Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wimberley to Austin, TX

Wimberley to Austin, TX


Day 88

40 miles

Sorry we don't have any photos, but it was too cold and wet for us to even want to get our cameras out. We would have had to take off our gloves (that's right, gloves in Texas) to get at the cameras. Anyway, sorry for no photos.

Last night when we set up our tent in Wimberley, it was below freezing and 100% humidity. It felt incredibly cold. We had high hopes that we might wake to a nice warm day, but when we rolled out of bed around 8:00 it was still very cold. Grey clouds hung low in the sky and the temperature was not much above freezing. We noticed a doughnut shop last night, so we decided to head there this morning for breakfast. It was such an odd doughnut shop. The owners were Asian, and they sold everything from doughnuts to spring rolls to burritos. The small bakery smelled of doughnuts, Chinese food and incense. But hey, the doughnuts were pretty good. We then found the only coffee shop in Wimberley, which is also the only place with wireless internet. We spent a good two hours catching up on our blog posting.

We headed back to the Emergency Services building to pick up our tent, and got sidetracked talking to the Ambulance crew inside. They were so friendly, and, as we have learned, you can pick up some really great advice about traveling from locals. We chatted with them for quite awhile. By the time we finally got all packed up and head for Austin it was past noon. We figured that if we waited around this long, the temperature would go up some, but as soon as we started riding, we realized how cold it really was. The air was so damp and a slight breeze in our face combined with the wind caused by our traveling speed made our get cold to the core. We are from the West, humidity has never been our friend. The air was actually so wet that my beard filled with moisture and started dripping as we rode.

We made it about half way to Austin and we were so cold we stopped at a gas station for some hot chocolate. As we pulled up, we found some Girl Scouts selling cookies in front. We were so excited! We have been looking to buy girl scout cookies the whole trip. I think I might have scared the girl a little by how excited I was to buy these cookies. Gotta love the Thin Mints.

The ride into Austin was much more painless than we thought. Traffic was not bad, and we were actually enjoying riding in a city again. We were so surprised at how much Austin reminded us of Portland. Maybe it was just because it was misting and rainy and humid, but the houses neighborhoods seemed similar. We couldn't believe we were in Texas. We had called a friend of a friend the day before in hopes of finding a place to stay in the city. Lucky for us, Katherine called us back and told us we could stay at her place. We navigated through the city and then realized her house was only two blocks off of our planned route. It is amazing how most people we have stayed with are almost directly on our route. We arrived at Katherine's place and she welcomed us right inside. The neat old house is in a really cool neighborhood. Katherine lives with 8 other people in this house and it is a bit of a community of its own. They share communal suppers and chores and seem like a great bunch of people. We felt right at home, and it was so nice to be in out of the cold. Katherine made a great supper with salad, mashed potatoes, and a salad with a crème brulee for dessert. Amazing! After supper we had such a great time telling stories and just talking in general. Tomorrow we will explore Austin a bit.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Grape Creek (Tirza's place) to Wimberley, TX

Raccoon with no fear in Wimberley, TX

Armadillo, they are cool to see, even if they are dead, mammals with "shells"

Don't mess with Texans, seriously. You risk death.

A nice, narrow, deserted road through Texas Hill Country.

Another note: We have had little to no internet and almost no cell service in the last 5 days or so. We got way behind on the blog (again) sorry about that. If you want to catch up on it, scroll down a few days or more and start reading there. We will try to stay more up to date.

Grape Creek (Tirza's place) to Wimberley, TX
Day 87
72 miles

We left this morning from Tirza's home with mixed feelings, happy to be moving down the road, and also sad to leave the comforts of a home. The ride from her house to Sisterdale was absolutely gorgeous, with rolling hills, oak trees and many small creeks. Sheep and goats wandered along the road as we pedaled through. There was little traffic and the weather was beautiful. We made it easily to Blanco, where we got Blizzards at Dairy Queen, and then realized we had a flat tire on the BoB trailer. We fixed the flat (which we never actually found the source of, and never applied a patch) and headed on to Wimberley.

On the way I saw my first armadillo, dead on the road. They are such cool, prehistoric animals. You can just imagine them crawling around on the earth, eating earthworms. Between Blanco and Wimberley we crossed several creeks that were flowing on the road after the big rainstorm we just had.

