Coast 2 Coast Days 1-52
United States FL St. Augustine
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YES, WE MADE IT: 2790.3 MILES!!!!
Thanks to all of you who have already contributed to our charities. For those who were waiting to see just how many miles we could do, it's time to pony up, lol. The addresses and web sites for the charities are: (remember to reference our Coast 2 Coast Bicycle Ride)
HOPE FOR HAITI FOUNDATION
9241 Globe Center Dr. Suite 110
Morrsville, NC 27560
c/o St. Paul's Cathedral
2728 Sixth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
Day 52: Palatka, FL to St. Augustine Beach, FL: 43.6 miles
The day was a bit anti-climatic at first as it was a short riding day through some farms of Florida. We had our last sag stop at the historic St. Ambrose Church, and then quickly spent the next ten miles going past the "garbage dump" of Florida. Litterally, we passed and area called "Vermont Heights", where the heights were from a hill made of garbage and land fill, and the Vermin were on top of the Mountain.... who knows how it got it's name, but somebody doesn't like Vermont. Even after we passed this smelly place, we kept being passed by garbage trucks coming and going to the site for miles. Finally we arrived to historic St. Augustine, where Craig and I had gyros at a local Greek cafe. We learned the replica "Bounty" was in town, the same tall ship that had been used in the movie "Mutiny on the Bounty". We crossed the bridge leaving town, heading towards the beach, and got a great view of the ship. The whole group met up for a group photo at the St. Augustine Beach sign, and then we rode as a group for the last mile of the ride to our hotel and the dipping of the front wheel of our bikes into the Atlantic Ocean. Craig turned on his music and speaker (thanks for the loan, Crissy), to "Summon the Heros" and the Olympic theme song. We carried our bikes down the last steps to the beach and into the water which was warm and lapped our sore feet. One of the rider's (Polly) and her friend who met her at the finish (Del) arrived with a cooler filled with champagne for all of us to toast each other. We were also met by some folks from the Huntington's Disease Association, as one of our riders has Huntington's. We congratulated each other many times while we explained to the onlookers what we were all about. Sue was most happy about Craig agreeing to follow her to the ends of the earth, even if it meant by bike. Craig was happy about achieving something he never dreamed he could do.
Day 51: High Springs, FL to Palatka, FL: 79.6 miles
Of all the riding we have done cross country, today was the only day with any significant miles (17) on a dedicated rail to trail bicycle path. This path took us through Gainsville (home of the Gators and where Gatoraide was invented), and onto Hawthorne. It was scenic, but more importantly, shady, as we were now experiencing hot, humid, Florida weather. Florida has the best roads for bicycling of any of the states we have passed through (Texas being the worst), but one section of Rt. 20 was still narrow and full of glass, which caused Sue to have a flat tire, bad enough that she had to change both the tube and the tire. If all the beer drinkers would throw their bottles in the trash, the bicycle tire business would take a downturn in sales! As we entered Palatka, we passed a college named Silver Spring, and up in the air, seemly above campus, we saw four parachute jumpers floating to the ground. The air had lots of uplifting currents, so they were getting a good ride. If you remember from our training ride blog, we enjoyed parachute jumpers in the mountains of California a month before we left for this trip. It felt like we had come full circle. We had a nice place to sleep, the local armory, and Sue finally had a scale to weigh herself. Hooray, no weight gain or loss, just more muscles. Craig didn't fare as well as he dipped into the junk food wagon a bit too much at the sag stops. Tonight we had a group "meeting" sharing all the good and bad times on this trip. Three of the people on the trip decided to ride ahead and do tomorrow's mileage today, so we heard they had all made it and were on their way home. In the middle of the night, one of the staff fell outside, and dislocated his shoulder. So the staff definitely took more injuries than any of the riders.
Day 50: Madison, FL to High Springs, FL: 84 miles
We left early since we knew it would be a long day and hot by mid-day. We were lucky in that we had fog for the first two hours. It made the spanish moss seem eerie, and given that it was Saturday morning, there was very little traffic. The whole area around Madison County had planted two main kinds of wild flowers along the highway, a school bus yellow flower, that is the state flower (black-eyed susan?) and a contrasting pink/fuschia color flower. It made the contrast with the hay fields and the pine trees quite beautiful, so we had to take our photos in the midst of it all. We passed a miniature horse farm which had a mare and her little colt. He was so tiny we thought he was a small dog. The first thirty miles of the ride were along the same roads we had traveled yesterday by car to get to the Suwannee River. They looked so much better today from a bike than in a van. Guess we are hooked on bike riding as a way to see the country side. We passed an unusual site, a NASA tracking facility in someone's front yard. We weren't sure if it was the real thing or not. The rest of the day mostly passed pine timber forests that were well maintained. We are camped in a very large campground in air conditioned cabins. What luxury!
Day 49: Madison, FL Rest day
We woke up with the sound of crickets, birds, and unfortunately ants in our tent! At least we were able to sleep in a bit, but it was supposed to be a hot day, so Bubba arranged to take us all canoeing on the Suwannee River. It was glorious! The river was quite low, so we had limestone cliffs on one side and frequent white sand banks on the opposite side. The water temperature was perfect for dragging your feet in the water as you paddled past the cypress trees draped with spanish moss. The group was funny as we took turns singing various river songs. It was a three hour paddle, so a lot of time to relax along the way. We saw white egrets, one blue heron who was grey like the spanish moss, a few turtles, lots of dragon flies and blue-tailed flies, water-walker bugs and a few fish. For lunch we went to the Dixie Cafe in Live Oak, which we will bike through tomorrow. Upon returning to camp and investigating the ant situation, we noticed that some type of tiny worm/caterpiller (possibly grasshopper larvae?) had chewed tiny perfectly round holes through the tent bottom and climbed into the tent. Then the ants came up the holes to eat the worms and then back down the holes with a mouthful. We sprayed to kill them and lined our tent with towels. Fortunately this is the last night we will be camping outside with the tents. So it will be someone else's problem that the tent floor is no longer waterproof. Joyce, one of our fellow riders, decided to spend her day off baking cookies in the retreat's kitchen, so at least we will have fresh baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert tonight. As the evening drew on, we discovered more ants and one of our fellow travelers was badly bitten, so we finally decided to move our mattress into the church meeting room and had a restful night.
