Day 33: Austin City Limits

 

 

March 29, 2016

Johnson City, TX to Austin, TX

Day: 48.8 miles; Total: 1,712.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,557′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8315338

 

This morning brought new weather for us, cool, foggy and even a bit drizzly. We pretty quickly got onto a narrow ranch road where construction was going on for about 9 miles. That seemed to discourage a lot of traffic so that was nice. After the first hour, the main road turned off and we passed the sign for Perdernales Falls State park and we were on a very quiet road in the park boundary.

We’d been passing rangeland and then it began to look more like we were in semi rural residential outskirts of Austin. The road was narrow and got busy as we passed housing developments and then subdivisions. Finally one turn put….

Oddly, our photos ignored the cursor and just appeared here, oh, well

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One of the rivers we crossed this morning 

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This is a Texas olive ranch. You can see the olive trees in the background.

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Another ranch sign, Texas style

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Here the road dropped down and in the distance you can see part of the climb up the other side.  It was kind of a whopper

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This very nice gentleman saw us looking confused at our maps and came out to give us some very helpful directional advice. He used to live in SF!

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At the bike shop 

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Earlier in the day, riding on the quiet park road

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This is part of the hilly terrain, very close to Austin 

…us on a residential road with some shoulder, which then evolved into some very extensive subdivisions with huge houses, golf courses and wide streets. All along, the hilly ridges rose and fell as we rode across them. Close to Austin itself, we did a pretty significant climb that we think is the last really big hill, at least in this area. Then it was a rolling ride mostly down on an actual bike route heading to the downtown.

The Colorado River runs through the downtown and we found a road with an actual bike lane that led to the area with our hotel. As we rode along, we began to get the flavor of the city, with numerous BBQ places, music venues and all sorts of food trucks  along the road.

After we got cleaned up, we took my bike to Mellow Johnies, Lance Armstrong ‘s bike shop ( which also has an espresso bar in it!), because I’d ordered replacement tires because my rear one was losing its tread. I think that one had been put on more than 4,000 miles ago and loaded touring is particularly hard on the rear tire. While the work was being done, I walked to do some more errands, including a visit to the original Whole Foods!

We’ re here til Friday the 1st, when we will head east out of Austin. Still a ways to reach the next state, Louisiana. See you in a few days!

 

 

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Day 32:Through the Wildflowers to LBJ’s Birthsplace

March 28, 2016

Fredericksburg, TX to Johnson City, TX

Day: 37.7 miles; Total: 1,663.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,167′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8305824

Another relatively moderate distance day because there aren’t too many lodging options, but the riding conditions were very nice. We got good coffee and breakfast at the Grace Christian Coffee House, in a nice old house near the start of today’s route.

We spent the bulk of the day riding on a series of ranch roads. The first hour’s riding included more traffic than we would have liked coming into town on the small road, but after that, the volume really lightened up and it was delightful riding. The Indian Paintbrush and the Texas Bluebonnets carpeted the sides of the road in places. We passed wooded rangeland, hay fields and saw longhorns, goats and sheep. In addition to the ranches, we could see very elegant looking residences set down long driveways and surrounded by fields of oak trees. Great scenery to be riding up and down through!  This is still the Hill Country so there are hills…

We got to Johnson City in the early afternoon and after getting settled, we walked into the town where LBJ grew up. His boyhood home and the acreage around it are a National Park and we go there in time to take the guided tour of the home. We also walked in the park area where his grandparents ‘ home still stands. LBJ apparently loved the Hill Country and returned here often to meet with his friends from his childhood. His ranch is further out of town and there are longhorn cattle there are descended from the ones he raised.

Tomorrow, we are riding to Austin. We will stay there a couple of days to get to see the sights, maybe hear some music and get to meet up with family. We plan to get back to seriously  heading east on April 1st.

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A nice spot for breakfast in Fredericksburg 

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Indian Paintbrush 

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Cattle in the trees 

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A longhorn ranch

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Bluebonnets 

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Hilly Hill Country 

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Typical ranch road sign

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Traveler looks at the LBJ home

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The grandparents ‘ cabin 

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The Pedernales River

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The boyhood home through the oaks 

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Longhorns in the park

 

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Day 31:A day at the War in the Pacific Museum

We spent most of today taking in at least part of this museum. Basically, if you are in the Austin area, we’d highly recommend seeing this place.

