Welcome to Deidre's Dream

An unsupported bicycle ride across America to benefit cancer survivors and their families 
Click here if you would like to support our effort

What it's about

Help me help cancer survivors to Livestrong like my wife Deidre did. Deidre was a woman who accomplished anything she set her mind to. Neither chemotherapy nor radiation slowed her down. Her love of life, family, and friends will never be surpassed.

When she decided to take up cycling, it lead to dozens of centuries (100 mile ride in one day). When she decided to learn to swim competently it lead to her winning her age group in the 2006 Los Angeles County Triathlon Championship Series.

When she decided to be a mother and wife, she set an example for the rest of the world with her capacity for love, caring, nurturing, and support.

Please help me continue Deidre's legacy of love and living life at it's fullest by supporting my ride across America and contributing to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Chris Bredenberg, our friend and neighbor from Santa Fe, and I will be riding from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL beginning on or about May 10, 2008. We are aiming at a 35 day crossing. Our ride distance will be approximately 3,200 miles.

Our efforts won't bring us the pain and doubt that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Though diminishing over time, as life returns to something a little more predictable and with an ever more urgent need to live it, none the less the doubt is ever present. Deidre's courage and relentless fight to live continues to inspire me, and others who knew her.

Deidre died September 10, 2007 after a long and brave battle lasting nine and one half years but she lives in the hearts of all who knew and love her.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 42 Gainesville, FL to St. Augustine, FL

June 20

Gainesville, FL to St. Augustine, Fl

101 Miles
760 ft of climbing



Yahoo! We arrived in St. Augustine Friday evening. Our legs are very tired. Were we not so close to the finish we would have taken a rest day in Gainesville after a one hundred and twenty one mile ride Thursday.

Not including our rest day on Dauphin Island, we averaged over ninety miles per ride day. Whew!

Three thousand one hundred sixty four and a half miles with sixteen miles (eighty four thousand four hundred and forty eight feet) of total climbing. I like the way it sounds in miles.

As much as I have to add, and will in an epilogue, (epiblog?) we're headed out to explore.

I'll post again from our ride home (not by bicycle).

What a ride!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 41 Madison, FL TO Gainesville, FL

June 19

Madison, FL to Gainesville, FL

121 Miles
1990 ft of climbing




As I write this we find ourselves in Gainesville, Florida anticipating our final ride day. Just as life seems to accelerate as we age, so too have the final riding days of this adventure.

We have had such good weather we've been riding between ten and fifteen additional daily miles this week than we had originally planned to reduce the mileage for the last two days. As we watch the weather forecast it appears we leave heavy rain in our wake. We've been unbelievably fortunate to have a total of less than eight hours of riding in heavy weather. That doesn't include high wind days but at least we were dry for those.

Thursday was one of the best riding days yet. The humidity is down significantly though the temperature is up. Riding along at an average between fifteen and sixteen miles per hour, the breeze we create helps cool us.

It was a day full of rollers, as evidenced by our climbing statistic. Nothing steep or stinging though. Northern Florida and the panhandle have shown us beautiful countryside. The people seem to be getting a bit friendlier as we get further East.

We're left with somewhere around one hundred miles to go today and we are getting a late start. I had the best sleep I've had in days. I think drinking a gallon of sweet tea daily has saturated my body with caffeine. Add to that copious amounts of coffee, on days I make Peet's, and it's not too different from Chris's Red Bulls and Rockstars.

I can understand how people can adopt this as a perpetual vagabond kind of lifestyle. If I had no anchors and if I liked sweat soaked dry camping it could be me.

Poor Chris was not so fortunate with his sleep. The mold, fungus, and general rot left him heavily congested. Florida has brought with it the greatest concentration of airborne bugs yet. We take at least a dozen hits a day each. Some so big that they rock you on impact. Somehow most are at head level. I actually had a small knot on my noggin from one that managed to hit me square in a vent hole. They often have great mass.

Time to get our travelling act moving. The next post will be after our arrival, providing we experience no serious breakdowns or other delays.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 40 Quincy, FL to Madison, FL

June 18

Quincy, FL to Madison, FL

111 Miles
680 ft of climbing




Wednesday was a beautiful day for a ride. It was cooler from the time we woke up and the humidity was down. It was slightly hazy and all around pleasant.

Our plan to eat breakfast at the B&B and then ride to lunch fifty or so miles down the road didn't work out too well. When our host asked if we would like a muffin, bagel or toast, I asked if that was the extent of breakfast. He said yes and I asked for a bagel and a muffin. He said, "are you sure, the muffin is Texas sized". I said, "yes, both please", and did some quick math to determine we would be lucky to get eight hundred calories out of our morning meal. That's enough to go about fifteen miles. Maybe twenty if it's flat with a tail wind.

I think we were alone at the inn and there was little incentive to provide us the hot breakfast that we had read commendations about in the hall. Oh well, Tallahassee was only twenty five miles or so down the road.

We rode into Tallahassee and immediately began our search for food. In the five miles we rode through town, a town of one hundred and fifty thousand people I might add, we saw not one sit down restaurant. It was exclusively fast food. As we neared the edge of town, on the far side, we finally picked a fried chicken place. It was Lindy's Fried Chicken, a local place. That or Wendy's, McDonalds, Burger King, or Taco Bell.

We left our early lunch feeling sluggish and more full than we were. It was heavy food.

It took awhile to get back up to speed. The map directed us to the St. Marks bike trail. It was two lanes, through the woods, nicely paved, that looked to go on for miles. We needed to turn after six or so. The trail runs parallel to Woodville Highway and in many places the cross streets didn't come through to the bike trail.

We settled into a rocking groove with the absolute flatness and complete protection from any wind. It wasn't windy anyway. We cranked up the iPods and flew. We were probably going twenty three miles per hour. Miles pass quickly at that speed. We passed a county line sign and I stopped to say I thought we may have gone too far. We decided to cruise a bit further and look for crossroads. We came to a couple of young men standing trailside and stopped to ask if we'd missed the turnoff. They said "you passed Woodville five miles ago".

We turned around and I said to Chris, "remember, peoples' perceptions of distance are rarely correct". We have found that people, almost without exception over judge distance.

We made it back to the county line sign and had to go another two miles or so. We had added a little over seven miles to our day. Oh well, the scenery and the riding were nice. I told Chris I would be very pleased to end the ride with lost miles in the single digits.

We made our turn and pressed on. We quickly rode into rolling hills and although we were pouring sweat, as usual, it felt much cooler than it had since we entered Florida.

I am coming to realized Florida is a very large state. I am most familiar with Southern Florida, Ft. Lauderdale and points South. Several trips to Orlando and the Atlantic coast East of there, Daytona, Cocoa Beach, Canaveral, and such have always left me with the impression that the state is not really Southern but rather Southeastern. The part of Florida we are riding across is very Southern. One of the last bastions of racial segregation too. We've seen more swamp and Spanish Moss since Pensacola than we did in Mississippi or Alabama.

It is not as friendly a place as those we've visited either. The people of color are much quicker to ask about our adventure and are generally more pleasant to interact with than those of a paler complexion. I can almost feel resent in the air. This is of course not exclusively true and as a generalization is by nature false but it is our experience.

We rode on through the day and came to Madison around eight o'clock. It's good to be in the new time zone. It stays light until nine. I have a travelers' advisory. Google Maps consistently displays locations of businesses incorrectly. Often by as many as six or seven miles. That's pretty significant when you are self propelled. Our route runs close to the I-10 and the chain motels are often near the interstate rather than in the towns we pass through. We try local first but sometimes, like in the case of Madison, the motels are exclusively near the interstate rather than in town as Google Maps indicated for Super 8 Motel. We ended up having to ride another five miles off route for a place to stay. It worked out because there's a Denny's next door and they can't screw breakfast up too badly. Even at ten o'clock at night.

Back to the room and in bed.

Countdown t minus two days and counting. I feel the culmination of our efforts coming.

More to come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 39 Ponce De Leon, FL to Quincy, FL

June 17

Ponce De Leon, FL to Quincy, FL

95 Miles
2040 ft of climbing




Tuesday we woke up with an extra rider. Michael was bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to go. He told us this would be the furthest he'd ever ridden in two consecutive days. By double. It ended up just shy of two hundred miles in two days. The pace was reasonably easy for him on his light, fast bike.

Once again, the scenery was not what I expected. Heavily wooded with semi frequent patches of recently harvested tree farms. The trees are mostly used for pulp I understand. There was very little flat riding but little of what you could really call climbing. It made for a new kind of fatigue. It's also true our pace may have been a little quicker with Michael than it would have been otherwise.

As we crossed the Apalachicola River we entered the Eastern Time Zone. There was a steep short climb from the river into Chatahoochee. We were less than a mile from Georgia at that point. We got to town hot and breathing heavily.

From Chatahoochee it was rolling hills to Quincy. We rode past a magnificent golf course complete with airstrip. We then rode past a series of country estates and I wondered what fueled the economy. Maybe the proximity to the state capitol, Tallahassee.

After saying goodbye to Michael we found a place to stay and went to dinner at an excellent soul food buffet complete with fried chicken (second only to grandma's), turnip greens, and pancakes. After dinner we went back to Allison House and showered, then went back out and did our laundry at the local liquor store/laundromat. All this within a few blocks. Then it was back to Allison House to finish the basketball game on TV and off to sleep.

We were not disturbed by any ghosts though our accommodations were officially haunted according to a certificate in the downstairs hall issued by some authoritative group.

