Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 56 St Augustine, Florida!

In The End Is The Beginning!

We set off at sunrise, about 6:50 am., heading for the fire station at the western end of St Augustine. We had to ride the forty miles and arrive by 10:30. We were so pumped up that most of us arrived an hour early. We had a police escort through town to the beach where our friends and family were waiting. What a moment! What a morning! It defies description. It will be a long time before I stop smiling. It feels like tomorrow will be the first day of my life after the bike ride. We have a banquet this evening just for the riders. Dan and Katherine's husband Jack will fend for themselves.

Just for the record, we never experienced a drop of rain and I never had a flat tire. However, I should declare that I caused a flat on Katherine's bike this morning when I was pumping her tires. In a day or two, I will write about the experience as a whole and what it means to me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 55 High Springs to Palatka, FL

I Was Not Overdressed

The wisdom of the biking world suggests that if you are not chilly for the first ten minutes of your ride, you are probably overdressed. I made this rookie mistake many times on cold mornings in the desert. We left at 7:00 this morning and I definitely was not chilly. Nor was I overdressed. There was not a thing I could have removed. So I knew what was in store for us.

The day began with about forty miles through pleasant country side with lots of pine trees, pastures and fields of new emerging hay. After that, we turned on to a road with lots of construction, shoulders that had been scraped for repaving, heavy traffic, headwinds, high temperatures and high humidity. That was a challenging 25 miles. We rode through Palatka over a high bridge and coasted down to a nice Best Western Motel. We had a very special dinner of beef tenderloin, caramelized onions, salad, and tiramisu. expectations for food were very high and have been exceeded every day. A few ladies gave awards to everyone. It was all done in good taste so it turned out to be fun. We went to Tex's room for a pajama party. That was fun. I am up later than usual but it is the last night.

Tomorrow we ride 40 miles into St Augustine, then have a police escort through town to the beach for the family picnic. Oh my! It is all over but the shoutin'.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 54 Perry to High Springs, FL

We had a 76-mile ride through central Florida today. We are definitely out of the panhandle now. We started out through more woods. The trees blocked the winds and the clouds kept us from overheating, if not from sweating. After the trees, we encountered more agricultural. The egg megafarms were mighty unpleasant. The pastureland with cows, horses, or sheep were lovely. The roadsides were lined with wildflowers! A feast for the eyes. We rode on several miles of bike path adjacent to the highway. About mid-ride, we turned onto some backroads heading to Inchetucknee Springs State Park where we had a SAG stop. It was a lovely little treasure with a spring fed pond for swimming. I enjoyed looking at it while I consumed my peanut butter sandwich. Fortunately, I had bug spray or the mosquitoes might have consumed me. From there, we headed on to our motel, which is right out of the 60s. It is conveniently appointed, the AC works well, and we are all on the first floor. We are happy to be here. The roads in Florida continue to be fine - smooth, wide shoulders, clean, flat, manageable traffic volume. Florida gets the highest marks for riding from me.

It is hard to believe that we are so near the end. I am pondering what it has all meant to me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 53 Crawfordville to Perry, FL

A Straight Line

It would have been hard to get lost today. We turned left out of our motel, rode 54 miles and turned right into our motel. The road was straight, level, smooth, clean, had wide shoulders and only light traffic. We had a headwind that was mostly blocked by the woods on both sides of the road. We never passed a house or any other kind of building. Therefore, we encountered no dogs. It was a pleasant ride in all ways. I think I shifted a few times but not many. We arrived at the motel before our room was ready. Being slow riders, this was a first for us. We were thrilled! We feel like members of the club now. We went to a fine little Italian restaurant for lunch while we waited. When we left, the owner came out and said, "Ciao, y'all!"

The photo is the Wakulla River in the early morning. We were so lucky to spot two manatees swimming downstream. I was not quick enough with the camera but was thrilled to see them.

We are all all trying to process what this trip has meant to us. It is so hard to capture the essence of it in words but we all know that it has been an important milestone.

Ciao, y'all!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 52 Crawfordville, FL Rest Day

Bikers Celebrate Easter

Happy Easter! Eight of us celebrated Easter Sunday at Crawfordville United Methodist Church this morning. Two ladies chauffeured us and welcomed us in so many ways. We stayed for the potluck brunch. It was a nice service and we appreciated their hospitality...but I missed Broad Street greatly. I sat at the pool for a while this afternoon and relaxed all day.