We got into Wimberley just as it got dark and headed to a restaurant for dinner. It is really cold tonight and since we had not yet bought groceries, we figured, why not go out to eat. We had catfish and tilapia po'boys and a bowl of chili, then made our way back to the bikes and our camp spot. On the way I saw a BIG raccoon, just walking the streets, completely unafraid of us. I wish we had the slingshot! I know that we will have to be more careful about food now, the raccoons are on the prowl. We camped behind the Emergency Medical Services building, which was nice and felt very safe. It is always nice to find free camping along the way. We even went in and talked to some of the EMS staff, and they were very friendly. We got into our sleeping bags as quickly as possible because it is so cold tonight.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Another day in Tirza's place. Yes we still ride bikes, I think.

Dani powering up our radio. This thing is so great. We could catch up on news by listening to an NPR station, and it also has a weather band so we can hear about the storm and listen to the forecast.

Rest day at Tirza's place somewhere around Sisterdale.


Day 86

No miles, all rest

We decided to stay one more day at this cozy home because of the unusually cold weather today. We have begun to feel very antsy about not going anywhere for several days, but we know that we will still reach our destination in time. We even went through our maps and miles to find that we will still be right on track, within one day of Greg's estimation of the day we will arrive in St. Augustine, Florida. We just took the day to reflect on the trip so far, and ideas about what we will do in the next year. We watched movies and cooked. We are really looking forward to moving on down the road tomorrow.


Greg's note: I know I said we would never leave if we didn't leave today, but I still have confidence. Alos, we have recently realized that we really don't know where we are. All we do know is that we are at Tirza's really nice little house and that is good enough for us. We are somewhere between Sisterdale and Luchenbach and Fredericksburg.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Storm and a Rest Day

A view from Tirza's place as the storm starts to move in.

Hard to tell from a picture, but it is raining very hard, and the wind is blowing like crazy.

Rest day at Tirza's place somewhere around Sisterdale.
Day 85
No miles, all rest

Wow, all of these rest days and such nice hospitality are starting to make us wonder why we are on this trip. Oh yeah, cross country travel and bike riding and adventure. Today's lack of adventure, however, was very nice. We slept in knowing that we had nothing to accomplish today. Rain and wind were forecasted, and sure enough, not long after we woke up the wind was howling and rain started coming down in sheets. Lucky for us, we were warm and comfortable inside this nice little place out in the country. We ate breakfast and watched as the wind tousled the oak trees from side to side. We are happy we are not outside today.

There is little to no cell phone service here, no internet, and no cable TV. Perfect. We have been spending the day watching movies, listening to NPR on our cool little solar powered radio, and cooking up food. Usually we have too many distractions on our rest days, and they don't end up being very restful, but today has been great. The storm is continuing, and there is even a tornado watch, but all of the weather is supposed to move out of the area by tomorrow. We should be able to get on our way again. If we don't leave tomorrow, who knows, we might never leave the Texas Hill Country.


Another note around 11 pm we just started getting a bunch of lightning and thunder. Guess we will just have to pop in another movie.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A rest day in a New Place: Welcome to Grape Creek. Wait Where is Grape Creek?

Second day in Kerrville/Sisterdale (kind of)
Day 84
some car travel-no bike riding

We had some great rest last night and slept in this morning in our comfortable bed. When we got up, Mrs. Fudge had a great breakfast of banana pancakes, fresh eggs, bacon, coffee and orange juice. We enjoyed relaxing and talking to Tirza, Mrs. Fudge and Mr. Fudge this morning. Wiley had to leave early for work before we woke up.

We tried to decide what we were going to do today, either go to Comfort, or take Tirza's offer of staying at her house in the hills near Sisterdale, which is down the road and off our route, but in the right direction. We went back and forth with the two options and considered the weather. Our forecast for tomorrow called for strong winds and a high chance of rain, 1-2” probable. We know that we do not want to ride in these conditions. Eventually, we decided to go to Tirza's house, as she was going to be out of town and was very excited to have us there. She offered to drive us, and because it was late in the day and off our route, we accepted. We felt it was very important to be somewhere safe and dry when tomorrow's storm comes. The Fudges helped us get there by shuttling our bikes up to Tirza's house. On the way to her house, we went to the HEB grocery store together and had a fun time going through the store. I know it sounds weird that grocery shopping was fun, but we have a way of making simple things very exciting, especially with someone as fun and easy to get along with as Tirza.

Tirza is a massage therapist and is leaving to do some work for the week. We got to her home and looked around. It is a really nice little place out in the country, surrounded by ranches and cattle. We are so excited to have this cozy home to stay dry during the storm. We kept Tirza company while she packed and then the Fudges showed up with our bikes. They even brought up some of the smoked ham they were having for dinner, how nice! We said goodbye to the Fudges and then Tirza, we will miss our new friends. However, we think we might get to see Wiley and Tirza in Austin. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kerrville Rest Day. Kerrville History and The Fudge's Hospitality.