Talking with out host we learned that the wealth we saw in and around Quincy comes primarily from tobacco. It was a center of shade grown tobacco production which is used primarily for cigar wrappers. White Owl Cigars was headquartered here.

Off we go again. The countdown has begun to our final cycling destination of the trip.

More to come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 38 Pensacola, FL to Ponce De Leon, FL

June 16

Pensacola, FL to Ponce De Leon, FL

103.5 Miles
1015 ft of climbing




We woke up Monday morning feeling good. I think Chris and I are feeling a bit less frantic and a bit more reflective this week. I wasn't really aware of how intensely focused we've been about completing our mission until the goal began coming into view. Barring the same threats we've faced all along, injury, breakdown, and weather, we have four riding days left.

After breakfast I made it a point to meet our generous host Jennifer, the hotel manager. When I shook her hand and looked in her eyes I could feel the goodness in her. I expressed my sympathies for the loss of her mother and she for the loss of Deidre. We shared a few tearful moments and shared the feeling. Love is the only thing that endures all. Jennifer asked if she could do anything else for us and I knew she meant it with all her heart.

Cancer is an indiscriminate thief. We beat it when we honor those lost to it by being the best people we can be. We also beat it by not giving up on its eradication. In the meantime, I have discovered comfort in a stranger's kind gesture or the shared sorrow of loss.

Michael came down with his bike and Chris and I both marveled at the slick, red, lightweight machine that is a Lamborghini to our Freightliners.

Michael's daughter Jessica, snapped some pictures of the three of us and off we went. The ride began up Scenic Highway. I was expecting white sand beaches and more Floridian Riviera like we had on the way into Pensacola. Instead it was beautiful wooded bluffs.

The first part of the ride was once again rolling hills. Chris and I have talked about how it would be travelling East to West. I think facing the Rockies in the third week would be brutal but really it's changes of scenery that let you know you're making progress. That and crossing state lines and time zones. Speaking of which, we cross our last time zone Tuesday.

We got to treat Michael to a classic gas station grill lunch. Burgers are typically the only alternative to fried on the menus and I am burgered out. I popped spoke number thirteen but replaced it after lunch without having to take the wheel off the bike.

We hit the road and it wasn't long before the clouds opened up and we got dumped on huge. After several miles in a fierce rain Michael noticed his front tire was flat. We looked down the road and low and behold we saw a gas station with a nice big overhanging roof that was not indicated on the map but whose presence could not have been more convenient.

We stopped for traffic and waited for a chance to turn left across the highway. As we crossed I heard a commotion behind me followed by the sound of a helmet slapping the pavement. When Michael made the turn his front tire folded under the rim and the front end slid out from under him like he was riding on ice. We all assessed his condition and fortunately a hip raspberry seems to be the worst of it. Chris and I thanked him for suffering the obligatory crash on the ride. He replaced his tube as the rain waned.

We set out again and the riding was quick. We made it to our intended destination, for the day, of DeFuniak Springs and had the ceremonial changing of the maps. We put section six away and pulled out section seven, the final map.

We all felt so good we decided to go a bit longer and make it a century (one hundred miles) for Michael. We also wanted to chip away at two fairly high mileage days (one hundred eighteen on Thursday and one hundred twenty eight on Friday) we had planned for the end of the week. The towns are coming much more frequently now and are becoming larger making it easier to modify our ride plan if we feel better or worse than expected.

DeFuniak is a lovely looking small town USA kind of place with a small lake at it's center surrounded by a circular drive. The occasional Mercedes in the driveway suggested it is a bedroom community for somewhere else. Tallahassee maybe?

Before leaving DeFuniak we practiced what we've learned by calling the only hotel and one of the only restaurants in Ponce De Leon to make sure they were both open for business before we left the metropolis of five thousand behind.

We ended up having an excellent, healthy dinner complete with salad and baked sweet potatoes. There were actually items on the menu prepared by grilling instead of frying.

Tuesday will be Michael's second and final day riding with us. We look forward to another fine day.

More to come.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 37 Dauphine Island, AL to Pensacola, FL

June 15

Dauphin Island, AL to Pensacola, FL

61 Miles
185 ft of climbing



Sunday began at an easy pace. Knowing we had a short day, we didn't hurry. We got to the breakfast table and were treated to eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, fruit, biscuits, and pancakes. It looks like allot when I see it in writing.

Some other guests were at the table when we arrived. We had met Michelle and Jimmy, and Les and Tommy the afternoon before when they asked us about our ride while offering us a couple of cold beers.

The weather was dry when we woke up but the night before I stood outside our room, about fifty feet across the lawn from Mobile Bay, and watched a big electrical storm come our way from the Western shore (the East side of the bay).

We talked with our new friends and some guests we hadn't met prior joined us at the table. We learned there was a fishing rodeo going on at Dauphin Island that weekend. Eighty percent of the guests were fisherman and women in town for the rodeo.

The rodeo consists of various competitions for the largest catch of various types of fish. Red Snapper and Amber Jack among them. They told us there was a kids competition too and anything they pulled out of the sea counted.

We didn't realize how huge the deep sea fishing was here but we did by the time we finished our ride. It seemed like every other business we passed offered fishing charters.

After breakfast we said our good-byes and rolled out. Carol was a lovely hostess and made me promise to come and visit her again. I'd love too.

We planned to take the ferry from the island to Point Morgan on the mainland. We arrived at the dock about half an hour early and took the opportunity to ride to Fort Gaines. Being a barrier island to Mobile Bay, Dauphin was the site of guns defending the bay. Fort Gaines is most famous for its role in the Civil War's Battle of Mobile bay where from his flagship, The USS Hartford, Admiral David Farrugut spoke the words, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead". I thought that was a cycling term first uttered by Captain Kirk speaking about Klingons.

The ferry ride was about a half hour long and ten minutes or so from arriving the skies opened up and it poured rain. I said to Chris, know the closest shore or oil platform at all times and don't try to swim with the bike if anything happens. I said this jokingly.

We rode off the ferry into moderate rain and on down the highway we went. Point Morgan is the home to Fort Morgan and at the end of a peninsula extending approximately twenty miles into the bay from Gulf Shores, Alabama toward Dauphin Island. The ferry ride was probably six miles or so.

The rain eased and stopped after fifteen minutes or so of riding and we had dry skies the rest of the day.

We rode along the shore through Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The strip between the highway and the water was full of high rise time shares and on the opposite side souvenir shops and assorted theme restaurants. From the looks of things you either go fishing, eat, or buy souvenirs when you visit the area.

We stopped for a lunch of butter and fish (a bit more rich than intended). Down the road another couple of miles in Lost Key, we stopped at the first coffee shop we'd seen for hundreds of miles (no Starbucks sightings for over a week). Inside they had a desktop computer with an internet connection and I was able to upload a few recent pictures.

My friend Michael was planning to drive down, from Atlanta, to meet us in Pensacola. He initially thought he would drive himself, ride with us, and then ride back to his truck a day or two later. We had arranged that I would call him, on his cell phone, once we found a place to stay.

When we were talking to our new friends at the breakfast table, earlier that day, they unanimously agreed that the most beautiful beaches in the world were found in the Pensacola area and the ride up Scenic Highway was spectacular. Chris and I decided to find a place to stay before that stretch so we could begin our ride with Michael there the next day. We saw a Residence Inn and a Courtyard by Marriott next to each other, one block from the route and decided to stop there.

We rode up to the Residence Inn first and Chris went inside to check rates and availability while I called Courtyard from out front. The woman at Courtyard quoted me one hundred and nineteen dollars per night for a king single with a sleeper sofa. Chris came out of Residence Inn saying the woman acted annoyed by him asking questions and we agreed, based on attitude, that Courtyard was a better choice.

We went across the street and inside the hotel and were helped by Ryan Albertson. I figured two rooms would suffice with Chris and I staying in one and Michael in the other. I gave Ryan my credit card and as he was registering us he said, "the rate will be one hundred and fifty nine dollars per night". I said I had called and a woman quoted one hundred and nineteen. He explained I had probably called the other Courtyard, an older property in another part of town. I asked if there was anything he could do to help with the rate since I was getting two rooms. He said he would give us a rate of one hundred and thirty nine. I thanked him for helping us out. The hotel was new and fresh feeling and very well appointed.

As he continued registering us we began talking. Ryan is a runner and competed in School. I talked about how running requires effort for me but I do it competitively in triathlons. We talked about running stores and had a nice conversation. He asked about the ride and I told him what we were doing. By the time he handed me the registration to sign he had changed the rate to one hundred and one dollars saying he thought it was a good thing we were doing. I expressed my appreciation and took the keys.

I called Michael to tell him where we were and found out his daughter Jessica, and her boyfriend Allen, had driven with him so they could pick him up down the road after two days of riding with us. They planned to spend Monday and Tuesday at the beach.

I took a quick shower and went downstairs to meet them. I took a Livestrong card with me that I wrote the blog address on and thanked Ryan again for the help on the rate and gave him the card.

Michael had already arrived and extended their room one night. I went back upstairs and greeted our new rider and saw Jessica for the first time in at least twelve years. She and my daughter Ashleigh had gone to preschool together. She has become a beautiful young lady and greatly resembles her mom.

As we were getting ready to step out for dinner, the phone rang in our room. It was Ryan from the front desk. He said, "Kirk, I'm sorry but my manager, Jennifer, said I can't give you the one hundred and one dollar rate". I thanked him for trying and he said, "I can't give you the rate because after we looked at the blog she insists on providing you the rooms on a complimentary basis". I was speechless. As evidenced by this journal, that's rare.

