Thursday, October 28, 2010


Thursday 10-28-10. Despite some rough pavement, the ride from Fort Clark to Del Rio was very enjoyable. No major climbs, temp in the low 70's. minimal traffic, and an overcast sky. Closing in on Del Rio, we passed Laughlin Air Force Base, where single prop trainers buzzed about like angry hornets. We had been communicating with the Del Rio bike shop that ordered new tires for Ann's bike. We have now ridden 1,735 miles. Unfortunately, the tires did not arrive today, so we overnight in Del Rio and await their delivery tomorrow. The layover gave us time to strategize how we should best tackle the next 452 miles to El Paso. This is a desolate section with stretches of 80 miles without water or places to stay except some primitive and waterless campgrounds. From Del Rio, we have a multitude of climbs for approximately 200 miles that top out at 6,200 feet. We previously met 2 cyclists heading east that had sag support on this section. A number of people we have met in Texas have advised us to skip this portion of the route due to some drug cartel issues. However, there are several interesting things tucked away in this region that we don't want to miss - prehistoric rock art in Seminole Canyon Park, the mysterious lights of Marfa, and perhaps McDonald Observatory. All of these are off route and would add a number of additional days to our ride. So......we decided to rent a vehicle. We will take turns cycling while one drives sag carrying lots of water and food. This will allow us to drive to some of these poiint of interest, then return to our route and begin cycling again. Who says you can't have it all? Devoted friend, Martee Robinson, had volunteered to sag this section for us; however, she has already gone above and beyond the call of duty by keeping our dog, Zenee, entertained. Until we reach El Paso, our internet access may be limited. We will stay in touch as often as possible. We are extremely appreciative of your interest and support. Buenos Noches.


Wednesday 10-27-10 Uvalde to Brackettville/Fort Clark Springs, Texas. We left on Hwy 90 and rode past a few plowed fields before the desert began dominating the landscape: creosote, cacti, mesquite, sage, and Joshua trees became our roadside scenery. It is desolate country and our route had no services for 43 miles. The pavement had a rough surface that caused a lot of vibration into our hands/teeth. We climbed a constant series of long hills that stair-stepped us through the desert. Around 11:30 a hot wind kicked up out of the west. We saw a number of Monarch butterflies giving their all, battling the wind on their attempt to make it to Mexico. At one point, we rode past several high tech night lights and cameras located across the highway from a Border Patrol Station where vehicles traveling east were being searched. It made us aware that we are less than 100 miles from the border with Mexico. We later discovered that the temp hit 95 during our ride which made the oasis of Ft. Clark Springs, near Brackettville, a welcome destination. Ann found this gem on the Internet and it is listed on the National Historic Registry. Fort Clark was established at Las Moras Spring in 1852 at a site long favored by indigenous Coahuiltecan Indians, and later by Commanche and Apache tribes. It was a strategic anchor fort in a cordon of army posts that were established to guard the border with Mexico and protect settlements in the area from Indian attacks. By 1875, there were 275 stationed at the fort residing in limestone barracks, officers quarters, and complimented by numerous other stone buildings that served the fort. There is a long honor roll of officers that served there: George C. Marshall (U.S. Chief of Staff in WWII), Gen. Jonathan Wainwright (hero of Bataan), and George Patton. The fort was officially deactivated in 1946. Today, Fort Clark is a privately owned retirement/recreation community encompassing 2,700 acres. The large spring still feeds Las Moras Creek as well as a 300' x 100' swimming pool that has year round 68 degree water, which we thoroughly enjoyed after a hot day on the road. Enormous oak, pecan, and magnolia trees surrounded the pool in a park-like setting. We learned that the Monarchs had just blanketed the creek days ago on their flight south. Some of the old stone barracks have been reconfigured to motel rooms. We stayed the night in the George Patton barracks directly across from the original parade ground. Many of the old limestone buildings have been renovated and are home to residents living in this lovely and unique place. Liz and Tony Hodges invited us into their home which has been beautifully renovated/decorated with the eye of an artist. Liz happens to paint fabulous colorful canvasses when she is not busy teaching students at the Alternative School in Brackettville. Thanks so much Liz and Tony!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Tuesday, 10-26-10. Yippee ki yay-No headwind today! The weather service reported a 5mph breeze out of the NW and we are headed south and then west. We changed a rear flat on Ann's bike Shirley before we left the motel in Bandera. Once again, we lingered too long at breakfast talking with Doug who is a cyclist/runner and does historical restoration work. He was envious of our adventure. The first 20 miles on Hwy173S had us cycling over and past stony hills. At the top of the climbs we could look back and see the ridge lines of the hill country that captivated us for the previous six days. We experienced a steep descent at mile 21 and then had a prairie-flat 8 miles to Hondo Tx. With a slight tailwind, we easily cranked 18-20mph stopping only once to take a photo of a beautiful field of cabbage. At Hondo, we turned west on Hwy 90. The road was flat with a shoulder that, at times, was somewhat rough. We biked past plowed fields that apparently grew cotton as evidenced by the large amount of the white fluffy stuff along the roadside. The plowed fields alternated with desert scrub as the highway ran parallel with railroad tracks that had a reasonable amount of train traffic. We crossed several creeks and the Frio River, all bone dry. That served as a reminder that as we travel west, water and settlements will become somewhat scarce. We arrived in Uvalde at 4:30 after biking 70 miles.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Sunday, 10-24-10, was a rest day in Kerrville. The most enjoyable part to a nice relaxing day was the opportunity to go to dinner with Tim and Nikko, whom we had met in Navasota a week ago. (You may have seen them on a previous post dressed in Renaissance garb) They live fairly close to Kerrville and were nice enough to drive over and chauffeur us to a lovely spot on the Guadalupe River for dinner. We had a ball sharing stories and watching the sunset. Nikko wowed us in his new kilt. What a delight, thanks Tim & Nikko!