Bricks on Water Street in Kerrville. Remschel is my Grandmother's maiden name. Her family was from here and we came across these bricks by accident. Crazy

Her family used to own a house with a tennis court on this street of her namesake. Greg's long lost family history.

The room the Fudge's put us up in at their house. So nice! We slept so well.

Rest Day in Kerrville


Day 83

7 miles

Total: 3,365 miles

This morning we woke up to a great breakfast of bacon, eggs, and biscuits with Mr. Fudge while Mrs. Fudge was out getting groceries. We went to the Franklin Clinic first to see a doctor and get a prescription. It took nearly two hours to get an appointment, but they finally saw me and confirmed that I had a UTI. I had already taken a test strip you can buy at the pharmacy, so I knew that I had a UTI. He gave me a prescription and we headed to Walgreens. Needless to say it took over an hour to get that prescription filled, but I am so glad I finally have the needed medicine.

After lunch and getting the medicine, we went out to find Remschel Avenue. Remschel is Greg's Grandmother's maiden name and she was born here in Kerrville, and of course, lived on Remschel Avenue. They were one of the first families to live here. We found the street and took some photos. We even located the lot where her house once stood. She told us that when she lived there her family had a tennis court, which was one of the first tennis courts in town. It was cool to connect to this piece of Greg's family history.

Another coincidental thing happened as we headed back to the Fudges' home. We were stopped on a street corner downtown and talked as we stood on the sidewalk. There were many bricks on the sidewalk, each with a name engraved on it. Greg just happened to glance down at the brick at his feet and the name was Remschel. When we looked closer we found three bricks on the sidewalk with the name Remschel. What are the chances!? We will have to ask Greg's grandmother who each of these people were.

Kerrville has become a special place for us now, after meeting the Fudges and connecting with Greg's family history here. What an amazing time we have had here. We rode back to the Fudges' home and they had made a wonderful dinner of fajitas and homemade taco soup to share with us, the stray bicyclists. We felt so at home with the Fudges and they made us feel so welcome, as if we had already known each other for years. Later that night Wiley came back home from setting up a booth for work. He, Tirza, Greg and I went out to their local hangout, the Ol' Watering Hole. We had a great time with them and met their friends. Everyone was really friendly and interested in what we were doing. It was nice to hang out with people our own age, since...I don't even know when. We were glad to be out meeting cool people and having good conversations. What a good day in Kerrville.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Vanderpool to Kerrville, TX

From the Left: Greg, Dani, J.D., Tirza, and Wiley. Wiley and J.D. were kind enough to pick us up and Wiley's folks fed us supper and fixed us up with a nice room in their house. We love these guys!

There were many stream crossings on today's ride. After each crossing though, we would climb uphill.... again

Riding along the Guadalupe River. Water! We haven't seen much for a long time.

Boots decorating fence posts near Hunt, TX. This goes for about a quarter mile.

Up in the Hill country. Taking a little break.

A really fancy game farm. People in Texas put more money into gates and ranch signs than anywhere we have been. This one is good enough to be considered art.

Vanderpool to Kerrville, TX
Day 82
60 Miles

Last night we slept very well in our cabin. It was nice and warm, and the wind didn't bother us at all. We had breakfast and started packing so we could an earlier start to Kerrville. We left by 9:00 am and
headed for the hills. Actually we had already gone over most of the big hills, but we had one more big hill to go over today before we could drop down onto the Guadalupe river and into Kerrville. As soon as we made it back to the highway from the cabin, we started our climb. At first the grade was pretty gradual, but for every pedal forward the road seemed to become steeper and steeper. Eventually, we came to a section of the road that was nearly as steep as anything we have ridden yet. We came to a state natural area that has an odd maple grove surrounded by juniper. Here the road was a bit like a wall. We shifted down to our lowest gears and started cranking for all we were worth. I had to stand on the pedals just to maintain 3 mph. Luckily, the hills around here are not all that tall, just steep, and we reached the top without too much trouble.

Once on top of this hill, our elevation profile showed that we would have a short flat section, and then drop down all of the way to Kerrville. Once we got to where the hill dropped off though, the elevation loss was hardly noticeable. The rolling hills were small but extremely steep. We would drop down a few hundred feet at over 20 mph and then hit what seemed like an equally tall and steep uphill as soon as the downhill ended. The riding was really fun, but harder than we expected for a “downhill” section.