Day 48: Tallahasse, FL to Madison, FL: 32 miles on bike; 34 miles Sagged in van
Since we were camped west of the capital of Florida, Tallahasse, we needed to get through town on a busy road with no shoulder during rush hour. The solution was to have a lead car go about 12-15 mph, then all the bikes, then a follow van with a sign for the bikers follow all the bikes. We did this for 14 miles, about an hour. Other than the occasionally splitting of the group when a light turned red, this worked very well. Even the motorists mostly cheered us as we went through town. As we were approaching the beautiful live oak tree canopied road into historic Monticello, Craig took out the camera to take a photo of Sue riding up to the court house in the center of town. Unfortunately, he misjudged the distance and hit Sue from the rear. Both bikes went down in opposite directions, and we both got a few scrapes. Sue got an additional bang between the legs as she fell onto the bike frame. It seemed that everything was ok, but when we stopped for lunch a few minutes later, her bike shorts had blood between the legs. We enjoyed our lunch at the local organic bakery, even shopped at the local gift shop, but made the decision to take a van to the campground. Chandler, our bike mechanic, gave us a ride, and since he loves the town of Madison, he took us into the Chamber of Commerce where Sue could ask if anyone new her late Great Aunt Sue and Uncle H.E. The lady working there knew them well, as her husband's mother had been her neighbor. She even found out where his tire business had been in town, and we swung by and took a photo. That night we stayed at the Madison County Cooperative Ministry retreat, and had the ladies from the dozen Methodist churches who are part of the cooperative bring us home cooked dinner. It was fabulous. The men also helped and we had a speaker who gave us the history of Madison. Several of these people also knew Aunt Sue and Uncle H.E. It's nice to know that even though they have both been gone for over 20 years, people remember them fondly. One other stop we made on the way to Madison was Greenville, the birthplace of Ray Charles.
Day 47: Marianna, FL to Tallahasse, FL: 56.7 miles
The fog was swirling around the camp lake when we woke up. We continue to be blessed with cool weather for Florida, so this was another perfect riding day. Just west of Marianna, in Snead, we passed a stone engraver business with the name of Comerford. Given this was my grandfather's stomping grounds, this person is likely a distant relative, but we did not stop. The next town was Chattahoochee, just past the Apalachicola river and south of the dam at Lake Seminole. The sag stop was there and the town commissioner and the town newspaper photographer stopped by and took a photo of part of our group. We learned the Georgia border was less than a half mile north, so of course we had to take a detour to get another state under our belt, since Craig was raised in Georgia. We had lunch in Quincy at the Main Street Cafe, who were overwhelmed with our numbers. But the food was good, and we had a view of the main town square and courthouse. We've seen more courthouses on this trip than anything else. All seem to be beautifully restored. We camped at Lakeside Campground, just east of town. It had a nice pond with lily pads, so the frogs serenaded us to sleep.
Day 46: DeFuniak Springs, FL to Marianna, FL: 67.8 miles
Since our campground was 10 miles west of DeFuniak Springs, we didn't see the historic town until the beginning of our ride. It has 200 historic homes, many around a perfectly round lake fed by a spring. In addition there was the building where the Chattaqua of the south was formed in the late 1800's after the model in New York. We tried to go to the oldest library in the US, but it was too early. Likewise for the Episcopal church that had recently been restored. We had lunch in Chipley Surf and Turf and enjoyed fried oysters. When we arrived in Marianna, I stopped into the post office. It was a beautiful old building, 85 years old. This was the town where Sue's mom was born, and the post office was likely being built as she was being born! We camped at Arrowhead Campground, just east of town. It had a nice lake with docks out among the cypress trees.
Day 45: Milton, FL to DeFuniak Springs, FL: 53 miles
The ride today was a breeze! Literally.... we had 25 -30 mph winds mostly from the rear which pushed us quickly along the straight, mostly flat highway 90. The most interesting thing to see was a large tree stump in front of a ranch, that had been carved into heads of the animals the ranch raised. We could pick out horses and sheep mostly. Sue also took a video of Terry taking a photo of Craig riding, while we were all riding, that's how easy the day was. Terry has taking action photos of all the riders at some time during the trip and has shared some great photos with the entire group. We all stopped for lunch at a local BBQ place and nearly overwhelmed the staff. We had a sweet potatoe pancake as a side.... more like a dessert. The last three miles to our campground was into the wind, so it was anti-breezy. The campground is very nice but on a lake that has very little water, in fact all the tree stumps that were in it when it was made are now exposed by about 10 ft. All the piers are high and dry, and there is very little fishing going on. But it is scenic enough. Although we are in Florida, the cold front that pushed us here today will bring the temperature down to 45 degrees tonight, so we are lucky that we did not send all our warm clothes home yet. We are even loaning some things out to others
Day 44: Pensacola, FL to Milton, FL: 30.8 miles
While the rest of the group was getting a late start from Dauphine Island Ferry and trying to complete an 84 mile day in serious winds, we had a relatively easy day from Pensacola. We slept in late, had breakfast and were on the road at 9 am. Although it was very windy 20-30 mph and it was coming from our side, it only really bothered us as we crossed several bridges while leaving the area. The scenery was quite nice, alternating between some scrub pine, to coastal views along the waterfront. Pensacola had done a great job of marking bike lanes on Rt. 90 and even the bridges had plenty of room for bikes. We lingered in Milton and had lunch at Aces, a local place that catered to the military and post-church goers. We got in before the line started and enjoyed fried green tomatoes and chicken salad made with pecans. Our campground is a KOA and a pretty nice facility. Since we arrived so early, we felt like we almost had another day off while others came in late and exhausted. I guess it's sometimes a good idea to follow your own path and plan, as we are looking forward to tomorrow's ride already.
Day 43: Ft. Morgan, AL to Pensacola, FL: 48.5 miles
Knowing a big storm was about to blow in, we left at sunrise from our condo near Ft. Morgan and raced as fast as we could to Pensacola. Race is the right word, because as we approached the beach community of Orange Beach, AL, we found ourselves in the middle of the bicycling portion of the FloriBama Triathalon race. So the "finish" line photo is not for our arrival in St. Augustine, but rather for our almost arrival to Florida, our last state on this trip. For a short while we were actually the bikes in the "lead" of the race as they were going the opposite direction on an outbound loop. These fancy racers with their expensive bikes kept looking as us and wondering how we got into the lead.... but then they looped us and past us and figured out we were touring bikes, not racing bikes. As we came into Pensacola we noticed that they had make a nice bike route along the waterfront, and also had a new AAA baseball stadium. We pulled into the Courtyard Marriott before noon, just as the sky opened up and dumped a lot of rain for the rest of the day and evening. In the afternoon, we met up with Sue's cousin, aunt and uncle and enjoyed a delicious southern meal at Chet's restaurant. It was a lot of fun reminiscing about old times and catching up on more recent family news.