I thanked him profusely. He told me that his manager Jennifer's mother had died from cancer and his own mother had beat cervical cancer when he was a very small boy. I told him that's what LAF wants, for everyone diagnosed to survive.

We know we are doing something good because it always feels right but the kind of affirmation we receive from people like Michael Beach at Fort Davis Drug Store, Nena Artl at Nena's Café in Leakey, Texas, Lenore Prud'Homme at the Outpost in Round Top, Texas and now from Jennifer at Courtyard by Marriott in Pensacola is very fortifying.

Thank you all for your contributions to our efforts. We deeply appreciate it.

At Ryan's recommendation we walked across the street to Maguire's Pub for an authentically Pensacoline experience and had a very nice dinner and great conversation.

More fun and love tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Some Pictures Finally

We stopped at a coffee shop in Gulf Beach (just before Pensacola, Florida) and I wanted to take the oportunity to post some pics.
First is the first alligator roadkill we've see.
Second is the closed bridge we crossed.
Third is the ferry ride from Dauphin Island to Point Morgan accross Mobile Bay. We rode that to begin our ride today. It started raining very hard about five minutes after I snapped it.
Last is a picture of us crossing the Florida state line. No sign.

Thank you Lost Key Java!!

Day 36 Bayou La Batre, AL to Dauphin Island, AL Rest Day

June 14

Bayou La Batre, AL to Dauphin Island, AL

22 Miles
110 ft of climbing



We slept long and late. In ten days, since Austin, we rode over nine hundred miles. We figured on spending our day off in Bayou La Batre but when we finally woke up, went out, and looked around, we decided to instead ride the easy twenty to Dauphin Island were we hoped the scenery would be better.

We rode ten miles or so to Coden and shortly after found ourselves riding beside Mobile Bay. We came to a nice little park, before the bridge began to the island, and pulled in for pictures and a stretch. The leisurely pace was perfect for our "rest day".

We had a good view of the Gordon Persons Bridge which we would soon ride over. It comprises a causeway fifteen feet over the water and almost a mile long. Then there is an elevated main span rising ninety feet over the bay followed by more causeway before the island. The bridge accounted for ninety five percent of the day's climbing.

As we rode onto the island we were flagged down by a gentleman standing next to his pick-up truck on the side of the road. He introduced himself as Ron Fillingim. He told us he was a cyclist and an Adventure Cycling member. He offered us a place to shower and a backyard to pitch our tent. We thanked him for his generous offer but declined saying we were aiming for comfort on the island. He asked where we were staying and we said we hoped to stay at Dauphine House, a B&B that is cyclist friendly. He said he was familiar with it and its owner Carol Clark.

I noticed Ron had a Livestrong bracelet on his wrist and told him we were riding for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He told us he was recovering from prostate cancer and had been off the bike for awhile. We talked a bit more and asked him for a recommendation on place to eat lunch. He directed us to a café on the golf course where he was on his way to a wedding. We wished each other good luck and off we went.

As we parked our bikes, a local constable walked up and asked us about our ride. We had a nice talk with Constable Kelly and then went inside for lunch. Shortly after we sat down a woman approached us apologizing for interrupting our lunch. She asked if we were with a group. We told her it was just us. She told us she was a massage therapist and had worked on some women that had recently come through with a group of forty five. We told her about riding for LAF and I told her about Deidre. Tears welled in her eyes and she told us her husband had died from cancer four years earlier. I wish Vicki the best.

Shortly after we sat down at Flamingo Faye's, Ron came in to say he had forgotten to ask if we needed any repairs. We said No but thanked him for the offer.

After lunch we headed over to Dauphin House. We arrived and saw, through glass French doors, a big community table set for the next meal. We knocked and entered. Dauphin House is more like an inn than a hotel or bed and breakfast.

We were greeted by Carol and we three sat and talked for awhile. She shared a couple of picture books with us documenting the destructive force of Katrina. We knew we had been riding through the disaster zone. It wasn't until we actually arrived bayside that we saw we were only four feet or so above the water level. It is almost inconceivable the storm surge was greater than twenty five feet in some places. Carol told us Dauphin Island was under four feet of water.

We asked about a dinner spot and Carol recommended we start with a beer at Pelican Pub. We unloaded the bikes into a lovely room that was, fortunately for us the last available.

We had a nice darts tournament and a relaxing afternoon.

Sunday we ride a fairly short sixty five or so to Pensacola, FL where my friend Michael will meet us.

More fun to follow!

Day 35 Poplarville, MS to Bayou La Batre, AL

June 13

Poplarville, MS to Bayou La Batre, AL

125 Miles
2310 ft of climbing




I have frequently been reminded during this trip that gifts come when you let them. This is certainly the case on our ride. Poplarville began as sanctuary from the storm and ended with our best dinner and most comfortable night yet.

I the morning, we got out at a reasonable hour and rode to breakfast at The Breakfast Connection which we had seen when we went to get dinner the night before.

We sat down and placed our orders. We came to find out this weekend is the annual Blueberry Jubilee in Poplarville. Poplarville being the blueberry capitol of the world, we were told. For breakfast we each ordered, among other things, a blueberry shortstack. The waitress asked if we wanted the blueberries in the pancakes or on top. We both said, "on top please".

A couple of minutes later, a women came out of the kitchen and asked if we were in town for the Blueberry Jubilee. I said no, but I was a little disappointed because blueberries are one of my favorites. She asked if we would like our blueberries in a sauce she could whip up. I thanked her for the offer to make a sauce and we quickly accepted.

When the pancakes were delivered, I noticed hard bits and figured them for pecan pieces, which they turned out to be. Pecans have been very popular since Eastern New Mexico. We've ridden many dozens, if not hundreds, of miles of groves. I suffer a lethal allergy to nuts, including pecans.

I asked the waitress if there were nuts in the sauce and when I explained my allergy it resulted in a burst of apologies and activity.

That was a good icebreaker. We learned our waitress's name was Megan. She was probably in her mid twenties. She asked about our ride and we explained what we were doing. She told us about her cancer diagnosis. Metastatic Melanoma. We talked about her surgeries and I told her about Deidre's. She said she had been told there was an eighty five percent chance of recurrence.

She told us one of their customers was a two time survivor that recently had a recurrence with a poor prognosis.

As I was paying the check I gave our waitress a Livestrong card with the blogsite address written on it. She said, "you know, the owner Debbie, the woman who made you the sauce, is a survivor also". The busboy said his mother was a survivor also.

We wished them all luck and went outside to get ready to ride.

As we got ready, a woman approached us. She said she heard us talking about cancer. She introduced herself as Irma Dodenhefer. She told us she had lost her husband to cancer and she herself was a three time survivor but that it was back and it didn't look good.

Irma told us she ran a produce stand in order to generate revenue to help people in need. Whether it be hungry people, sick people, or poor people. The name of her business is "The Blessing of the Harvest". Irma overflowed with generosity. She asked about our ride and commended us for our efforts. It felt good to hear coming from an authority on giving.

She wished us continued success and good luck and got in her car and put on her oxygen canula. She said she needed it all the time now but it felt good to spend five minutes without it to go in the bakery. We held each others hands, wished each other luck, and said goodbye.

It was a lovely day to ride. Mostly cloudy and cooler. Still pretty humid but cool enough there was some evaporative effect going on.

The first thirty miles were rolling hills. We came to a highway crossing where we expected to find water. Looking at the map, a town called Perkinston was identified as a food and drink stop. What you don't always see is that the little white dot marking the center of town is sometimes off route. In this case, about one and a half miles up the highway.

We looked to our right and saw something in the direction we needed to go and chose that option. Half a mile down we came to an RV park and sales lot. The fellow in the sales office was quick to tell us to help ourselves to water. We filled up and pressed on. It was another forty seven miles before services. We stopped in Vancleave to eat and fill.

Looking at the map, it was another fifty miles to Bayou La Batre where there was a place to stay for the night. It was five thirty before we finished eating and were ready to press on. I himmed and hawed and looked for a closer alternative but there was nothing but camping. Dry camping at that. The first seventy five miles of hills had left my legs feeling tired.

Facing the fact that we had another fifty to go, and that the last hour would be in the dark, we set out. Because we were at the Easternmost edge of the Central Time Zone, we expected dark around eight o'clock.

We started riding and the landscape was immediately flatter than it had been. Shortly we rode into the Pascagoula Wildlife Management Area. It was the kind of swamp land I expected to see more of in Louisiana. It was beautiful, wild, and teeming with life.

Shortly after exiting the park we crossed the Alabama State Line. One more border to cross.

We made god time to Grand Bay and pulled in to a gas station nine miles from our destination just as it was getting dark. A man rode up on a motorcycle and went in the store. When he came out he asked about our ride. Now that we can say we're twenty five hundred miles into it it tends to rock people back on their heels. He introduced himself as Tom Jones and asked for information about how to donate. He was a very nice guy and wished us luck and safety on the remainder of our ride.

On down the road we went to Bayou La Batre. We arrived, checked in, got dinner, cleaned up, and went to sleep looking forward to our first rest day since Austin.

More to come.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 34 Franklinton, LA to Poplarville, MS

June 12

Franklinton, LA to Poplarville, MS

52 Miles
1020 ft of climbing



After over a month of dry riding, with the exception of our ride to Fort Davis, TX, we finally saw some weather.

