Friday, May 1, 2009

Day 56 The Atlantic

What a great day!!! I don't think that any of us slept particularly well. Some told me they awakened at 2:30 and couldn't fall back to sleep, others a little later. As for me I woke up during the night excited about the last day and feeling sad as well, but fell back to good sleep easily. Because of the time frame, we had to be forty miles by 10:30, most everyone was at breakfast when it opened at 6AM. I was too. I actually didn't feel too pressed, and enjoyed talking with others aand seeing folks start out. Sherry, Marci and I headed out a little after 7AM. We missed the first turn, but knew it pretty quickly and turned right around and found our way. Now we really havee had very few wrong turns, funny we did this last day. After that, we had such a nice ride. We didn't rush, and enjoyed the farms and scenery. At the first SAG at twenty miles, most of the others were there, and everyone realized that we had plenty of time. All of us that were there, left together, and rode the next twenty miles to the fire station. It was fun and beautiful. We rode along the river, and through countryside.

We waited at the fire station and the police escort. It was a fun time for us. We took pictures and chatted. We got instructions from our leaders, and rode in two by two the last few miles to the Atlantic. Wow was that amazing. It was our own little parade. We went over the Lions Bridge and several of us teared up. After the bridge there was still about mile to the bridge. As we got to the beach, and there were family and friends with balloons, signs and their smiling faces. My mom and good friends Barbara and Ken were there from the West Coast of FL to welcome me and share in the fun. One of the most fun things for me, was to hear Marci saying...there is Michael (who had said he would not be able to come down)..."was that Michael?" "That was Michael!!!" and indeed it was. What a great surprise for her. We all took off our shoes and picked up our bikes and headed to the ocean. There was the ritual dipping of the tires, and then some of us ran, diving into the waves. Now the most exciting thing is that Michael (C, not my son Michael B) asked for Marci's hand in marriage...and she accepted..what a great day!

After introductions, and excitements, we walked back to the concession area and our lunch. There was lots of talking and smiling and jubilation. As we slowly drifted back down the road to our hotel, and to start with our good-byes and preparations for returning home.

After some preliminary preparation and calls to family and friends, Marci found me and invited me to join her an Michael with a walk to the pedestrian/historic area of St Augustine to get a gelato..how could I say no? The historic area was cute, but filled with touristy shops, and the gelato was good...we headed back, got ready for our dinner and joined the others to go to dinner. Our dinner was emotional and I know that I will miss the times I have had with these amazing people. It has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 55 we are almost done....


Each day brings things that are unexpected. This day I expected to have a good seventy-three mile ride, and really it was, but...

At this point seventy-three miles is not a particularly long day for me. It is a distance that I look at and think, "OK, I can plug along and still get to my destination by lunch...a little late lunch, but lunch-time." We started out well behind, Marci had had a flat before leaving, and that just throws a kink into the morning routine. After a quick change and breakfast, we headed out...very relaxed "no worries" as Marci would say.

The ride was beautiful after we got about seven miles behind us. At first we had some school starts, no shoulder, and rough road. There were some hills, but nothing too big at all. The countryside really got beautiful...big meadows, wild flowers, horses, goats, sweet smells of honeysuckle and not too much traffic, and the only dogs we saw ran in the opposite direction....those are the dogs I REALLY like.

We had a couple of SAG stops that were nice with lots of camaraderie. We left the second SAG at forty miles on a new road. This one had plenty of traffic, a good shoulder and wind hitting us in our faces. It also had some rolling hills, and junk in the road. For whichever reason you choose, it became an arduous ride. Palatka itself is a larger small town and we had some road construction and then a bridge. I was TIRED climbing over that bridge, and our hotel was at the bottom on the far side of the bridge...thankfully.

After the frustration of the last part of the ride, the shower felt great, and lunch at the restaurant next door was satisfying...

The rest of the afternoon was for just being with my new friends....at twenty-two of them.
Dinner was great...Linda once again worked her magic and there was extra time for talking and sharing.

So tomorrow is just the last 47 miles...I may have to continue blogging for a bit. So far I have given everyone an description of the trip, but not much in the way of musings or about the other participants. If time allows I am hoping to do that.

Mileage today:73

Day 54 High Springs


I knew that Florida had some beautiful springs, but didn't realize that there were so many located along this route. Today we got onto nice roads almost immediately. Since we had pushed a little yesterday, we were taking today very easy. Good thing...I was tired and just not feeling great in the morning.

We went through the little town of Mayo, which had some nice buildings. We did have a little aggressive dog chase us and it was really going for Sherry. It later chased another group and it ran into one of the front wheels...thankfully there wasn't a fall...Then a little later we crossed the Suwanee River....(you may now sing a verse of "Way Down Upon the Swanee River") and into the little town of Branford. We got to a convenience store and made a brief stop. An elderly man walking out started talking with us, asking us where we were headed. Now this happens most every day, but this gentleman was just so friendly. He, like most others, saw us as a group of three, not twenty and assumed we were out for a ride just for the day. When we told him we would end up in High Springs, he was wowed, but when we told him how far we had come, he told us how impressed he was. After leaving Branford, we headed to Ichetucknee Springs, where we actually got to swim. The spring was a fantastic turquoise color and perfectly clear. It was SO refreshing!!

The last seventeen miles went quickly and were filled with live oaks and little traffic. When we got to High Springs, we decided to see the town and got ice cream (well I got a chocolate shake) at Pat's. The town was small, but had lots of flowers, was filled with friendly folk and was so pleasant to nose around in.

My bike was not shifting too well....a good clue that it was time for a bath and then lube...so I spent a while playing with it and getting it to sparkle. It is no longer the beautiful pristine bike I brought. It has scratches and a few squeaks....but then so do I ...mine will heal though.

Our dinner was chicken Divan...so delish...

Miles:80 relaxing lovely miles..

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 53 Perry Fl a very friendly place

We left Wakulla Springs early and the early start gave us about an hour of cooler temperatures. We left the park, and had only two turns to get us to our hotel. The first 10 miles were quiet and there was no significant wind. I pulled and was thinking about many of the cycling exercises I had learned this winter. One leg drills, spinning up, and circles....I kept a good pace and had fun as well.

When we made our second turn, we hit a little head wind. Nothing like many of our days, but still it slowed us down a bit. We got to the SAG stop, which was at 16 miles since it was a short day, and didn't stay long, since it was extremely buggy. After we left Lois S passed us. With the head wind, we had an advantage, and caught her a little bit down the road. She joined us (Marci, Sherry and me) and we worked in our pace line. Now let me tell you all these woman are strong and capable cyclists....which means, I kept falling off the line....catching up, falling off etc. It was a terrific workout for me and pushed me pretty hard. It is interesting, because when you work hard, you use different muscles...something that I will need to to work on once I am home. Our last few miles we took a relaxed pacce...and looked for somewhere to eat. We got into the hotel, and had friendly staff, who explained that because of remodelling the rooms were not available....they thought perhaps they would be ready by 3 PM....This staff was great, they worked as a team and withing a litte over an hour had rooms ready.
After our showers we we to Mama's Italian resttaurant...it was great to have a big plate of pasta. They too were SO friendly and helpful and the food hit the spot...I would highly recommend this one!

Day 52 Our last rest day


This day was a continuation of the peaceful time that we had on our arrival at Wakulla Springs. We went to church in the morning and wher so delighted to have a SAG driver take us in the van. When we arrived back at the lodge, we had some lunch and then RELAXED:read, walked a little, did another boat tour, had dinner with the others. It was a quiet simple day. I did give some thought to renting a kayak, but decided that I needed to keep out of the sun.

Some of the other women jumped off the platform...about 30 feet up...Laurey, Carol M and Marci braved this. Others did go in swimming (the temperature was 69), but I was totally lazy and sat and watched.

No miles, lots of rest!

Day 51 To Wakulla Springs


The ride to Wakulla was a good one. We only had a few turns and lots of pine forests. Our route was flat and the best part was arriving at the lodge. There really was not too much to report about the ride...especially after all I have reported before.

The park and lodge however were wonderful. Wakulla Springs park was created by Mr Ball, after he had purchased the land in 1934. There were just paths leading to the Springs, and on the banks he built the lodge. It is in a mediterranean style. The lobby was large with beautiful large fire place. The ceiling was cypress and had been painted by a German artist.