On this Easter Sunday, I will mention, in no particular order, just a few of the acts of kindness that have made this ride so wonderful.

Don and Corliss who offered me water and encouragement on the ride to Globe, AZ
Jay at Gila Hike and Bike who corrected my pedal problem
Encouraging emails from friends
Fiona and Kathy Tex who have helped with dishes every night
Phone calls from Dan every evening
The man in the pick-up truck who helped me assemble the bike rack
Greta offering me her phone when I was getting roaming charges
The man at the Mississippi River who gave us water
Jack Jeter and John Feagin meeting us in the Texas Hills
My wonderful roommate Katherine who thought we could do this and led me along
All of you who have read this blog

I am so grateful for all of this and so much more!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 51 Quincy to Crawfordville, FL

This Our Hymn of Grateful Praise

The highlight of the day was a visit to Wakulla Springs State Park, a 6,000 acre wildlife sanctuary. It would be unimaginable to experience this bit of earth without grateful praise for the beauty of it. Cool water flows from a spring to form the Wakulla River, one of the last pristine rivers in Florida. The lodge was built in 1937. I walked through the park with Kathie this morning.

The morning started out with a foggy ride for 20 miles or so. Fortunately, the wide shoulders on the road kept us out of harm's way. Coping with dew-misted sunglasses was a problem. Eventually the fog lifted. After the state park, we made our way to the Inn at Wildwood, a lovely resort where we will spend our last rest day tomorrow, Easter Sunday.

Tomorrow morning about eight of us will be attending Crawfordville United Methodist Church. They have assured us that we will be welcome in our casual clothes. They will pick us up for the 8:30 service and have invited us to stay for breakfast afterward. Since none of us has Easter clothes, we have decided to wear our WomanTours bike jerseys, any pants that we have and sandals. After all, Jesus wore sandals. No make-up, no jewelry. I guess that leaves out the Easter bonnet, too. It should not take long to get ready. I could get used to this!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 50 Marianna to Quincy, FL

For the Beauty of the Earth

Oh my! It would be hard to overstate the beauty of the land we saw today. We rode 54 miles almost entirely on back country roads such as this gorgeous stretch of tree-canopied trail pictured. We saw huge moss-covered trees, fragrant magnolias and honeysuckle, fields with emerging cotton and peanut plants, pastures with horses and cows. The senses could not rest. We got to climb a couple big hills and were surprised at how easy they seemed. We entered the Eastern Time Zone about mid-morning when we crossed the Chattahoochee River, bringing us ever closer to the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped for lunch at a small Chinese restaurant where we enjoyed conversation with three customers and the server. It is so much fun to tell people where we have been and watch their reactions. The two men were orchid farmers. Mostly people take their leave by telling us to be careful of the kooks out there. Happily, that has not been our experience. We have met so many wonderful people. We are thoroughly enjoying Florida.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 48 Crestview to Marianna, FL

Cooperation on the Road

We began our last long ride at 6:30 this morning to get in as many miles as possible before the heat became unbearable. It was about 74 degrees and cloudy at that hour. Around noon the sky cleared, the temperature soared and the humidity made it feel like 93, according to and also according to our fellow riders. We rode 90 miles, almost all of it on US 90. We have followed that route much of the way across the country. In Florida, this highway is well-groomed and has a nice wide shoulder except in towns, where the shoulders disappear and traffic terrors appear. The terrain was full of little rolling inclines - at this stage of our ride, we could not really label them hills - but the ride is made easier when we do not need to pedal for a minute or two on a downward slope.

About thirty miles into the day, Lisa, our third SAG driver had a flat tire that was caused by a broken spoke. We could not repair it but kept everyone riding by doing a series of swaps. The end result was that I rode the last 34 miles on the bike that belongs to our cook. That was fun, but riding a different bike inevitably creates pressure in unexpected places. Use your imagination.

We had a bit of comic relief when one of our riders, Kathy Tex, ran out of water on the road. Her riding chum, Fiona, gave her the extra bottle that she was carrying. Kathy immediately dumped it over her head to cool off. Only then did she realize that the bottle was filled with Gatorade. I guess it's a Florida thing!