We were trying to get to Kerrville before 5:00 pm so we could get Dani into a doctor and hopefully get her on some antibiotics. But, by the time we made it into town and got some groceries, it didn't look like we were going to make it. We bought some home test strips, however, that will hopefully settle whether or not Dani has a urinary tract infection.

We rode to the city park on the skirts of town and found the campground in the park. We set up camp and ate some cookies while we decided what we were going to do for dinner. Rather than cooking tonight, we decided we should go out to eat instead. We picked a route back into town on a city map, and headed for dinner. Less than a mile from the campground a truck drove up alongside us and some yelled out to us. I looked over my should and recognized a guy and we that we had talked to way back in Kent Texas. I yelled back to him and he asked, “Do you guys want to come over to my place for dinner?” Without much hesitation I said, “Sure.” Dani and I pulled over and they pulled in and stopped. We threw our bikes in the back and jumped in the truck. Wiley, the guy that we talked to in Kent, and his friend J.D. Introduced themselves. We couldn't believe our luck. We had randomly met this guy 11 days ago, and he and JD were just coming back into town from a business trip, and they happened to see us again. We have never had any encounters where we met people twice on our trip. What are the odds? To top it all off, Wiley and his parents Dave and Brenda Fudge invited us, just some bike riding strangers into their home for dinner. We shared a big table with Wiley, J.D., Dave, Brenda, and Wiley's girlfriend Tirza for a supper of delicious pot roast, salad, bread, and wine. After supper, we sat around the table thoroughly enjoying the conversation. We have not been in a house with a family for supper since Christmas. One thing led to another, and everyone started asking us if we were planning on sleeping outside tonight. We assured them that we were, and that we would be fine. The Fudge's, however, insisted that we would be much more comfortable sleeping in the warmth of their house in a nice bed. After a little coaxing, we decided they were probably right. Dave drove us back to the campground where we gathered our tent and other gear we left there. When we came back to the house, Mrs. Fudge had a whole room prepared for us, and gave us a nice basket of treats and refreshments for the evening. We were completely overwhelmed at the generosity of these people. We hadn't been here more than a few hours and we already felt like we were at home. The odds that we met someone in Kerrville, TX that we also met in Kent, TX 11 days ago, and that his family is so nice and accommodating, well, those are amazing odds. Tomorrow we plan on taking a rest day and hopefully we can get Dani into a doctor and get her feeling better.

Texas, here's to you.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Camp Wood to Vanderpool, TX

An Axis deer

The kitchen in our cabin at A Peace of Heaven Campground and Cabins

Living space in our cabin

You can see how nice this place is.

A black buck.

A good rest spot along the road

You can see, this place actually has hills.

Some exotic animals on a game farm.

Going through a canyon made just for this road

One of many hilly roads in the Hill Country.

This is some real Texas Hill Country. This road is STEEP!

Gravel roads are slow, but they are a fun change

A cool juniper forest at A Peace of Heaven Campground and Cabins

The outside of our cabin at A Peace of Heaven

Camp Wood to Vanderpool, Texas


Day 81

47 miles

Note: We had a big internet dry spell, so make sure you scroll down and check out our last few posts. We will try to keep it updated more frequently if we have more internet access.

This morning we woke up with the wind still howling through the trees. We got up and ate our breakfast in the shelter of the leeward side of the bath house. We fought the wind to put away the tent and checked in with the camp owner to pay. We didn't know how far we would make it, with me feeling as bad as I had last night. The owner was so kind, she offered us another night free at the campground if we should decide to stay at Camp Wood again.

We managed to get down the road just fine and I was feeling pretty strong. We had a quick lunch at a cafe in town and headed out. We had some big climbs coming up today as we entered the Texas Hill Country. There three major climbs and they certainly were steep but thankfully, not as long as other hills we have climbed. The country out here is so rolling, it rivals, perhaps even tops, the hills of the Oregon Coast. The vegetation around here is sparse grasses with live oak and “cedars” or as we are used to calling them, junipers. There are many cattle, goat, and “exotics” ranches in this part of Texas. We saw so many different hoofed animals, we really didn't know all of the species we saw. Some of the ones we could identify were wildebeest, emu, oryx, gazelle, antelope, European deer, zebra, roe deer, and axis deer (I think.)