The lodge is about one hundred yards from the spring. There is an swimming area with a diving platform. Adjacent to this is a dock with boats that leave about every thirty minutes and have park rangers giving a river tour. We saw cypress, and many species of birds:osprey, anhinga, morehens, cormorants,wood duck, yellow crested night heron, coots and great egrets with hatchlings, not yet fledged. We also saw a ton of alligators, mullets and gar fish.

Can you tell I liked this?

Dinner was as always great, BBQ (pulled pork). After that we had a talent show. To go into this, would be quite difficult, as there were many insider jokes and skits...but I will tell you that there is truly much talent in this group and that we all entertained one another...what fun!!!

MIleage 39 miles

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 50 Hot and Humid! and Eastern time zone


Now just a little reminder for any of you who have been intending to make a donation to PVA but have not yet done so or are still thinking about it...this trip will soon be over and you won't have my blog to entertain you...so before that happens, please go to PVA.org/lois and make your donation.....now enough business...here is the scoop of the day.

Well, if you have traveled to Florida you know why it is called the Sunshine State. There is plenty of sunshine....what that doesn't advertise is that there is plenty of heat and humidity also...no complaints I don't really mind this weather, and biking is far better than running in the it!

This morning we delayed our departure from the hotel because of dense fog. As it lifted we put on our flashing lights and headed out. We retraced our path part way out of town and then headed into the surrounding countryside. Most folks don't think of Florida as rural, but rather beaches, some big cities, the Keys, Disney orange groves, but here there were farms...just like you find further north. One of the women I was riding with kept remarking that it was very much like New Jersey. For me it reminded me of area of North Carolina or Virginia, as you leave the rolling hills and get closer and closer to the coast.

As an aside, there were indeed hills on this ride, some were quick little hills and others bigger.

Our route took us onto country roads for almost all the ride. The towns we passed through were small and the traffic was very very light. There were only a few dogs, but someone riding ahead of us (not in our group) was bitten today. They knew that our group was behind and notified the home office, and we were told as well. Of course after a bite the first thing that happens (beside seeking medical attention for the person bitten) is that the dog is taken and quarantined. Many folk in the country apparently don't immunize their animals...so there is always the thought that indeed they could be rabid. Some of these folks also don't neuter or spay the animals....and you can find semi feral dogs......We had no problems as we went by ....

Our ride seemed to take a little longer than yesterday...I felt more fatigued, and was slogging a bit, whether from the long ride yesterday or the heat and humidity....not sure, but it was not a long ride today and before we knew it we were in Quincy, FL. We went to the downtown square and found a wonderful sandwich and coffee shop, Miss Helen's. It not only had good sandwiches, but it had painting and pottery from local artists. They also will have an acoustic jazz night tomorrow night...too bad we won't be around for that!

The last couple of miles to the hotel were hot and on arriving at the hotel, it was nice to see and get into the pool....SO REFRESHING!

Oh yes...we are not in Eastern Time zone!! Yippee

Our dinner was Mexican and delish....
Mileage 55
Only 5 more days to go!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

day 49 90 on SR 90

Today was billed as 90 miles on State Route 90...and that is what it was. We left early and took some neighborhood roads from our hotel back to SR 90. From there it was a day with some rolling hills, some flat, good road surface, sunshine (we are in the sunshine state), a little tailwind....delightful scent of honeysuckle that wafted around us. We had several SAG stops and we also made a convenience store stop for chocolate milk.

We didn't do any stopping or picture taking...retrospectively I should have. There were ponds with waterlillies and that would have been nice...it is hard to make yourself stop when you know you hve a 90 mile day...at least for me.

We got to Marianna in good time. The town has an historic area with large victorian homes and some that looked to be even older....then it was into the fast food/ Wal Mart zone...oh well...

Mileage 90

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 48 Nice ride

Florida is nice for bike rides...this is my experience thus far. The road surfaces are generally smooth, so far we have decent shoulders for the most part and the country roads, don't seem to have too many dogs. The sky today was as blue as could be with no clouds anyplace. The humidity was low and the temperature moderate. There were a few rises and falls in the roads, but that added some interest. The pine forest was open enough to be able to see a distance. Nice ride!

The short ride allowed for a lunch in town (Eggplant Parmesan), laundry at the hotel and a relaxing afternoon catching up on things.....

We have a birthday today....Elisabeth's....so we will celebrate at dinner.

We rode 55 miles today. Just kind of relaxed riding, no need for speed on such a short day. Tomorrow will be a long one, so a rolling rest day was just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

day 47 The last frontier, Florida


Today we entered Florida!!!! Our last state. We crossed Mobile Bay on a ferry, and it was a smooth and pleasant ride over from Dauphin Island. I took plenty of pictures and when we docked, we all headed out onto smooth pavement with a little tailwind..yippeeeeee!!! It has been a while, since we had a tailwind. Between the surface and the wind, we just flew and could enjoy the beach houses and intermittent views of the water.

We got to Gulf Shores quickly and there was not much traffic andwe had a bicycle lane...what more can you ask for. We continued to clip along. We...actually I, slowed down when we had a couple of bridges and then zipped down the far side.

We got to the Naval Air base turn off and decided that we had plenty of time to visit. It was WELL worth it. Security allowed us to park our bikes right inside the doors, and we headed to lunch at the cafe and then looked at the museum. There were plenty to look at and even the flying tigers were represented...

I was with two other women, Sherry and Ann, and all of us got a little chilled and cut our viewing a little short. The rest of the ride was just as great as the beginning....winding along on smaller roads, that had light traffic with tailwinds...NO COMPLAINTS from me!

Even with the late start, and the stop at the museum, we got into the hotel with plenty of time so I ambled across the street to get a Dairy Queen Blizzard and then sat myself down to do my blog work.

Now there is a fun thing happening at our hotel...a reunion for USS Intrepid WWII ....there are a lot of men enjoying themselves. That was fun to see.

Miles 57 average speed 17 mph (yeah tailwinds)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 45 The Coast


Today we had a short ride (42 miles) to the coast. The only complication was predictions of some thundershowers. I got a late start and headed out at the end of the pack. At home I cycle by myself most of the time, so no problem with that. It is nice to just set your own pace, and have some solitude for a bit. I ended up catching quite a few of the women, and cycled with Peggy and Elisabeth...which was great fun. The ride went through the coastal AL communities, with salt marshes (my favorite smell is a salt marsh at low tide...that is the smell of home to me)....and ship building. There were only a few dogs, which were not at all troublesome.

We went over a long causeway with a crosswind (this is after all the year of the wind) and saw a beached, dead dolphin....has me wondering what happened......alas...that I will not know....perhaps just beached...didn't identify the species,but some do go into estuaries...so...

At any rate, we rounded a corner and had a bridge to climb with the wind....in our faces...
On the other side of the bridge we stopped in a restaurant, and had our lunch....CRABBY PATTY's Yeah Spongebob...the creator must have visited this area...I always called these crab cakes...at any rate for those of you who have kids you know what I am talking about.

Our condo is great and it is fun to have six of us together, with a common area....
Dinner was Jambalya with corn bread and salad and banana pudding for dessert...Paula Dean's recipe...

Mileage 42....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 44 Off to the coast


I was wishing I could take off a week or so and spend it with my friends at the farm. Of course that could not happen....so off we pedaled this morning...to Pascagoula, MS. The ride was very nice. We went through lots of pine forest and minimal traffic. We were trying to move pretty quickly since rain was in the forecast...and we arrived at our hotel at 12:15. Not a lot more to say about the day...just a nice one...we finished up with a couple bridges and the coast...

Tomorrow we head into Alabama..Mississippe was a quick state.
Mileage 67 miles.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 43 WIGGINS, MS!!!!


Our day actually started yesterday with our map meeting. This was the first time that we were given a short and a long option (the long being nine miles longer than the short). I looked at it and thought ....no brainer...the short of course. Discussion ensued. The short route was twenty three miles on Rte 26 no shoulder and heavy truck traffic. One of our participants had done this ride before and she is not one to say much negative, and she informed us that this was a miserable route....the longer route was less travelled, but there was talk that this is where someone got bitten last year...
Marci and I decided that being bitten by a dog was better than being hit by a car (worst case scenarios of course) and so we rode out with our plan. Now to complicate things, the weather was a little questionable. Possible rain.....so we wanted to get on the road and of course had rain gear with us.

We headed out of Bogalusa and in a few miles were crossing the border into Mississippi. The scenery didn't change much, and the road surfaces were variable. As we got out of town and onto country roads, we had some that had quite a few dogs. Most stopped with a firm and loud STAY and/or a loud whistle. We did have a pit bull that surprised us...but it just went to the property line. These were all in the first half of the ride. We were both anxious to get the ride done, so no dawdling today.