The Wound Ostomy Continence Nurses' Society has provided refreshments for us at our arrival and dessert for dinner twice in Florida. Thank you to them for their generosity! Katherine, my roommate is raising money to provide scholarships for nurses to enter this field.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 48 Pensacola to Crestview, FL

A Steam Bath Would Be Redundant

We are experiencing full Florida humidity! The temperature was not the problem. The highest I saw was 85 degrees, but we were dripping at sunrise. We departed the Gulf coastline today and headed into a more central route east across Florida. The ride was mostly lovely. City traffic with smooth roads and good bike lanes, suburban areas, country roads, and even an honest to goodness bike path. Really. Nothing but bikes and baby buggies! What a pleasure. Katherine and I rode along quite efficiently. About two miles before our lovely Hampton Inn we wheeled into a Sonic for our new favorite treat - a mocha java chiller. And since it was "happy hour" - I am not making this up - they were half-price. Needless to say, we were thrilled. Please note: according to Katherine's bike computer, we burned over 2000 extra calories today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 47 Dauphin Island, AL to Pensacola, FL

The Last State

We left Dauphin Island, Alabama by way of a 45-minute ferry ride this morning. We landed on a lovely spit of land that ran between the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay. There was little traffic and lots to look at. After 20 miles we entered a city - I did not notice the name - and the traffic picked up but there was a nice bike lane. After 32 miles we entered Florida, our last state. We rode along a state park beach that provided no barrier for the wind. I found the headwind daunting but others moved into it. Katherine and I switched roles at the state line; I was happy to be driving the Subaru. Many riders stopped at a bike shop, so I stopped there, too. The SAG job was not challenging today. The smoothly paved roads were clean with wide bike lanes in both Alabama and Florida. Although the humidity was high, the temperature was in the 70s. We enjoyed our last margarita party this evening. I am certainly wondering how I will adjust to real life next week.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 46 Dauphin Island, AL Rest Day

A Day at the Beach

What could be more restful than a day at the beach? I started the day with a morning walk on the sand with waves washing over my feet and ended it by watching the sunset during an evening walk. I spent a relaxing day doing such things as enjoying a leisurely breakfast at a golf club, making phone calls, having dinner with friends, indulging in a bowl of ice cream with our roommates du jour, and organizing myself for the next few days. Ahhh! Will I be able to plan rest days into my schedule when I get home?

Day 45 Pascagoula MS to Dauphin Island, AL

A Bridge with a View

This afternoon we arrived at Dauphin Island, Alabama via a long and tall bridge across the Gulf of Mexico. The ride was great fun. We stopped at the top to enjoy the spectacular view of the island, the mainland, and the water. As we departed the bridge we and several others from our tour stopped at "Barnacle Bill's" for a fine seafood lunch. Katherine, the vegetarian is thrilled to be in seafood country. As we finished, two men entered the restaurant looking for the women bikers. They are following the same route that we are, although covering about 100 miles per day. They said they had been hearing about us for two weeks or more and when they saw the bikes lined up, they surmised that they had found us. Dave is retired and Matthew Is a young man who finds work in the places where he travels. John, the SAG driver appears to be retired, too. It turns out that they are from Yorkshire, England, about an hour from the home of Fiona's parents. It was so much fun to hear their enthusiasm for our country. We exchanged stories, took photos and traded contact information for half an hour or so and they were on their way. They intend to get to St Augustine by Friday. Dave intends to stay a while and hopes to meet up with us there. We were most surprised to learn that we had been sought after much of the way across the country.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 44 Wiggins to Pascagoula, MS


Seventy-four degrees and sunny, humidity 29%, winds behind us at five miles per hour, blue skies. Perfect is the only accurate description. Everyone was charged and ready to go after yesterday's storms. Our route started out through quiet country roads and the DeSoto National Forest. We were surprised to learn that a POW camp for German soldiers was located in the forest during WW II. The second half of the ride led us toward water. We crossed a tall bridge over the Pascagoula Bay that leads to the Gulf of Mexico. It felt like a roller coaster at Cedar Point! It felt like another milestone, too.