It explains the origins of the war in the Pacific in detail,  the sacrifices and service of that generation, the leadership of Fredericksburg’s  own Adm. Nimitz and above all it gives you an emotional  connection to the events. It is very well done!

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Time to meet the admiral outside the museum 

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A few of the many plaques in the Memorial Courtyard 

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Blue Star Mother memorabilia ( from mothers of children serving in the war)

Day 30:In Cycling Country

 

March 26, 2016

Ingram, TX to Fredericksburg, TX

Day: 36.9 miles; Total: 1,625.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,759′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8282493

 

We’ve been enjoying a few shorter days of riding to both get a chance to recoup bit and also to do a bit of tourism in this area. Today, we left Ingram and rode through the nearby larger town of Kerrville. As we turned into the rural hills, we realized that all the day riders we were seeing must have been part of an organized ride. Turns out, most of our route today was on very quiet country roads that were a part of an annual Kerrville Easter weekend ride.

We climbed a steep pitch up to a sort of rolling plateau of farms and we were joined by many cyclists and very few cars-how great! We rode along with several and chatted with others when we stopped to confirm our route. We saw both  working farms and some very nice vacation/retirement homes.

We reached the German heritage town of Fredericksburg in the early afternoon and we were struck with the culture shock of seeing lots of tourists filing the sidewalks of Main st. This is the birthsplace of Chester Nimitz and there is the very well-regarded Museum of the War in the Pacific here.  We are going to take tomorrow off the bikes to see this extensive museum and to have an Easter break. German food, beer gardens and lots of  interesting history; it should be fun.

Monday we will head off to Johnson City!  Happy Easter!

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These are pictures from our Hill Country riding today

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Julie and Evan meet Traveler. They were doing the Kerrville Easter ride

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This where Chester Nimitz grew up

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Some local flavor- yum!

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And this is where Adm. Nimitz was born…a long way from Annapolis!

 

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Day 29: Rambling in the Hill Country

 

March 25, 2016

Utopia, TX to Ingram, TX

Day: 53 miles; Total: 1,588.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,997′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8271489

 

Ron and Peggy sent us off from the B&B with a lovely breakfast and we returned to the quiet 187 running up the Sabinal Valley, heading north. It was pleasant, sunny and wind was not a factor!

Farms, cattle and goat ranches and wild flowers were the scenery. It was really nice biking and we appreciated the pleasant conditions. We came to the small town of Vanderpoole and rejoined the ACA that we had diverted from a few days ago ( to avoid some steep hills with blind corners and no shoulders). We rode by the Lost Maples State Recreational area, which is one of the two parks which attracts visitors to the area. They also come for the hunting and fishing in the rivers.

We climbed out of the valley up a pretty stiff uphill slog and found our selves on top of the hills. What followed was miles of rolling ups and downs as we crossed over the cuts in the terrain. We connected up with the Guadalupe River and did more short steep ups and downs. Then we came down alongside the river and the road became generally less hilly. There is a resort area with lodges, cabins and vacation homes that sit very near the pretty, wide river. Folks were canoeing and playing in the river and it looked really pleasant. This area also has a number of camps and conference centers overlooking the river. A lot of the buildings are faced with the limestone-looking rock the we’d been seeing in the river canyons. According to some local folks we met, the hill country attracts people from San Antonio and Houston who come to enjoy the peaceful outdoors.  We thought it was a great area!

We are staying in Ingram tonight and our motel owner suggested checking out the short “shopping street” that parallels the main drag. We walked over there and discovered a shop ( The Copper Cactus) selling incredible stuff from all over and that was fun to browse through, though no worries about spending too much since none of the metal arty things were going to fit on a bike!

Right next door was an outdoor BBQ and fried fish place where we got a great dinner and stayed to hear some great local musicians play at their weekly open mike. It drew quite a crowd , most of whom seemed to know each other well. The BBQ smoked wildly, most of the crowd did too and everyone was having a great time. One of the players sat with us and told us about who all was there. This very small town has three music studios  and seems to be a hot bed of music talent. Everyone who played was good and our friend ( a Texas rancher/Cotten farmer/ crop duster pilot/ guitar player/ etc) was quite good and we really enjoyed our bit of Texas local culture.

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The view from our B&B this morning 

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At the top of the main steep climb, looking back

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These nice folks gave us some local guidance and met Traveler 

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Stonehenge II at an art school near Ingram

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Open mike at dinner, with the giant metal chicken getting the best view

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Note the metal standing armadillo with the six shooters, on the steps to my right;  a must have!