We did go the country, less travelled route. It was a very nice ride. Most of the mileage was through pine forests, some of which had been clear cut, but much was just forest. I kept my whistle ready, but didn't need it once. Some of our road surface was pretty rough....but that didn't last too long. We had hills, and of course that means DOWNHILLS as well...fun!!!

We were very focused today and got to the hotel a little after noon...Marci and I were picked up by my friend Katy. We went to the Whistle Stop Restaurant in town and had fried green tomatoes and shrimp Poboys....I am glad I am biking so much....otherwise all this food would just be making me balloon.

Time was a little tight, so after lunch I didn't run errands with Katy as first planned (picking up dogs from the vet and bringing them to the pound), but went to visit with Henry and Constance. It was great to see these dear friends. It had been much too long. We had a nice visit with coffee and cake, while Katy picked the kids up from school. H&C were very interested in the trip, and we loved talking about it.

After Katy and the kids came, we headed off for the farm. Katy has started a rescue for dogs in Stone County. This is looing like a full time job to me! She was on the phone with the vet the sherriff and with some folks interested in adopting dogs. She is trying to get an animal control officer and is also working on education...immunization of animals and neutering...
At the farm, we were greated by the dogs...all eleven of them...these are a great group and are all rescue animals...two are being fostered and are pups. The kids were so excited to show us the farm and introduce us to all the dogs.

Grace drove us around....and then Noonie took us...he was having a blast, but got the RTV stuck....fun fun fun...

Life on this farm is one adventure after another....we had a great time, and it really added to the trip.

Mileage: 60miles

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 42 Bogalusa


What a great name for a town....Bogalusa....we have friends whose dad was born here, and the name is so great, I was excited to get in. We are unfortunately on the highway and there has not been too much to see, so perhaps in the morning...?

Our day started out with wonderful weather and a few miles of backtracking. Thereafter we were on mostly smaller roads with little traffic. We passed a Global Wildlife Center, which has grazing animals and looked to be a stop for school kids with busses galore. We went through the town (I never really saw much of a town) of Uneedus and there was the superdomw...of Uneedus (see photo). We went through pine forests, some which had been logged and by farms and homes. It was lovely countryside.

My big news it that I had a flat on the rear...first one since the second week...so with all the junk on the road...I just must have been lucky. It happened on a very quiet lane and was changed quickly with Patty cheering me on. From there it was about seven or eight miles into town and our hotel.

Mileage:59 a rolling rest day.

day41 more of English Lousiana


Heading out from the B&B was hard for me...it was a place I would have liked to have stayed a while, but the tour must go on, and so we did. We headed out onto a couple of miles of construction and then into nice roads and through small towns. Folks are friendly when you stop and interested in just what would possess us to do such a trip. At this point in the trip, we have come far enough that when you tell folks you started in California six weeks ago, there jaws drop...and their eyes grow wide...

The roads went past farms and fields and a prison with workers. Traffic fluctuated. We hit several towns including Zachary and Watson. In Watson, which was about mile fifty or so we went slightly off route and found a crab shack which also had......boiled....craw fish......so Marci and I got a couple of pounds with corn on the cob and sat out front on a truck running board and worked our way through it.....it was SO good and I felt great as we headed out. I think the lack of fried food was very good for energy levels. We continued through country with pine forest and some farms. Some of the roads were well traveled and others not too much. There were some dogs...none too aggressive.

Now as we travel, most people are friendly or at least respectful and cautious of us. Occasionally there are folks in some big hurry and they fly by us a little too close for comfort...and then there are those that are just rude. Yesterday, I had someone like that....I had a milkshake thrown at me....and they hit the bike. What a huge mess that was. There was milkshake splattered all over me and the front part of my bike. Oh well...it rinsed off and when we got in I gave myself and the bike a bath...just sad to think people would behave like that.

We got in with 89 miles behind us....to Hammond, LA.

We had vegetable chili...(chili with lots of veggies) a big salad and banana bread and strawberries for dinner. The strawberries were brought by Heidi, who is a reporter for the Hammond Sun Times. She had met several women along the road and then met up with everyone for dinner. She brought a flat of berries...a BIG thank you for that. They were fresh picked from a UPick that was en route.

Days like this one are really what give me such joy in the ride.

Day 40 Old plantations


My day started awaking to birds singing...my favorite way to get pulled out of bed. I got some breakfast and then wandered around the grounds a bit. I saw Humphrey, who is a very regal fellow...a peacock and as with all peacocks, iridescent colors. He was just hunting up bugs and was happily wandering around. There were also ducks by the pond and mist that was rising from the pond. I got some pictures and then at 9AM, went with about half of the women on the tour, to tour the Butler house.

This house is one of the earlier ones and the architecture was not grand or auspicious, but warm and welcoming. Our guide, the current owner and seventh generation of Butlers did great job. We saw the library, music room, parlor, dining room and two bedrooms. In the library was a glassed area in the floor to allow us to see the wine cellar. There were lots of interesting details, from the cypress flooring, to the original furniture found though out, to the windows on the front of the house.

After this tour, I headed out with Jan and Marci on our bikes into town and then with Jan to visit Rosedown another plantation, which is now run by the state park system. This plantation was built quite a bit later and was in the Greek revival style. It is more what you think about when you think of plantations. The tour was interesting and I would highly recommend it to any of you who enjoy history or just beautiful places.

After the tour, we rode back into town and went to lunch...more crawfish for me....can you EVER get enough? Then Jan and I wandered through the town itself and spent some time in the cemetery....this was quiet and interesting.

We met back up with Marci and headed out to Oakley plantation,where Audubon had done a lot of his work with birds. It was further away then the maps or others had indicated, so we just went through the grounds, and looked around in the museum...and then headed back to our B&B.

I really could have used at least another day here, there was still much more to explore, so it goes on the to do list!

Dinner was at Oxbow a nice place with .....you guessed it Crawfish Etoufee.....I think I might singlehandedly be able to wipe out the crawfish population!

Miles:24...it was an off day, but the only transportation was my steadfast Gunnar!

Day 39 Wow across the Mississippi River


I have been off the grid for a couple of days and am writing this now three days after. This was a wonderful day. we headed out from Lafayette. I had hoped to capture some images of scenes similar to what we had seen on Sunday, but it was radically different. The rice paddies were rare and at a distance, and the crawfish farms were just nowhere to be seen. That said, the ride was a good one and the country side beautiful.

At about mile forty, had a SAG stop and waited for everyone to catch up. We crossed a bridge (pretty steep grade) and once again assembled with our sag wagon and then crossed over the four mile Morganza spillway. This roadway has fast traffic and absolutely no shoulder and a guard wall to boot. The SAG followed all 12 or so of us that were together across...we went in two lines and one of the women had mentioned an old song...."the ants come marching...." and that was ALL I could think of as we crossed...that and how funny it was to watch the different ways people ride.

After we crossed the spillway we headed onto wonderful country roads. We zipped along, heading to
Not your Mama's Cafe....and since I was getting hungry (when am I not hungry???_) I was wanting to move quickly. I did enjoy the cypress trees and the boggy areas and the many farms. About five or six miles before we got to the Cafe, we had a DOWNPOUR!!!! Not a gentle rain, a pelting, drenching one. The good news is, I love rain, when it is warm, and it was warm and lovely. This was my first time riding in the rain. It was a good first time. The ride was nice, and there was almost no traffic and after a few miles the rain stopped. Of course the countryside after a rain, has a very special scent and feel and this too I love. Riding in it was great!

So after trying out my brakes enjoying my first rain ride I finally got to the Cafe, which is just over some railroad tracks. This little cafe is located at a gas station. The food was GREAT and the decor very fun. I had a crawfish Po boy....Yummy!

After leaving we had about 15 miles until we reached the ferry to cross the Mississippi. This was a flat and quick portion of the ride. We also saw some huge old live oaks that were just incredible.

The ferry ride was quick and before you know it we had crossed the Mississippi an were in St Francisville. On the ferry a woman came over and introduced hersef...Georgia, who had just completed a woman tours in the LA region. She was warm and friendly and knew a number of the women on our tour, who she had previously toured with.