As we rode, I noticed churches getting ready for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. One Faith, One Hope, One Lord! I will miss being at Broad Street this week.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 43 Bogalusa, LA to Wiggins, MS

Gravel and Other Frustrations

The possibility of thunderstorms with high winds and damaging hail was forecast this morning. Having lived through this kind of weather in west Texas for a number of years, I set out with trepidations. A mile down the road, my flashing light fell off my bike. I retrieved it, but the batteries had popped out. Katherine did not have her usual "biking legs" today. That happens to everyone once in a while. We missed a turn that added three "bonus miles" for us. We encountered a detour sign, but a local advised us that "they ain't took them signs down but we could g'on." We were pleased until we arrived at the bridge with long stretches of gravel on both sides. Then the whole group was held up while the guides scouted a detour for us. After thirty miles, the wind came on full force. And amazingly, the van was sitting there; we jumped on. It was so much fun to get in early, start our laundry, and walk next door for a salad bar lunch, which, by the way, included chocolate pudding as a vegetable. (Would I put ranch dressing on that?) I just read about storms in Oklahoma and Arkansas but our luck continues. Not a drop of rain so far.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 42 Hammond to Bogalusa, LA

Morning Ritual: The Peanut Butter Sandwich

Every morning begins with the ritual of the peanut butter sandwich. After breakfast, we gather at the snack table to collect a few snacks and make our power-packed pb&j for the road. As long as there is strawberry jam, I am not tired of this staple. It takes me about a mile to eat half a sandwich while I am riding. Today we had a short ride - I can't remember exactly when 55 miles became a "short" ride- so it was daylight for our sandwich making. Some days we launch at sunrise, so we make them in semi-darkness.

We had a beautiful ride through rural Louisiana today. The eastern half of the state is culturally very different from the western part. I am continually amazed by the luxuriant green plant life, such a contrast to the Southwest. We see lots of cows and horses, wheat and sorghum fields. We also see lots of dogs, often as they are chasing us down the road. Most of them really are not vicious, but even so they can easily cause accidents. Today two of our riders were trying to outrun dogs and ran into each other. They finished the day's ride, but one is sporting a lot of bandages and both cracked their helmets. Thank heavens, Katherine, the wound care specialist was driving the SAG car when it happened. She was able to care for them with a big bag of high-tech bandages that were brought to her a few days ago by a sales rep. Most helpful.

Tomorrow holds a forecast of rain. We have not had a drop of rain yet!

Day 41 St Francisville to Hammond, LA

A Long Stop and A Woo-hoo Day!

The ride from St Francisville to Hammond was 87 miles. It followed a rest day. Weather conditions were favorable. Katherine and I usually have split long days, sharing SAG duties, but we decided this was the time to go for the big one. The miles were clicking away until we came to a road that was closed due to a bridge being out. There was no detour indicated (Louisiana does not get high marks for their signage) so our guides scouted out a path for us, forcing us to bond during this Department of Transportation-imposed SAG stop. Eventually we were on our way with an additional five miles to ride. We were determined to do it and just kept pedaling our way along, stopping at a couple gas stations in addition to SAG stops. Morning turned into afternoon then into late afternoon - I never look at the time, and eventually we rolled into our Comfort Inn with 92.87 miles on our computers, too excited to feel as exhausted as we were. It was a beautiful ride, but we have no photos. We could not spare the time. I thought of riding seven more miles to achieve a "century ride," but I was afraid I would miss Linda's fabulous dinner, not an option I was willing to consider.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 40 St Francisville LA

Rest Day in the "Boot" of Louisiana

Aaaah! Rest days are wonderful. We slept ten hours last night and will probably take a nap this afternoon. Our B&B served an amazing breakfast. By lunch time I had not really worked up an appetite but made my way through a spicy shrimp po' boy with enthusiasm. Looking forward to another cafe au lait this afternoon! We are in the part of Louisiana that looks like the toe of the boot, about two hours north of New Orleans. It used to be known as the Florida of Louisiana because it was not part of the Louisiana Purchase but was part of Spanish Florida. There is little Cajun (Acadian) influence here. We have seen lots of pretty sights, although they are far different from the imposing rock and mountain scenery in the West. The live oaks are particularly impressive. Many of them are two hundred years old as their impressive root structures can withstand hurricane winds. I wish I could stop and take more photos.

Day 39 Lafayette to St Francisville, LA

Me and Mark Twain

Okay, it did not have all the drama of Mark Twain's life on the Mighty Mississippi but it was a real thrill to cross the Big River on a ferry this afternoon. It was a perfect day for biking. Cooler temperatures and calmer, more helpful winds than previous days made it quite pleasant. Katherine rode out for about 45 miles in the morning while I drove the Subaru SAG wagon. Then we switched and I rode that last 35 miles on my bike. We both enjoyed our rides so much.