 

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Day 28: Going to Utopia

 

March 24, 2016

Uvalde, TX to Utopia, TX

Day: 44.3 miles; Total: 1,535.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,407′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8261048

 

We emerged from our hotel this morning into bright sun and a cool brisk wind from the north.  We were going east for about 20 miles and then turning north. Oh well…

We continued on highway 90 going due east. We’ve been having such repeated long days with our relatively slow progress , so we were planning a shorter day. We biked about 20 miles east to Sabinal and with great relief, we left the busy rough highway and got on what Texas calls a “farm road”. As we immediately went through the cute small farm town , we could see we were going into different biking conditions. We were going into the wind but the quieter road made it much more enjoyable.

Wild flowers in green pastures, oak trees and well fed looking cattle made the scenery really lovely. We could see that we were riding into real hills and were soon rolling up and down. We kept crossing the Sabinal River and I think we were in what is know as the Sabinal Valley.

Our place for tonight is just north of the cute small town of Utopia. We stopped along the road to confirm the directions and a nice guy named George pulled over and offered help. He had cell coverage, we didn’t, so he called our B&B host for tonight, confirmed that we should get dinner for later and led us to the local cafe. We ordered pie and coffee for our afternoon snack ( this is a reason to bike into the wind all day!), and then got food for dinner later. Our host Peggy came by and picked up the food and we headed out to ride the last few miles to the peaceful B&B, Bend O’ the River.

We are now in the lovely home, all cleaned up and enjoying the peace and lovely scenery. We heard from George that we will have a serious climb out of the valley tomorrow and then a beautiful area to ride in. Sounds great!

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The first crossing of the Sabinal River, when we were still on 90

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 Texas house in Sabinal

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Along the farm road going into the hills

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Beautiful oaks along the way

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Winding into the hills

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A gaggle of Longhorns 

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The very nice George welcomes Traveler to Utopia 

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And he took a photo of the two of us

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A local Utopian building 

After we take our evening stroll by the river at our lovely B&B, we’ll have photos to post tomorrow. Till then…

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Day 27:The Scenery Changes

 

March 23, 2016

Del Rio, TX to Uvalde, TX

Day: 71.7 miles; Total: 1,491.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 634′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8251511

 

The morning began with the realization that I had a flat rear tire. So, off with all the packed up panniers and time to fix the flat. I also got one yesterday on the road and they are the first flats I’ve had in more than 6,000 miles of riding on these wonderful tough tires. Turns out the tubes showed ruptures on the inner sides, and I think that means it wasn’t that something punctured my previously very reliable tires, but rather I think these recent long days of rough bouncy pavement may have caused the tubes to rupture.  Whatever, it needed to be fixed so that caused us to get underway later than planned.

We headed due east into lighter winds than yesterday but still on the rough ” chip and seal” paving. It makes the bikes ride slower and feels like sitting all day pedaling the bike up hills on a washing machine agitator. Ooofff…Sorry for the griping…

At some point we began to see oak trees and the grasses by the road were clearly much greener than our desert scenery. The road rolled up and down basically all the way to our destination of Uvalde. We finally began to see ranches and farms along side us, as opposed to the more desert like hunting spreads we’ve been passing.

Tomorrow we will turn north into the hill country!

 

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Coming out of our nice lunch break in a tiny town

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Days 25 & 26:Early Spring in West Texas and Finally East of the Pecos

 

March 21, 2016

Sanderson, TX to Langtry, TX

Day: 60.6 miles; Total: 1,359.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,226′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8230101

 

March 22, 2016

Langtry, TX to Del Rio, TX

Day: 60.4 miles; Total: 1,419.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,998′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8240058

 

Day 25: Breakfast at the gas station convenience store fueled us for an early, chilly start on another long stretch with few services. The headwind was clearly going to be with us again so I stopped only occasionally to take a few photos. The mesquite bushes we have been seeing all along the ride in the deserts as dormant black dead looking things are now leafing out with lacey lime green leaves. Some Texas wild flowers are blooming too.

We’ve started seeing more riders going west ( lucky them, they currently have tail winds!) and have met some other groups going east. Our stop at the local food and feed store in Dryden was our only break out of the wind and we pushed on the Langtry in the late afternoon. We stayed at “an interesting ” gas station/motel where a couple of other cyclists were also spending the night as its the only option for miles and the wind was making it tough to make a much longer day of it  for us eastbound folks.

