With tornado warnings and flash flood alerts buzzing our smartphones and appearing on the Google maps, we spent our morning secure in the Best Western in Deridder. As we watched the interactive weather maps on Intellicast, plans were made to venture out later in the afternoon during a break in the storms. Hopefully, there are no flooded roads between here and Leesville where the closest movie theater is located. We drove north to check out the theater and crossed a few bridges along the way where the water was getting high. When we arrived in Leesville, alas, the theater was closed, so we headed back to Deridder for dinner.
Bill has been promised a Cajun meal tonight – something called gumbo. Doesn’t sound to appetizing to me, but I’m no connoisseur of fine cuisine. As long as there is chicken or a burger, I’ll be fine. I might even venture a taste of said gumbo. We dined at Cecil’s Cajun Kitchen
and the food was quite spicy by my taste buds. I had the gumbo, others had jambalaya, red beans and rice, etouffe and other cajun delicacies. I had to have a banana pudding for dessert to soothe the taste buds. The rest of the team had beignets.
This morning (Day 35) tears were shed by the team as they had their Boo Hoo breakfast – their last one in Texas. NOT! We did have a beautiful sunrise this morning,
but Kim couldn’t wait to have “Texas in her rearview mirror”.
She was jumping for joy as she made it to the other side of the Sabine River and saw the Louisiana State sign – Bienvenue a Louisiane!
After a short lunch stop on the line – (at the Sabine River), the team crossed over into Louisiana and pedaled a few more miles to De Ridder.
With thunderstorms and rain predicted for tomorrow, the team has elected to stay in the Best Western and take a “break” day tomorrow. Guess we’ll be walkin around De Ridder, LA for awhile. Great dinner at Thai Basil, a short walk across the Walmart parking lot and we were there.
Side note – the motorists have been extra kind and cautious with our riders!
Kim says, “Monotony builds as we come to the end of our trek in Texas”. Today’s route (Day 34) on farm roads took the team through some heavily logged areas which resulted in heavy logging truck traffic.
We have now come to the land of swamps, bayous, Spanish moss , little green lizards,and areas where you don’t want to go too far off road to find a potty break as an alligator may be lurking there.
The team headed out this morning from outside of Cold Spring towards Shepherd and kept up a pretty fast pace as they cycled on towards Romayor and Dolen.
After a short lunch stop in the middle of nowhere between Thicket and Honey Island, the team pedaled on towards Kountze where Kim made a quick stop to buy some “greens” and smoked neck bones; not sure what this concoction will be but if Kim’s cooking it will be good.
From Kountze to Silsbee was a short trip and the campground was just a short ways outside of Silsbee.
Very nice digs here at the Red Cloud RV park. This is our last night in Texas and we will treat ourselves tonight at the Honky Tonk Texas Bar and Grill located right next to our campground.
We did not have internet in Navasota so this will be a summary of the last two days. The cyclists had a nice easy ride from La Grange to Navasota.The team did a little tour around Round Top and found some interesting sights. (See below).
During the lunch stop a local cyclist stopped by and shared some of the local history. He was a retired doctor, (urologist) and shared that Don Imus retired there and bought a ranch and built a house across the road from his own retirement spread. Nice to hear the local perspective on the area. The cyclists arrived in Navasota and had located the municipal park, containing 10 sites, water, electric, and a “rustic” washhouse. We arrived early enough to ride our bikes into town for a manicure for Kim and a pedicure for Karen. Very nice! (Even got a back massage from the chair).
Back at the RV, Bill was caught snoozing… I think it was his night to cook dinner so we had leftovers – German sausages taste good at any stage! Kim had received apples from Marcus (the retired Marine we met the day before in Bastrop and La Grange), so she whipped up a great apple crumble and baked it (yes we have an oven in this RV).
With some pecan praline ice cream, the apple crumble was scrumdillyumptious! Thanks, Kim, for your culinary skills. I know, I forgot to bring vanilla.