After a week of high mileage riding, we're moving a bit slower in the mornings. Not on the bikes, but getting ready to go.

Thursday began with me waking up early to write and taking a break just before eight o'clock to wash up and walk across the parking lot to the Laundromat to put our clothes in to wash. While I was at it I stopped at the Dollar General next door to get milk, OJ, and a few other breakfast items.

When I got back to the hotel, I made coffee and we ate breakfast in the room. As we were about ready to leave, the skies opened up in a thunderstorm downpour. We decided to wait for it to let up before setting out.

The rain came down pretty hard for about half an hour before the storm cell passed over us. It was almost eleven before we hit the road.

Our first stop was at a CVS pharmacy where I hoped to pick up a battery for my bike computer. As we got ready to leave the drugstore, a gentleman stepped up on the curb and stopped to look at our bikes. He asked a few questions explaining he was a cyclist. We had a pleasant chat with him when I noticed a piece of jewelry around his neck that looked like the Ironman logo. I asked him about it and sure enough, he was a triathlete.

I introduced myself and he introduced himself as Raymond Miller, from Poplarville. He had recently returned from the ITU (International Triathlon Union) World Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia. I received a bid to go to worlds a couple of years ago but it was due to a technicality and I prefer earning my slot to an event requiring qualification.

We talked tri for awhile. He told me about fifty three degree water and three foot seas. Brrrrr. That's hand, foot, and head numbing water. He said he had also raced Ironman in Florida.

We had a really nice talk and exchanged e-mail addresses. We told him about our ride and gave him the blogsite address. He wished us the best of luck and looked over our route while telling us about the roads. We would be riding the roads he trains on.

As we rode off I told Chris how significant it is to qualify for worlds. My hat goes off to Raymond.

Every time a donation is made to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, using the link on the blogsite, I receive an e-mail. Raymond made his visit before dinner time. It was fun talking tri. I felt a kinship, a brotherhood of sorts with Raymond and I wish him luck in his future endeavors.

We left town not knowing exactly where we were going to stop for the night. We had hoped for a relatively low mileage day, in the sixty range, but the distances of various towns would give us either fifty or so to Poplarville, Mississippi or around eighty to Perkinston and another five, off route, for a place to stay.

We figured one town at a time was the way to go.

The night before was a ramen in the room night and we were feeling undernourished and woefully short on calories.

After about twenty five miles we came to Bogalusa, LA and stopped at Glynn's for lunch. It was cool, clean, and super good and friendly. After lunch, I managed to change yet another spoke without even removing the wheel from my bike, much less removing the tire. I am really tired of my rear wheel problems.

Having been caught out once before, in Round Top, saved only by the kindness and fortunate presence of Lenore Prud'Homme, we have learned to confirm the night's lodging during business hours.

I Googled lodging in Poplarville and found nothing at all. The way the skies were looking I was anxious to find something before Perkinston just in case. I looked on the back of the map and there was a guest cottage listed with a phone number. I called the number and it was answered by a lady at a retail store in town who introduced herself as Pam. I told her we were two cyclists who might need a place to stay in Poplarville that night. She said her parents had a guest cottage and she would call them to check availability and call us back. She called back in a couple of minutes to say it was available and give us directions. She said the door would be unlocked and gave me her father's number to call when we arrived.

We left from lunch and stopped at a service station for water on our way out of town. While we filled our bottles, the clouds opened up again. We waited for a break in the weather and off we went.

After no more than ten miles we were riding down a fairly straight farm road and looking down it, we could see the wall of rain coming. We found the thickest overhead growth we could and took refuge just as the rain hit. I have seen heavier in Ohio, Delaware, and Key Largo, but never from a bike saddle. We waited about twenty minutes and decided w might as well get going. The air temperature was around seventy degrees and pretty pleasant but a bit cool not riding. The rain continued as we began riding again but the activity warmed us right up.

Fifteen miles or so and about an hour of riding brought us to our place of refuge. It was wonderful. A lovely little three bedroom house complete with central air conditioning, satellite TV, how about those Celtics last night, a washer and dryer, and a fridge stocked with drinks.

I called the phone number Pam had provided and after a few minutes the owner, Bob Applewhite, came over to meet us and chat. Bob is a very friendly man and after settling up on the nightly fee (seventy five dollars) he insisted we use his truck to go have dinner. He recommended a couple of places, including an Italian restaurant.

We showered, relaxed a little, and headed for Deb's Pizza and Pasta. We ordered take out to bring back and watch the game. We ate a huge dinner of absolutely excellent food.

Then it was off to bed.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 33 St. Francisville, LA to Franklinton, LA

June 11

St. Francisville, LA to Franklinton, LA

97 Miles
2455 ft of climbing




Wednesday was a ride with towns few and far between. We got a late start but made great time the first thirty miles. We're back to rolling hills on the East side of the Mississippi. Nothing too painful but certainly wearing over the course of the day and a hundred miles.

The maps we're using, from Adventure Cycling, have very specific route directions and information. There are current corrections available for downloading from their website with information updated monthly.

Before leaving Santa Fe I downloaded and printed the addendums for our route. Included in the addendum for the map of Wednesday's ride was a note that the bridge over Thompson Creek is out. There is a pretty significant reroute included.

When we went to the gas station, next door to the motel, for water, I asked if they knew anything about the Thompson Creek bridge being out. The woman said, "Thompson Creek? It's right down here and it's up". We thought, great, we can ride the original route.

We headed off down the road and sure enough we rode over Thompson Creek after five or six miles. It was another great ride day and the scenery was beautiful.

On we rode. The towns with services (gas stations) were about thirty miles apart. We were about eight miles from our first water stop when the map gave a direction by noting "turn right to stay on pavement". Just after the turn we saw a sign that said "Bridge Out". Evidently we crossed Thompson Creek twice, fifteen miles apart. The bridge out warning on the map and on the sign both applied to the second crossing. I looked more closely at the map and it would be a ten or twelve mile back track to ride around the creek crossing.

We decided to ride down to the bridge and see how bad it was. We figured that in the worst case we would find a deep black water crossing (think Alligators) or a bridge crossing a deep gorge. Depending on the reality we could ssibly unload the bikes and portage everything across.

After a mile or so we came to the bridge.

Don't tell our Moms (or my daughter) about what we did next.

The bridge was a twisted steel superstructure on wood pilings with creosote soaked cross timbers paved with planks. The planks were all there except for the last ten feet or so. We climbed over the dirt berm that had been placed in the road in front of the span, to keep cars off, and walked the bikes out one at a time.

The bridge did not feel rickety at all and the footing was firm. The twisted, rusted steel looked like it wouldn't last much longer though. We unloaded the bikes and carried the panniers (saddle bags) over the section without cross planks with one of us on the far end while the other crossed. We finally shouldered our bikes and crossed with them one at a time. Success! The pictures tell the story. I wish I could post them but that will have to wait. We felt like real adventurers.

I am confounded and greatfull we've somehow managed to elude the rain. During one of our stops a fellow coming from New Orleans told us it had rained three inches in an hour there on Wednesday.

The rest of the ride was uneventful but after our second stop, at sixty miles, it began feeling long. Two hundred and twenty miles in two days of hot, humid riding brings fatigue.

Thursday we aim for Mississippi.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 32 Opelousas, LA to St. Francisville, LA

June 10

Opelousas, LA to St. Francisville, LA

124.5 Miles
853 ft of climbing




Opelousas gave us both some much needed sleep and good meals. Chris got almost eleven hours and I wasn't far off from that myself.

We woke with high hopes of having a big day. I didn't want expectations to be too great but we talked about St. Francisville. St. Francisville was approximately 112 miles from Washington, on the map, and as it turned out, we were almost nine miles off route in Opelousas.

We started with a giant breakfast. I had a shrimp and crawfish omelet and blueberry pancakes. Yum, yum. My Cajun omelet was excellent!

We pedaled out under cloudy skies and immediately were riding fast. It was cooler all day but we were sweat drenched from the first mile as usual. Everywhere we stopped people commented on the heat.

Acadiana is a very friendly place. It comprises twenty two parishes originally settled by the French Acadians (French who originally settled in the Anapolis Basin of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy in Canada). In Louisiana they came to be called Cajuns. The state officially designated the region Acadiana in 1971.

The riding is flat, the people are friendly, the sun was hidden by clouds, and we motored along.

One thing I will say that can be a challenge, and we agreed we encountered to the greatest extent in Acadiana is unfenced, unleashed dogs.

You learn to be alert to barking and motion in your peripheral vision. When either happens, it's a full head swivel to determine where it's coming from. Fortunately we didn't encounter any viscous dogs but there were plenty of fast ones. It's amazing how quick some of the small to medium sized dogs are. I would sometimes look at my speedometer while being given full chase and see we were going twenty two or twenty three miles per hour.

There was very little auto traffic but my biggest fear was that on the rare occasion there was both a dog chasing us and a car on the road the two would meet. That never works out well for the dog. I used hand signals the two times it happened in an effort to warn cars about a dog they might not see.

It worked out being in front because by the time the dog(s) stopped chasing me they were too spent to chase Chris. Chris was not out of my sight all day.

The homes we rode past, whether modest ranch style newer houses, or shanties, had immaculately manicured lawns. They were huge. Some front lawns could fit two football fields with room left over for a baseball diamond. We waved at plenty of people mowing as we passed. They must have to mow every other or every third day at most.