Day 26: Ready to move on asap to try to ride when the winds weren’t as strong, we left as soon as it was light. Crackers and peanut butter were on the menu and we planned to stop for a decent lunch 30 miles along at the only town on the route. The wind was blowing mildly in our faces and it got stronger as the day wore on. Coupled with the very bumpy road surface we’ve been riding on for the last few days- ouch!

What we were riding in these last few days was very open desert lands, no trees to speak of and very few signs of habitation at all. Apparently there are a number of hunting ranches here and as the land doesn’t support cattle well, there are sheep and goats.

Midway along, we arrived in the only town on the route, a small place called Comstock with a great bar and grill called The J and P. Really great sandwiches, good coffee and nice folks made it a wonderful break , especially after very limited offerings last night and this morning. Ready to face the wind, we set out again, rolling up and down, now going past the large Amistad National Recreation Area, with its huge reservoir with boating activities.

Last night and tonight, we have been again very close to the border.For tonight, that meant good Mexican food at a small local place- yum!

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Looking back at some hill climbs

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Mesquite leafing out

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Wild flowers 

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One of a few ranch signs we passed

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Ron, on the right, is going west and Marguerite on the left, is going east ( after having been riding in Asia for 6 months!)

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Crossing the Pecos, which shortly below this point, joins the Rio Grande

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The folks at The J and P meet Traveler. They support an organization which provides out door trips like fishing and hunting for combat veterans. Out lunch there was just great!

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A bit of the Amistad reservoir, seen after crossing a long bridge in the headwinds 

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Traveler meets Dex, two time competitor in the ultra biking event, the Race across America, a non stop bike race where the competitors ride an average of 250 miles a day and sleep very little. Amazing! 

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Here’s a little homebuilt plane outside the Langtry Airport

 

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Day 24: More Interesting People

 

March 20, 2016

Marathon, TX to Sanderson, TX

Day: 53.5 miles; Total: 1,298.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,024′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8220095

 

We started the day with a lovely breakfast at the B&B, having yummy food while sitting with a number of Texans who shared suggestions for things to see and do. Great fun! We then headed out into sunny,cool and windy weather.

Our map warned us of no services for 55 miles and in fact, what we saw alongside us was ranch land and a few actual cattle and that was about it. The scenery was pretty, with more low rocky hills, scrub land and the occasional freight train rumbling nearby.

We weren’t going very fast as there was a moderate headwind most of the way. At one point, we met up with Glenn and Bobbie, biking westward from Florida. It was fun to meet them and exchange a few thoughts about what was ahead for each of us. Later, we met up with a long distance walker, Dave aka “Elusive”, a serious adventurer who is , in his words, weaving across Ameica. At 70, he began hiking, biking and kayaking north and south and now east to west across the country. Amazing!

More biking into the wind and we reached our motel in Sanderson. Dinner from the only game in town, the convenience store across the street, and we were set!

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Getting ready for breakfast 

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Traveler decides it’s time for lunch

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Traveler meets Glenn and Bobbie

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On the road

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One of the very few signs of habitation 

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Dave the walker

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A quick look back at breakfast

 

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Day 23:Chilly Riding to Marathon

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One of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars frontier military outpost in the southwest 

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Along the road

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Kelly and Alan with Traveler in front of the “Cow Dog”

March 19, 2016

Fort Davis, TX to Marathon, TX

Day: 56.7 miles; Total: 1,245.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,498′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8206912

 

Stepping out of our motel this morning into 36 degrees with a sharp breeze meant it was time for all the layers we had ( and why did we think that heat would probably be the main weather issue? ) I’m sure it will be again , but today was definitely cold.

Having enjoyed a dinner of dry cereal and crackers last night, we were ready for a normal breakfast meal and found a new little cafe in Fort Davis. This area seems to draw visitors for the local historic fort, the nearby Big Bend area and night sky watching at the observatory up the hill. Fueled, we set out for Alpine, the only town on the road to Marathon . The riding was really nice, past rocky outcroppings and rangeland that looked like scenes from a classic western. It was very chilly with intermittent wind that kept our extremities numb most of the way.

Alpine is a small town with small university and an art vibe that includes a number of nice murals on the buildings. Gratefully we found a local coffee house for warm drinks. Their food options were donuts or ice cream ( brrr…) so we got gourmet hot dogs from the locally famous food truck out front.  Turns out one of the owners is from  Mill Vally! We enjoyed getting warm and chatting with several locals about life in this high desert region with its outdoor activities, art galleries and the Chihuahua Desert Botanical Center.