When the apple crumble was almost done, I started smelling something burning. We checked everything in the RV and nothing seemed to have caught on fire. Then I looked outside and saw smoke in the not too far distance. After a quick walk it was determined that some of these ranchers are not respecting the Burn Ban that is in effect. There were several small fires burning, trash piles, I guess; however, it made for some interesting sunset photos.
Day 33 – the team left Navasota and headed for Cold Spring.
They cycled across Lake Conroe and through the Sam Houston National Forest. Boy, has the scenery changed – real trees! I was mistaken as there are still hills to climb, but they are rolling.
The team stopped for lunch in New Waverly – sandwiches in the RV and since the sign indicated pies, we ventured in to see what kind of pie and came out with a home-baked pumpkin pie.
Our campground this evening was the Rockin E RV park, completely wooded sites, nice showers, and a laundry. Turns out the owner was raised in Norfolk and Hampton, lived 3 blocks up from the amusement park in Norfolk – off Granby – and worked the amusment park in Ocean View and Buckroe – small world.
My night to cook and I fixed my tried and true spaghetti with Italian sausage – maybe should have used some of that German sausage and pumpkin pie for dessert.
Tomorrow – still in Texas – headed to Kountze/Sillsbee
Day 31 – Austin to LaGrange, Tx. The cyclists were thankful today for the sun which finally decided to make an appearance. Cool temperatures prevailed with a few puffy clouds in the sky.
After leaving the capital city of Austin, the cyclists headed east towards Bastrop.
The map was difficult to follow today for the RV driver, so I pulled off and asked in a convenience store for the quickest way to Bastrop. Finally caught up with the team as they lunched at a food truck in downtown “Bastrop”. The team had made the acquaintance of a retired Marine who was visiting the food truck as well. He was from Bastrop and invited us to stay with him if ,we should return. Marcus Barron possessed such a positive outlook on life, despite his disability from the military service, resulting in loss of his legs.
During lunch, we reconnoitered over the maps and I promised to keep a closer tab on the team. As they headed off through Bastrop State Park, I received a phone call saying they needed to return and use an alternate route due to flooding of one of the park roads. They headed out to a main highway with nice shoulders and had a great, quick ride to LaGrange. I had secured a campsite as they rode into town, but had to drive back out about a mile to pick Bill up as he had another flat tire.
Our campsite at LaGrange (Colorado Landing RV Park) overlooks the Colorado River which is currently overflowing its banks. We’re on a bluff above the river, safe and dry so far
After everyone had showers, we decided to walk a few blocks to the neighborhood Mexican restaurant, Las Fuentes. While we waited for our meal, we read about the “Chicken Ranch” – check it out on wikipedia – think “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”. Very interesting story about two great entrepreneurs (female at that). It was located a few miles outside of La Grange.
Everyone enjoyed their meal and as our meal ended, who should roll in but Marcus, our friend from lunch and his wife, Liz! Small world!
Tomorrow appears to be a short ride(only about 65 miles) and the cyclists seem to be getting into the flatlands. They are headed to Navasota, Texas. Hope to be there as long as the good Lord’s willin, and the Colorado doesn’t rise too much more.
Day 30 – The team left this AM in a bit of a misty rain and cool temperatures (53 degrees). While GGJV thought they were ready to roll, Bill thought the tire was flat on the RV. He told Jeff and Kim to go on and he would deal with the tire. After further inspection, a closer look revealed that a leaf was between the two tires and not a flat tire. Bill inspects by doing a visual of space between the two tires to determine if it is going flat. The leaf blocked his view. So he happily took off to catch up with the team only to get a flat tire on his bike about 20 miles out. While his bike was propped up so he could get his tools and tube out, it fell over and broke his mirror. He did get his flat fixed then cycled 4 miles and realized he had left his bike pump back where he had fixed his tire. So he pedaled back to retrieve it and then cycled on. I caught up with him about this time.
