The Trans America Challenge 2018
27 May - 17 June 2018
JUNE 4, 2018
New Orleans to Galveston
Lone Star State
Today was slated to be a long day and a hot day but, a relatively straightforward day. Thus, spurred on by the late great Glen Campbell we made our way to Galveston.
There were no Regularities or Tests in the routebook so the crews were free to concentrate on the drive thorough this most remarkable and perhaps unknown, region of the USA.
As we hit the highway we pretty soon found that despite the road being jacked up on stilts, we were actually -15m below sea level which, if nothing else made the Dutch feel at home.
The Interstate and Freeways delivered us quickly to a Passage Control in the Sugar Cane Fields near Franklin and on our way there we crossed the mighty Mississippi where we reached the dizzying height of 43m. In these parts that’s flyin’ high and bulrushes, rice fields, cane plantations and one huge dead alligator marked the route for us.
This is wild and remote countryside and, at the passage control itself, Andy Inskip and Tony Jones stood manfully by the side of the road surrounded by a forest of spiders and huge (and fresh) alligator prints in the mud.
The lunch Time Control at Cypremort Point soon afterwards saw Fred, galloping gourmet, Gallagher overseeing his team of sous chefs as they sliced, diced and filled ciabatta, savoury croissants, rolled Italian prosciutto and mixed together a fine tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.
Under the shade of a rustic pavilion on the Gulf of Mexico, the crews tucked into another fine ERA picnic whilst John and Gill Cotton ran the clocks and shooed away any stray alligators which didn’t have a reservation.
This al fresco dejeuner sur la plage took us right back to Geoff Watson and Graham Wild’s Bistro 315 all the way over in South East Asia on the Road to Saigon. They set the bar high but this morning we think it was equalled.
Life isn’t always a picnic however and today was no exception, as some of the crews and sweeps enjoyed what could be described as a working lunch. Serge Berthier’s Jensen was having a little electrical issue so Jaimie Turner was fitting bulbs and fuses like he was rigging Christmas lights in Times Square.
Chris Dillier’s, Corvette had made it to a fuel station earlier in the morning on vapours and the engine now seemed a little rough so, with a cheese roll in one hand and an air filter in the other he set about diagnosing the problem.
Roger Hutchins and Jeremy Clayton were a little late in to lunch also as they were struggling with a mysterious drop in oil pressure. A missing seal around the dipstick had allowed the precious black fluid to leak out so, before they could eat they diverted a garage for a top up. The rest of the day passed without incident for them and their Mustang and they rolled in with the rest of the pack.
The long pull from lunch to the end of the day was broken up by many bridges over the canals and wetlands of the Intercoastal Waterway as well as two car ferries. The Cameron Holly Beach Ferry was first and it barely took 10 minutes from bank to bank and, as an added bonus it came with an escort of dolphins. One of which, local legend has it, is coloured pink.
120 miles of Louisiana’s and Texas’ coastline followed until we reached the Galveston Port Bolivar ferry. In places the road ran almost along the beach with swamp to the right of us and ocean to the left. Oil and gas installations peppered the skyline, it was an impressive drive made more so by the pods of pelicans which took over the escort duty as the journey neared its end.
Our night halt, the Gálvez Hotel and Spa is right on the beach and after dinner there were plenty of crews who stirred themselves for a walk along the strip.
The leaderboard hasn’t changed. Jim Gately and Tony Brooks maintain their first place ahead of David and Jo Roberts, with Mike and Lorna Harrison still behind them in third place. The gap between them still one second but tomorrow, the pedal gets pressed to that metal again and that’s a slim margin.