When Ben and I crawl into our tiny portable home at the end of the day, we do one of two things: read or sleep. The last thing either of us wants to do (we’ve talked about this many times) is write about all the exciting or unexciting things that happened to us in our waking lives. This, as you can probably imagine, makes it extremely difficult to keep our “fans” up to date about our journey, which although it has proven itself tedious, is something I think is important, not only to keep all of you entertained, but to help Ben and I remember what on earth we were up to many years from now.
However, writing a long post about The past few weeks is not the kind of thing either of us look forward to doing. So this time around, I’m going to post all the pictures I took and never got around to posting, write a short caption, and perhaps remember a few stories along the way. It is quite possible that I am about to do the same thing as I did before. Here goes.
As we were riding out of Albuquerque, I managed to rip off a chuck of skin off my ankle with my pedal (for the first month I had a ton of scratches and bruises all over my calves from those damn things) right as a light turned green. Being the tough biker chick that I am, I figured the blood would dry and life would go on, so I kept on riding, and this is what happened. Being right on the scrunchy part of my achilles, I reopened the wound with every step. It bled for several days, hurt for several weeks, and has only just lost its scab, pretty much exactly a month later. When I first dressed my wound on the side of the road, a nice lady pulled over, told me she was a registered nurse, and asked if she could be of assistance. I kindly turned her away (remember, tough biker chick), but am very thankful for those small moments of kindness people go out of there way to give.
The day after my injury, when we rode 112 miles. Taken shortly after lunch, we were riding with severe side winds (our frame bags turn our bikes into little sails), a 180 degree shift from before lunch, where the strong tailwind helped us ride ~75 miles in a few hours. It took us until sundown to ride the remaining 40 miles. I don’t know where I had the energy to take this picture, but here it is.
Palo Duro Canyon, TX. Our first experience with Texas state parks, where they charge you a day fee on top of your camping fee, even when we’re only really there at night. We avoid paying as much as possible.
The only reason we went into Lubbock is because we needed our bikes fixed, otherwise, it was kind of out of the way. So of course the first thing we did was pull into a bike shop – Broadway Bikes. We drop our bikes off with Grant and Brandon, and head off to lunch. When we returned, not only did Grant offer us a place to stay for the night, but he gave us a pretty sweet discount. We exchanged information and then headed out to kill some time before Grant got off work. First we went to the ice cream place pictured above, then headed over to a nearby coffee shop, our signature move. Only a few sips into our coffee and chai latte, some blond guy plops himself in a chair across from us and starts blabbering about bikes, dudes riding horses, and who knows what else. Three hours later, and it turns out he’s a really nice guy who admired what we were doing. He ended up taking us out to dinner at a Thai restaurant (apparently Texans really love their Thai food). After eating meal number 1, we headed over to Grants house, where he and a bunch of his friends surprised us with beer, fajitas, and good company.
Texans are some of the nicest, well mannered people I have met, period. They have showed me that good company can turn even in a place like Lubbock, with only wind, dirt, and Texas Tech to its name, into a wonderland. Keep it up, y’all!
The view from our campsite at a state park. We pitched our tent in a sandbox, hoping to avoid all the goatheads (these giant thorns that will puncture a hole in just about everything). Sure enough, when we crawled into bed, both our sleeping pads had deflated before we even had the chance to sit on them. it was a rough night, but we successfully avoided having to pay any ridiculous fees.
After our tragic night in the sandbox, we hunkered down and got a hotel in Eden, after riding all day in side winds. We needed to dry out our tent from the night before to prevent any mildew from collecting. Can you see Ben? We also got a chance to patch up our sleeping pads.
The next day we were facing ferocious headwinds. We rode six miles out of town only to ride six miles back, realizing we might not even make it to Menard, only 20 miles away. We swallowed our pride, and after two attempts, managed to fit “Help us get to Fredericksburg” on a bag. We stood at an intersection for 2 hours. Finally, a man named Jud, who built golf courses, and his dog gave us a ride to Menard. As we were pulling into a town, Jud turns to us and says, “I think I just found you another ride.” He gets out of his car and introduces us to Rusty, who reluctantly agrees to take us to Mason, his hometown. Finally from Mason, after stopping for some coffee and pie, we decided the wind had died down enough to give riding another shot.
Between Mason and Fredericksburg. Ben’s hair was doing fantastic things. I told him to pose like a talk show host and man, I could not stop laughing. I’ll admit I even laughed while looking at these again.
