Monday, April 8, 2013

A Day of Firsts and Lasts


This morning we left Austin for good. We were on the road by 9:00. I said my goodbyes to Dillon. I won't see him until Kyle's wedding in November. I really enjoyed my time in Austin. It was great to see how Dillon has progressed with his playing, and to see that he has many friends there.

On our way out of town we made a quick stop for a restock of groceries. Just one dinner (we still have pasta), and some breakfast stuff for me. I wasn't going to have hot chocolate in the mornings because I didn't think I would need it. But, the mornings have been pretty cold and hot chocolate would be nice.

Now we have switched to the ACA Southern Tier Route maps. It is helpful to be back to maps that have turn-by-turn narratives in addition to the map itself. We followed the route with our intended destination to be either Bastrop State Park, or Buescher State Park (pronounced Bisher).

Today's weather was partly cloudy this morning, but clearing and temps near 80. The wind was pretty strong and was about 50/50 headwind and crosswind. As we were riding along, I noticed something ahead on the side of the road. As I got closer, I could see it was a turtle. He was getting ready to cross the road--not a good idea. We stopped and I took a photo, then moved him/her into the grass off the road. Turtle rescue #1! A bike tourist is like a turtle. We carry our homes with us too!

Christian and I decided our lunch stop would be Cedar Creek. There was a grocery store, but we also had lunch food with us. When we got there, the Cedar Creek Country Store had had a bit of a mishap. The roof over the gas pumps had blown over. However, the store was still open. We didn't go into the store at first because there was no place to sit outside. Instead we went to a church across the street that had a picnic table. We made our own lunches, then afterward, we went back to the store so Christian could get a coffee. Turns out the store was also a little restaurant with tables. Christian got his coffee and we sat at a table. There was a gentleman from Iran (been here 40 years) who thought my Da Brim was pretty cool. I told him it was my 10-gallon bike helmet. He was a funny guy. He was giving the Indian clerk a hard time saying he couldn't understand half of what he was saying with the Indian accent. I couldn't understand half of what the Iranian guy was saying!

Next up, we were on Hwy 21. It was very busy, but had a super wide shoulder. We were on it for a few miles, then turned off onto a backroad. We were riding along, enjoying the no-traffic, quiet road, when a couple of dogs came charging out at us. One was a Pitbull and the other a Rottweiler (think, "BAD Dog Carl"). The Pitbull was the most aggressive. He grabbed my front pannier with his teeth and actually pulled it off the rack. Well, that was NOT GOOD! I was hoppin' mad! I yelled in my meanest, baddest voice, "GO HOME!" and, "OH NO YOU DON'T!" Both Christian and I continued to yell at them and charged at them with our bikes. They continued to bark, but retreated back to their driveway. I picked up my undamaged pannier and put it back on the rack. They barked a bit more, but we were able to escape. That was the first time I've ever had a dog be that aggressive. I had to put on my equally aggressive attitude! Texas dogs better not be thinking they can mess with me!

After our bad-dog encounter, we came to the point where the Austin Alternative Route joined the main Southern Tier Route. It was a short ride into the town of Bastrop. We rode a frontage road alongside the freeway. The route took us into the historic downtown area of Bastrop. We rode on through. Just up the hill was the entrance to Bastrop State Park. We had only come 39 miles, so we decided to go on to Buescher. The route went through Bastrop. We had to pay $2 each for the privilege of riding through the park. It is a pretty good size park, but much of it is blackened from a bad fire two years ago. 1500 homes were lost in the area.

The road through Bastrop was extremely hilly. Christian thought we were back in the Hill Country only worse! A few of the hills were so steep he had to walk up them. The first one, I made it up without walking. On the second one, I dropped the chain while trying to shift onto the small ring. I got off to put the chain back on, but it had wedged itself between a part of the folding hinge and the small ring. I could not get it out. Fortunately, the chain has a master link. I undid the link and was able to pull the chain out from where it was stuck. Then I reattached the master link. Problem solved! That is the first time I have had to do that "major" of a repair while on the road. Good thing I'm pretty good at bike mechanics!

We exited from Bastrop, rode for 3 or 4 miles, then entered Buescher. These are both big parks. We rode for quite awhile in Buescher before we came to the campsite area. We came to the first campsite loop, but had not passed the entry building. We asked where the registration booth was. We had to ride through to the other side of the park to get to the registration booth. It was more hills.

We got the last site in the whole campground, and it was in the loop we had first rode through, so we had to ride all the way back after registering! Out of curiosity, I asked the ranger what the policy was for cyclists if the park was full. There is no policy other than to turn the cyclist away. She said we should make a reservation. We told her we don't always know where we will get to each night. Basically, had the park been full, she would have had nothing for us. I told Christian we would have surreptitiously asked to share someone's site. But, we were lucky...

The site we are on is amongst a group camp of Camp Fire families. I grew up as a Camp Fire Girl (the alternative to Girl Scouts)! I have talked to a few of the adults. This is a group from Austin. They are very active in doing monthly camp outs. We've been invited to their sing-along around the camp fire. I've heard kids saying, "Wo-He-Lo" (the Camp Fire motto--stands for Work-Health-Love). takes me back!

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