The Republic of Texas claimed its southern border was the Rio Grande. Mexico said the border was the Nueces River, whose mouth is 150 miles to the north. The land between these two rivers is known as the Nueces Strip. After Texas became a state in 1845, it was the Mexican-American War that settled it. More specifically, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 is when Mexico ceded this territory to the US.
My first ride of 2020 would be through 23 counties in South Texas, the majority of which are in the Nueces Strip. On January 2nd, my first stop was Pearsall (Frio County), where I stopped for lunch at Garcia’s Bar and Grill. I continued on to Cotulla (LaSalle County), Crystal City (Zavala County), Corrizo Springs (Dimmit County), and ended up in Eagle Pass (Maverick County).
On January 3rd, I rode south to Laredo (Webb County), Zapata (Zapata County), Rio Grande City (Starr County), and Edinburg (Hidalgo County).
I got a bite to eat at Taco Palenque in Laredo. The next stop, Zapata, was the halfway mark of my quest. It was the 127th county courthouse I’d photographed.
It was a windy day, blowing hard from the north. On the stretch between Rio Grande City and McAllen, it was blowing across the road. At one point, I could see a wall of light brown dust across the road ahead of me, and nothing else. I had no idea how long I would be in the middle of the dust storm, but I had my full face helmet on and decided to keep going. Visibility was maybe 20 yards, and the dust still found its way into my helmet. Fortunately, it didn’t last long, a mile or two.
Hidalgo County appears to be building a new county courthouse, and this is the best view of the old one that I could manage. I had another 40 miles to go before I made it to where I was staying for the night, in Harlingen. The cold beer I bought from the Hotel pantry was the best I’d tasted in a long time. After showering and wiping the dust from all my gear, I went and got supper at Smoke, a barbecue joint a couple blocks away.
On January 4th, I went further south to the southernmost county seat in Texas, Brownsville (Cameron County). Then it was north to Raymondville (Willacy County), Sarita (Kenedy County), Falfurrias (Brooks County), Hebbronville (Jim Hogg County), San Diego (Duval County), Alice (Jim Wells County), Kingsville (Kleberg County), and Corpus Christi (Nueces County).
Below is Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hebbronville. I ate lunch at the Burger Barn, down the street. I had been to Hebbronville once before. For spring break, in 1991. I went with a group of other college students to do some work at another church in town. That was the farthest south in Texas I had ever been, until this trip 29 years later.
On January 5th, I headed north to Sinton (San Patricio County), Beeville (Bee County), George West (Live Oak County), Tilden (McMullen County), and Jourdanton (Atascosa County).
I ate lunch at McBee’s BBQ in Jourdanton, a stone’s throw from the courthouse below. I chatted there with a biker couple on a day ride from San Antonio. I was ready to get home. By the time it was all over, it had been 1283 miles over four days.