St. Francisville is a wonderful, arty little town. We are staying at a B&B near downtown. It is quiet and lovely and the owners are most helpful. Four of us from the tour are here. The others are at the magical Butler Greenwood B&B about three miles away. It is a true southern plantation that has remained in one family and occupied as a home for eight generations, dating back to 1777. We were there for dinner. It is unbelievably lovely, but we happily returned to our lodgings appreciating all it offers.

Katherine has two friends who came up for an overnight getaway to spend time with her. They all had a good time catching up. They also found a great coffee shop and brought us cafe au lait. Mmmmm....what a treat!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 38 Lake Charles to Lafayette, LA

Curious Playmates

Shortly after I rode out this morning, I passed these herons gathered around a cow. That was a first for me, but I'm a city girl, so what do I know? I spent the next 20 miles listening to birds sing, hearing leaves rustle, and feeling the wind. The wind was the main topic of conversation today. We ran into a man who informed us that the wind blows like this for about a month every spring - about 20 miles per hour out of the south. Of course, we are headed east. It really wore us out.

We passed lots of rice paddies and farmed crawfish fields. After weeks of riding in the arid lands, it is surprising to see this much water. The country side was beautiful and the people were friendly, helpful and generous. For example, when I parked the SAG vehicle in front of a grocery store the owner came out with five gallons of water for our cooler and invited us to use the restroom. He also showed us pictures of his daughter's wedding. We are overwhelmed each day by these acts of kindness.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 37 Silsbee, TX to Lake Charles, LA

What a Difference a State Makes

We rode for 34 miles in Texas this morning then crossed into Louisiana. No chip seal! It sounds better than it was, however. The pavement was full of cracks and potholes. The repairs were not level with the roadway. Trash and debris littered the surface. The shoulders were almost non-existent. Throw in a headwind and high temperatures and imagine one very slow ride! Katherine and I finished the ride; not everyone did. We stopped around mile 60 to recharge at a Mini-Mart. We both drank a bunch of Gatorade and ice water. I bought a turkey sandwich and she ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This area is not hospitable to vegetarians.

The bayous were immediately apparent and so were the many bridges that spanned them. We crossed a drawbridge and a 1.2 mile bridge across the Calcasieu River. New challenges. We arrived at our Best Western in time for the margarita party to celebrate entering a new state.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 36 Cleveland to Silsbee, TX

The Strangeness of Time

This will be our last night in Texas. It seems like months since we hit El Paso, yet it has flown by. I am not sure how this could be.

We are in logging country now. We passed a large Georgia-Pacific operation yesterday. These big rigs are a little scary as they pass, but the drivers are generally polite and willing to share the road. Katherine and I split the day, each sagging a part. I rode my bike on the last portion. I am happy to report that we did not encounter chip seal until the final six miles. It was about as flat as a ride could be. I was in my middle chainring all day. There was wind but it was minimized by the trees. It was a very pleasant ride, if not quite as beautiful as yesterday's route.

After checking in at the motel, Katherine and I walked next door to the Sonic Burger for a Java Chiller, mocha flavored. I highly recommend this treat! They use real ice cream. It was SO good. Oy! My food habits have gone slumming! Fortunately, Linda's excellent, delicious, nutritious meals save me from myself. And really, we burn SO many calories. Elaine has promised me that if I am unable to get out of these habits when I return, she will let out my clothes for me. How nice to have a seamstress in the family,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 35 Navasota to Cleveland, TX

Oh, Toto! We're not in Kansas anymore!

The difference between West Texas and East Texas is dramatic! We spent the day riding through the piney forest area of Texas. Mmmm...the quiet, the windbreak, the scent of pine, the shade; it was all a treat for the senses. We spent about 20 miles in the Sam Houston National Forest. The ride was delightful. The roads were mostly smooth with just enough low rollers to add interest and create some downhills. The wind and the temperature were moderated by the high trees.

Katherine had a visit from two would care nurses at 7:30 am. They came to see her off. They brought a variety of wound care products. As it happens, I lost a toenail yesterday. It had been ailing since the second day of the ride. These ladies had the perfect bandage for me, and dressed the toe before I left. I am certain that my toe pedaled more comfortably all day as a result. This is the second time the wound care nurses have appeared at exactly the right time for me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 34 Navasota, TX Rest Day

Chores, Terms, Idioms

Bikers' day off always includes laundry. Our "laundromat" is a less mechanized than what we have at home.