Day 42: Van Cleeve, MS to Daulphin Island, AL to Ft. Morgan, AL 80.5 miles
We had a beautiful sunrise over the white sand and river in front of our tent at the campground. The ride was again through pine forests and we soon arrived into our next state of Alabama and immediately the quality of the roads improved. After our second rest stop we found a pecan store that sold everything that pecans can be made with, including oil, candy and jam. We picked up some candy that we plan to crush into vanilla ice cream when we finish this ride and have our own kitchen again. Shortly after leaving the rest stop, one of our fellow riders, Ken was hit by a car. Fortunately he only suffered a cracked collarbone, so he is continuing on the trip, but riding in the sag van for now. As we continued south, we started heading over several bridges that connected to the intracoastal waterway. Finally we climbed up the large bridge connecting us to Dauphine Island, and we saw a pod of dolphins going under the bridge. We entered the island, stopped by the post office to pick up a box of homemade biscotti that Edye made for us, and exchanged it for a backpack with a few clothes. Instead of sleeping at Dauphine Island for the rest day, we had decided to continue ahead of the group, and a bad storm that was coming, and take the ferry over to Ft. Morgan. We wanted to make sure that we would have time in Pensacola to visit relatives and at the same time, make a rest day and a long day into two short days. We found a condo to stay in, and a small pizzeria for dinner. We even had a view of the ocean from our condo. One of our fellow riders, Pat, joined us in this plan.
Day 41: Poplarville, MS to Vancleeve, MS: 72 miles
This was a perfect riding day. The weather was cool, the sun was shining, the back country roads were smooth though a bit rolling, enough to be interesting, with almost no traffic. Mississippi is absolutely gorgeous, and the homes and farms are well kept. The only downside were a few dogs who like to chase bikes!
Day 40: Franklinton, LA to Poplarville, MS: 44.6 miles
A short day, and we needed it. Sue had her first flat tire just before Boglausa, LA and when she tried to put the new spare inner tube that she had been carrying all across country, it had a larger hole than the one that had gone flat. So she patched the first tube and continued along. We crossed a bridge over a classic swamp with cypress trees, and entered our next state of Mississippi. It was quite nice and green with classic southern homes with big yards and live oak trees draped with spanish moss. We arrived to the town of Poplarville and had lunch at Scooters (typical poboy sandwiches) and then did a little shopping at a store called "Apples". We chatted up the owner and she mentioned the campground we were headed towards was not very nice, but her dad had a B&B in town. It turns out that it was full, but he rented us another house on the street across from his home, that was still within a few miles of our campground. So Bubba's team delivered our bags to this home, and we spent the night away from the group, in comfort. The owner invited us over to his house for wine after dinner, and we learned the history of the gift shop, his family and that his nephew was the current governor of Mississippi. They were all headed to the historic Governor's mansion on Saturday for the governor's daughter's wedding. They alerted us to some bad weather approaching the area, as the wedding was going to be out of doors. We had a good night's sleep and it was nice to spend some time with locals.
Day 39: St. Francisville, LA to Franklington, LA: 82.5 miles, 30 were sagged
The ride was longer than expected, because we had backtracked to St. Francisville instead of the campground in Jackson. The day started out overcast, but it was nice for bicycling. We made it as far as lunch at a local grocery/cafe in Easleyville. While eating on the "patio", the rain really started pouring. Sue downloaded a new app for her iphone called, My Radar, that allowed her to view how the storm was tracking. We decided to wait an hour until the worst had passed. Once we began riding again, the rain was steady, but manageable. However the roads started to narrow and the logging trucks would not move over. We were run off the road twice into a grassy ditch. Both times we managed to continue to pedal and stay upright until we got back on the road, but it was enough to make us decide to ask for a sag ride the rest of the way. We ended up riding 53 of the miles, and sagged 30 miles.
Day 38 Rest day, but we moved to a hotel in St. Francisville, LA
We spent our rest day avoiding a thunderstorm, first touring Oakley Plantation where John J. Audubon had worked as a tutor and painted 60 of his famous Birds of America series. We checked into our hotel rooms and then were shuttled to downtown St. Francisville for lunch at the Magnolia Cafe where we had fried alligator. Then we wandered the streets enjoying the historic homes and antique shops. One shop in an old bank was a button museum and jewelry store made out of buttons. The museum was inside the bank vault. Across the street at the courthouse, was the former capital of the West Florida Republic. For 74 days, this part of Louisiana, Alabama and the Panhandle of Florida were an independent nation before the US claimed it as part of the Louisiana purchase. A blue flag with a white star was their emblem, and you see these flags flying alongside the US flag and the Louisiana flag today. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon in our air conditioned hotel room.
Day 37 Opelousas LA to Jackson, LA: 68.3 miles
We rode through a large nature preserve, the Atchafalaya (means "long river" in the Choctaw Indian language), that was mostly a swamp and a river, and our main impression of it was all the road kill on the highway that we followed: armadillos, bull frogs, snakes, possums, skunks and even a road sign to watch for black bears. The only live thing we saw was some white herons flying ahead of us as we kept catching up to it. Occasionally there were small rivers in the preserve that had beautiful sand banks great for swimming and lots of places to rent canoes. Eventually we found ourselves following a road alongside the "False River" which had both large antebellum homes and large waterfront homes with boat docks. The river looked like a large skinny lake, but in fact was an Oxbow of the Mississippi river that had been naturally isolated in the 1700's and was no longer part of the river. Lots of vacation homes for sale if you are interested! We had lunch and then crossed the Mississippi River on a brand new suspension bridge that looked like a yellow version of the Golden Gate Bridge. The shoulder was wide, so we stopped at the top and took some photos. It was beautiful with the winds blowing the clouds across the sky making for some interesting lighting of the suspension wires. Our camping destination was a "bicycle hostel"; folks who turned their country home into a place for bikers to camp. They were not used to a large group like ours, so there were some problems with noise and it was agreed that we would leave in the morning rather than stay the second night, our rest day, with them. The events leading up to this included a 250 pound crayfish boil, Mississippi Mud Slides, and Zydeco music. The propane gas boilers to cook the crayfish were so large (and noisy themselves), they sounded like the propulsion of a hot air balloon. After we went to bed in our tents, all we could hear were the bull frogs in the pond.
