Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Monday, April 14, 2008
We apologize again for being late in updating our website. Unfortunately, we may have trouble posting for the next few days and for other stretches afterwards, since we're in some sparsely populated areas now and connections are harder to find. Verizon doesn't work in a lot of places here (that's how we ususally connect); we're using our motel's wi-fi tonight, but won't always have access to one.
We're trying a different strategy this week, given the hilliness of the area. Instead of taking a rest day, we're splitting a long, hilly section into two shorter ones. We had a shorter than usual day yesterday (45 miles), another short one today (42.5) and a very short one (about 22 miles) tomorrow. Tomorrow's section has the worst uphill yet, though. We'll see how it works out. If we get too tired before our next scheduled rest day, we may shift it to an earlier day. And, for full disclosure, we wimped out again today. We didn't follow the Adventure Cycling route which would have taken us over some excruciatingly steep hills with, of course, gorgeous views. Some of the grades were at least 20% - I didn't think we would even be able to WALK the bike up those hills. So, faithful readers, you're missing out on some great scenery, but at least we're still alive to show you the lesser but still beautiful scenery we did go through.
Enough preamble. We started out the day with a scrumptious blueberry pancake and sausage breakfast prepared by Sandra, one of our hosts at the Sundown B&B. We dawdled over breakfast, chatting with Al & Sandra. They told us some useful facts about the area and the route we would take today. One of the things they told us is that a lot of the ranches in the area offer exotic game hunting, and we saw some of these ranches later - some with big-horned sheep and African antelope (I think they were prong-horns, but am not sure), another with boars, and another with deer. We tried to take pictures of the animals but they all took off quickly when they spotted us. One ranch, though, had some very tame deer, who looked at us curiously and stayed at the fence as Pat approached. She had two youngsters with her, one of whom trotted over to see us too. We got good close-ups of both of them. We think these were the indigenous Texas white-tail deer, but don't know for sure. Sandra was telling us that the Axis deer these ranches imported from India sometimes escaped the ranches and have been reproducing like mad, competing with the white-tails for food and often chewing up flowers Sandra plants in the yard. She also told us about a huge Christian camp that we'd be going by, and it was huge. We only got one picture of it before our camera's memory filled up, so we missed some great shots of that area, with some of the best sandstone cliffs we saw today. But we have some cliff pictures, so you can get an idea of what they looked like.
We crossed the Guadalupe River several more times this morning, following along it for a good while on SR 39. I thought we hadn't shown you enough pictures of the ranch gates (most of the houses were out of site), many of which were decorated with a name and often some silhouettes of animals and whatnot. So we took a few gate pictures today. One amusing fence featured a boot hung upside-down on each fence post - all different styles and sizes of boots - that went on for several hundred feet. The ranch was naturally called Boot Hill. We were only on two roads today, SR 39 and US 83. Both had rough surfaces, using the standard rock seal method of paving - put down a layer of tar and spread loose gravel over it. The cars eventually wear the gravel down into the tar, but the fresher paving can be quite bumpy, and of course the shoulders don't get worn down much at all. Today, we saw large piles of gravel lined up at several spots and we were really glad none of them had been used yet. They actually proved very useful to us as bathrooms. In the whole 42.5 miles today, there was not one town, gas station, or store to be found. And with fences lining both sides of the road, there wasn't even a tree to duck behind. The terrain was getting rockier today and many areas had much sparser, scrubbier vegetation, more bushes and fewer trees. There were several sandstone cliff faces, some with trees or plants growing in them. There were still some very lush areas in the valleys, though. Considering the lack of rain in the area, it was amazing to see some much green. As we approached Leakey, there was a spectacular downhill stretch with lots of cliffs and trees on either side.
Leakey is a small town which is a popular resort in the area because of the Frio River that runs through here. We didn't get a chance to see the river today, but we hope to take some pictures first thing in the morning. We had another flat today, the front tire had a slow leak which Pat decided he had to fix just before we got to Leakey. He also thought the treads on the tire were getting too worn, so we changed the tire as well. We ended up in Leakey about 3 pm, having left our comfortable B&B at 8:10 this morning, doing almost 42.5 miles in 4 hours of bike time, not a bad average considering the hills and rough surface. We walked around town for a bit, stocked up on a few things at the general store, and went to dinner at an Italian restaurant for a change. By the way, in case you ever visit and don't want to sound like an out-of-towner, the town is pronounced 'Lakey'.