It is obvious people take great pride in their parish and well they should.

We rode past fields of Rice, Sweet Corn, Sorghum, Soy Beans, and Sugar Cane. The landscape could be a county in Ireland for all the shades of green.

According to the weather reports it's been dry here and they are hoping for rain. The farmers don't use irrigation and rely on rainfall to water their crops.

It is absolutely beautiful countryside with meandering rivers and the occasional swamp. Contrary to my expectations of very swampy, wet bayou country, the areas we rode through are relatively dry and thoroughly cultivated.

We had a rocking first fifty miles. We rode it in under three hours averaging over seventeen miles per hour.

When we came to a town called Plaucheville we stopped for lunch. In each region we've ridden through the lunchtime ritual differs. In Acadiana, it is common for a gas station to have a grill. We pulled into one such place that was particularly busy. Maybe because it was the only lunch spot in town.

In the twenty two hundred miles we've ridden so far, we have not been to a friendlier place. We got not one sideways glance as we walked in. Everyone had a welcoming smile and good word for us. From the farmers to the local librarian. It was noontime and business was at its peak.

We ordered at the counter and took a seat in a booth. I wasn't yet seated when the woman in the next both turned around with a smile and said she and her husband had driven past us up the road. She asked where we had come from and where we were going. They were very supportive and nice, she and her husband.

As our lunch baskets were delivered. They do grilled OR fried shrimp po-boy sandwiches. Not to mention oyster. Das sum good eats uh-huh.

A group of three women got up to leave. One of them was a younger girl who was wearing a tee shirt with a graphic promoting books and reading and my first thought was they were associated with the library. One of the women stopped and asked if we were fundraising for Livestrong. Very perceptive of her. Impressive to me.

She introduced herself as Mary Chaterain (she pronounced it Shotley and I had to ask her to spell it. Hopefully I got it right). She said she was involved with the Relay for Life (an ACS event) in the area. She told us about the library organizing a contest for designing a tee shirt for the event. She said the winning design earned it's maker one hundred dollars and then one hundred shirts were made to give to participating survivors.

She said she was familiar with Livestrong and the Lance Armstrong Foundation because of literature they had received at the library. It has been uncommon to meet people familiar with the foundation and its mission.

She told me she was originally from Michigan and she and several friends from there continue to get together for a few days every summer. She said six of them are survivors of one kind of cancer or another. Their time together sounds like a real celebration of life.

Mary pulled out a twenty dollar bill and insisted we take it.

I felt so welcomed I thought if only I had a French surname I could live in a place like this.

We rode away from lunch on a real high. We felt that way all day. Everywhere we stopped we were greeted by friendly people starting in the parking lot and continuing to the cash register.

We have seen every species of road kill imaginable. First squirrels and raccoons, then the occasional bobcat, snakes in the desert, opossum everywhere, deer, dogs, birds from predator to songbird, then hundreds of miles of armored opossum (armadillo). As the climate became more damp we saw frogs and turtles. Yesterday we saw our first alligator. What will be next?

We made our way to the Mississippi River and crossed on a ferry to St. Francisville. Yahoo! We crossed Ole Miss. We stopped at the first place we saw for dinner. Would you believe Mexican?

We rode on up the hill to St. Francisville and found our place for the night. St. Francisville is definitely a town to visit again. Very well kept, friendly, and with a very comfortable feeling.

It was a glorious day. Big miles and fast. We averaged better than sixteen miles per hour for one hundred and twenty plus miles. Rocking! We rode our first hundred in under six hours.

On we go.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day 31 Oberlin, LA to Opelousas, LA

June 9

Oberlin, LA to Opelousas, LA

64 Miles
123 ft of climbing




Today started well enough. It was cloudy and felt cooler to me. We had breakfast at the Tiger's Den Café and hit the road.

I felt good from the beginning. We were riding at a pretty good clip. Chris was probably riding one mile per hour slower from the beginning of the day.

Our first stop was at twenty seven miles and it only took a few minutes for Chris to catch up.

Beginning in the mountains of California, whoever reached the summit of a climb first would wait there. Since we've been in flatter terrain, I've usually ridden in front and I wait at any turns.

Today, about seven miles after leaving our first stop I waited at a turn and Chris rode right past me with his head down. I had to race up to him and stop him. He said he was zoned out.

We rode another twelve miles down the road and I stopped at a turn. I eventually turned on my phone and started looking into getting a new rear wheel sent to me somewhere down the road. Killing time waiting for Chris.

After half an hour I feared maybe Chris had broken down. Yesterday a similar thing happened and it was a flat. It only delayed him fifteen minutes. Even though he has most of the tools, I'm the fixer. I figured since I carry the kitchen, he can carry the garage.

I started backtracking and rode back around the turn at the apex of which I had stopped. I saw Chris sitting in the shade at an abandoned gas station with his rear wheel in his lap.

He had flatted and when he changed it he noticed he had a broken spoke. He was not sure what to do. I showed him how to do the repair. He seemed a little sluggish.

We got things together and started pedaling. In the first mile he dropped several hundred yards back. I stopped and waited for him and when he rolled up I asked him if he was OK. He said yes. I asked him if the bike was OK. He said yes. I asked him if he needed something to eat. He said he had a Power Bar and took it out and ate it. I told him to drink a lot of water with it.

I told him he had been going eleven miles per hour (his bike computer has never worked). I said we had to do better than that to miss the giant storm moving right over us. We were headed to the North for a few miles and the storm was moving West with its northern edge just in front of us. We were only seven Mlles from our planned lunch stop and given how Chris was feeling I was anxious to get somewhere we would have shelter. As it happened we rode right past the storm catching only some very light fringe showers.

I was ready to eat and ride hard but once we sat down and I had a chance to asses things with Chris I knew that wasn't going to happen. He was asleep in his chair with his eyes open. I pulled out the map.

We had stopped in Washington, La, a typically sized town on the route with a population of seventeen hundred (nowhere to stay). I looked at the map and saw Opelousas five or six miles South. Nineteen thousand people. Easy pickens for a hotel shopper.

I found a hotel, with the browser on my phone, and asked Chris how he felt. "I'm so tired", he said. I said, "fifty miles to Simmesport or five off route and call it a day.

We had lunch and headed for Opelousas.

The heat must be getting to Chris. I'm pretty comfortable riding in it.

We shall see what tomorrow brings.

It could be my turn to fall asleep at the wheel.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day 30 Kirbyville, TX to Oberlin, LA

June 8

Kirbyville, TX to Oberlin, LA

81 Miles
1045 ft of climbing



Another brilliant day to ride. We started with breakfast in the room, cereal, killer Peet's coffee, and Oatmeal. It worked.

We headed out and rode for a better than sixteen mile per hour average for the first forty miles. We stopped in DeRidder for lunch. Here we were in Acadiana (Cajun country) and heading into a Mexican place to eat. I guess the crawfish fajitas make it a bit more locally authentic. They were awesome good!

Our food had been delivered and we were halfway done when a police officer was seated in the booth next to us with his back to us. I figured this was to indicate his disinterest in us. Yesterday at breakfast were two officers sat next to us and they had nothing to say to anyone in the place. I thought if he's working Sunday he must be new.

Chris finished before me and went outside to sunscreen himself. It's our routine. A couple of minutes after Chris left, the police officer, I could see he was a sergeant, turned around in his seat and asked how far we were going. I told him we had left from San Diego four weeks ago.

Now that we're over two thousand miles into our trip it really gets peoples attention when we tell them how far we've come.

He asked about our bikes saying he would like to ride to town and could use the exercise. He pointed out he was a big guy and said he thought our bikes were probably particularly strong because of all the weight we carry.

He asked if it was a group ride or an event of some kind. I told him we were riding to raise money to help cancer survivors. Then he told me a little bit of his story.

He is a single parent of two. His girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer and her reaction was to push him away to spare him and his kids from the pain and fear she was feeling. I told him about Deidre and how she would sometimes apologize to me for being "damaged goods". We agreed that the diagnosis only made them more precious to us.

He went on to tell me his father had been diagnosed with cancer and had taken his own life at getting the news. Pretty heavy stuff.

He introduced himself as Reese Martin. We shared some deeply emotional moments while talking. I was surprised he was so willing to share his feelings. I deeply admire his commitment to his girlfriend and his children. Reese is a hero to those he cares about and to me too.

As we were paying for lunch he said, "Be careful out there. People do some dumb things." We agreed that too many people don't think about what they're doing. I said, "there is too great a lack of simple, basic courtesy". He said, "that's so true, but you also come across really special people. Thank goodness for that", he said, especially in this job". I shook Reese's hand and felt the connection. Sergeant Reese Martin of the DeRidder Police Department, you are a real life hero.

We spun on down the road another twenty miles and I needed to stop for water. I came to Sand River Canoe Rentals after riding over the river. It was before five and I didn't want them to close while I waited for Chris so I propped my bike against a mailbox roadside and walked back to the office. It was really more of a roadhouse.

I could see and feel people looking at me funny. I said, "hello, how are you today", to a man seated at a table near the front who was staring at me. He said, "I'm OK, how about you?" I said, "A bit warm", he said, damn it boy, it's ** hot out". I said, "I'll agree with you about that".

