Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Thursday, April 10, 2008
We sort of wimped out again today. We were going to follow the Adventure Cycling route to Austin, which included going through a couple of state parks and other scenic spots. But when we looked at the route last night, it looked so complicated, long (71 miles), and hilly, it made us feel tired just looking at it. Besides which, we were camping out, and the weather predicted thunderstorms over night and the next morning, and gusty winds all day, so we figured we'd have to pack in the rain, we'd get a late start, and we'd have to pick out this complicated route in the rain. Then we realized that we could get to Austin by just going on SR 71, the road we ended on yesterday - simple, less hilly, and shorter by 11 miles! OK, less scenic and less interesting too, but that didn't seem enough to tip the scales at the time. So, SR 71 it was. It turned out the weather wasn't that bad - it was windy all night but didn't rain at all. It was cool and humid when we packed, it only drizzled some for a while when we were on the road, and the wind wasn't bad at all. But I think we still made out fine, the road was scenic enough with all the wildflowers along the sides and in the median, and it was definitely easier. The traffic was bad in a couple of spots - by the town of Bastrop and at the end when we got into Austin. The only time we didn't have a wide shoulder was in Austin, where there was 3 lanes of fast-moving traffic with almost no shoulder. But the drivers were respectful of us and we got through fine.
We passed through the town of La Grange (where we spent the night) and found it to have a very nice-looking downtown. It also seemed to have its priorities straight - one of the side roads had been built around a gorgeous old tree rather than cutting it down! La Grange, and in fact, the RV Park we stayed at, is the stopover town for the big MS 150 mile tour that runs between Houston and Austin every year. It's scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday, and we saw lines of Port-a-Potties at a number of places along SR 71, in preparation for the crowds. It's a huge event, about 13,000 riders; we were glad we timed our visit just ahead of it.
We went over the Colorado River 3 more times today - it seems to curve around a great deal. At one crossing, we saw hundreds of small birds zooming around and chattering away cheerily. The roadside was quite lovely most of the time; we had blankets of Indian Paintbrush and Evening Primrose, some white flowers, and scatterings of Blue Bonnets and several other pretty flowers. There were lots of trees, including some pecan trees apparently - pecans seem to be a major crop here - some cattle ranches, other huge fields with crops just starting, and a few towns here and there. Bastrop was the most significant town we saw before Austin, and we stopped there for lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant.
We came into Austin at 60 miles in less than 5-1/2 hours. Even though we left the campsite at 8 am, later than usual and without having had breakfast yet, we arrived at our motel at 4:20. The motel was the poshest (and most expensive) we've stayed at yet, so we had to take a couple of pictures of that too. P.S. I've updated yesterday's wildflower photos with names, if you want to check back.