As I have ridden the last few days, I have been thinking of terms and idioms. Carol, our guide, refuses to use the term "flat" (she refers to it as the F-word.). We each came to this trip with a different concept of "flat" and of "hill." instead, she refers to "terrain features." Nice euphemism. I must say, we have mostly redefined the terms in our minds.

The most diverse term that we use dozens of times a day is "SAG." It started as an acronym for "support and gear." Let me explain this all-purpose non-word. Each time I use it, try substituting "support and gear." Maybe this won't amuse you as much as it amuses me.

SAG, noun
1. The vehicle that carries basic equipment, snacks, and water
Ex: The SAG will leave at 8:00.
2. The person who drives the SAG vehicle.
Ex: Lisa is the SAG today.
3. The location of the SAG vehicle
Ex: The first SAG will be a mile 20.

SAG, verb, intransitive
1. To serve by transporting water, snacks, and basic equipment.
Ex: Marge will SAG today. (Marge will drive the SAG vehicle.)
Ex: Alice will SAG today. (Alice will ride in the SAG vehicle. She will not drive it as she is not a SAG.)

SAG, verb, transitive
1. To transport a person a specified distance along the route
Ex. Lisa will SAG Marge out 20 miles. (Lisa will drive Marge and her bike the first 20 miles.)
synonym: to bump
Ex: Lisa will SAG Marge in 20 miles. (Lisa will drive Marge and her back the last 20 miles to the motel.)

Got it? I hope I have made all of this perfectly clear. Of course, it does not matter a whit.

Days off are really fun. We are headed to Wal-Mart where I plan to buy a new toothbrush. A biker's life is really simple.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 33 La Grange to Navasota, TX


Today was the perfect day in so many ways. Weather, road conditions, wind, temperature, traffic, terrain, scenery. We could not have asked for more. We started at about sunrise at 40 degrees. I was so glad I could pull out my arm and leg warmers, full finger gloves, and headband. I was plenty warm. The sun shone brightly against the bright blue sky. The minimal winds were headed the same way we were. The chip seal was smoothed out from wear. The rolling hills took us through a verdant oasis, or so it seemed after so many day in arid land. The icing on the cake was the fields of bluebonnets. By afternoon it was about 70 degrees. I enjoyed a root beer float near the motel. Life is really good.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 32 Bastrop to La Grange, TX

How Do You Photograph the Wind?

On Friday, I had the third pair of cleats put on my bike shoes during this trip. I had had a pair that lasted a year before the trip. The bike mechanic suggested I purchase cleat covers to keep the cleats from deteriorating and to make walking easier. Wonderful. This morning, I pulled out of the motel onto the highway wondering why I could not clip in. By the time I figured out that I was still wearing the covers, my adrenalin was flowing fast. My heart was warmed up way before my legs this morning.

We rode 16 miles through beautiful Bastrop State Park. It was 74 degrees and sunny and the pine forest was enchanting. About ten miles along, a front moved in; clouds formed, the temperature dropped to 63 degrees, and 25 mph winds picked up. The enchanted forest became a little scary. Add to that the fact that my bike started making a worrisome clicking sound, that turned out to be only a pedal clicking against my pump. The major factor in today's ride was the wind, but I could not photograph that. The rest of the ride was beautiful and fast, aided by strong tailwinds. It was one of my favorite rides so far.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Luis (left) and Nathan (right) and family, our road angels for Sunday, April 3rd

Day 31 Blanco to Bastrop, TX

Central Texas -Memories and Thoughts

Interstate 35 runs north-south through Texas, including Dallas, Austin, San Antonio all the way to Laredo. We traveled it so often when we lived in Austin. Today I passed under it on my bike. It felt like a huge leap forward. Too bad there was absolutely no photo op due to traffic. Then the bluebonnets appeared. The weather has been too dry to provide the prolific show that I remember, but I saw them all in my memory. Beautiful! Thank you, Lady Bird Johnson.

The ride was 93 miles today. The chip seal was not horrendous today, merely annoying. However, the winds were strong and really slowed me down at times. Also, the Sunday drivers were out in force. I suppose they had all been to church. Katherine and I have decided that we do not need to do the "REI" (ride every inch) ride, so neither of us finished the route. When we were trying to get our bikes plus one more on top of the Subaru, we were challenged by the reach. So Katherine hailed a family to give a hand. They were so kind and Luis and Nathan had three bikes up there in a flash. They were absolutely the only people in sight in the town of Lockhart. It was their first time to visit there. They were definitely our road angels today. Day after day, we are overwhelmed by the helpfulness and generosity of strangers we encounter.