St Francisville is an old town on the Mississippi, that is worth a visit. It has many historic homes, and a great church graveyard. We rode through and headed north of town to the Butler Greenwood bed an breakfast. This B&B is set back off the road with a broad allee of live oaks leading up to the main house. This home dates from the 1790's and the same family has lived in it since it was built. The outbuildings, which were much more recently built for the most part are the B&B. Most had a couple of bedrooms and kitchen facilities. It was just a perfect place to stay and if any of you readers are in this area STAY HERE.....It is actually well worth a trip here for a quiet visit.

After settling in and cleaning my bike, we had a good dinner of chicken curry and rice and broccoli.

Miles 88

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 38 Storms and Such


It seems that Sundays are a day for tough rides and bad weather. Not that I am superstitious, it is just that this is the third Sunday that was less than ideal. We knew that a big front was coming into Louisiana today, with predictions of storms, and wind and even possibility of tornadoes this afternoon.

Now, I am ALL about safety and with my experience on a bicycle being just about all fair weather until this trip, I had my concerns about heading out into weather that could be dicey. The others reasoned with me, though and convinced me that at least starting out was the way to go. So I left with a couple others, and we ate a quick breakfast bar (not the Easter Buffett of biscuits ad gravy offered by the hotel) and headed quickly out of town. We learned within the first ten miles that folks here don't fence their dogs...and some of them seem to have a preference for pit bulls....sometimes a firm STAY seems to work....and my how adrenaline can get you moving. Dogs know there territories and at least those are limited. I am even finding that I LOVE fences and even chain...poor pooches....I don't really like to see them chained, but I really DON'T like them chasing me.

The wind quickly picked up and we were headed into it or had a cross wind. For whatever reason, my legs were leaden today and of all days. I had a hard time staying up with Marci and Sherry, with whom I was riding. We tried putting me in the middle of our little pace line, and even a modified echelon, but I kept falling behind. Part of the problem may have been that I was a little dehydrated. Who knows. After the first SAG, we had a little rain, and heard some thunder. We continued on....not much else to do.

The van came by and stopped to ask if we wanted a ride...basically this was the only chance we would have for a couple of hours. I took that offer. I was holding the others back and was just feeling like I was repeating my 100 mile day with the winds...no fun and in todays case, I was worried about the weather being unsafe....and I was also thinking that I wanted to not be overly fatigued for tomorrows ride, which is supposed to be a nice one and with much better weather.

To be honest, I had mixed feelings....but once in the van, realized, I was just very fatigued. I had spent three hours on the bike and gone almost forty miles...still not too bad.

When we got in, we were hoping to find Crawfish. Did you know that Louisiana has the largest numbers of acres devoted to crawfish farming in the country? These little creatures are wonderful delicacies....and I am patiently waiting to sit down and it a big bowlful. Today as you all know is Easter, and most all restaurants were closed. So no Crawfish today. We did fine a Cajun restaurant with a buffet and that was pretty good....so we were all quite content after that meal.

The winds and weather got worse and our leader Carol, retrieved most of the riders. Only three completed todays ride. Two were the women I was riding with....Yeah Sherry and Marci and the other was the other Lois! Amazing!!!

This evening I did get to church with Mary Jo and Sherry. It was a lovely service with great music...It was a nice end to the day and special to get Easter in church, which I had thought would not happen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 37 Out of Texas and into Louisiana


We left Texas today after over two weeks of enjoying this state of so many different regions. It was fun and I will want to visit again. In fact I have a list of places I think my family would enjoy.

The terrain today was much like yesterday for the first thirty miles. It is flat, and roads are straight. We saw many small run down homes where it felt desolate and depressing. Then had miles of pine trees that serve as a huge hedge at the side of the road. After forty miles we left Texas crossed a bridge into Louisiana.

The roads immediately changed. They were rougher, and had not been resurfaced. The shoulder was littered with gravel and glass. There were numerous small bridges that had no shoulder. Swampy areas were under these bridges. We turned off the busier street and into a back country road. These area were at first also somewhat desolate. There were areas where the pine trees had been clear cut leaving barren areas. These sights gave way to fields and cows and farms and then this lead to suburbs with homes on acreage and then into town. We had two larger bridges to cross. One was a draw bridge and the other was about a mile long, perhaps a little longer. Once into town, the ride as it often is, was one the took us past fast food, strip malls and finally to our hotel. We are very close to I 10..which we have followed almost since the beginning....sometimes closer, sometimes further away.

Our Mileage today was 77 miles and we completed it in about five and a half hours of saddle time.

PS the picture is me leaving Texas...there was no Welcome to Louisiana sign...so there you have it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 36-the flatlands and Silsbee


This morning we had a later start, not everyone, just Marci and me. Ralph and Michael said their goodbyes...three more weeks until we see them again. We headed out into the humid east Texas flat terrain. This terrain is flat, with pines and fewer wildflowers. The scenery isn't as picuresque as in the hill country, but I still like it. It is reminiscent of the coastal areas of Virginia and North Carolina for me. There are still tall pines with oaks intermingled. We saw some areas where the trees were completely uprooted, I assumed from bad storms, perhaps hurricane Ike. The roads are not only flat, but fairly straight. Our route was not heavily trafficked and that made the narrow shoulder more comfortable. We had a little tailwind and smooth road surface.

The most interesting thing I learned is where the crawfish live...there are little mounds of dirt along the road...and we heard that these are the homes of crawfish....one of my very favorite foods!! The picture of the day is one of these crawfish homes

That was our ride. We stopped in Kountz at a recommended restaurant....Mama Jack's where they had a buffett....Crawfish Etoufee, fried okra, fried shrimp, hush puppies and dirty rice were among the choices....mmmm mmmm good....the dessert of peach cobbler, apple crunch and banana pudding were also all good...ok...I had small portions of each but I did try each:) I may be too full to eat my dinner!!!!

Our dinner was great Pad Thai that Susan requested for her birthday. Happy birthday Susan, and a year filled with good health, joy, success and adventure!

Mileage 64
On to LA tomorrow

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 35-a surprise visit

Well, my day started out with a quick departure, in order to get to our destination of Cleveland,TX in time to meet up with the President of the Texas PVA, David Fowler as well as several others associated with PVA. My fallback plan, in case I couldn't pedal fast enough was thought out with our leaders: they would pick me up as they passed, around mile fifty or so. That position fell through, with van that was needing more repairs than they had expected. So off we went....
pedaling along the route. At mile four one of the other women had had an accident and her bike was needing to get to a bike shop for repair. We stayed until Marci's friend, who was visiting her, came to the rescue. Then onward, with only quick stops for water and snacks.

The day was overcast, and stayed comfortable. We had a few sprinkles of rain. The route was through the Sam Houston National Park. There are now lots and lots of pine trees and there is a new wild flower that looks like a red bottle brush.....Just lovely.

When I got in the folks from PVA were waiting. What wonderful encouragement for me. They shared their time, and stories with me. David and Evo told me how the Veteran games were turning points for them and it gave me goosebumps to think of the opportunity we have to help newly injured men and women to get to the games...a place where they can see wwhat they can do and to meet others with similar injuries and disabilities, that are able to encourage them. My hope is that others will visit the PVA web-site at PVA.org/lois and there read more about PVA and what their contribution will do.

After my new friends left, I got my shower, and then there came a knock on my door....I opened it and could NOT BELIEVE MY EYES. There stood my dear husband Ralph. He had flown down to visit, arranged for friends to take care of our boys, and he had not slipped with a word of it!! What a fantastic surprise.

Mileage 72.
No pics...my photo card had some problems...more will come tomorrow

Day 34 a day with friends

One of the great things about this trip is that you are thrown together with 20 other tour participants and the two staff members. I have gotten to ride with quite a few of the women and as you ride, you start to find folks with a similar speed and more importantly with similar style. By that I mean people who like to ride fast with few stops, or those who like to smell the roses or some, like me who like a little of both. One of the other women, Marci and I have ridden many of the days together and of course have been getting to know each other. Yesterday, she had family visiting and she invited me to join them all...They were so hospitable and kind...you felt as if you had known them for years.
Here is to new friends and their families!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

day 33 country side!!


Well Washington county is where we spent a good bit of time and we had heard that it was wonderful, and it lived up to the expectations. It was a wonderful ride. We almost immediately headed off to country roads. We went through the town of Round Top (population 77). It had some old buildings and beautiful farms very picturesque. From there we continued into the countryside with blue bonnets, Indian paint brushes as well as evening primroses EVERYWHERE!!! The farms, with white or wood fences are home to cattle and horses. This is my type of place. I just kept wishing that the day would go on forever and that I could ride and ride those roads. It was a day to amble, in a cycling sense.