Day 36 DeRidder, LA to Opelousas LA: 92 miles
As we continued east into Louisiana, the pine forests became less natural and more planted in perfect rows, but eventually gave way to rice paddies. Yes, Louisiana is the only place in the US where rice is grown, and the fields are a bright kelly green when the plants are young, and a golden color as the plants mature. Alternating with the rice fields are large "ponds" where crayfish are farmed. We hurried along to get to Mamou by lunch time as we wanted to go to the famous Fred's Zydeco bar to hear real Cajun music and get in a few spins on the dance floor. It closes at 1:30 pm so we didn't have much time there. Leaving Mamou we passed a beautiful horse farm which was full of young colts this time of year. As we passed cemeteries (all clearly marked as if they were tourist attractions) we noticed more of them were "above ground" crypts typical of areas with high water tables. We also noticed all day that about every tenth mile there were Mardi Gras beads along the roadside.... perhaps from a float, or kids throwing them out of a car...not sure. Before reaching our hotel (yeah no camping for tonight), we wound all through the back streets of Opelousas, both poor and rich neighborhoods. Craig noticed that unlike the south of his childhood, people were no longer sitting on their front porches or steps, everyone was inside their air conditioned homes. This was a long day with biking, dancing, and swimming in the hotel pool, but as Craig mentioned, three weeks ago we could barely bike 90 miles let alone feel good at the end of the ride.
Day 35 Silsbee, TX to DeRidder, LA: 72 miles
This was our last day in Texas, we spent more time crossing Texas than CA, AZ and NM combined. Once we crossed the Sabine River we were in Louisiana! We started to see Hurricane Evacuation Route signs on the highway. We mostly passed by a number of pine timber forrests in various stages of growing, cutting, and replanting going on. This meant that a lot of the trucks passing us were timber trucks (with the skinniest pine trees you ever saw), on their way to the saw mill and eventual paper plant. There was so much pine bark debris on the road side that even though the roads were better than Texas, we were constantly dodging big chips of pine bark every few feet. We beat the rain this day and treated ourselves to a Dairy Queen Blizzard as we arrived in DeRidder. Dairy Queen stops are so popular with our group, they are now officially part of our daily route sheets. It's a sad day when there are no DQ's on the route. We were treated to a night in a hotel for a change, and also to a cajun dinner at a restaurant.
Day 34 Coldsprings, TX to Silsbee, TX: 72.1 miles
Although the mileage was considerable, this was a fast day for us. We got an early start, the roads were flat and straight, though still rough and we timed ourselves at the sag stops. Why would we do this? We were racing against an inevitable thunderstorm which caught us in the last five miles of the ride. By then we were so hot, the pouring rain felt good, though the puddles on the road were dangerous to navigate with the traffic. Fortunately our tent was already up with our bags inside when we arrived at the campground, so only ourselves were wet. Throughout the day we had signs that we were almost out of Texas. We saw our first spanish moss hanging from an old tree, a few magnolia trees in bloom, and some beautiful cypress tress in a small swamp. We also passed a farm growing something we had never seen before. We found out later it was Mayhaw berries, good for making jam. We found a nice small country store for a quick lunch and noticed a shelf full of beans/seeds hand labeled in mason jars that must have been from the local farms. After dinner, we had cake and icecream for everyone who was NOT celebrating a birthday today. That was Ann's idea, so that no one would feel left out on this trip.
Day 33 Anderson, TX to Coldsprings, TX: 45 miles
This was a beautiful ride through the Sam Houston National Forest. Mostly large pines that are being managed for timber mixed with some hardwood and lots of sweetgum. The drought in Texas has made the beetle damage in the pines very severe. Today was an eating day! We stopped at the Waverly Cafe for pie about 11 in the morning and had a patty melt besides. We finished the ride around 2:30 and went directly to "The Hop" for a large chocolate shake. Not to be outdone by ourselves, we visited a local bakery and bought a small chocolate pie to eat with our blackened salmon. Along the way we saw a very large plaster black angus steer and stopped to take our picture in front of him. Craig had his picture taken in front of a sign of a Texas town with the same name as his first name.
Day 32 Rest Day at Mexican Hill Campground
Today was spent recovering from the last, very long, ride. We went into town to the library to get caught up on this blog and to visit the world's smallest Walmart for batteries and other necessities. Sadly, the pool at the campground was closed, but some of our fellow riders got to milk a cow and went for a hayride. Dinner both nights was Texas style brisket, but this evening there were apps made with deer meat...very good and we thought of Conrad.
Day 31 LaGrange, TX to Anderson, TX: 88 miles
Although we knew this would be a long day, it did not offer any special challenges we hadn't already seen, rolling hills, heat, and bumpy Texas roads. The highlights are the continuing wildflowers, nicer homes and ranches with fancier fences and gates, and three peacocks! The gates have gotten so beautiful that Craig thought if he had only taken a photo of each one, he could have published a book of Texas ranch gates. Good idea.... we'll do that next time! Our first break of the day was in Carmine. It was the best sag stop ever. The mayor, a local neighbor and a health food caterer all came out to the local park to provide us with green smoothies, fresh coffee, homemade pastries, healthy muffins and a hearty welcome to their town. We had subway sandwiches brought to us for lunch at the historic site of the original Baylor College, complete with "stone colulmns" and trees old enough to tell some interesting stories about the students. We also passed through Washington, TX, considered the birthplace of Texas, where Sam Houston met with his contemporaries to sort out their future. Lastly we noticed the road kill had changed and we were now seeing turtles and armadillos, not make it across the road. Our camp site is the Mexican Hill Ranch, and we are essentially staying amongst some common and not so common farm animals including cows, goats, donkeys, and guinea fowl.
Day 30 Lockhart, TX to LaGrange, TX: 59.1 miles
It was Easter Sunday so we started the day with a sunrise service at the Lockhart State Park Pavillion overlooking the entire county. It was a nice multi-denominational service with a good turnout and beautfiul sunrise. The rest of the day was beautiful riding on small country roads with some trees shading the entire road. At one point we were on 'Charcoal Road' which was red, but then we passed the plant that had perfectly stacked mesquite wood drying before being turned into charcoal. As afternoon passed, we noticed many families have Easter Sunday dinner outside under the trees. The weather was perfect for this and we guessed the opposite was true for 4th of July in this part of Texas. We were tempted to ride up to each family and ask for some lemonade! We arrived mid afternoon in LaGrange and took a few photos of the courthouse and prision turned visitor center before continuing to the campground. We finally had a pool we could use, and it was heavenly to jump in and float in the cool water. We had a special Easter dinner of spiral ham in the back yard of Brad's house. He is a bicyclist who met Bubba several years ago and has opened up his beautiful home to our group. He has a Coronado connection as well since his daughter attends the performing arts high school there. We may see him again soon in California.
