the way I imagine. However, I had spent the last 14 Christmases in Texas and I wanted to do my best to make it there this year, too.
As I am just getting settled into New Orleans for the winter, I couldn’t leave for long. After trading some shifts cooking breakfast and working the front desk at the hostel, I did manage to find a five day window where I could go to visit my friends in Fort Worth. I found a deal on a flight and didn’t have to Greyhound or Megabus. (Well… I thought.) After my Tuesday desk shift finished at midnight, I packed my bag and passport. (Texas really is a whole other country! Oh, and the previous day I had noticed my driver’s license was expired.) I took a “power nap” till 3:45 a.m. and made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare before my 6:00 a.m. flight.
I was picked up at DFW by a schoolteacher friend who really wanted to get up early on her holiday break. Tina and I had a nice breakfast at one of Fort Worth’s most famous greasy spoons, Ol’ South Pancake House, and she dropped me off at the driver’s license center. In a real Christmas miracle, within 20 minutes I was walking to catch a bus downtown. I stopped into Chimera Brewing Company (my favorite brew pub anywhere) for lunch and a pint of their great beer.
After lunch, I walked down to Hopfusion to check on my buddy Macy’s new brewery and the progress of the construction. My friend Erin, who cycled with me from Pittsburgh to DC, met me there with a loaner bicycle for me to use for my stay.
Armed with a bike, complete with a special ladies saddle, I cycled to meet up with the Night Riders to lead the Wednesday night ride. There were around 20 people who showed up to ride. We cruised through one of the nicer neighborhoods to admire the big houses and their Christmas lights and then we headed downtown to earn our pizza and beer by doing hill repeats on a steep hill that runs from the river up to downtown. (My buddy Alex tackled the hill 5 times, it might have been some pre-“will you marry me” nerves.) After the ride we went to, you guessed it, Chimera for beer and pizza. (Chimera is a proud partner of the Lewis and Clark and Mark blog)
After not enough sleep and a full day of activities, I was ready to hit the hay and rest up for the next day of visiting and eating. I stayed at a house a few miles south of town and as I cycled to meet my good friends for lunch, I ran into 5 or 6 people that I knew.
After enjoying lunch outside in the sunshine I met another friend at the coffee shop and then got dressed up for Christmas Eve dinner.
The last two days of my trip, I stayed at the Rosen House Inn. It was such a refreshing change from the months of camping, couch surfing and hosteling. I had a comfortable full size bed AND my own bathroom! Kelly, one of the owners, made me feel so welcome and comfortable.
I was sad when I had to leave town, especially since I missed seeing some of my friends from the ballet and poker night. There’s always next time, I suppose.
As I sat on the runway waiting to fly out of DFW, I thought my adventures were coming to an end, but some severe weather basically shut down all airports in the south. I made it as far as Houston before getting grounded. My gut feeling (and the long line of grumpy customers) told me that I wasn’t going to be flying out of Houston anytime soon. So many flights had been cancelled that I couldn’t even get through to United Airlines after waiting on hold for an hour. Twice.
At 3:00 a.m. I made the decision to book a Greyhound ticket back to New Orleans.
The decision ended up paying off! After a torturous night sleeping on the floor of the airport with fluorescent lights glowing and tacky elevator jazz music playing, I was finally able to get a call through to United. The soonest they could get me on a flight was the next day so I just hopped on a bus downtown to catch my 12:30 dogbus. The only thing worse than sleeping on the floor of an airport is waiting at a Greyhound station. (I’ve had more than my fare share of waiting in bus stations and would always prefer cycling if time allows.) I noticed lots of knuckle and face tattoos as well as quite a few trash bag suitcases. If you ever want to truly appreciate how diverse America is, just take a Greyhound.
Once I made it onto the bus, the trip to New Orleans (All 8 fun hours!) went quite well. I bought myself a Rosetta Stone French edition for Christmas so I just took turns practicing my French and napping to catch up on all the sleep I’d been missing.
It was a Joyeux Noel, y’all!