I paid for our water and sat on the stairs out front to wait for Chris. A couple of minutes later a kid, in his early twenties maybe, came out. He said, "y'all taking a break off the bike for a spell?" I told him I was waiting for my buddy who would be along any time. He asked if we were in some kind of competition or something. I told him we were riding to support cancer survivors. He sat down on the step beside me and told me his stepfather had it. He said he'd had surgery but the doctors couldn't get it all. They told him if they had it would have killed him. I asked where he had it and he said it was colon cancer. We talked awhile and then his friends drove up. He shook my hand and got up whooping and hollering at his friends. He turned around a minute later and wished me luck. His friends did too.

As his friends bounced and raced from the parking lot, Chris rode up. His friends stopped and stuck their heads out the window wishing Chris luck. He had stopped at a gas station back up the road and talked
with them about our ride. It's a small parish in a small world.

We rode on down to Oberlin. We had the same issue today with where to stop. We planned on Mamou originally but it's lawn camping only there and a fifty dollar motel room is much more comfortable. It would be one hundred and twenty five or so to Ville Platte and although we felt good to go there, we would have a dinner problem. We opted to stop for dinner and basketball (on TV).

As we stood outside the general store, I noticed what has become a common sight. A community bulletin board. There was a flyer to raise money to help with medical expenses for twelve year old Tori Trammel of Allen Parish. She was battling cancer.

A car drove up and a man got out of the passenger seat. He stopped and said, "man, I passed you fellas on the way out of DeRidder. You must be moving pretty good, you made it along way down the road pretty fast (we'd covered the thirty miles in under two hours). We told him about the ride and he pulled two dollars from his pocket and insisted we take it. Thank you Phillip DeRouse. Every bit helps.

Chris and I talked about the people we'd met and concluded we must be transmitting an "ask me what I'm doing" vibe. That and the people just get friendlier every mile.

More to come.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day 29 Shepherd, TX to Kirbyville, TX

June 7

Shepherd, TX to Kirbyville, TX

93.5 Miles
1060 ft of climbing



Happy birthday to Chris
Happy birthday to Chris
Happy birthday dear Chris
Happy birthday to Chris

It was another great day to ride. We decided to splurge and have breakfast at Happy Days Diner rather than a particularly thin looking lobby breakfast. Happy Days was a bit more what we are accustomed to than Sally's.

People ask what we're doing everywhere we go now. We've probably acquired an air of approachability. It's really nice.

In the parts of Texas we've been you always walk your check to the register. As I walked past a table, I stopped and talked with three older gentlemen. We had a very pleasant conversation. One fellow said, you know Kirbyville is where Walker Lumber started (I think it was Walker). I said, "I understand Kirbyville was the site of a showdown and gun battle between the Texas Rangers and two feuding families". He said, "yah, maybe, I guess, but it's where Walker started". I answered, "I didn't know that. I'll be darned".

Another of the men asked how we ended up at that diner because he knew it was a bit off the route. I told him about the hotel clerk's recommendation and how last night I stopped us at the first place that said diner. He smiled a knowing smile and said, "I'll bet this is more to your taste".

We are perpetually wet. We had some light showers fall on us a couple of times today. It's refreshing in the way a cool shower can be but there is no drying out. We are absolutely soaked all the time. When we go inside an air conditioned space it feels great for a minute but it's not long before we're shivering cold.

I don't know if we can really keep hydrating sufficiently. It doesn't seem possible considering sweat rate. I do notice I feel better keeping the electrolytes going too. Both of our organic machines are running strong and smoothly and the last two days have been good, fun, fast riding. Today we rode the last fifteen miles averaging better than eighteen miles per hour.

The wind continues to blow but we're only exposed to it ten percent or so of the time so it's not a significant factor. The rollers (hills) are now five feet of rise over a couple of hundred feet. So shallow it's just a gear or two. It's great riding in the big ring (the highest gear in the front) all day long. The bikes are working well too.

It's our last night in Texas. Ironically it's a dry county so no birthday beer.

When we got to the motel, I asked if they had a guest laundry. The woman at the desk said no and pointed me down the street. Chris and I showered and took our dirty clothes and walked. We could have ridden our bikes but our seats are so saturated with chamois cream and sweat, it's the last place I want to put my clean shorts (and self).

We got to the Laundromat at 7:50 to read a sign that said "doors locked at 7:45 PM". That meant we were too late when we got to town 6:30.

We decided to eat and figured we'd sink wash what we needed when we got back. On the way back from dinner I told Chris I'd go to ten bucks to use the machines they wash motel items with. He went and asked and our new friend Patel washed, dried, and folded our laundry for five bucks.

I think Texas is a good place to be from. It was a beautiful route with some excellent climbing and some of the nicest people in the country. They'll tell you that and then go on to prove it.

We're looking forward to the cultural change coming in Cajun country. I told Chris it will be even more wet with black water bayous lining the road.

We hit two thousand miles today. The next milestone is the border of Louisiana, twenty five miles away, then the Mississippi.

I was so glad to read a comment that my nieces are following our journey. From both of us, thank you all again for your support.

More fun tomorrow.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Day 28 Navasota, TX to Shepherd, TX

June 6

Navasota, TX to Shepherd, TX

84.5 Miles
2910 ft of climbing


http://www.mapitpronto.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=routePlanner.viewDBRide&rideID=1834 (cont.)

http://www.mapitpronto.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=routePlanner.viewDBRide&rideID=1835 (partial)

Happy birthday to Papa John, Grandpa, and tomorrow (June 7) to Chris.

Second, some really special people are posting comments and we thank you. I however, being the bonehead I sometimes am, didn't realize I had to check the blog for comments. I figured that out just a couple of days ago. I thought comments were also e-mailed to me. Every comment is precious to us and I read them all to Chris and introduce him to those of you he hasn't met.

On to our day.

It was a great day to ride. We have yet to meet anyone who would agree. Ninety eight degrees and eighty eight percent humidity. Fluids in, fluids out.

Breakfast in the hotel is definitely the quickest getaway. Cereal, banana, eggs, and a biscuit. Perfect with OJ. Oh, and coffee of course.

We rode into a great pine forest of Sam Houston National Forest soon after we started. If there was wind we'd never know it. Very dense stands of pine that apparently go on for a hundred miles. II think it may be part of what's called "The Big Thicket".

The road was good but without shoulders. That can be a bit unnerving. Most drivers coming from behind moved completely over into the oncoming traffic lane. I will ALWAYS do that for touring cyclists in the future. I wouldn't expect that kind of exaggerated courtesy on a road bike but the touring bikes are anything but nimble and I will be forever cognizant of that in the future.

I was aware I had broken yet another spoke about a mile after we started but couldn't bear to stop. We felt great and the riding was glorious.

We came to a railroad crossing just as the train was coming and I took the opportunity to evaluate my rear wheel. It was a driveside spoke this time. A bit more significant because they are more highly tensioned than the opposite side. I needed a one inch wrench to turn the special tool which I had picked up at Bike Den in Glendale. I hadn't had a chance to get the wrench. The special tool lets you remove the gear cluster which covers access to the driveside spokes (you should really remove the cassette to reach spokes on either side but I've been lazy about that).

We had twenty three miles
to go. I slacked the brake so it wouldn't drag with the rim wobble and off we went.

We got to New Waverly and rode right up to the busiest and possibly only lunch restaurant in town. It was cafeteria style but very efficient and very good. Pork chops, mashed potato, cornbread casserole, pinto beans, a salad, yes salad, and a slice of pie. All really good and for seven bucks.

I ate big knowing we were churning out the watts and we weren't sure about dinner options. It was rolling hills all day but none of them with any sting. We finally averaged over fifteen miles per hour again. It would be closer to nineteen miles per hour on a seventeen pound bike.

Something I look forward to is letting Chris ride my beloved and semi retired Lemond Maillot Jeune while I ride my Seven up some New Mexico mountains.

After lunch, on the way out of town, we found an auto parts store and I picked up a wrench. The spoke was pretty quick work and off we went.

It was very damp and we rode through occasional light showers and over quite a bit of blacktop that was very wet from cloudbursts just ahead of us. This went on for thirty miles. The further in front of us the rain got, the more steam rose as the pavement heated. It was the coolest sight and when we'd ride through a cloud of steam it felt five degrees hotter.

We made our way to Lake Livingston, which looked huge on the map, and through Coldspring. We got to Shepherd and were presented a conundrum. Fifty more miles to a place to stay and likely no open services in between or stop feeling good at eighty five miles. We'd have to deal with dinner too.

As we cooled down and drank up at the gas station a number of cars came and went. It was just after five and we figured everyone was getting off of work on a Friday night.

A beat up car limped up and killed the engine, or rather the engine died. A fellow got out of the back seat and gave us a friendly hello on his way inside the store. There were three little boys left in the car and a woman behind the wheel. One of the boys started talking to us right away. His brothers listened and started asking their own questions. The lady driving joined in. They were very pleasant and inquisitive. We told them what we were doing and how we were raising money for Lance Armstrong Foundation. I kept it light and upbeat with the boys. When the man came out (dad I think) he handed me three dollars and pointed to the driver (his mother I think) and said, "she wants you to take that, she wants to help". I said, "that's not necessary, are you sure?" she leaned over and said, "it's not much at all but I want to help". Three dollars meant something to these people. I am certain that's true. What can you think but god bless these people?

It is speaking to each other in the common language of an evolved humanity.


We decided to stop for the night. We're at nineteen hundred miles and I can begin to see the finish. Eleven hundred to go but barring injury or mishap, I think we're likely to finish. We're both really conscious of savoring it.

We found a motel (the motel) and asked about dinner spots. The woman at the front desk recommended a couple of places and I have to admit I was concentrating more on food than what she was saying.