Day 29 Blanco, TX to Lockhart, TX: 61.2 miles
Today was the first day that we woke up to a "wet" tent from the dew outside. We knew it would be humid all day. Fortunately it was overcast as well which reduced the heat a bit. We saw the setting full moon behind fast moving clouds as we ate breakfast in the breaking light. Our morning break was near the town of Wimberley which was having its monthly market day. This town must have had several thousand people come in to the market from all directions, because very few people lived here. It reminded us of a market day we saw in the middle of nowhere in Haiti, which was equally crowded, but had a donkey parking lot instead of truck parking lots. Unfortunately this market created a fair amount of pickup truck traffic for us throughout the day on the small country roads that did not have shoulders. Our lunch stop was at the Texas pie company. It had great sandwiches, individual pies, and great local decor. We got a chocolate pecan pie to go for desert after dinner. Fortunately, the sag vehicle was also there so we didn't have to carry it with us for the rest of the day. We continued on to Lockhart wich has a beautiful courthouse, recently restored. I bought some postcards and a bicycle themed reusable grocery bag at the local gift shop who generously donated money to one of our charities. At the entrace of Lockhart State Park were some typical Texas Blue bonnets and some red flowers that looked the same, but red. Is Texas a blue state or a red state? That night we had BBQ at famous Black's BBQ, the oldest smokehouse in Texas run by the same family.
Day 28 Kerrville, TX to Blanco, TX: 59 miles
Given that this was Good Friday, there was a three day weekend bicycle ride through town that we passed early in the morning. It was nice to see other bikers on the same roads, going the opposite direction. We were on very remote, narrow country roads, often with trees that touched to make a canopy. This was lovely, but the roads themselves were very rough, and continue to be hilly as we crossed each river and stream in that part of Texas. Our first rest stop was in the town called Comfort, which had restored many of their historic buildings and added shops and restaurants. Too early in the morning to eat or shop, but nice to look at given that we have seen so many other small towns on this trip in a dying mode. Our favorite re-do was an old gas station turned into a pizzeria. We also passed a small winery in Sisterdale (the grapes are not grown locally), and we finally saw some long horn cattle on a small ranch. There are lost of ranches (from 12 acres to 5000 acres) for sale, so if that is what you have always wanted to own, now is your chance. We are camped at Blanco State park, alongside the Blanco river. It is full of Easter weekend campers since the weather is perfect and the river has a great swimming hole. We had dinner in the camp with birthday cake for Hans, one of our riders from Europe. Then Bubba lined up many of the men, and shaved their heads for upcoming hotter days.
Day 27 Rest Day in Kerrville, TX
The city park where we were camped was absolutely beautiful, the leaves of the trees were out, some wild flowers along the river banks were in bloom and the river was inviting. We had our lunch sitting on a dock with our feet in the water, and later Sue swam in the river to cool off. There were small turtles, geese, ducks and fish. Craig went to the library to use the internet, the bike store to get more supplies and the post office to pick up a month's worth of mail. There was a full moon and it projected the images of the tree branches and leaves on our tent roof all night. The temperature was perfect for sleeping in a tent.
Day 26 Concan, TX to Kerrville, TX: 71 miles
We continue to be in the hill country which is near enough to Austin and San Antonio so there are cute towns, stores, rental cabins and private river clubs for weekenders. One town we rode through is Leaky, TX which is friendly to motocyclists (a Hog Heaven cafe as an example). There is also a type of art/craft work in metal sculptures and metal roosters seems to be a favorite along with a lone Texas star. We had some hills to climb but then were rewarded with some good long views of the valleys below that we were yet to cross. Texans definitely like their ranch humor, and we passed one ranch with a dozen toilets arranged with a sign, flush twice, Washington DC is a long way. This was known as "Throne Henge". We also passed a long fence line with a boot on top of every post. Speaking of fences, there are lots of very tall fences to keep in wild exotic species, electric fences to keep poachers out (we think), and every ranch has an elaborate entrance fence (some out of stone) to impress you since the ranch houses are not usually visible from the road. One ranch we passed is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. We finally came to the Guadeloupe River and crossed it about a dozen times (yes that means down and then up hill again each time) before we came to our campground alongside it in Kerrville. Some of the neighborhoods along the Guadeloupe River reminded of our old neighborhood in Port Indian, PA. Some nice houses, some small houses, some elevated on stilts, otheres not, all subject to flooding from time to time. We arrived in Kerrville and celebrated our halfway point by having a steak dinner in the campground.
Day 25 Brackettville, TX to Concan, TX: 73 miles
We woke up to a thunderstorm that dropped a few drops on us in the campground, but thankfully stayed ahead of us all morning. The result was a cooler temperature, wet roads, green grass, dark but interesting sky all highlighting the beautiful wild flowers along side the road. We finally have left the dry desert and are into green fields, roadways and ultimatley the Texas Hill country. We had lunch in Uvalde at the local grocery store (the best place for bikers to eat, with good selection, good prices, fast service and usually good rest rooms). We met a local lady who is the editor for the Uvalde Eagle, a local events newspaper. She was nice, but couldn't understand why we would want to ride our bikes cross country. I don't think she had ever been out of Texas, which was strange since she was clearly of Asian descent. Anyhow, a hispanic man sat down, taking our seating area, and the two of them got into an argument in Spanish over him being rude to us "white folks". It went on for some time, and by the time we left, and we said have a nice day, he turned to us in perfect English and said the same! Uvalde is a cute town with some nice historic houses and other historic buildings like the opera house and the court house. After lunch the sun came out, and a bit of side wind too, but it only highlighted the wild flowers again. We passed some farms growing corn, with those semi-circular watering devices, cows, baby mule by its horse mother, lots of goats with kids, and some penned big horn sheep that Sue caused to stampede when she called them out to Craig. In addition to all the wild flowers, there were three predominant types of butterflies, one type that was a pale white/cream color, one that was bright yellow and then one colored like a small monarch. Finally it should be mentioned that the ride smelled good all day between the wet grass from the rain and the wild flowers. The hill country had manageable hills to ride and it was obvious why people flock here from all over Texas. It doesn't look like the rest of dry brown Texas. Our campground, River Bend, was the best accomodation we have had so far, private cabins with beds, kitchenette, bathroom and even an air conditioner. We are living in luxury after one of the best rides of the trip.