We climbed over a first large hill and dropped down into the town of Leakey about 30 miles into the ride. Today is a Sunday, so we weren't expecting much, but we found a coffee shop that advertised internet access, so we went to check it out. As soon as we approached the shop, we found that it was closed, but the owner saw us outside and let us in because she had some extra work to do there anyway. She fixed us up with some coffee and muffins. We asked about the little medical clinic in this tiny town, and the owner told us it had weird hours and we would probably be better off going to Kerrville for Danielle to see the doctor. We checked the weather on-line and headed off. We didn't have enough time to even post a blog. We had two more major climbs to do and one smaller one to get to the next town. We had to continue on so we can make it to Kerrville tomorrow. Danielle really started to fade as we climbed up these last hills. They were not extremely tall, less than a thousand feet elevation gain for each one, but they a very steep. Each one is over 10% grade. We were both ready to arrive at the campground in Vanderpool and set up camp so Danielle could rest.

Our map shows a campground in Vanderpool. Vanderpool is more of a place than a town, just a small gas station and an intersection of highways. We didn't realize that the campground on our map was not on the main highway, so when we got to Vanderpool, we pulled out our map only to find that the campground was another four miles out of our way on a different highway. We kept pedaling on, slowly. The last two miles of riding to the campground was on a rough gravel road right as night was falling. By the time we found the place Danielle was ready to be done. We pulled up at the residence of the A Peace of Heaven Campground, and knocked on the door. Much to our disappointment, the owner informed us that they do not have tent sites at this campground, and that the nearest campground was eight miles away. We were almost in shock. The owner realized our desperation and ended up making us a deal on one of the campground's cabins. We were so grateful. When she told us it was a cabin, we were expecting something rustic. We she showed it to us, we were totally floored. This place was amazing, much nicer than anywhere we have recently lived, and definitely nice enough to be considered a house. We could not believe our luck. We could not thank Rhonda, the owner, nearly enough. We turned on the heater and actually cooked supper over a real stove in a real kitchen! Then we took showers in a real bathroom in a nice shower. To top it off, we were able to get out of the wind and get a proper night of rest in a very nice bed. It is amazing how things always seem to work out no matter what the situation is.

We have to say that the A Peace of Heaven Campground and Cabins is quite the place. We would stay here again anytime. The cabin was so nice. If any of you are in the area you should stop by and spend the night. Rhonda is extremely nice and very accommodating and their property is in a beautiful canyon.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Del Rio to Camp Wood, TX

Our nex cycling friends from Australia, Sundance and Yana.

A whole herd of touring bikes

Sunset about an hour and a half before Camp Wood

Sundance and Yana

Greg put a dent in a sign with the slingshot on his first shot

Dani shooting our new raccoon repelling device

That sign was just asking to be shot at

Del Rio to Camp Wood
Day 80
80 miles

Last night I did not sleep well. You have probably been reading our blog long enough to know that we share with you our trials and tribulations, even if they are not always pleasant, like the park in Sierra Blanca. I was up most of the night with intense abdominal pain and could not sleep, so I did some research online in the tent without waking Greg. I am almost certain I have a urinary tract infection. Now lets be honest, this is not too hard to believe when we ride our bike for long hours each day and don't get to shower every night, and so on. I took some cranberry pills last night to combat this, if it is what I think it is. My plan of action is to drink as much water as I possibly can, take cranberry pills and see if it improves. If I do improve, great, if not, I will get some antibiotics at the next big town, probably Kerrville. I hope this goes away soon because, as many people probably know, it is really no fun at all, and even less fun to deal with while traveling by bicycle.

On the way out of town today we stopped at the store we love and love to hate, Wal-Mart. I needed some more cranberry pills, and when I was picking them out, Greg was in the sporting goods section and found a folding slingshot for just under $7. When he showed me I was absolutely ecstatic at the prospect of owning this fine weaponry with which to fend off any future raccoons, dogs, or alligators who try to attack or raid the food cache.

We had a nice ride to Brackettville, where we happened upon the very first touring cyclists we had seen since southern California. Amazing! Their names are Sundance and Yana and they are a couple of Aussies finding their way back home from Ontario to Australia by way of bicycle. They also have a blog which can be found at We had a great time chatting with them and showing off our new slingshot. I am so glad we could share that with them, because we really had a blast. We were shooting rocks and bottlecaps all over the park in Brackettville. Greg took his first shot with the slingshot and made a fine dent in the parking sign. We all couldn't believe the aim! We are both around the 3,000 miles mark but we have been traveling quite differently. Sundance and Yana mostly stay at people's homes along the way, often in the yard, which they call “turf-surfing.” They also have been selecting their route as they go, stopping to see what they are interested in, instead of following a specific route. Their bikes were also set up very differently, with each of them riding a mountain bike with rear rack and panniers, some smaller gear on the handlebars, and wearing backpacks. One thing we have learned along the way is that everyone has their own style of touring and we says cheers to whatever works best for each person. Its great to see every tourists unique way of riding across the country. We enjoyed our time with Sundance and Yana so much that we ended up taking over two hours to hang out.