My sister and her family

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011 Special Edition

So many of you have inquired about my sister Elaine. I thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers. She came home from the hospital on Sunday, March 27. Since then, her daughter-in-law Rachel has been staying with her. I talk with her on the days I have cell service. They have things set up so she can make coffee upstairs when she gets up allowing her to get cleaned up, hair fixed and make-up on before going downstairs. She and Rachel take two walks a day, weather permitting. She is taking a minimal amount of pain medication. When I talk with her, her voice is animated and strong. She is interested in telling me how she is doing and is equally interested in hearing about my travels. Both Rachel - a nurse, and Katherine, my roommate the wound care specialist think she is doing amazingly well. She gives me strength for every ride; surely her daily efforts exceed mine. She meets with the oncologist next week to set up a treatment plan. We are all so grateful for her healing, the wonderful care she is getting from her family, and her remarkable spirit.

Day 30 Kerrville to Blanco, TX

The Second Half

As we headed into the second half of our trip, it became apparent that we were headed into the Southeast and away from the Southwest. The sky was overcast all morning. For the first time, sweat became an issue. My skin felt clammy in the morning; I was dripping wet all afternoon. My clothes still dried fairly quickly outdoors, fortunately. The hills of the Hill Country were more manageable, less steep with nice downhills. If it weren't for the chip seal...well, I have nothing new to say on that topic.

One of the delights of this trip is meeting wonderful people. Today we encountered a troop of
Girl Scouts having lunch at a general store. Katherine told them about our trip. One of the leaders pulled out an iPad and found a US map to show them our route. One girl asked if we ever sleep. We took a photo of all of us making the Girl Scout sign, including Katherine and me, both being former Girl Scouts. From the photo, you may notice that we could all work on making that sign. And speaking of wonderful people, two of our former guides pulled in this afternoon, en route to San Antonio for the one week Hill Country trip. We were thrilled to see Michelle from Moab and Lynne from Pennsylvania Dutch Country and to have a chance to thank them for their encouragement and advice.

Day 29 Kerrville, TX Rest Day

Haircut to Holiness

We had a great rest day! We spent the day at Katherine's family lodge in Hunt, TX, about 14 miles from Kerrville. The day was chock full! We both got our hair cut - you can't imagine how welcome that was, although it has been about 25 years since anyone besides my treasure of a hairdresser, Molly, has cut my hair. I survived the trauma and think I can live with this cut for a month. By the time we got back, guests were beginning to arrive for the wonderful party that Katherine's husband Jack and her brother John put together. It was so much fun to be in the place that has meant so much to Katherine all her life, and to meet so many of her cousins and dear friends.

In the evening, we went on a tour of this amazing 77 foot, seven inch cross that was erected last summer in Kerrville. The artist (center) conducted this tour especially for us. Although this has been controversial, he clearly has felt called to this work and has documented his actions scrupulously. He has plans for gardens and more sculpture. The view of the city is magnificent.

With our jam-packed day, we got to bed much later than usual. Fortunately, we had slept later in the morning.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 28 Vanderpool to Kerrville, TX

Texas Hill Country

Our stay in Vanderpool was delightful! Our little cabin was charming and roomy. Linda, our cook extraordinaire, had a kitchen in which to prepare another fabulous dinner and breakfast. We ate inside. The weather turned beautiful again, after three overcast days. It was chilly in the morning but warmed up nicely.

The ride was gorgeous. I can understand why Katherine and Jack and LBJ and so many others love the Texas Hill Country so! We had a major climb about 15 miles outside of Kerrville. I was climbing as best I could then rounded a bend that was suddenly steeper. I made a snap decision that walking the short stretch to the top would not injure my ego. Katherine's bike computer registered it as a 14% grade. Katherine rode up. When we arrived at the top, her husband Jack and her brother John were there to greet us. What a surprise! After meeting many of our fellow riders , they drove down near us. We dropped off our bikes for service and cleaning and enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Mamacita's Mexican restaurant. Jack ferried us to their family lodge about 14 miles out of town. We settled in comfortably for laundry, coffee, and afternoon naps. Katherine's delightful and thoughtful cousin Ann invited us to her cabin next door for dinner. Our "rest day" will be pretty full with Katherine's family and friends. I must say, I am pretty excited about getting my hair cut. It's the little things!