Day 24 Comstock, TX to Brackettville: 30.5 miles by bike, 42 miles by sag vehicle
When we got up this morning we realized that we had spent less time sleeping in bed the night before than we had spent on our bicycle the day before. Sleeping and eating are normally quite restoritive to the body, but when you don't get enough, the body won't respond. Sue knew by mile 2 that her body was not able to perform. She knew by mile 20 that she would need to be sagged, and spend the next 10 miles brutally beating her body up to make it to the first rest stop at mile 30 as well as mentally beating herself up for not completing ELI (every last inch) of the coast to coast ride. This was difficult to admit failing one of her goals for the ride. Craig was just as happy to sag at mile 30 too. We had just crossed a very long bridge with lots of traffic, cross winds and a low railing. Everyone thought it was the scariest bridge to date. It was crossing the Amistad resevoir which is shared between US and Mexico. The white caps on the water showed how much wind there was. The ride continued with strong head winds, lots of heat and those awful chip and seal roads. After we got sagged, we had a nice lunch in town, stopped at Walmart for supplies, past Laughlin Air Force Base, and drove the rest of the way to the campground which was on the historic Ft. Clark Army post. It turns out everyone had a miserable day. Only 12 of 32 riders completed the ride this day. That night everyone looked forward to some good sleeping, and it was the first night camping that it was warm rather than cold.
Day 23 Sanderson, TX to Comstock, TX: 80.5 Miles
We were warned that this was likely to be our toughest day due to the heat and distance. It almost did us in. Although we were to drop about a thousand feet, net, there was so much constant up and down over the rolling hills that we never really relaxed all day. This day was a combination of challenging riding and the worst Texas chip and seal roads (translation - constant vibration to your hands, butt and feet) and heat. You could not even hear the semi trucks approaching the noise from your own bike bouncing constantly was deafening. Our lunch stop was at a museum to Judge Roy Bean - interesting only that they celebrate someone known as the "hanging judge". We cross a long scary bridge over the Pecos River. It had some nice view of the cliffs on either side, and quite a bit of water as well. Our camping location, Seminole Canyon State Park was quite beautiful, on top of a mesa overlooking the whole area we had just biked, although we got in so late we couldn't enjoy it for long. We had a nice sunset and sunrise and a thunderstorm and lightening show in the distance. There were also some Indian rock paintings, but you needed a park ranger to go view them.
Day 22 Marathon, TX to Sanderson, TX: 54.1 Miles
This has been our easiest day yet. Of the 54 miles all but about 10 miles were downhill. Not so steep that you didn't have to pedal, but nice to maintain about 20 mph speed most of the way. There was a tail wind too, bright sun, and very little traffic, what could be more perfect for bike riding?
We need to introduce you to one of the characters of our fellow riders. Her name is Ann, she has biked all over the world, and her thing is to find interesting things along the road and either collect them for someone, or arrange them for others to see. She is the person who found the stuffed monkey on the interstate a few weeks ago and set him upright to wave at the rest of us as we rode by. She also found Sue a feather to replace the one Rachel gave Sue at the start of the trip. Unfortunately Sue continues to lose the good luck feathers as she rides, but somehow the luck stays with us both. Ann has found bolts that are useful to the bike mechanic, and even found a metal cutout with the name Ken, for our masseuse, named Ken. A few days ago, Sue found a handful of unused lollipops by the side of the road, and arranged them in a floral pattern to greet the others as they passed. We mention all this because today we hit the holy grail (for Texas that is). Sue found, and Craig recovered a three point antler off the head of a deer that must have been road kill. He tried to pull it off the head, but it wouldn't budge, then he tried to saw it off the head with the 1 inch saw from his swiss army knife, but again no success. So he picked up a rock and broke it off the head. We are now debating whether to tape it to his handlebars like a hood ornament while we continue to ride through Texas for the next two weeks.
We got to Sanderson early in the day, mostly to beat the 95 degree weather. But we did take a moment to go to the old train station that they want to turn into a museum, and a junk store, the small Catholic Church, and the post office. We are thankfully staying in the school gymnasium tonight with air conditioning and great showers.
Day 21 Big Bend National Park, TX: Rest Day
We rode in three vans with the entire group to Big Bend National Park. We took the GPS with us, so you may have thought we were bike riding at super fast speeds, but no, it was the van. The park is 60 miles from Marathon, and then the three sections we visited we 20-30 miles apart, so a large area was covered. We had a nice lunch with a view of the valley, but our goal was to reach the Rio Grande river where it cuts through a cliff with Mexico. The river was small and muddy, and smelled bad, but some folks waded across the river into Mexico and back. There are no services/roads in Mexico at this point in the part. The vegetation was green near the river, but the rest of the park was dry with mostly Ocatillo and prickly pear cactus. Took some photos of the flowers at the visitor center. The yuccas in bloom were most spectacular. Also saw some white fungus like things about 6 inches high. As we left the park (this trip took all day), we did see the pig like pecunaries that are common in the park. Dinner was grilled salmon, sweet potatoes, green beans, and brownies, the best meal our cook has made so far (yes, I have demoted him from chef). We were entertained with some guitar music by the local artist who lives at "goat hill".
Day 20 Marfa, TX to Marathon, TX: 56.5 miles
This was one of our more interesting days. We decided to ride through Marfa's local streets on our way out of town because of the quirky, artsy nature of the town and the historic buildings. We headed to the restored courthouse which was the most beautiful building in town. A number of other commercial buildings were on the historic landmark list, and many seem to be the home of art galleries/displays or non profit organization headquarters. One display that intrigued us was a grouping of painted bowling pins (like individual people) on the outside of the store front, and a massive collection/arrangement of bowling trophies inside the store. It was the only piece of art in the entire store, which was closed. We also passed a hearse that had been converted into a "Texas limonsine" complete with paintings of the old west on the outside of the car, and big horns on the hood.