When we headed out to complete the next 48 miles of the day it was about 4:00PM . The road traversed gentle rolling hills and had very little traffic, so we felt just fine about riding at night. I really started to get tired at about 70 miles. We had been riding for a while in the dark and gotten a good scare when dogs ran out from nearby houses and barked and chased us. I was so relieved when we finally saw the sign for the Big Oaks River Camp. The woman at the park told us they had a cyclist discount and again it would be only $10, with showers in a nice clean bathroom. It had been really windy most of the day, except right at dusk. Now it was beginning to pick up again with a vengeance. The wind was so strong that it blew our gear off the picnic table, buckled in our tent, and forced dust particles though the mesh in our tent so that everything was covered with a fine dust. We got into the tent and the wind absolutely howled outside, all night, with a few short calm spells. I know because I was, again, awake for at least half of the night. Between the howling wind and pain from the UTI, I didn't get a whole lot of rest and morning came to soon.


Also, another exciting tidbit for today, we passed the halfway mark for the Southern Tier Bike Route and our total mileage has come to about 3,251 miles.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thank You NOAA for Predicting a Headwind and Allowing Us a Day of Rest

Del Rio Rest day....


Day 79

6 miles around town

We checked out and packed up for the ride today, then decided to rest another day in Del Rio because of weather conditions. You see, to ride the 30 miles to the next town would have required us to ride into a very strong headwind (25 mph), and put forth a lot of energy. Instead, because the forecast was for a strong tailwind (West winds) tomorrow we decided we would just make tomorrow a long day and that way we could rest up from our big days, and get the same amount of riding done with less effort.

For breakfast we headed across the parking lot to the International House of Pancakes, our second visit of the trip. They lured us in by advertising “All you can eat pancake breakfast.” Indeed, they weren't lying, we got an egg and potato breakfast with all you can eat pancakes for $4.99 each. That is the second “All you can eat” meal within 12 hours. Somehow Greg still gets hungry again about an hour and a half after even these large meals.

After some more riding around town, we stopped at a Dairy Queen to buy some Blizzards (surprisingly only the second DQ we have been to on the trip!). Boy, we are some health food nuts these days.

We cruised around town for awhile and bought groceries before heading back west to the camping spot.

We found a little RV park in Del Rio called “Buzzard Roost” for $10. They had a decent little patch of grass for us and also provided us with WIFI, which our hotel did not. We hope this day will help propel us forward tomorrow.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Langtry to Del Rio, TX: Variety Would be the Spice of Life

The Amistad Reservoir. It is actually very large but there are many arms so you cannot see much of the lake here.

A neat canyon outside of Langtry

There were buzzards everywhere

Judge Bean's courthouse and saloon

Our scruffy friends

Langtry to Del Rio
Day 78
61 miles

We were surprised to find our tent absolutely drenched with dew this morning. The moist air must come from the Rio Grande, less than a mile from where we camped. We decided to eat some breakfast and then leave our stuff out to dry while we went over and checked out the Judge Roy Bean Visitor's Center. This place was pretty cool, Roy Bean was the judge for the area West of the Pecos river before there were many people out in these parts of Texas. He was known for rarely consulting his Texas law books, but instead making up his own brand of justice. His “courtroom” was also his house, a billiard hall, and a bar. Because he had no jail, he made all crimes punishable by fine. Often times he would make the criminal buy everyone at the bar a round of drinks after justice was served. This place also had a Chihuahuan cactus garden with about 50 different desert plants. It was neat, and we couldn't believe how many of the spiny or woody looking plants that goats and sheep will eat.

Once we went back to our camp, things were drying off in the hot desert sun. We made friends with a few of the town dogs, and that entertained us while we packed up. We were tired this morning, and knowing we had over sixty miles in front of us, well we knew it was going to be a long day. The wind seems to always be the biggest player out here, and today was no exception. We started with little to no wind, but by noon and later the wind was blowing, sometimes very hard, right into our faces. It was also very hot today, and the terrain and landscape was even more boring than the day before. We had to drink all of our water, and we were still thirsty. We stopped and ate more often to prevent running out of energy like yesterday. Nothing exciting happened today. The only change in scenery was a bridge we rode over that crossed the Amistad Reservoir. Apparently bass fishing must be big here because everyone was towing an expensive bass boat and the shoulder of the road had bass lures scattered about for 15-20 miles.