We rode down the highway as she had directed and we stopped at the first place we saw. Sally's Diner. Only after sitting down and ordering drinks did I realize we were in the wrong place. We were recommended to Happy Days Diner. In an illustrated dictionary Sally's would be an ideal candidate for greasy spoon. Emphasis on greasy.

I actually proposed to Chris that we pay for our drinks and leave. We decided to order burgers.

As we finished our dinner, a couple sat down next to us (father and daughter I think) and then a man by himself sat at the next table over. It sometimes takes a woman or a child to establish contact but the men are fast to follow.

We ended up shooting the breeze for another twenty minutes with the three of them. It was really great conversation. Living in the most egocentric part of Southern California for ten years I have become accustomed to people who prefer the sound of their own voice to having a conversation. I don't think conversation is a lost practice. All participants just have to enjoy listening.

We returned to the motel and enjoyed some Shiner Bock.

My big heroes today are Simon (Chris's brother) and Ashleigh and Justin. They are driving to California as we speak to bring my camper trailer home. It was in the driveway of our California house which closes escrow Monday.

Thank you guys!

More adventures tomorrow.

Day 27 Round Top, TX to Navasota, TX

June 5

Round Top, TX to Navasota, TX

60.5 Miles
2950 ft of climbing



We felt such gratitude today we wanted to thank everyone who sends us notes or comments on the blogsite. Each and every one means allot to us. Chris and I agree my cousin Tom is our missing rider. We both want to go for a ride with you Tom. We might get to do it with my friend Michael. I think he might join us in Alabama and ride with us for a couple of days. We agreed we'll be wheel suckers and then figured it will probably be a dead calm. A wheel sucker is someone who always rides in the draft and never does any work.

It was a great beginning to the day. I set my alarm and did a little writing. We had breakfast at 8:00 and coffee a little before. We figured we'd get an early start.

We went in the ranch house at the Outpost and sat at the kitchen bar. It was just the four of us. Lenore is a very gracious host. When I attempted to compensate her for the accomodations she refused all but a pitance for the cleaning lady. It turns out she's coming to Santa Fe for the opera later in the summer. I hope she gets in touch.

We talked about serendipity and how our ride seems to often be the beneficiary. The world is full of kind and decent people. It's a pleasure to meet so many of them on this adventure. It amazes both Chris and I and we marvel thankfully.

We headed out in a very stiff wind blowing 25-30 MPH. It blowed all day long. Wah, wah. It wasn't in our faces but it was a cross wind in the best case and came at our two o'clock most of the time. It kept things hard and slow.

We came to Independence, TX and stopped for lunch. The man at the general store, lunch counter asked if we were cross country riders. When we told him we were he handed us a log he keeps and asked us to sign it. It was fun reading other riders' entries. There is a Dutch family about two weeks ahead of us. They are travelling with two young children. We figure if they're heading to St. Augustine (they didn't mention their direction) we would probably catch them.

We got to a town called Washington and filled up with water and gatorade. Our hostess Tina wanted to hear about our ride. We pulled out the maps and took a look at what lay ahead. When we hit 1800 miles today we moved on to Map Segment five of seven. We originally intended to go to Coldspring but it would be much too late for dinner or laundry when we got there. Now the problem becomes riding in the heat after the places in these small towns have closed. There are more towns than West Texas but they roll the streets up early and we consume water at a ridiculous rate requiring refilling evey twenty five miles or so. We decided to stop while we could eat and launder and watch the first game of the NBA finals.

Mission accomplished.

More to come.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 26 Austin, TX to Round Top, TX

June 4

Austin, TX to Round Top, TX

99.5 Miles
4320 ft of climbing



Our day started with saying goodbye to Ash and Justin. We had a nice breakfast and then they took our picture and sent us off. They spent the rest of the day at the thrift shops on South Congress. Then I think they were going to Leakey to spend the night at the Frio Canyon Lodge. It would be cool if they did.

It was a hot, humid, and windy day. The wind was in our faces most of the day but it's true that the trees help break it up. In clearings you feel how much worse it could be were it not for the forest.

We often have people mention to us that it has been unseasonably hot by ten or more degrees since we arrived in Texas. It's comforting to hear the research was valid.

It has been hot!

The humidity is in the eighty five percent range with the temperature in the mid to high nineties. Wednesday was partly cloudy and that helped keep the sun off of us.

Chris is kind of fair and uses SPF 50 sunscreen. He reapplies it every hour and a half as recommended. The other day he actually started
foaming from all the sweat and sunscreen.

We thoroughly soak every item we're wearing within twenty minutes of starting. Our sweat rate is tremendous. When we are consuming water at a particularly high rate due to sweat loss (a liter and a half or more per hour) we supplement with electrolyte capsules containing Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, B-6, manganese, magnesium, and a couple of other compounds. We also tend to salt our food pretty heavily.

On a day we chalk up eight hours of riding we'll each go through as much as twelve liters of fluid.

We rode out of Austin to the Southeast and eventually made our way to Bastrop State Park. There, the map directed us to pay the entrance fee and ride in. It was thirteen miles of well maintained road through a beautiful pine and cedar forest. It's connected to Buescher State Park which we exited from. We saw a total of three cars in the thirteen miles and those were in the last couple. What a great route.

We rode down to La Grange, which is a town of forty seven hundred people or so. It was a kind of cool looking place complete with a train station. I hope we get to return to Santa Fe by train. That's our hope but the routing is going to be tricky. We'll see.

The ride from La Grange was more beautiful Texas hillside.

The antiques began around Winchester. Apparently this is a very hot area for antiquing with a giant annual festival centered in Round Top.

As we got close to Round Top it was a little before 8:00 PM and we decided to stop for dinner. We were feeling pretty good and thought we'd go a little further than our planned overnight stop there. We thought we'd head for Burton where there was an Inn listed on the map.

We had a good dinner at Klump's, a great family place, and actually got to have something pretty healthy. The positive of the chicken entree was more than made up for with our appetizers. Fried crawfish tails (I didn't expect them to be fried but boy were they good) and corn puffs which were essentially deep fried creamed corn (I did expect them to be fried and they were excellent).

Before we hit the road I thought it prudent to give the Inn at Burton a call. The phone was answered after several rings by a man who told me they he would like to accommodate us but he was out of town and the Inn was closed. As far as we could determine it was the only possibility in Burton. He told us our best bet was Round Top. We decided to stick to the original plan and find a place to stay in Round Top. Easier said than done.

I began calling numbers to have my calls picked up by answering machines. As we were striking out, a woman and her family came out of the restaurant. She asked about our ride and then about where we were planning to spend the night. She told us the accommodations in Round Top were exclusively Bed and Breakfasts and arrangements had to be made in advance because many of the owners don't live on the properties where they rent rooms or their businesses are hobbies.

She told us she was sleeping on the floor of her unfinished house and her brother was visiting and camping there. She apologized for not having a place to offer us. She made a recommendation or two but was not very hopeful. She directed us to a wine bar and cigar shop down the street where there might be some locals who knew of something.

We rode over and parked the bikes outside. We went in the wine bar and I asked the bartender if by chance he knew where we might find a room for the night. He said that there happened to be a woman who had just been there that operated a B&B and maybe we could catch her. He ran outside to find her sitting at a table, having a glass of wine, and briefly explained our situation.

She stood up and asked us a couple of questions. Where we were coming from, where we were going, how we ended up without a place to stay, things like that. She explained she had a place six miles outside of town called Outpost at Cedar Creek, (which it turns out is listed in the book of One Thousand Places to See Before You Die).

She said she could put us in a cabin if we liked. I felt bad interrupting her evening but she was happy to help us. I introduced us and she introduced herself as Lenore.

There was a fellow with her that assists with the B&B. He said he would go and get things ready. Not wanting there to be any confusion later I asked what the cost would be. She said, "I knew you were going to ask that. The rate is normally $175 a night but you can pay me what you want". The fellow with her, who later introduced himself as Danny, offered to put our bikes in his truck and give us a ride. We both appreciated it when he accepted and understood our desire to cover every inch on two wheels and in nothing with a motor. He went ahead to turn on lights and air conditioning. Lenore asked what time we'd like to have breakfast and gave us directions.

We have nice bright taillights and decent headlights but I brought a headmounted LED light that works very well for signs. As we headed out on the farmroad I was checking mileage and signage whenever we passed a road or driveway.

As I thought we were closing in on our turn, a motorcycle came down the road toward us. It slowed and we saw it was Danny. He turned the bike around and lead the way. It was a huge help. The last few hundred yards are dirt then gravel and his light was much better than ours.

Thanks Danny!

We got to the property and as we rode in I could see it was something special. Danny took us to the cabin and showed us the kitchen and TV room and gave us ice cold water. Instant comfort.

The cabin was fantastic. Beautifully decorated to the smallest detail. I understood Lenore to say she and Danny had been restoring it for the last fifteen years. I can absolutely believe it. It is a gorgeous and extremely comfortable place I could easily spend a couple of days. If you do the antiquing thing then there's no better place than Round top and no better place to stay than Outpost.

Lenore Prud'Homme you are our hero of the day!

Does my gratitude show?

More adventure tomorrow.

Oh, I think I called Judge Roy Bean the law West of the Mississippi. It was of course the Pecos. There is an example of the kind of things you think about when your riding. The more arcane the better.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Day 24 and 25 Austin, TX rest days

June 2,3

Austin, TX Rest Days

Austin is a great town. We all slept in Monday and didn't make it out until lunchtime. We stayed downtown and everything was an easy walk for us.