Back on the road, it had warmed up and we continued another 30 miles or so of rolling downhill to Marathon. This is a town with a population of less than 800, but with an historic hotel, the Gage and other interesting lodging options including where we are staying, Eve’s Garden B&B. The  rooms here have been hand built, are brightly colored with no right angles and there are interior gardens that are a riot of colorful blooming flowers. An amazing place!

We ate dinner tonight with Terry and Mari, who we met when we first got into Arizona. They are touring throughout the southwest and it was nice to get to sit and chat in comfort.

 

Photos are not behaving tonight so we’ll have to quit with these that showed up randomly on the top of the page…

 

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Day 22:Up & Over the Davis Mountains

 

March 18, 2016

Van Horn, TX to Fort Davis, TX

Day: 88.6 miles; Total: 1,188.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,746′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8194146

 

Our having crossed into Central Time yesterday afternoon meant that the sun didn’t rise this morning til a bit after 8 so we got underway from our hotel around 9. We left Van Horn and got back on the 10 frontage road for about 10 miles up vaguely up pleasant miles.

Then our route put us on the 10 itself ( okay shoulder but lots of trucks roaring by) but the real pain was that suddenly we had a pretty good cross/ headwinds for the next 25 uphill rugged miles. At Kent ( a town in name only, no services), we turned south and the wind was more favorable.

Our new smaller road did not have much traffic and it rolled initially gradually up though ranch lands with mountains around. At some point, the road started really getting more steep as we made our winding way up to the McDonald Observatory, 6,809 ft. We were keeping in mind the time of approaching sunset, so we took a photo of the sign and headed down to our destination of Fort Davis about 18 miles away.

With great relief, we finally pulled into our motel/RV park just outside of town. With brief stops for snacks and water, we’d been riding for almost 11 hours. We were seriously pooped after the wind and hills.

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Mary, driving home to SD met Traveler

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Day 21:We’ve made it to the Central Time zone

 

March 17, 2016

Fort Hancock, TX to Van Horn, TX

Day: 75.8 miles; Total: 1,099.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,121′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8182571

 

Happy St. Pat’s Day! I’m wearing my green off the bike shirt so I guess that counts as celebrating the day…

We started the day before dawn having breakfast back at our dinner place, this time meeting Angie the owner herself. Our route went along farms, some with vast fields, and there was very little traffic, always nice. One diversion had us on a totally empty road going closer to actual farm houses. Lots of abandoned small buildings too.

We then rode briefly on the 10 freeway which we had been riding parallel to yesterday and this morning.  Soon we rode off onto an virtually empty frontage road about 25 yards from the busy freeway. We wound our way up to the town of Sierra Blanca, past a 6,000 plus peak of the same name. Soon we were riding with the train to our left and the freeway to our right; mega transport on all sides!

After Sierra Blanca, we were happily tooling along on our frontage road and crossed onto a clearly new part of that road, following an up date to our ACA map.  That was all great except after we had just climbed up a good hill, about 5 miles short of where the road was supposed to bring us back for a short way on the 10 again, our frontage road came to a complete halt, the way barred and the freeway roaring next to us. We turned around, found a tunnel under the road and walked the bikes through that ( yay, no snakes or weird things) and then dragged/pushed the heavy bikes up to the road level and rode on the shoulder of 10 in the town of Van Horn.

We are now at an historic hotel in town, called the El Capitan, enjoying its Texan atmosphere and resting up for a long climb tomorrow. This town promotes its location at the crossroads of Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe and Big Bend National Parks, all too far away for us. We are here because it is on the route to the Macdonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains, our goal tomorrow!

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Traveler meets Angie, at her cafe for an early breakfast 

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Flags in the morning

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Farm along the route

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Sierra Blanca

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Trains to the left, Bill on “our” road and trucks to the right on the 10

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A milestone, but Traveler didn’t pose as we were on the freeway shoulder

 

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Day 20: Starting the Long Ride Across Texas

 

March 16, 2016

El Paso, TX to Fort Hancock, TX

Day: 54.7 miles; Total: 1,024.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 283′!!! The earth is flat – around here at least.

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8170277

 

We had been warned about difficult El Paso traffic but our route led us out of our down town location on a decent road with good shoulders and not too much traffic. We rode for about 18 miles on something called the N. Loop road, past light industry, residential buildings and old style shopping centers. We were riding parallel to the border and Mexico and its nearby farms and mountains were very visible.