We tag teamed each other for a few miles until I reached a crazy single car “ford” where the Sycamore Creek crossed the road.
I did not want to venture across so waited for Bill who “hydroplaned” across on his bike and said I would make it. With fear and trepidation and no foot on the brake as there was a steep hill on the other side, I did make it across.
I finally caught up with the Speedy Gonzales Cyclists at the 68 mile point. I waited for Bill to catch up, picked him up, then we navigated into Austin to meet up with Kim and Jeff who finally stopped for the day at 83 miles. We are in a funky RV park tonight called Pecan Grove RV Park, very close to the Colorado River, Zilker Park and Town Lake. Kim is busy in the kitchen making an Orange Chicken Dish, can’t wait for dinner tonight as it smells great!
Tomorrow the team is headed to LaGrange, Texas or beyond and I’m going to do some cycling around Austin first since the sun will be out.
Promise to take pictures of the cyclists tomorrow!
Due to poor wifi, the blog is a little behind. On Day 27, we drove out to Mountain Home where the cyclists had stopped on Day 26
and they resumed their trip on in to Fredericksburg, dodging raindrops and some heavy winds.
It was a short trip and naturally the cyclists were hungry when they reached Fredericksburg. Since the rain had stopped we all walked to Cranky Franks BBQ – only about a mile away. Just our luck the rains began again, but Cranky Franks had outdoor seating so we could dry off while we ate.
Bill and I walked back into town and headed for the bicycle shop as Bill’s gears were deteriorating from sunscreen on the rubber handgrips and twist gears. The bikeshop did not have the gears that Bill needed so we walked back to the RV, passing by the famous Twisted SIsters bakery. Earlier in the morning we had stopped for some breakfast pastries (you know Kim and her pastries).
The baker had indicated that they would have cinnamon buns later in the morning. I stopped in to check if any were left and bought one, only to be given the four that were left for the price of one. We saved these until Saturday morning when we all had one for breakfast.
Texas Hill Country scenery following the cyclists to Fredericksburg
Day 28 – heavy rains and flooding are predicted so we packed up the RV and headed to Austin in the hopes of finding a bike shop that would have the gears that Bill needed. We stopped at Andy’s Steakhouse for a great country breakfast and a great start to my birthday.We passed several wineries on the way out of Fredericksburg (another reason to return to visit).
We arrived in Austin and found the Bicycle Sport Shop which had the gear shifters, etc. that Bill needed. We also met a couple traveling from St. Augustine to San Diego on a Cannondale tandem. They were in need of an axle skewer for a Bob trailer/tandem rear wheel, which Bill just happened to have on his bike and didn’t need. Bill passed it on to them. We headed out to the Midtown RV park, a poor excuse for an RV park, it is really a trailer park with a few sites for overnighters. Since the rain was heavy, we parked and set up camp. Bill worked on his bike and installed the new gear shifters, etc., while we read and drank tea and other beverages in the RV.
Kim cooked a wonderful birthday dinner for me from her purchases at Opa’s meat shop in Fredericksburg; all kinds of sausages, good German potato salad, and sauerkraut accompanied by a great red wine, Apothic – which Kim and I polished off to celebrate!
Day 29 – due to RV “cabin fever” and the poor quality of wifi and the RV site, we have evacuated to the Barton Square Mall – a movie and lunch are on the schedule as well as using their great wifi! Thank you Barton Square Mall. We also plan to head back to Fredericksburg as the cyclists need to get back “on route” and we know a good RV park in Fredericksburg! Stay tuned as we are staying dry and safe during these heavy rains.
Day 26 – heavy headwinds are predicted as the team started out towards Fredericksburg today. Bill started out earlier than Jeff and Kim to get a headstart. That tandem is one fast bike. The team enjoyed breakfast burritos from the gas station across from the Sorrells Inn where we stayed last night. That should give them enough energy for the first few miles. No donuts this AM. Uh-oh.