We went through a little town of Independence, where there were old stone buildings and then on and on in countryside.

Coming into the town of Navasota had to be a bit of a let down after a day like that, so the route prepared us, by taking us back onto a more travelled road, with NO shoulder on the little bridges...it is the type of riding that gets you from one place to another, not something to savor, and from there we found Navasota, and then our hotel.

Yummy dinner, as always, and a rest day to come...Yeah!
Mileage..64 ish

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 32-Bluebonnets at last


Today was a ride to La Grange...home of Weikel Bakery, where kolaches are made and noted by Gourmet Magazine. It is also the first day where we have seen the Bluebells en masse along the highways. How great could this all be? For those of you who may be wondering about Kolaches, they are like a pastry, with a very tender soft dough and the filling on top. This is not exactly what you get in the Kolache Factory stores, they are better. I got one with poppy seed and one with peach, and was wishing I could try each flavor! They were great!!! They also had pigs in a blanket, where a sausage was baked into the kolache dough.

So you are probably thinking....enough with food....is this a food trip??? Well, perhaps it is!!! I am certainly trying the local foods and eating as much as I can hold!!!

Today I am focused on the food and the flowers, because I woke up with a tummy-ache and the consequences of a virus....so riding was not for me today. I was SO disappointed, since we quite a build up to a fun ride in a park and after all the traffic of yesterday, I was excited that I would be in a park and then off on country roads. Well, contentment is a skill to practice and so I found wonderful things to be content with. I had time to read and finish a book this morning, I spent time with Linda our chef, who drove the van, and then our new leader, Carol Wilder...a fascinating woman...more on that in another blog....and then just getting to rest and recuperate, get laundry done and see the little town of La Grange, and mail off a package of stuff home. Finally, the wind was blowing and I missed that...of course it happened to be primarily a tail wind!!!! Oh well....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

day 31 off to Bastrop


A ninety mile ride still puts butterflies into my stomach. Maybe it won't always do that, or maybe when it is an unknown ride it will. The area out of Blanco was more of the country roads we had had yesterday. We started out at dawn and as we headed east there was already a good breeze that came as a tailwind or a crosswind. As we rode we could see hills in up ahead of us. On the left were telephone poles with shimmering silvery wires measuring out the road on our left. The colors of the early morning are soft and muted and hills are flattened by the angled light. The birds sang joyfully and seeing riders cued up in front.

As usual we rode through little towns. Wimberley (most of the shops were closed) Kyle...where we saw a crazed driver of a pick up with a flat bed and an old RV thrown on top looking like it could topple off on anybody or anything it passed, and the Lockhart. Lockhart was by far my favorite of the towns. It looked like a town that had started in the late 1800's or early 1900's with a beautiful large old government center in the center of town and old brick building surrounding the town square. Coming into town were large homes that were probably built for the successful town fathers as well as quaint and homey cottages and bungalows. One of these, as we headed out of town had a front yard that was literally filled with flowers: poppies, salvia, with lots of others thrown in.

We headed out of town and found our way to a DQ (all the little shops were closed on Sundays)...so it was a chicken sandwich with Jalitos (fried jalapenos)...not bad!

The last thirty miles were just miles to get through. The road was narrow with no shoulder and too much traffic for my taste....but get through them we did...

Dinner was BBQ with coleslaw fresh fruit salad....yummy!!!

Mileage:89.2 3 miles less than what our cue sheet said and that was a good thing.

Day 30 in the country


What a fanstastic day....it may have just become my favorite to date! We headed out of Kerrville with overcast skies and on a loop around the city..nothing to interesting there. The good thing is that it took us out of the city quickly and we were soon riding on counrtry roads with very little traffic, and criss crossing over the Guadaloupe River. There were tree lined roads with ranches on either side. Livestock grazing in bucolic landscapes.

The river was beautiful as well. The trees lining it had roots that intertwined. The waters were clear. The road dipped down as we approached the crossing. Since there has been so little rain in months, we could cross and then pop up the other side.

As we wound our way through these roads, we had birds chirping and singing...and scents of spring...the warm earth, new growth on trees, with some hints of last fall's leaves still in the air occasionally. The sun was warm and everything was just delicious.

The little towns we went through were quaint: Comfort (great name isn't it?) had older cottages, Waring, and then Sisterdale with a little cafe and a winery, complete with painters out front. Next to the winery were two burros, very friendly looking for food and a little pat or two.

The last twenty or so miles were all farmland. We saw goats, sheep, cattle, (some great big longhorns and longhorn calves), horses and even a farm devoted to rescuing animals....A couple of kids were on the road riding horses....

As we came into town we were famished. The first restaurant we saw we stopped at...I got the cowboy burger....a big ole burger with cheese, bacon and lots on BBQ sauce on it...I think I will make these when I get home.

Mileage:64 warm and wonderful miles.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 29-Kerrville

Rest days....I like them a lot. After a rest day, the freshness of getting out on my bicycle is back and I am ready to roll. This morning, I went to church with two of the other women. On the way back we got breakfast in the Hill Country Cafe a great little cafe in the old part of town . As we walked back we saw a bookstore. Yeah! It is just fun to wander around. I got a book for the group, "The Glass Castle".

Our three mile walk back was so nice. It was cool and pleasant. Having a different movement was great!

The remainder of the day was just very relaxed with not too much to report. I feel rested and ready for the next days.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 28 Heffalumps and woozles


Today, for me started out at 5:13 AM, when I awoke to the wind making our doors rattle. I closed my window, which had let in fresh Texas night air as well as the sound of coyotes howling in the distance. My cabin mates, must also have closed theirs about that time, because the rattling subsided and I fell back to dreams, not too unlike those of Pooh Bear.

An hour later I awoke and the day got started. Peggy, had gotten tea started, and we all dressed, got our stuff pulled back together, applied our sunscreen, took our luggage out to the trailer, and then our bicycles out near the house, where we went into it's warmth and the smells of coffee and breakfast. I don't think i will ever tire of the oatmeal that Linda makes. It is rich and delicious, and with scrambled eggs and today leftover roasted veggies from last night it made for a full stomach (kind of like Winnie the Pooh when he ate honey at Rabbit's....I however was able to fit through the door).

The wind was gusty as we headed out, but at our backs and it all in all didn't seem too bad. The roads were empty, the day was still just starting and the sun was angled and casting shadows. It was cool and beautiful. We soon had to turn and the wind became a little more of a crosswind, as we made our way down a country road. Our first hill was steep, but the wind was at our back and it felt as if there was a strong hand scooting us up, all we needed were sails and we would not have needed to pedal at all! We got to the top and had some downhill and then the wind became capricious....once again a blustery day....Unbekownst to me, the wind this day would be strong enough to close down San Antonio Airport....reported gusts to sixty miles per hour. I, at the top of the hill just knew that gust would come from one side and then suddenly the other, shoving me here and there, making me thankful, that this road had almost no traffic on it. I was telling myself that this would be a day to practice how to ride with strong wind. As we came around a bend, I saw two bicycles about fifteen feet over on grass, with the two women who belonged to those bicycles in the grass beside them. Several of us were riding together and so we stopped....the wind had taken one, Peggy and blown her off the road, but she hadn't fallen, and then the other, Elizabeth who had travelled to where the bikes were with the gust of wind and it had toppled her onto some rocks, bruising and scraping here. Aside from those injuries, she was OK, but it gave me pause and I decided that such wind, was a little too challenging for my skills and I waited with her for the SAG. We got a ride with the SAG,and headed down toward Medina. En route, another woman, Lois S had a flat, so we stopped to help. While there, we got a call from yet another woman who was behind us, that someone had alerted her that one of our cyclists was down...so we headed back up the hill.

Two other women had been blown off the road onto what little shoulder there was. One remained upright and the other was blown over and she had a concussion....this was a a brutal wind.
I was glad that I was in the SAG. We got eventually got this woman to the hospital in Kerrville, so that she could get completely checked out...better safe than sorry....my motto of the day.

The afternoon was just nice, getting settled into our layover hotel, the YO Ranch Resort Hotel. It has an interesting lobby....lot's of animals....those who have visited the taxidermist....I will have to take some pictures....it is remarkable. The chandeliers are made from branding irons....hey we are in Texas!

Mileage not really sure how much I did....but it should have been 51 I think today I will just count that....they weren't all on the bike, but riding in that wind must count for something!!!