The route became 20, still with good surfacing and clearly most of the traffic was on the freeway 10, in view to our left. Not having lots of vehicles alongside is always nice. Again the road was flat with a nice mild tail wind. We were still generally going near the Rio Grande though it should be called the Rio Sand as that’s what it looks like. There does seem to be plenty of water for irrigation, and I think that comes from underground.

The farms seemed to be growing pecans, cotton and alfalfa primarily and occasionally there were homes and farm buildings scattered about. Basically though, it’s pretty open country with a few very small towns.

Tomorrow we will start heading into the Davis mountains! No more flat, flat for a while…

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A view of an entry point from our Loop road

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One of the ranches we passed, with an actual sign

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In the fields

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Where we stopped for yummy , simple beef tacos

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Looking toward Mexico 

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The view out our motel room door. For a while there were several border patrol agents searching in the field and they wished us well on our trip.

 

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Day 19: Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso

 

March 15, 2016

Mesilla, NM to El Paso, TX

Day: 47 miles; Total: 969.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 716′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8158911

 

Good coffee drinks and yummy breakfast at Mesilla’s Bean Bakery and Coffee house fueled us for our pleasant ride toward El Paso. We rode on through the Rio Grande valley, past more pecan orchards, alfalfa fields, and cotton fields ready for planting.

It really was actually flat, with a gentle breeze from behind and nicely cool. A few miles along, we met up with Gary, Glenn and  Tom, who are doing the Southern Tier with a support vehicle.  We had fun meeting them and hope to cross paths again along the way. We continued past the farms and also saw some horse farms that looked like race horse raining facilities. All very scenic and nice riding!

At some point we crossed into Texas ( but no sign for Traveler to see) and the route turned into a very quiet bike path along the river ( currently just sand) and we cruised along the mostly empty path. We could see fancy suburbs along the way and then turned east as we got within about 10 miles of El Paso.  We climbed up on a mesa and rode on a busy highway with the Franklin Mountains on our left and endless shopping centers and strip malls along the road. We dropped down into the downtown area and our motel. Things seem to be booming here!

This was definitely one of our easiest days, due to terrain, distance  and pleasant weather.  We will take what we can get! In a few minutes, we will head out to explore the downtown and look for Rosa’s cantina- ha!

If you’re interested, here are a few bits of info about this city from the local guide magazine: University of Texas El Paso ( UTEP) is ranked in the top ten universities in the nation ( by Washington Monthly magazine) , Franklin Mountains State Park is the largest urban wilderness state park in the country ( basically the mountain range runs down the center of the city),  CQ Press has named El Paso the Safest City in the US in the last four years, the local baseball team is the Chihuahuas and finally, the downtown plaza was home to alligators from the 1800’s to the 1960’s!  Who knew??!!

 

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It’s hard to leave good coffee at the Bean

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Tom, Gary, Glen & Bill

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We didn’t see any. Phew!

 

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Day 18: In Mesilla

Today was a day off from riding the bikes, except for riding a few miles to do our laundry at an RV park and to get our bikes tuned a bit. After those chores, we explored on foot around Mesilla, with its attractive historic district with many adobe buildings with galleries and shops. It seemed like a mini Santa Fe.

We ate dinner at La Posta, housed in a very old adobe building dating from the era of the Wild West. It’s filled with Mexican art and tilework and has great food. Fueling up for tomorrow!

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Adobe everywhere!

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Along the street

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La Posta exterior

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The plaza

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San Albino, at the end of the plaza

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Since our own house is made of adobe, it was intriguing to see the raw materials here

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Spring color

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Traveler browsed with me in the Nambe shop on the plaza, and he made some new friends. He was eyeing a beautiful silver alloy dog bowl- ha!

Day 17: Through Chile Country to Mesilla

 

March 13, 2016

Hillsboro, NM to Mesilla, NM

Day: 80.6 miles; Total: 922.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,442′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8144074

 

It was in the mid forties when we left our nice B&B and set out rolling up and mostly down hill though desert lands toward the valley below.  We reached Caballo Lake and then turned to follow the Rio Grande through the Hatch Valley. The road was relatively quiet as the main traffic was on a parallelling freeway.