The cycling team managed to dodge the raindrops and the wind wasn’t too bad. Bill “caught” much of the wildlife today in the photos below. In fact, the cyclists were racing with one of the local deer!
With prediction of heavy winds and rain, I met up with the cyclists today at 10 mile intervals. After reaching Mountain Home (56 miles), the cyclists hung up their bikes and we rode the rest of the way to Fredericksburg. After securing the campsite at the Fredericksburg RV Park, we walked into this unique German, Western, hill-country town for a late lunch. The Lindenbaum served up some great German sausages (wurst) and a sweeet Black Forest cake. Walking back to the RV park got rid of some of the calories. Laundry, bike mechanics and Kim’s shopping in the cute shops took up the rest of the afternoon.
I’m now sitting in the Rec Room of the RV park listening to some great music, “Mr. Bojangles” played like a Texas 2-step by 6 bearded, cowboy hatted musicians – quite entertaining. (The wifi is weak at the RV, but works better here in the Rec Room). The band is a bonus.
Hoping for good weather tomorrow – cyclists will ride in between raindrops and head west to Mountain Home where they stopped today – to avoid the winds.
Day 25- Riding into the sunrise is unusual for this team. Again, no donut shop in sight, but Kim took care of that last night while we were at the movies. She purchased a baker’s dozen of donuts at the local Walmart. There are only 5 left, do the math. With south, southeast winds the team is headed mostly north today with another day of winds at their back.
Road surface is rough, rough, rough, see photo below.
I took time to travel into “downtown” Del Rio, hoping to find pastries in a shop called the “Brown Bag”. Alas, no pastries, no donuts, so I stopped at the HEB grocery store to pick up a few items we have run out of, Gatorade, cokes, tamales, cole slaw, Thin Golden Oreo’s, avocados (for great guac,can’t run out of guac), you know all the healthy food we keep eating!
By the time I hit the road, it was close to 10:00 and I had to catch up to the riders to be sure they got a lunch break as there were no cafes restaurants, or quickstops on the route they took. When I passed through the Immigration checkpoint, I asked how long ago the cyclists had passed through and he indicated about an hour ago, you better go catch up with them quick! I managed to locate them about 20 miles later in time for sandwiches for lunch. As they traveled on to Rocksprings, I waited on the side of the road so we could make a lodging decision upon their arrival. The Sorrells Inn was selected (there were only two hotels in town). After showers and a quick walk around the town square, we stopped in the other hotel, the historic Rocksprings Hotel. The owner conversed with us and was able to get the owner of the liquor store to come back to open it so Jeff could make his purchase. Small town living is great! The lady of the hotel shared many maps with us including some with all the local wineries; we may never leave the Hill Country! We also shared a bird photo with her to see if she could identify it. She brought out her bird books and we finally found the name – a Caracara, nicknamed a Mexican Eagle.
We also shared a photo of what the cyclists thought was a javelina; the hotel lady identified it as a feral hog.
Upon our return to the hotel after our brief but informative walk, we made dinner decisions with Kim. Since the Vaquero Cafe was without their grill facilities and could only offer Tacos or Enchiladas, we settled on the King Burger and had a great meal as well as getting to know the waitress, a little local color.
These photos are beginning to look alike – ah no, this one is not in front of a donut shop!
Day 24 – It is rather nice to have the wind at your back when you are cycling. While the mileage was average for the day (about 60 miles), the time on the bikes was short.
Everyone was back to the campsite by 11:30 and had already eaten lunch. So it’s a typical afternoon at the ranch, some minor cycle maintenance going on, some laundry, and some prep cooking. Kim’s grilling hamburgers on the grill tonight (no crockpot needed, Mavis).
We might even have time today to catch a movie, especially since this town is big enough to have a movie theater. Bridge of Spies looks good.
Tomorrow – headed northeast to Rock Springs – hope the winds stay at their back.