We had an absolutely beautiful uphill then downhill from Marfa to Alpine. On the way we passed the viewing area for the Marfa Lights. I won't explain here what they are, you can google them and read for yourself. Alpine is one of the towns that is a gateway to Big Bend National Park, and it is a cute town. The local bike shop is in a quonset hut and the grocery store provided a healthy lunch for us which we ate at our next rest stop. As we ate lunch, the sky opened up and rained on us. So we waited out the first wave, and then took off on our bikes to try to stay ahead of the successive waves of thunderstorms. The next wave started with serious gusty side winds, one of which blew Sue completly off her bike sideways into the grassy ditch. Fortunately neither Sue nor her bike were damaged, and both even avoided the goat head prickers that have been common for the last few days. In an attempt to not been the last of the group to arrive at the campsite, Sue and Craig got some advice from fellow rider Bob, to try to keep moving, one to two gears higher than is comfortable. The rain on and off was motivation to do this and we made it to camp before the rain hit our tent and bags. We were exhausted but we improved our average speed by almost two miles an hour and a massage the next morning fixed Sue's tired legs. We also found out after we arrived that this is the first rain they have had since last August!
The campground was the nicest we have stayed at yet, with cabins, RV parking, campsites and a communal eating area that was lovely. After dinner of grilled cheeseburgers, Sue took an optional impromptu tour of a neighborhood in town called "goat hill". The owner of the land had built some interesting houses and allows others to build on his land. Most are out of recycled everything, and there is a meditation house, a sweat lodge, communal bathroom and several elevated decks to stay higher than the flys when you have an evening meal or watch the sunset. Mike, one of the residents gave us a tour.
Day 19: Van Horne, TX to Marfa, TX: 75 miles
This was the day to try our patience, our stamina and even our willingness to enjoy the plainess of the views. Craig was sick with the bug that had been going around (its on its second round through camp), so he was dragging all day. Sue volunteered to lead all day so he could draft her from behind her bike and reduce his effort by 20%. We knew it would be a long day so we left first, before sunup. The first 20 miles were nice past some farms, a pecan grove and small ranches. At mile 40 we passed the 'Prada Store", yes it looks like a Prada shoe and handbag store, and even has products inside, but it really is an art display, like a joke, because who would wear Prada in the middle of dusty no where? We had lunch in Valentine TX, at the second smallest school in the state. The seniors (all five of them) sold us burritos to make money for their travel club. Although since their only toilet wasn'g working, we hoped they would use it to repair that. From there the road stayed perfectly straight for the next 35 miles. There were no wild flowers by the roadside, no bushes to use as bathrooms, no cattle to look at, NOTHING. The wind picked up, especially as the road climbed towards Marfa, making it harder to make any headway. Just before Marfa, we passed a house/ranch that had recently been burned to the ground (it also looked like a tornado hit the remnants). A truck pulled up and a man got out and put a "for sale" sign in the front yard. I don't think anyone will buy this awful place in the middle of no where with winds that just push around the dust and sand all day. We arrived last to the campground, only to find that our tent was full of sand again. An hour later, we had everything clean, made it to dinner, and finally a shower. This campground is designed by hippies, for hippies (which we don't claim to be). The toilet, sink, shower combination were outdoors with some wood and canvas giving about 75% privacy. We felt like we were in a shower scene from MASH. We were NOT happy campers that evening, but at least we were not mad at each other.
Day 18: Ft. Hancock, TX to Van Horne, TX: 74. 6 miles
Leaving Ft. Hancock we passed a number of irrigated farms that were just beginning to grow their crops, so we couldn't identify what was planted. One funny sign we saw on a farm building was "World Headquarters, Borderland Farms". It's nice to know that the locals have a good sense of humor. Once we left the farmland we climbed a mountain pass on Interstate 10. Normally the interstates are not bad roads to ride on, but this one was rough, bumpy and so full of truck traffic we could not really enjoy the ride. Craig was beginning to feel sick, so we had a subway sandwhich at a store frequently mostly by the border patrol. It was a hot day, with storm clouds in the distance. Van Horne was an interesting town with the sole purpose of providing truck stop options for all the trucks we saw. Even the old gas stations had been turned into food stops or motels for truckers. We stopped for ice cream before reaching the KOA campground.
Day 17: El Paso, TX to Ft. Hancock, TX: 55.6 miles
Beautiful mountain to the south of us with hill upon blue mountain hill in the haze. Mountain is probably in Mexico. Lots of pecan groves. All with signs that said they would prosecute if you even thought about picking up the nuts...so we didn't pick any up off the ground, we pulled them from the husks on the trees and ate last years crop...very tasty.
Very nice SAG stop under cottonwood trees beside a flowing irrigation flue.
Dinner at Angie's Place, meatloaf
Day 16: Columbus, NM to El Paso, TX: 74 miles
This was a fairly easy day that ended with us staying at a hotel (a rare occurance on this trip). The day started pretty cold and ended very hot (95).
In between we saw a mirage that made the buttes in the distance look like they were connected together at the top by a bridge. This is a scene that our Coronado neighbors will be familar with since we sometimes see the CoronadoIslands in a similar light. We also saw a perigrene falcon sitting on the tallest (and only) ancient telegraph pole within 20 miles. Pictures will be posted as soon as we can. Time to go to sleep in a real bed and sleep until 7 (because we have to wait for traffic to die down before we traverse El Paso on our way to Ft.Hancock.
Day 15: Rest Day in Columbus, NM
The highlight of the day was a package we recieved from Edye and Dick full of homemade biscotti. It was a big hit with everyone with coffee and tea at breakfast. Later we went to the Pancho Villa state park and learned that Pancho Villa, for whatever reason invaded Columbus, killed a number of locals before the US Army fought back. We then walked across the border to Palloma, Mexico for lunch at the Pink Store. It was fun because it was a small town and everyone was friendly.
Now that we have ridden for two weeks, it is a good time to highlight what hurts as you do a trip like this. On days one and two, with the mountains, it was our backs. On days 3-5, the butts start to wear thin in places. Then on the longer flatter days, your shoulders, neck and wrists hurt. Finally you notice that your legs are getting stronger, so they begin to hurt. By now, everything hurts just a little bit, so that's enough to distract you from complaining about anything hurting. None of it is enough to stop riding, but we have definitely enjoyed our motrin and our sunscreen.
A reminder that we won't be able to post verbal updates for a week while this software is updated. Look for new notes on April 2nd and follow our GPS track in the meantime.
Day 14: Rodeo, NM to Columbus, NM: 95.6 miles
This was to be our longest mileage day and is was rolling dry grassland without much of any significant scenery. The two high points (literally in one case) was crossing the Continental Divide, and then seeing the historic marker that marked the location of where Geronimo surrendered to the US government, thus ending the Indian wars. The entire route had an abandoned narrow gauge railroad bed (no rails) alongside the road which had been used to move copper from Bisbee to El Paso. We stayed overnight in a new elementary school and had dinner at Three Salsas Mexican restaurant which had the best Chili Reyenos.
