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 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 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 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 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 before that happens, please go to and make your enough 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 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 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 is hard to make yourself stop when you know you hve a 90 mile 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' 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

At any rate, we rounded a corner and had a bridge to climb with the 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 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 off we pedaled this 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 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 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!!!

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 guessed it Crawfish Etoufee.....I think I might singlehandedly be able to wipe out the crawfish population! 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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) 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 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 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 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 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 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 had been dead a 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 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 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 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.