Day 27 Vanderpool


Well, for any of you who are wondering, the hill country of Texas is beautiful. We were on country roads all day with minimal traffic and lots of.....you guessed it.....hills. There was still chip seal pavement, but some of our group has decided that we can grade it...A is quite smooth....F is...not....most of our day was on A or B...with a few short distances on the F....

That said, we had some big hills we climbed.....about a mile or so with a 6-10% grade. As is usually the case with hills, when you get to the top you have great views of the surrounding countryside...The vegetation has changed so drastically and there are deciduous trees, that are that wonderful bright green of new leaves and the evergreens, that are a dark green, that is the perfect backdrop for the spring green.

Vanderpool, is a very small town, and there are plenty of ranches en route. We saw our first dead armadillo....it had been dead a while...an area with a lot of dead deer (road kill), some road kill turkey vultures...oh dear...I am just giving you all the dead stuff....let's see...cattle with their calves, sheep with their lambs, horses with their foals....it is spring after all.

We saw an unusual sign for hog traps....and one of the women mentioned this where she had stopped for a snack in Leakey....and a fella' said that he and his brother had trapped 150-200 wild pigs last year. They are a problem for the cattle ranchers and will attach cattle...one of the women, who is from Hawaii said they needed to get some luau's going:) apparently the trapped animals are used as dog feed....

Well, enough about the human interest for the area. We got to our cabins in Vanderpool....a small campsite with seven or eight cabins. These were very nice and a different setting from a hotel, was relaxing and fun. Dinner was inside at the house on site, and was pot roast...got me to wondering if Peter had made a pot roast...I had shown him before I left....I will have to ask.

Mileage: around 39 green and lovely miles.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

day26- a ride in the van to Camp Wood

Today, I made a tough decision, I rode in the van. This was precipitated by a lot of chafing from the road, and a desired to have a couple of pleasant days before our rest day in Kerrville. I reminded myself that before I started, I had decided that if I rode, it would be for roads I thought were unsafe or if there were some other good reason.....past experience on this trip gave me the good reason.

So I saw the trip from the van, got to go with out guide to Wal-mart for a few odds and ends and am finding that I am hour by hour more and more comfortable and ready to ride the hills to Vanderpool tomorrow. Not much else to write. Camp Wood is a nice. There is a great little quilt shop and the folks are very friendly. Our motel is spotless.

Mileage today....need to check the an odometer...so we won't count it...

Day 25-a little schlep to Brackettville


I slept well, and awoke groggy and sore, and wondering just why I am doing this trip. Oh...I have wanted to do this since high school. Yes, it is worth it and yes it is SO WORTH IT. Because of the long day yesterday, this day is a short one, just forty two miles. We had a relatively late start and headed from Del Rio to Brackettville. The first ten or so miles were in town...civilizatiton...well at least a Wal-mart and fast food. Hmmm...nothing against civilization, but I am really enjoying the small towns and being off the beaten path. Before starting this trip, I had expected most of our miles to be country roads, and many are, but some where there is so little in the west, have to be the major roads.

After leaving Del Rio, we followed ninety into Brackettville. The road surface was the only difficult thing, and quit frankly it was taking its toll on me with chafing, in spite of lots of special concoctions one can buy to prevent this.

En route we had moved from the arrid hills with scrub plants with a greener area with trees just leafing out. It is good to see the verdant vegetation again, although I have really enjoyed the desert with its subtle and sometimes vibrant beauty.

We stayed in Fort Clark Springs, which was a fort that was founded prior to the civil war. It was subsequently a garrison for Confederate troops. Most of the barracks were constructed in the early 1870's and could house over 20 officers and men. The building are of stone and the site is very picturesque. It was actively used through WWII. It served as the home for the 5th Cavalry Regiment from 1920 to 1941. Colonel George S Ptton, Jr served there in 1938 as the regimental commander. It was inactivated in 1946. It was a great opportunity to get to stay in a place so full of history.

Our dinner was a a chicken enchilada pie with rice and beans and a huge salad. Once again, Yummy!

day 24-The longest day


Everyone was up early, and was nervous about our 111 mile day. Many of us had never done a century and this was 11 miles more than that!!!! We got going at the crack of dawn, and headed down Route 90. The first twenty miles were wonderful. The birds were singing and the wind was mild. The sun came up and the world was perfect. We made great time. After the first SAG stop, the wind began to pick up. It pressed against us, but was still tolerable, but the ride was getting harder. We had another SAG stop at mile forty, and then had a lunch stop, where Linda, our chef would be waiting with good nutritious and filling food for us. Those next twenty miles consisted of the same rolling hills we had had the first forty miles, but the wind continued to pick up. It was now shoving us back, slowing us down. The road was cut through some of the hills and there was a swirling and whirling around us. As we moved onto the open road, we got a cross gust from the east an the the west.

The road surface of the shoulder was rough chip seal. The traffic was usually considerate, but occasionally heedless, and so most of us stayed on the shoulder. As we moved forward the wind whistled and howled so that communication was impossible, and you couldn't even hear trucks from behind. Of course being on the shoulder, which was very wide, kept us safe. I ended up singing songs to myself to keep my cadence and spirits up. In spite of the wind, I liked the scenery, when I braved looking around. I finally came to lunch. The food was great, but the thought of 51 more miles into the wind was intimidating. Now, you may ask just how strong the wind was, and I can only guess. One of the women, who routinely rides in twenty mph winds was estimating that it was thirty with stronger gusts. I can tell you that on the downhills we had, you had to continue to pedal hard to keep moving. Uphill, in the lee ofthe wind was actually almost easier. The next eighty miles went by, pedal stroke, by pedal stroke. It seemed endless. Hands vibrating, howling wind, feet vibrating, seat jostling in the road surface. Hill after hill, climbing pedaling down to keep going, then up again, cross winds pushing you one way then the other and toward the road.

After eighty the SAG was there every five miles. A lot of the women called it quits at sixty, and believe me they had already had a very, very hard ride. I was with a group determined to complete the ride, but my personal goal was to get to a century...my first.

We kept going those last twenty miles. I realized, that in spite of drinking lots and lots of water (well over eighty ounces) plus a waterbottle of gatorade, I was very dry. I was unbelievably tired.

Finally, I hit the hundred mile point. I cheered the others on and collapsed into the SAG wagon, exhausted. My first century at half a century old, was a tough one. Later at dinner, several seasoned cyclist told me that that would be the hardest century I would ever do....and it was more like one and a half or two centuries. I don't know about that, but it was an accomplishment that I am proud of. I wish I had had the fortitude to continue...I was SO proud of those who did all 111 miles. Six of the twenty one women made that distance.

Mileage:100 miles.

day 23 quick trip to Sanderson

I have not had internet connections, and so today Tues, March 31, I will be trying to catch up for the last few days. Saturday we left the spa-like Gage hotel and headed to Sanderson. Our mileage was 54 miles, with the wind at out back. Needless to say, this makes for fun easy rides...it felt like a quick ride around the block. Sanderson, Texas is a small town. We found the cafe just down the road from our motel. I share a BBQ plate with Carol...not bad for a tiny little town. We headed back to the motel, which was simple and clean. Dinner was great! We were all a little nervous about about the next day....the 111 mile one. Our day was really more like a rest day, which was good, considering what was to come.

Miles:54

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 22 into Marathon


Today started very cold, with predictions of high winds. So, lacking experience in these things I ate my breakfast and was off, with four layers on top and tights over my shorts as my lobster claw gloves. Y'all must be tired of hearing this, but riding out was beautiful...and cold. We rode through Fort Davis, and a few miles out of town I glanced to my right and saw a small herd of Pronghorn antelope. There were just standing there looking at me as if they were wanting me to take a picture...so I did.

The ride had a lot of great Texas scenery and even more wind. Our sort of tail wind, became a cross wind when we turned east on Rte 90. We had a pit stop at a gas station and were talking with a state trooper. He said that he had been in El Paso and had seen us on the highway a couple of days ago. He was pretty pleased when we told him that Texas highways were the leanest thus far.

The thirty one miles into Marathon were uneventful. I learned that using a high gear and a moderate pace with a cross wind is easier than going slowly and being in a low gear. I also learned that plodding on when you are hungry does get you there faster.

When Marci and I arrived we checked in at the Gage Hotel. This hotel is worth a visit if you are anywhere nearby. My friend Penny Angelo got in from Midland shortly after we arrived, and we went to a shop next door and got burgers. All the tables were filled, so our server, suggested we sit with a little lady who was alone at a table, Julie. Julie is a regular and knows everyone there. She was more than happy to accommadate us and we had a very good burger (with Jalapeno's) and lots of iced tea.