There were farms, many pecan orchards with rows of large dormant trees and many processing plants for the chile which are grown here. Hatch chile have become famous  and the actual town of Hatch, where we stopped for lunch in a town park, has many chile stores with ristras and dried chile everywhere.

At times we were biking though more rugged desert areas and then as we finally approached Las Cruces, there were more farms and orchards.  All along, the sharp profil of the Organ mountains dominated the view to the left. We encountered ever-increasing winds , blowing from the side and in front so we were glad to pull into our hotel near the old part of town,  called Mesilla.

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Today’s theme: the Hatch chile!

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Traveler says thanks to Merrie , our Hillsboro host

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The historic church in Hillsboro 

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On the early morning ride 

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Ranch art

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Miles of pecan orchards

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Desert along the way

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Looks like New Mexico living

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The Organ mountains, pecans and fields

 

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See details about our Southern Tier route.

Day 16: Over Emory Pass

 

March 12, 2016

Lake Roberts, NM to Hillsboro, NM

Day: 57 miles; Total: 841.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,326′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8127907

 

The ride from our nice Lake Roberts B&B was through the valley of the Mimbres River, and through the town of the same name. Very pretty riding through ranches and small farms.

At San Lorenzo, we turned onto 152, our route over the 8,288 ft Emory Pass. The predicted wind began to develop as we rode up into the mountains. Our route went through a very pretty rocky canyon, following a creek upstream. The wind was mostly from our backs, which is good, but as we rode switch backs up, we got blasted from the front and sides, pushing us around. The traffic was fortunately light, and we never encountered logging trucks- yay!

We climbed on in the wind,appreciating the fact that the pitch was not too steep, just continuous . When we reached the pass, we went over to check out the lookout,, trying not to let the wind shove us around.  A quick photo with Traveler at the top, and then we started the 16 mile descent to our end point for the day.

Downhill in such strong wind isn’t very fun and with great relief we reached our stopping point of the small cute town of Hillsboro. We snagged a late lunch at the cafe just before they closed, and went to our lodging at the Enchanted Villa B&B. The howling wind calmed down by early evening and we got dinner at a community fundraiser for a local horse trainer who’d recently been badly hurt in a riding accident. People had come for all around to support the event and we met some locals, ate great food and got to hear music from local musicians. After that nice evening, we collapsed at our comfy room!

We will write about today’s ride tomorrow on our rest day here in Las Cruces

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Frances, our host at Spirit Canyon B&B at Lake Roberts

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In the barn series, in the valley

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Heading up to the pass

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The view from the pass

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Hanging on tightly to Traveler so he doesn’t blow away

 

Support Canine Companions for Independence.

Donate at our event page.

See details about our Southern Tier route.

Day 15: On the Road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings

 

March 11, 2016

From Lake Roberts, NM out and back on Hwy 15

Day: 30.9 miles; Total: 784.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,728′

Map Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/8111757

 

Our plan today was to ride the bikes mostly unloaded to the Hot Springs and then go see the Cliff Dwellings further on, then ride back. It was hard to tell just how steep the road was going to be so we decided to give it a try. The bottom line is that it was going to take way too long.

After riding , mostly up, for the first 3 hours, we realized that our plan did not make sense and we’d be lucky to get back pretty pooped, by late afternoon.   This was intended to be a somewhat light day since tomorrow we face crossing a 8200 ft pass at some point.

After a roller coaster 5 miles from our B and B,  we climbed about 10 miles pretty seriously up though the mountains. We stopped to admire the views and then finished the climb up and began plunging down the other side. After a few miles of this, we stopped to let the rims cool from the braking we were doing, thought about the time and how long it would take us to slowly make our way back up this long downhill and called a halt. We turned around to go steeply back up to the top , then rode back down to our start. Are you seasick yet from all the going up and down??

Next time, we should plan to stay out overnight at the Hot Springs area to have enough time to see the Dwellings and the springs. Or take a car!

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A new cabin near Lake Roberts 

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Traveler at the overlook

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Looking into the canyon

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Up, up, up

 

 

Support Canine Companions for Independence.

Donate at our event page.

See details about our Southern Tier route.

Photos of today

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Patrick meets Traveler

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Into the Gila N F 

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Bill comes up to the Continental Divide

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Traveler celebrates!

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Nice road!

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Traveler checks out the stream

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Look! Snow by the roadside ( we were between 7,000 and 6,000)

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What is here to see. We are staying by Lake Roberts near the center of the map.

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Our very comfortable home for the tonight and tomorrow