Monday, 10-25-10, we got a late start in order to let some heavy fog burn off. We headed south on 173. Despite a steady wind blowing from the southwest, the scenery was awesome as we climbed our final hills of the Texas Hill Country. Nikko informed us last night that the Texas Hill Country is as large as the country of Scotland, but only a small part of the State of Texas. We have been riding in this beautiful hill country for 6 days and have thoroughly enjoyed both the scenery and the people we have met. At mile 14, we came upon the Camp Verde General Store/post office/cafe. The present 2-story stone building was built at the turn of the century after a flood washed away the original building founded in 1857. In 1854, Jefferson Davis (who later became president of the Confederacy) petitioned Congress to appropriate $30,000 so the army could experiment with camels for military purposes. In April 1856, 33 camels arrived from Egypt to Ft. Camp Verde located one mile from the general store. By 1865, the fort had 100 camels that reportedly outperformed the horses/mules usually used as pack animals. However, after the Civil War, the War Dept. did not have the funds to continue the camel experiment. Today the Camp Verde General Store remains as a popular gathering place for people living in the area. During our stop at the store, we were once again pleasantly ambushed by friendly Texans who easily convinced us to stay awhile and get acquainted. We did finally make our way to Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World. Once again, we had an opportunity to visit with our new friends, Tim and Amy over a pleasant dinner. Thank you Tim and Amy, we hope our paths will cross again! Is it true what Mark Chestnut sings: Texas Is Bigger Than It Used To Be?

Sunday, October 24, 2010


On Saturday 10-23-10, when we left Fredericksburg, it was a blustery overcast morning with a powerful wind blowing from the direction we were headed. We shifted up to the bigger cogs in the rear and the lower in the front, put our heads down, and spun on toward Kerrville. The wind didn't allow the luxury of much looking around or stopping to enjoy the vistas. At one brief stop, it blew Ann's bike over, about 77 lbs. loaded. It took us 3 1/2 hours to bike 28 miles. When we arrived, we visited the Hill Country Bike Shop and later checked in at the Y.O. Resort Ranch Motel. Ann had difficulty finding a room on the weekend and had this pictured as somewhat like a YMCA. Nice surprise! Later that afternoon, a thunderstorm swept through and we were informed that hail and 60mph winds assaulted the area we left this am. We dodged a big bullet today. Although our hotel fronts Hwy 16, it is still a part of the Y.O. Ranch. Since 1880, the Y.O. has been the oldest family owned working ranch in Texas and comprises 40,000 acres. The entrance for the working part of the ranch is about 30 miles from the hotel. The ranch has longhorn cattle, as well as exotic wildlife, and facilitates photography tours, trail drives, and retreats. The hotel has a lot of western art, several large branding iron chandeliers, and a western themed saloon. When we walked into the saloon, there were lots of boots, big buckles, and cowboy hats bellied up to the bar. We played a game of pool while listening to the juke box moan "I bought the shoes that walked out on me." This is an interesting place jumping with an Elks convention this weekend. Joshua Brown is credited with the founding of Kerrville. He discovered giant cypress trees near the upper Guadalupe River which led to the development of a shingle-making camp that is today the location of this town.

Friday, October 22, 2010


VEREINS KIRCHE First public building in Fredricksburg. Served as town hall, school, fort & church

Friday, 10-22-10, we check out of the brand-spanking new Luxury Suite Hotel in Blanco where Ann had convinced the owner, Bharat Patel, to discount our room even below their corporate rate. She has done this several times on our trip and has earned the reputation as The Negotiator. As we left, the pavement was wet from rain showers and the sky had low dark clouds racing about. We decided to go 35 miles off route and check out Fredricksburg Texas. Our friend Paula, and several people we have met, have this quaint German town on their "don't miss list." We left Blanco on 1623 and for 5 miles enjoyed a flat section of road that paralleled the Blanco River. We then encountered some gradual climbs reminding us that we were still in Hill Country. At about mile 10, the hills became more pronounced-long with steep grades. We had to hold on very tight on our descents because of strong crosswinds. Ann commented that she had to use her granny gear for the first time; however, it wasn't enough and the last 50 feet were conquered by a walk. We saw large rock outcroppings similar to terrain on the high desert Colorado Plateau. We connected to Ranch Road 1888 and stopped briefly in Luckenbach where we saw no sign of "Willie, and the boys." Six miles on US Hwy 290 into Fredricksburg brought us back in touch with the traffic we had escaped all morning. A weekend Food & Wine Festival is on tap for the weekend. Willkommen signs were everywhere in town as were tasting rooms for wine and beer. Main Street Fredricksburg is full of interesting historic buildings housing art galleries, shops, museums, and German restaurants. It was founded in 1846 after a treaty with the Comanches It is said this was the only treaty with Native Americans that was never broken. A bronze monument in a lovely garden by the Marktplatz commemorates this occasion.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Yes, this is yesterday. But, Ann got to play in Cypress Creek too!