My afternoon was relaxing, and dinner was perfect pea soup with salad and corn bread, to warm us on a cold evening. We even got to eat inside a little house...just perfect!!!!

Day 21 Indian Lodge the Observatory and Ft Davis


Well, welcome to beautiful west Texas. It really is a great place. The folks are friendly, Ft Davis is a great little town, with a couple of fun shops, and a really nice library. I went down in the morning and wandered around. I went to the library to look up some ideas for words of the day...I got several fun ones.

After getting back to the lodge, I cleaned my bike and then got ready to go to the observatory.

The observatory has a nice cafe (had to include food right?), and the tour was interesting as well...Since I was so tired last night, I really couldn't even tilt my head back to look at the stars. Tonight however, I spent more time gazing up and revelling in the night sky. It was a great rest day.
Mileage: 0:)

Day 20 Long and Hard to Ft Davis


Well, my title may make this day sound bad, but really it had some fantastic parts. Our first forty miles were along the interstate 10. The good part of this, is that there really isn't much traffic, and the scenery is fine and the shoulder is wide and smooth. Enough said.

After those forty with good tail wind, we headed down route 117 toward Fort Davis. Now it is a funny thing, after clipping along on good pavement with a tailwind, you start to think that you are very capable of maintaining a 20+mph pace. We turned, and saw the mileage to Ft Davis as 51 miles and I thought, OK...I am feeling good, this should be fine. Suddenly the tail wind turned into a cross wind, we started uphill and the pavement became that good ole chip seal....After and in terminal three miles we saw our van and trailer which meant lunch (we have lunch provided when there is NOWHERE to get food). As always the food was great with sandwiches, bean salad, cookies. The problem was that we had to get back on our bikes, and start back on the pavement with the wind and hills.....for twenty more miles...twenty long, slow arduous miles...these define SLOGGING. We had another SAG stop and I really thought about just climbing into the van and getting a ride, but I didn't and therefore got to climb for 15 miles. Now I have to admit that the wind died down, the pavement improved, and the views were great...but climbing after sixty miles, the last twenty or so which were very tough, was not easy. Some of the inclines were very steep, at least ten percent. Toward the end of the climb, I heard something clatter and realized it was my odometer....I retrieved it, but no luck...the bracket it sits on was destroyed...so for here on until the next bike shop, I will rely on others for mileage. I can tell you that once we got through that portion, we only had twelve and a half more miles and they were mostly downhill....mostly. Actually at the transition to mostly downhill, was McDonald Observatory...now that was cool. It actually sits about two miles off route 117. The downhill was good, and the few rolling uphills were tough, mostly mentally for me. The good news is that the Indian Lodge at Davis Mountain Park was a perfect place. The rooms are large and nicely decorated with plenty of gathering areas. Our dinner was a buffet and everyone was so exhausted and hungry we just sat and shovelled food in as fast as we could.
Mileage 90 miles

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 19 Interstate 10


Some days there are just not too many ways to get where you need to go. Today was one of those days. We needed to get 74 miles down the road and much of that was....along an interstate...interstate 10, but thankfully we did have some of our route on country roads with no traffic and bucolic settings.

Yesterday the wind was so strong that our chef decided that it would be safer not to chance making breakfast in her kitchen, and so arranged for us to get our breakfast across the street at the little restaurant, Angie's.

We got up early and headed over and had pancakes, eggs and sausage and plenty of coffee. we all got on the road quickly and headed back on the street we had come into town on and then out to the countryside. Along the way we had some dogs (thankfully friendly ones) come out barking. I hopped off and those well behaved guys headed back to their homes when I told them to!!!! Wish my dog would do that.

We had the early morning sun, mountains to our left, fields around us and the joy of such a setting was great. As we went along we came along a field with cattle and calves, some horses that were up by the cattle guard, and just looked at us as if to say...we want to RUN with you!

After such a great start getting to the highway was OK. We went a short time on the shoulder and then had a frontage road. This road was chip seal pavement and, from my viewpoint, miserable to ride on. A couple of us got back on the highway and went another 20 miles down the road where we exited into the small town of Sierra Blanca.

This little town was pretty desolate, almost a ghost town. The SAG caught up with us here and we made a very quick stop and went on down the road...again a frontage road that was chip seal and not quite so rough. This time it was twenty one miles and then back onto the interstate for ten miles. It went fast and then we were off and riding into the hotel.

I had gotten a tip from a patient that Chuy's was a good Mexican place to go. We had not had much for lunch (a P B and J sandwich ) and so after cleaning up a bit, we walked a couple of blocks and had burritos with lots of iced tea...AHHHH

Mileage: 74 miles
Tomorrow we head to Ft Davis. We will be in a state park, but will not have internet access...so til Friday!

Day 18 a rolling rest day


Forty-seven miles would have seemed SO long for a ride just a few short weeks ago. Now it is a 'rolling rest day" as someone put it. We had a great ride out of El Paso and into the rural west Texas country. En route we stopped at a Mission, San Elizario. It was such simple and beautiful architecture. The white of the adobe against the blue of the morning sky was a great contrast and the time spent there was very relaxing.

From there we went several miles down road, and stopped at a little family owned restaurant. The owner knew that we were all coming and she had let her granddaughter stay home from school, to he!!!

Thereafter we headed out and found our way to Fort Hancock and our hotel. Fort Hancock is a small town along Route 10. We had a decent hotel, and lots and lots of great pasta for dinner.

Mileage 48 and lots of fun!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 17

Off to El Paso! We were incredibly fortunate today and had a beautiful ride. The weather was once again perfect. We got off early, and I was wanting to move as quickly as possible. I had two reasons. One was that Michelle our leader had let us know that traffic in El Paso, could be significant, in particular in the neighborhood of a mall. The other was that after the long hours on the bike yesterday, I was a little sore, and so wanted to minimize time in the saddle. I rode with two other women who were similarly motivated. We got off just after seven AM, and headed by the old section of Las Cruces. We were quickly out of town and riding through groves of pecans. The trees have not leafed out, and they are in perfect rows making for a lovely park like setting. We went through miles and miles of these groves, and with that and a perfect sunrise at out beginning, it was a peaceful Sunday morning.

After twenty miles or so we got into some horse country, with a polo field on one side, and farms with thoroughbreds left and right. We passed one farm, where a horse in his pen trotted up when cyclists came in the opposite direction. He moved away from the road and then as we drew close again trotted up, as if to say, "I want to run with your herd!". All these horses were clean and well groomed. The homes in this area were large. The architecture was all southwestern.

We slowly headed into the city with suburbs and then a horse track. There again were a lot of horses and these were being exercised. They were all so beautiful...Can you tell that horses are one of my favorite animals? Coming into town, we were early enough to miss the mall traffic (yeah). Around the mall, there were some hills, and soon we came into the old town of El Paso.

From here we had the last miles of our trip on a highway and so we stayed carefully in the shoulder. The most we had to deal with was a few rough spots and some junk, but all in all with a strong tailwind, we cruised along.

We were on a roll, and so didn't stop for lunch. We got in, took care of getting laundry done, as well as bike maintainence, and then went to a Mexican restaurant next to the hotel. It was packed with Latinos and we thought we had probably made a great choice. It was!

The day was really so beautiful. The thing that I loved the most (besides the horses) was all the pecan trees...

Mileage today 66.13 almost all flat and fun.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 16 Down the road to Las Cruces

The Day began with a great breakfast at the Lodge. I got off a little delayed, because, I realized right before I was ready to leave, that I had put my gloves and glasses in a bag I had put in the trailer, and that there were about 40 other bags on top. Thankfully, the woman I have been riding with, Marci, lent me extras of both, and so we were finally off...the last ones to leave.

We headed out from Kingston...it was a third of a mile, and then headed for more descent. So much of what we have seen is so beautiful, but this morning would be right up there with the most beautiful. Mountains were around us, and there were huge hills as well. The rising sun made everything sparkle. We had 9 miles of downhill and then a little three mile climb (I cannot believe, I am calling a three mile climb little)...and then back down again. We came down to a lake formed by damming the Rio Grande River and then followed the river the rest of the way. We had a quick SAG stop at mil 26 and then were back in the saddle for another 26 miles to Hatch. Along the way we say several chili farms, dairy farms and plenty of horses. There were Appaloosas (favorites of mine when I was young). In Hatch, we ate at the Pepper Pot, and had some great Mexican food. From there I thought it would be no problem to get the last 36 miles done, and the first eight or nine were quick, with a tailwind. The wind was quixotic and soon became a strong head wind, which we plowed into with great fortitude. We had a stop at Radium Springs (yep...you can look that one up on the map) and from there into Las Cruces. About mile from the hotel, was a frozen custard shop where we stopped. Caliches has great frozen custard AND limeade that was very refreshing. I really didn't want to get back into the saddle (sorry to disappoint any of you who are thinking I could sit in the saddle around the clock), but the last mile had to be done and so it was.