We had decided early on that after so many big days back to back, we were going to rent a hotel in Del Rio to get some good rest and take some nice showers. We got into Del Rio around 5:00 and found a motel 6 that seemed pretty cheap. We found out that they are cheap for a reason. The advertising says In Room WIFI, but come to find out that is only in certain rooms and only if you pay extra. Oh well, we will find a place to post our blogs. We are just happy to be out of the baking sun. We both wore sun screen today, but we both have some sun burns. We are really going to have to coat on the sunscreen.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sanderson to Langtry, TX

This was the same view all day.

Texas logic. Can't really argue with that.

Even Chompy was bored today. Just look at that desolate landscape behind him.

Sanderson to Langtry, TX


Day 77

62 miles

Sanderson seemed like such a peaceful place, that is until about 5:30 this morning. Our tent site at the RV park was right next to the main road into town, and at about this time a whole barrage of semi trucks drove through town. This lasted for about a half an hour to an hour. We slept in a little once it quieted down. Once we got up, we were dead set on going to the bakery in town for breakfast. We had seen the bakery in the town's brochure and it looked very good. We were exceptionally hungry too, so we packed up quickly only to find that the BOB trailer had another flat! We couldn't believe it. The thorns around here are nuts. We mended the flat and headed for the bakery. When we got to the middle of town, we asked a local where the bakery was, because we couldn't find it. They told us it was closed! We were really looking forward to that too. Oh well we ended up eating some gas station muffins and some bananas for breakfast instead.

Once we headed out of town, the wind seemed to be non-existent. We were hoping for a tailwind, but no wind is just fine too. The terrain today was pretty flat over all with some big rolling hills. While the rest of the country is covered in clouds and storms, where we are is totally clear. Noting but bright blue sky and scorching sun. The sun does not get very high in the sky because it is winter, so it always seems like the sun is baking us right at face level. We cannot imagine what it would be like to ride through here in the summer.

This highway has some nice picnic shelters spaced every 10-20 miles, and they are pretty nice places to stop and eat lunch. We stopped and met a nice couple from Maine who offered us ice cold sodas! It tasted so good! They were down touring the country with a little tow behind camper. They told us we missed the best part of Texas, Big Bend National Park, and that we should turn around and go there instead. Maybe some other day, but we still have nearly half of the Southern Tier to explore for now.

The riding today was otherwise very monotonous. There is not much to look at, everything looks about the same. The landscape is littered with scrubby shrubs, cactus, a few sheep, and many elevated deer hunting blinds with automatic feeders close by. Yep, this land is all private, and the folks who live out here have to eek out a living anyway they can with grazing, hunting, and who knows what else.

About ten miles before we reached Langtry, I (Greg) started feeling really hungry and out of energy. I should have known better than to keep riding without eating, but I did. By the time we got to Langtry I was dehydrated and completely out of energy with low blood sugar. I walked into a little store and bought a soda and an ice cream bar and that helped a little. Then I had to drink a bunch of water, but I still could not get caught up. I should have known better. It is so dry and sunny out here we need to drink bunches of water. There is a visitor's center here in Langtry that we will check out tomorrow. It is about a Judge named Roy Bean that used to be the only judge West of the Pecos River in Texas. It sounds like he was quite a character. Tonight we are sleeping behind the community center in this tiny little one horse town.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Marathon to Sanderson, TX : Big Wheelin'

Greg, in Texas

Looking West on HWY 90

Looking East on HWY 90. Does this look familiar?

Marathon to Sanderson, TX
Day 76
56 miles

We awoke in our nice warm room at the hostel and quickly packed up our gear in anticipation of a long day of riding. We got some groceries in Marathon before we left and rolled out of town at around 10:45. What a glorious day of riding! As soon as we set off we knew today was going to be good. We had a great tailwind and with the exception of the first 10 miles of a barely noticeable uphill section, we were riding on a slight downhill all day with a great tailwind. The scenery was very much the same for most of the day but we enjoyed every minute of our fast-paced “big wheelin'” as I call it. “Big Wheelin'” means that you are pedaling in the highest of your three (on touring bikes) chainrings, in other words, you are going fast. At one point we had so much energy and good spirits that I told Greg, “I'm going to catch you, speed demon” and tried to race ahead of him. He got the hint and started cranking down hard until his spedometer read 30mph, on the flat, carrying the BoB trailer and panniers. I quit the race at 25 mph. What fun!

