The Executive Inn and Suites, being the only public accommodations in Shepherd, are certainly not trying very hard to prevent other entrants into the market. There was only one washcloth in our two-bed room, or so we thought: we found the other one – which had apparently been left unwashed for some time, judging by the coloration – hanging stiffly on top of the shower rod. The light switch for the bathroom was the poster child for fire hazard awareness. But the “free breakfast” is what we will remember most: weak coffee, store-brand pre-packaged muffins, two cereal dispensers (one empty, the other half-full of raisin bran?), and a gallon jug of 2% milk that had maybe three ounces left. After we had finished our bread selections, the manager did bring out another gallon of milk, but we didn’t bother, figuring we could do much better on the road.
Started later than we had hoped, at first because I was futzing with trying to make the camera mount work (spoiler: I was unsuccessful), but then as soon as John got his bike out the door, his front tube decide to fail. Finally got rolling after showing John how to change a tube a bit after 10. We had brunch in Livingston at the Courthouse Whistle Stop Café, where the older couple next to us started asking us all kinds of questions about our bikes and our route; apparently they used to tour a lot when they were first married.
Still riding along the shoulder of US-59, we get our first introduction to hills. At Corrigan we decide that the best way to address the hill challenge is to stop for burgers and milkshakes at Whataburger. At Diboll we are finally able to take a side road that leads us into Lufkin. Our first pick of hotels is sold out (!? On a Monday in Lufkin??), but we are able to get a room at the La Quinta…but on the second floor. John opted to tote his bike up, but Joe locked his under the stairs. After cleaning up, we went to a Japanese steakhouse that we saw (and Joe smelled) on our way in. A very entertaining hibachi chef (whose constant refrain of “oo-hoo” reminded me of Wandering Oaken from Frozen). After eating too much, we got the same Uber driver back to our hotel.
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