I went to Mass this evening with one of the other women at the Basilica of San Albino. The church was beautiful, and the congregants very friendly. The Basilica is located in the original portion of Las Cruces, which dates to the 1500's. We didn't get to walk around, because dinner was being served at 6:30. We had Shepherd pie, with salad and cottage cheese with fruit. Yummy!

Mileage today 88 miles. Total miles 881...Can you believe that?????

The high point

Today we hit our highest elevation. We left Silver City and 7 miles out of town, headed for Emory Pass. From there we were to go down to Kingston. The first miles were hilly with lights and some light traffic. As we turned off to head into the mountains, we had a long steady gently climb. It didn't really feel too gentle, but we knew it was. We had great views and at the first SAG saw the "Kneeling Nun" a rock formation that resembled a kneeling nun, if you REALLY used your imagination. We continued on and after mile 22 had some real climbs and some screaming descents. The first of these was perfect, mostly straight with a wide road, so you could spot oncoming traffic. These are SUCH fun to take. At the bottom was a beautiful valley with some farms, a stream running through it. It was so peaceful, Once again we climbed and climbed and then we had a descent with curves. These are also fun, but of course, if you know me, I take them with caution. As we were climbing it was great fun to see the vegetation change from the low lying plants, to some deciduous trees and finally to wonderful tall evergreens. As we took the last climb to the pass, it was filled with tall pines. The delicate pine scent was enveloping us. The rocky walls rose about us, and the climb took all my focus to do. At one switchback, the slope increased and I will admit to walking about 75 yards, but then was back on. This reminded me of some of the great hikes in Virginia that I did, but bigger. There were few cars, and the quiet was great.

When I was almost at the top, I heard our SAG driver calling out that I was almost there, and I could hardly believe it. We had climbed to 8828 feet. The total climbing for the day was a little over 5000 feet.

After putting on some warm clothes, we began the 8 mile descent. This I took pretty slowly, I was fatigued, more just as importantly, I wanted to stop a couple of times to enjoy the views, and they were indeed, fantastic.

At the 8 mile mark there was a little sign for Kingston and then for the Black Range Lodge. Kingston was a mining town in the past, but now is a very small town that is one street and has a population of 20. The lodge is at the end of the street, and the owners are interesting folk, who have built additional buildings with sustainable materials (straw bales that are covered with plaster). The main lodge had lots of rooms and beds upstairs, and most of us stayed there. The had a delicious turkey dinner for us and then in the morning had quite a spread.

Our total mileage for the day was 48, with 5000+ feet climbed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 14 Silver City


Silver City has a quaint old town area, with lots of galleries and some good restaurants. It is perfect for a rest day...although walking all over may not really be a rest day! I especially enjoyed a gallery of fiber art called Yello on Yankie where the artist Susan Dell Szajer had created some beautiful art with fabrics and stitches. There were also a couple of oils that I really liked. Allotta Gelato had delicious Gelato (Peach was scrumtuous). At Yada Yada Yarns, I picked up some wool and needles so I can start a scarf for my youngest who had asked me to make him one...I told him I would think of him with each stitch, he seemed to like that.

Before I headed into town, I did good cleaning and oiling of my bike, bike chain etc.

I am thinking that the rest stop could be two days, as every time I start to move, I find my legs heavy as lead...but tomorrow they will need to get going again and I am sure they will. We have been promised a really beautiful ride, if our weather is decent. It will be lots of climbing, so I am working to get my mind around that. Right now it is not the easiest thing for me.

Oh total mileage is 741 miles. I will be asking someone with a garmin what the total climb has been...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 13 The Continental Divide



Our first 14 miles were a slow climb out of Lourdsburg. It didn't feel too slow, it felt hard, but once again, it was a beautiful day and with that, one couldn't really complain. I think my body was just fatigued from eight consecutive days. As we headed out of Lourdsburg the land almost looked like what I would imagine an African savanna would be. There was rippling grasses that went for miles until the hit mountains in the distance.

As we came to about 15 miles the flora had again changed and there were trees...real trees. I have missed them! After that first SAG, we continued up with a few little downhills. It was an arduous day physically, but we had one beautiful view after another. At about mile 35 we had a few miles of downhill....fun, fun, fun. I thought we had finished with the uphills, but no there was one BIG climb. Now I have been using all the advice about climbing that I have gotten. One thing that works well for me is to look at the ground, because it always looks flat, and one stroke at the time, you ascend. So I got in a climbing gear, and slogged up once again. After that climb there was a nice downhill into town.

Silver City is a fun town. We turned off the road we had been on and into town. We found a great restaurant (Vicki's) and had a delicious lunch. It was very relaxed.

We then went to the hotel, and the job of getting our things in order. The laundry, cleaning the bike.

I am ready for a day off and the town will be very fun to explore tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 12 New Mexico here we come!


Today was so beautiful. We left our hotel in the cool of the morning. We had a steady, gentle climb. Now I have one word of warning to all reading this who might think of going on a trip like this or even going out for a nice afternoon ride for an hour or two....DO NOT MESS AROUND WITH YOUR SEAT...I thought I was being very wise yesterday and lowered my seat...just a tiny bit...Yikes...I had to stop twice in the first twenty miles to try to readjust and almost gave up on the ride, until I got to the SAG stop. There our tour leader, Michelle, offered to help and she readjusted the seat and I was able to ride the remaining 57 miles in relative comfort!!! So if you are thinking about it...don't do it...

So you might imagine how preoccupied I was the first twenty miles. I was, but not so much that when we were going out of town, I didn't see a dog...hackles up charging. It raced toward us (I was off my bike in an instant. It dodged through a little bit of traffic. Two young kids were trying to get it...I was worried it would bite them, in its frenzy, or that they might come out into the road. Nothing came of it, and the dog was retrieved, by an older girl. Thereafter, I was preoccupied with my discomfort, and barely took in my surroundings. The readjustment at the SAG saved my day!!! We traveled through a rolling plain with mountains off in the distance on either side. It was great. At about mile forty we stopped in Duncan for lunch at Old Jo's. I had Huevos Rancheros..I am still full, and they were GREAT!!! After that it was just 37 more miles to the hotel. Most of that ride was great. We saw a jackrabbit, which raced into the underbrush, we saw cattle with calves at a couple different points in the ride. All in all it was a great day and I just kept thinking just how lucky I am to be here doing this trip!

Monday, March 16, 2009

day 11 the ride to safford


Today was a beautiful ride from Globe,AZ to Safford. It was about 77 miles and started with hills...so up and down, and up and down...and up and down...We were on route 70 and it runs through a reservation. The towns on the reservation were small and seemed depressing to me. There was a lot of garbage on the sides of the road.
There were mountains to our north and south, and the one to the south had snow on its summit. As we went along we went by farmland with beautiful green crops. About 68 miles into the ride, we came to Pima. There we went to a locally run fast food Taylor Freeze. I had a Green Burro, which was a burrito with pulled beef and tomatillo sauce. It was delicious after such a long stretch. They also had ice cream. Next door was a quilting shop, so of course I went in. The owner had some pretty quilts, and was very friendly.
After our break it was another 10 miles to our hotel...and I was ready to get out of the saddle.

Stats:78.22 miles
Left the hotel at 7:35, arrived about 2:45 with 2 SAG stops, a number of picture stops, and the stop for lunch and the quilt shop...actual time in the saddle????

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 10 a ride to Globe


Today was a ride to globe. We got onto route 60 and had hoped that, since it was a Sunday morning traffic would be light. It was pretty busy, but OK at the start. We had some climbs and stopped in Superior, where we had lunch, the first 30 miles under our belt pretty easily.

We got the report that there was construction and I decided that the best thing would be to get a ride with the van through those areas. I was very glad I did. The construction allowed no shoulder and when we went through in the van there were quite a few very impatient folks around, and traffic was heavy. So my day and mileage was short, but safe. Views were spectacular, both when I was on the bike and from the van. No complaints...this is GREAT!!