We ended up hitch hiking again only 16 miles away from Fredericksburg since it was getting dark and we were both exhausted. We were just about to give up and find a place to stealth camp when a truck turned around and picked us up! Ben and I had to share the front seat while these three rather large men squeezed into the back. It says a lot that they still picked us up even though they technically didn’t have enough room. The older man driving gave us a little tour when we got into town.
All in all, it was a successful first hitch hiking experience for the both of us.
Some fun things on the wall of Lance Armstrong’s bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s, in Austin. This was one of those rainy days. Right after we left, Ben proposed, “Lets go down to the river.” As we continued to walk further from anything to duck under, the rain continued to come down harder. We managed to get utterly soaked and hung out in a parking garage until we realized we were just going to have to make a run for it. We didn’t actually see the river, but we sure as hell walked through it.
Old courthouse in Ellis County, near Midlothian. Ben’s Uncle Greg gave us the tour. Apparently the architect, upset that the mayor? wouldn’t let him marry his daughter, showed his growing displeasure in the faces on the building. They start off smiling, and end up frowning as you walk around the building.
The day after we left Austin, we ran into these two guys, Andrew and Caleb, who had started in Albuquerque, stopped in Austin, and were headed to New Orleans (same as us!). We rode out to Giddings with them, where they turned south to Houston. Then we decided to kill some time (we only had a few miles to go before we got to Carol’s) at a park. How many slides do you see?
After we left Carol’s. Between Richards (our next destination) and Austin was some of the most beautiful riding, mainly because of all the wildflower and lush rolling hills.
In the morning we ran into Peter, a guy from Holland, who had already ridden the same distance as us, in the same time, WITH a headwind, and was planning on getting another 40 done after. He was a beast.
Later that day we ran into the only person who has had less stuff on their bike than we do (I forgot his name), who had been on the road for over a year. He was being followed by two Danish folks we didn’t get to meet.
While we have run into people in the past, it was nothing compared to this. Before, we were mainly traveling on our own made up route, but since Austin, we have been riding on the Southern Tier mapped out by the American Cycling Association, the road most travelled, hence all the other tourists. It’s almost like being at disneyland.
In Richards, Tx, we stayed at Mexican Hill Ranch aka Check Point. The man who owns the place, Ernie, just moved out to Texas with his German wife Doris after living in Germany for 20 years. He started his hostel-like setup as a way to give his foreign friends a place to stay, but soon opened up his doors to motorcyclists and bicyclists alike.
The sign we’re standing at above is incomplete. Ernie plans on putting another bike above the orange sign with an arrow pointing east showing the distance to St. Augustine, and an arrow west showing the distance to San Diego on the bike below. He hopes that one day bicyclists worldwide will have taken their picture in front of this sign. We were one of the firsts.
While we were there, we also got the chance to bottle feed two calves and try a goose egg for the first time.
The next night we stayed at Shepherd’s Sanctuary just outside of Shepherd. This place was AMAZING. Peach, our host, had turned what most people would consider junk, into a wonderland. A full kitchen (filled with all sorts of goodies), a small garden amidst a bunch of old playground toys, a heap of empty bottles that will one day become the walls of a bathroom, and much much more. Her cabins were all themed differently, and elaborately decorated in amazingly unoffensive ways. Definitely seems like a fun place to throw a party…
The morning after…
This day, we ran into 6 cyclists. A German couple, a solo American, a solo someone that we didn’t stop to meet, and a French couple. All the ones we talked to were headed to Coldsprings, but we told them to check out the place in Shepherd (10 or so miles before) anyways. Apparently the French couple met up with the German couple a couple weeks ago and didn’t get along. They decided to go slow that day. Ha!
Last night in Texas, we stayed with Debbie and her dobermans just south of Kirbyville. Only 6 weeks old, their little paws were too big for their bodies. They almost reminded me of little ducks. Watching them hop up the stairs was pretty darn cute.
For both our first and last nights in Texas, we had barbecue. Yum. Texas barbecue sauce isn’t as thick and smoky as the stuff I’ve experienced out in CA. Instead, it’s almost like salsa, and absolutely delicious!
Right now we’re staying at an RV park in DeRidder, LA that has a couple of donkeys. They keep hee-hawing every once in a while – it’s kind of hilarious. Also, its finally bug season. I’m already working on my second batch of bites.
Oh, and welcome to Louisiana.