Day 13: Bisbee, AZ to Rodeo, NM: 78.2 miles
Leaving Bisbee you pass a BIG, REALLY BIG, hole in the ground that was one of the first copper mines in town. The entire trip today was down hill, down wind (about 15 kts of tail wind) and absolutely gorgeous. The riding was so easy that we took photos and videos while coasting. If only every day was like this. This was also the first day that we had almost no traffic, so it was quiet. The road was smooth, we could hear the bees and smell the honey that was being made. The last of the snow was melting in the mountains and the hills were rolling along as we were. A few unusual sights: a local bike rider carrying a hand gun (legal in AZ), some llamas grazing in a pasture, a hill that looked like an octopus sitting in the sand, and a SONDE (a tethered aerostat that looks like a blimp used for border patrol). Rodeo is the smallest town we have stayed at, one bar, one restaurant, one RV park, and about 20 people. But we had two great lectures at dinner. One was by a graduate student who was tracking big horn sheep lamb survival, and the other was by the border patrol. The similarity in their two jobs was astounding. Both had to hike long distances in the mountains, track foot prints, use electronic listening devices and at some point collar/handcuff the animals/humans. Both carried weapons, more for the bobcats, mountain lions and rattlesnakes than anything else.
Day 12: Tombstone, AZ to Bisbee, AZ: 24.3 miles
Don't let the low mileage fool you. This was our toughest hill climb day. The top of the hill was so steep, that we had to stop and rest about every hundred yards. This made it tough to recleat our shoes into our pedals, which made it harder to climb the hill, which made us pant more, etc. etc. We would not have made it without the great training we got from Maria and Jess at our spin classes at the Imperial Beach Fitness Center.... in fact at times we were channelling Jess's barking to keep us moving....Thank you! No sooner did we get to the top of the hill, then we had a steep drop through a tunnel to arrive in Bisbee. Once through the tunnel we enjoyed the downhill into town past dozens of brightly painted small historic homes (around 1915 era), that the hippies from Berkeley saved after Bisbee became a ghost town when the mine ran out of copper in the 70's. We had a lovely lunch at the HighDesert cafe with our fellow riders, while sitting in the sun on the patio. It was the best, healthiest food yet on this trip. After some leisure time strolling the streets of Bisbee, we took a trolley ride tour through town and ended up at the Bisbee Brothel Bike Shop for a wine and cheese party. This is a combination museum and shop in a building that used to be a brothel, and the owner collects steel bikes (of the vintage Sue is riding on for this trip). He is also an official for the International Cycling Federation and had his own opinions about Lance Armstrong's success. We had dinner in a vegan restaurant owned by two Hollywood producers. It was delicous. We liked everything about this town, except our camping accomodations: cold showers, cold camping and at the top of a steep hill in town. Well you can't have it all. By the way, for those of you on the east coast, Bisbee reminded us of Jim Thorpe, PA, also a mining town.
Day 11: Tucson, AZ to Tombstone, AZ: 69.5 miles
Since we stayed in cabins the night before, we were warm to start our ride which included a beautiful but long climb up a mountain. The mountains all still had snow caps, which caused a cold light breeze that kept us refreshed all day. The middle of the ride was a slow down hill into an area called the wine country.... but we didn't see any vines, and we had nothing to whine about! We spent most of our rest stops adding or removing layers of clothes depending whether we were going uphill or down hill. We had lunch at Cunningham's Ranch house which served up home made Navy bean soup, perfect fuel for the next 40 miles. The local ranchers have gotten artistic with the signs on their gates, or even just on a small hill near the road. They have fashioned life size metal silloutte cutouts of cowboys, cattle, sheep, dogs, etc. so when you look up at them, you think there is someone rounding up cattle nearby. At one point the animal I saw was a Bramha bull, which seemed out of place in Arizona. Craig and I got to Tombstone last, which meant we missed the reenactment of the OK corral gun battle, but enjoyed dinner in an historic saloon in town with a great two person band.
Day 10: Catalina, AZ to Tuscon, AZ: 38.1 miles
This was a great day. We left our hotel after recovery from our dust storm. We rode today thru rain, sleet, hail, wind and sun. Does that sound like fun? Probably not, but some of the people on the ride thought it was the BEST ride of their life. Craig thought it was very weird to ride in the hail, but the scenery was incredible...some of the best anywhere.
As I write this blog, Sue and I are sitting in a community center at the RV park where we are camping and watching a movie with the local residents.
A VERY GOOD DAY
Day 9: Catalina, AZ ("Rest" day...sort of)
We had a dust storm last night that coated the inside of our tent with 1/4 inch of sand and dirt. We are in a hotel for tonight to get everything cleaned and back on the road tomorrow. They had hail, snow, sleet and rain today and winds with gusts to 50mph last night. Wild weather, but fortunately we had a rest day planned for today and will be able to recover without losing our pace. So far, Sue and Craig have both ridden all the miles or (ELI) as the organizer calls it (Every Last Inch), lol.
Day 8: Casa Grande, AZ to Catalina, AZ: 60.1 miles
We had a strong head wind for most of the day, and then a side wind at the end which made this our hardest day to date. Many folks took the sag van, but we made it all the way to the end. We had lunch at Dairy Queen and enjoyed a large chocolate milkshake, guilt free. The most interesting thing about the entire ride today was approaching, passing and then retreating from an iconic mountain in AZ that looks like a coyote baying at the moon (Pichote Peak). It was beautiful to watch it change perspective throughout the day. We have also enjoyed some native flowers blooming alongside the road
Day 7: Gila Bend to Casa Grande: 78.8 miles
This was our longest distance yet, but as the ride was mostly flat, except for ten miles of mild rolling hills, it was manageable. There wasn't much except open space, so during one of the necessary "stops" along the side of the road, we found some unopened beer and about $4 in pesos. Someone obviously left there in a hurry. We passed a large National Guard Air Training Center, as well as a small crop dusting air strip. The fields began to change to more hay and some small cattle feed lots or dairies. As we neared Casa Grande, there was one large high rise building, an Abbott facility. No idea why they needed a tall building when there was so much open land. The camp ground had a nice group recreation building for dinner and afterwards we enjoyed the stars.
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