US Road Trip Travelog: 10th March 2005

From Lafayette to Houston the only real choice is the I-10. I'm in a bit of a hurry as well, as I'm hoping to get the Riviera serviced - a 'tune-up' - this afternoon. The starting in the morning has been getting progressively more difficult (I really didn't think she was going to start at all this morning) and new plugs, points etc. are definitely overdue. After 3000 miles in the last month, that's no great surprise.

Through the Riviera Owners Association I've been trading emails with Jim Cannon, who lives just outside Houston. Unfortunately Jim isn't around at the time of my visit but, along with lots of other useful advice, he's provided me with a few addresses and phone numbers of people who may be able to assist with servicing an older car like mine. Through one of them I'm put in touch with Craft's Car Centre in south Houston and, after a quick phone call in the morning, that's where we're headed. I did try to find somewhere in New Orleans but wasn't overly impressed when I spoke with them on the phone. Arnie at CCC, however, seems to know what he's talking about.

Driving on the Interstates is never a bundle of fun and the I-10 west is no exception. The border into Texas is marked with a road sign that reads 'El Paso 857 miles', and the I-10 numbering restarts at junction 880. This'll be a big state to cross, then. It's also crawling with State Troopers so we're very well-behaved. As we get into Houston the I-10 becomes a multi-lane racetrack and it's quite a relief to arrive at Craft's. I'm glad to see that the place is an AC Delco outlet and even happier when Arnie assures me that they'll use original-equipment parts on the car where possible. Whilst we're here an oil and filter change won't go amiss either, so that's added to the list.

School bus cafe in Houston
An old school bus converted to a cafe in Houston.

Louisiana was largely bilingual, with their own bastardised version of French alongside English. I must admit that I find the Louisiana version easier to understand than the Academie's version - "Laissez les bon temps roulez" makes perfect sense as far as I can tell. Houston is bilingual as well, but here the second language is Spanish. In fact, around the Craft's Car Centre, Spanish is the predominate language.

As ever when the car is being worked-on, I've got a few hours to kill. It's a beautiful hot day in Texas - up in the 80's - but there isn't much around CCC apart from busy roads and exhaust fumes. Can't complain, though, as I was half expecting that they'd need to order the parts in and I'd have to come back tomorrow. After four hours the car has new plugs, points, condensor, rotor arm, oil and filter. I'm impressed, I must say, as I can't imagine many places where you can take a car 40+ years old and drive away that afternoon.

Drive away straight into the inaugural running of the Houston 500 road race. Well, that's what rush hour in Houston appears to be anyway. Drafting is already the order of the day and I'm sure they'll legalise nudging any day soon. Luckily for me I don't need to cross the city as I'm heading south on I-45. To Galveston, to hear the sea winds blowing.

Galveston sea front
A typical Texas scene - arid landscape, tumbleweed and cactus plants. Oh, my mistake. This is the sea front at Galveston.

I never realised, until I started thinking about this trip, that Texas has a coastline. Having found out that it does, I have to go and see it. And that Jimmy Webb song may have something to do with it, though I must admit I can't see any beaches where anyone could run as it's mostly just big rocks. Anyway, after quite a few miles and a lot of waiting around today it makes all kinds of sense to me.

Riviera in Galveston
Jon the Owner: After some attention, you ready for some more miles then?
Loretta the Riviera: You must be kidding.
JTO: But you've done so well so far ..?
LTR: I belong in a museum, you peasant, where people can appreciate my classic lines and I can see out my retirement.
JTO: What about all the attention you get out on the road?
LTR: Well, that is very flattering. Hammering along the Interstates, however, is not really my thing.
JTO: Ok, we'll try to avoid the Interstates. Ever been any further west than this?
LTR: Please sell me, you fool.

I think I may have walked around in the sun for too long today.

US Road Trip Travelog: 11th March 2005 >