Thursday, 10-21-10, we have breakfast at The Wimberley Cafe and started climbing the Hill Country Trail on FR2325. We biked past some beautiful grassland fronted by wildflowers and dotted with large oak trees. After topping out on one of the hills, we saw a heard of brown-faced goats being chapperoned by a large Great Pyrennes. The big dog trotted toward us to check us out and the goats followed close behind. Wherever the dog went, the goats followed, no doubt aware that this giant dog is their protector. We connected to Rd 165 which took us the last 8 miles into Blanco. Just outside of town we crossed a section of the green Blanco River. This town is situated 45 miles south of San Antonio and 45 miles west of Austin. It was settled in 1853 and is the boyhood home of Lyndon Johnson. It was another beautiful day in Texas Hill Country.


Vickie, Ann, and Billy Hallmark
Denise, you know her by her shirt, and Laurie

On Wednesday 10-20-10, we left Buda (they think you're a local if you pronounce it Beuda as in beautiful) after a great breakfast and being overindulged by the friendly staff at Hampton Inn. They printed great directions for us and gave us each ice cold water for our ride. We began on FR2770 that is a narrow road with minimal traffic and gradual climbs. We connected to FR150 that took us to the small hamlet of Mountain City, population 673, which has a high school football stadium that would be the envy of most small colleges. We saw signs announcing we were on the Texas Hill Country Trail. At about 8 miles, the climbs became longer and steeper. The landscape changed from lowland scrub to rocky hillsides and a profusion of encroaching cedars that dominated the roadside vegetation. Wildflowers were abundant which continues to surprise us this late in the season. Our climbs rewarded us with treetop views of gabled roofs peeking out of the heavily forested hillsides in the distance. Our descents were an exhilarating 35mph. Ranch Road 12 delivered us to the unique village of Wimberley. Colorful fall banners, artistic Halloween arrangements, a kaleidoscope of flowers & street art informed us that we had arrived in a very eclectic place. As we passed a guy sweeping in front of a shop, he shouted greetings and questions which lured us back. We returned and met Billy Hallmark and Vickie. That resulted in an hour and 1/2 of great conversation. Billy is a musician/songwriter who gave us a copy of his CD "Still Fallin" He said we could smear some peanut butter on it and eat it if we got hungry on the road. It was great hearing the stories and inspirations behind the songs on the album. At their suggestion, we meandered over to the Cypress Creek Cafe for lunch and met Denise and Laurie who are what every waitress should strive to become-a great balance of efficiency and friendliness. After visiting with them, well......the biking portion of our day was done. Everyone was so enthusiastic about their town that we knew we were meant to spend a little more time there. We went several yards down the street and checked into the Log Cabin Motel right on Cypress Creek where we later played in the water. We ended the day on the porch of our log motel quietly staring at a big white moon while being serenaded by tree frogs. The excitement of the day was seeing a large herd of deer stampeding down a hillside and a flock of turkeys parading past our cabin. To paraphrase a quote from Lance Armstrong, "Today was not about the bike." Today was all about meeting some wonderful people in a very beautiful place, Wimberley: Texas Hill Country.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


On Tuesday 10-19-10, we left Bastrop at 8:30 on Hwy 71/21 that took us to FR20, a narrow, hilly, ribbon of pavement that was prowled by big trucks. At mile 10 we stopped at a roadside store where we met Mike who was wearing a Texas longhorn ballcap. Mike likes maps and knew the roads in this area very well. He suggested we take FR812 to Hwy 21. 812 was great-quiet, smooth, and truck free. It passed mostly scrub land with small modest homesteads. Some had a few head of cattle, others had chickens. while a few had a collection of appliances and old cars that stopped working years ago. On Hwy 21 we encountered high speed traffic with about every 3rd vehicle being a big truck. However, we enjoyed a wide clean shoulder until we crossed the Caldwell/Hays county line. When you creep up a long curvy steep hill loaded with 40+ pounds, your bike can sometimes wobble a bit. On one of the hills, there was NO wobble room. So we pushed our bikes to the top using them as shields between us and a steady stream of trucks. We have concluded Texas surely has more trucks than Baptists and that is alot of trucks! While on 21, we saw a multitude of sunflowers and patches of prickly pear. We also saw a scissor-tail flycatcher which is one of our favorite birds. The big blue Texas sky was almost hidden by large white clouds that gave us some shelter from the afternoon sun, but were no doubt, somewhat responsible for our headwind. While taking a 10 minute break before heading into Buda, a nice guy pulled up and gave us 2 "country" pears. The kindness of the people we meet in this state is encouraging.