We ended up reaching Sanderson, 56 miles away, at around 2:45. We made our whole day in 4 hours of riding. We would have gone further, but the next town is Dryden, 20 miles further, population 10. So we decided to stay in town and enjoy a leisurely evening. First we went out for ice cream, then decided to check out a local cafe that a woman here at the Canyons RV Park told us about. We got there and after being seated, realized that all they had on the menu was burgers. We didn't want to be rude and leave this little place, so we sucked it up and ordered burgers for dinner, with Frito pie. Come to find out, Frito pie is Fritos covered with hamburger meat and cheese. Well, believe me this is not how we usually eat and I assure you that we will be doing a fast or cleanse of some sort when the trip is over. This trip is just one big learning experience. Greg still wants to try a deep fried Oreo when we get to the Deep South. Who knows, maybe we will even get to try alligator.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Alpine to Marathon, TX

The flags on the BOB trailer are blowing toward the bike! That means tail wind!

Yucca trees were right along the road today, but we could tell we were transitioning from desert to grassland.

Not sure what kind of bird this is. Does anyone know?

Brahma bulls along the road. They look so docile with their goat like ears, but they are huge!

Dani at the veranda on the "Goat Shed" at La Loma del Chivo.

Dani and Biggie. The kinda stray kinda not stray dog.

A brightly colored paper-crete building.

Alpine to Marathon


Day 75

32 miles

We knew we had a short day ahead of us today so we just took it easy. We spent the morning working on the blog, eating breakfast and doing some needed work on the bikes. After nearly 3,000 miles of riding, my (Greg's) bike finally needs a new tube on the rear. This tube has been with us from the get go and it has five patches on it. It was slowly leaking and when I took it off I found out why. One of the first patches I put on it developed a crack after being inflated and deflated so many times, and the hole it was sealing was able to leak air out of the crack. The new tube I got is a thorn resistant tube and this thing is amazingly thick. It was a bit more difficult to install, but not a big deal.

After we spent some more time cleaning the bikes and lubricating the chains, we packed up our gear and headed out of the Pecan Grove RV Park. We had been told about a nice place to eat and have coffee in Alpine called La Trattoria. It was on the way out of town, so we decided to stop in and see what they had to offer. We found a nice little cafe with a decent menu. We ordered some coffee and tea, and a bagel sandwich with a cup of soup. The food here was absolutely great. Probably some of the best food we have had on the trip, especially for the price. We are so surprised by West Texas. We thought it was just a bunch of crusty, gun toting, George W. Bush loving ranchers that would love to run us over with their pickups, but we have found much the opposite. This little town had multiple art galleries and people have been so welcoming and friendly. The cafe we ate lunch at was no exception. They had a nice selection of eclectic music playing and some very nice art on the walls to add a nice atmosphere to our dining experience. Normally we would probably not go out of our way to write about that, but we just didn't expect this in West Texas at all, and it has been a very welcome surprise.

We left Alpine and headed East South East toward the tiny town of Marathon. We were told to ask for Guilford, and that he would have a place for us to stay. We asked the first person, and they pointed us in the right direction. Before we sought out Guil, we stopped at the French Grocer (Something French... in Texas? Another crazy surprise) and bought a few food items for supper. We went out to Guil's place and found a collection of unique and odd shaped, colorful buildings. The first person we met, Norbert, told us that Guil, was not around, but we were welcome to stay for free, as all long distance cyclists are at Guil's compound. Guil has some land out here named, “La Loma del Chivo” that he allows people to live on. All he asks in return is that people put 4 hours of work per day into helping make the place into a Hostel, and into development of an organic garden. (A hostel and an Organic garden in Texas? Seriously are we in Texas?) It is part of the Working on Organic Farms organization, but also is trying to become a recognized hostel. Norbert, from Australia, showed us in all of the buildings and then showed us what he has been working on in the newly developed garden. Unfortunately, while we were here, Norbert's crops were not fairing well due to the recent cold snap that has plagued most of the country. Many of the crops were either killed or stunned by the cold weather. Hopefully as it warms up, some of the plants will come back from the cold. We are staying here at La Loma del Chivo tonight in the building they refer to as the goat barn. It will be nice not having to set up the tent tonight.


Texas, oh Texas, your land might not be free, but your roads are so less traveled, and your stores have local goat brie. The people are kind, and the sky is so bright, am I writing poetry about Texas? Here at La Loma del Chivo tonight?