I woke up a little before lunch and went downstairs for a Café Americano at Drogo's. What a great cup Carlos and his crew make. Carlos is a very nice guy too. I recommend a visit there for your caffeine fix if you ever find yourself in Austin. You can ask if Chance has begun his trek to meet Pete Seger.

We spent Monday walking , shopping, and eating. In the evening, we started with a fantastic seafood dinner at Trulucks and then headed up to 6th street for some live music. Around 11:00 we wound up in a karaoke bar and that was all for me.

I made my wake up calls to the kids Tuesday and we headed out to have lunch with Halley Sinclair of Lance Armstrong Foundation. We met her at Lambert's, for BBQ and had a very nice and tasty meal.

After lunch Halley took us to her office for a tour. The people at LAF are very nice and it was a great experience getting a chance to see the operation and meet some of the staff.

Thank you Halley and LAF!!

After our visit, Ashleigh and Chris and I headed over to Lance's new bike shop. It's called, "Mellow Johnny's". A play on the words, "Maillot Jeune", meaning yellow jersey which is worn by the overall leader of the Tour de France. Mellow Johnny is a nickname a friend of Armstrong's stuck on him. I think there's a bit of sarcasm associated with the moniker. You can only be so mellow and be a seven time tour winner.

After the bike shop I headed to Milk + Honey Spa for a massage. What a great idea. Colleen prepared me well for some more riding.

We wrapped up our evening with dinner at Moonshine and made it an early night.

We all really enjoyed being there and I will definitely be back.

The best part was seeing Ashleigh. What I miss most, by far, is seeing my kids. I think about Jonathon and Ashleigh quite a bit on the road.

This morning it's back to it. We have 14 or 15 more pedaling days and our next scheduled stop will be Dauphine Island in Mobile Bay. Weather, or injury, is all that will slow us down.

More to come.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 23 Comfort, TX to Austin, TX

June 1

Comfort, TX to Austin, TX

109.5 Miles
4450 ft of climbing



As the number of days between rests grow we seem to get out later and later. I'm really the one responsible. Chris can be up and out in minutes. I usually wake up and write for an hour before I wake him up. Sunday was day six without a break and we've been rocking the miles. 534 in six days. Not bad considering we took a beating from the wind on two of them and rode through Texas Hill Country the last three.

We rolled out of the motel parking lot at 9:30 AM or so and headed down to the Double D Restaurant. Sunday breakfast buffet. Bonus. I limited myself to fried eggs, scrambled eggs, potatoes, grits, pancakes, french toast, and even a piece of bacon. In anticipation of rest days in Austin I'm ratcheting the meat quota down. I've had more beef in the last seven days than the last seven years. You've got to get your protein where and as you can and chicken isn't a menu regular in the spots we've been eating unless it's fried.

We were seated next to a woman who was dining with two gentlemen. She looked over and asked if we were in a race or something. We told her about the ride and why we wore the Livestrong gear. I think I mentioned this before, but I parcel out the story bit by bit making sure I have the listener's interest. I told our story and seeing that all three were interested I told them about Deidre. It's like our doctor told us February 28, 1998. "Welcome to the club you never wanted to be a member of". It turns out that the woman's husband has a sister named Deidre. It's a small, weird, interconnected word.

One of the men, the more reticent of the two, was the woman's brother. He is currently receiving chemotherapy for invasive lung cancer. These kinds of meetings are profound for me. The cancer sufferer generally knows the score. When I talk about Deidre they sense I know the score too. I love them all.

It was time to get eating and it was time for our new friends from Sedona to start their day. We all got up to say goodbye and the woman came up to me and gave me a big warm hug. Her brother had walked to the door and she and I looked in each others eyes in that knowing way and I told her I wished her brother well and would be thinking of him. Friends and family need a different kind of support than the cancer survivor does.

I started the ride on an emotional high.

We finished eating and rolled out for another hot, hilly, and long day. We weren't concerned with our arrival time because we knew we had rooms and knew we would be able to find food in Austin late.

We started slowly and for the first part of the ride we took every chance to stop for cold drinks. We've been going through between six and eight liters daily and it's best but rarely cold.

We pulled into a little town called Sisterdale and stopped at the only place that appeared to have a cold drink. It was a bar with a cooler full of Gatorade. We each grabbed a bottle and went out front. There's a kind of motorcycle often referred to as a crotch rocket that is more road racer than chopper. There was a beautiful metallic maroon Suzuki 1300 with a sticker saying "Suicidal Tendencies" (the names of both a band and an attitude) parked out front. It was more a crotch missile. After a couple of minutes, a man came out of the bar and sat down with a cold one. He was a very serious and large guy. He was wearing a don't bother me expression and I was happy to honor it.

As we stood there with our drinks, an amazing scene played out. From our left, a man came running down the road next to a little girl on a new bicycle learning to ride for the first time. Her dad was hands off and you could see at that moment that she was getting it. It really is magical when you think about how the world is about to become bigger for a new young rider.

The little girl looked over at us and stared at our bikes and fashion choices. I gave her a big atta girl, two big thumbs up, and hollered at her to look where she was going. When she looked back to her left she steered left and dad was there to catch her. I applauded and then Chris joined in followed by the motorcyclist and her dad. It was joy for her and memories of the same joy for the rest of us. Her dad turned her around and they started down the road the other direction.

As Chris and I got ready to leave, the motorcyclist looked up and nodded a greeting. I said, "is that your ride?", nodding to the missile. He said, "yeah". I said, "that is a fine ride you've got there". He said, "it beats pedaling", in a deadpan. I said, "yeah, but the scenery goes by allot faster for you". He smiled and said, "you're right about that".

We began talking him about our ride. He was very interested and when he heard we were using the ride to do some good and raise some money for LAF's efforts at helping survivors he pulled out his wallet and grabbed a twenty dollar bill that he insisted we take. I said, "we aren't really prepared to accept cash contributions (the third time I've said tat so far). He insisted saying, "then buy yourselves some Gatorade or something. I want to help". I thanked him and introduced myself. He shook my hand and introduced himself as Fred. Not wanting to disappoint a man of Fred's stature I accepted the contribution. What we had during that experience were two of the most powerful elements for bringing people together. Youthful innocence and charitable efforts.

Thank you Fred!

Our meeting ended with Fred telling us we had allot more guts (he used a different word) than he did.

The rest of the ride was long and hot but I was heavily dosed on Karmic painkillers.

We pulled into the hotel lobby a little after 10:00 PM. We showered up and headed across the street for dinner. Ashleigh and Justin arrived at the hotel about ten minutes later and came and met us for dinner.

Yahoo! We're in Austin. Two full days off, 1667 miles of riding, over 58,000 feet of climbing and past halfway.

Maybe a massage later.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Day 22 Leakey, TX to Comfort, TX

May 31

Leakey, TX to Comfort, TX

89 Miles
3820 ft of climbing



As a bonus, our room in Leakey had a full sized coffee maker with a permanent filter. Usually, if there's a coffee maker in the room it uses prepackaged coffee in a filter envelope. I Jones for my Peet's. If there's a microwave I'll boil water in cups and use my little camp press pot to make real coffee. This time I got to make it in a real coffee maker. We drank all twelve cups. That makes for an open eyed start to our day.

We got ready and rolled out into the street. I asked a man sitting on a bench on the sidewalk if he knew a breakfast spot. He pointed back the way we came and mumbled something that sounded like, "after the third light on the right". We turned around and headed that way. I thought for a minute that Leakey was a bigger town than I thought. Three traffic lights would make it a veritable city.

We rode back through the blinking yellow light at the intersection and I realized there was just this one light. About three doors down, on the right, we saw a little place called Nena's Café. The sign advertised German-American cuisine.

We parked the bikes and went inside. It was a very nice, cozy spot that looked like a house with several small tables in the front room. A gentleman seated us and we ordered various combinations of potato pancakes and eggs. It was delicious.

I noticed the interaction between the man and a woman, of a similar age, cooking in the kitchen. I thought them husband and wife and it was nice to see the love and respect they treated each other with.

At the end of our meal, Chris went outside to put on sunscreen and get ready. The man from the café also stepped out for something. The other diners had finished and gone leaving me alone with the cook. She came into the dining room and asked how everything was. I told her it was great!

She asked about what we were doing and I told her about our ride. I usually build up to the full story bit by bit. I guess I need to know they are interested before I share Deidre's story with them. We talked for awhile. The woman was very nice and was good at conversation. She told me about the couple that had been eating when we arrived. They were her neighbors and the day before they had returned from Houston where the gentleman had been receiving treatment for stomach cancer. The doctors had told him this week that there was no more they could do for him. The woman had called our hostess the day before to give her the news. They had just finished making arrangements at the funeral home for the inevitable.

Death is inevitable for us all. It is more immediate for some than others. I think maybe in the case of a married couple both people are preparing to die.

I asked the woman I was talking with her name and she handed me her card. Her name is Nena Artl and she is the proprietress of the café. I told her it was time for us to ride and asked for the check. She said, "consider breakfast my contribution to your efforts". I was truly touched. I really felt she understood. She said Leakey had hosted the Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society event, the week before. She said that their small town raised over $200,000 in the last year to fund the war against cancer.

I shook her hand and told her what a pleasure it had been talking with her and began to leave. I took her hand one more time and she gave me a hug full of love and wished us safe travels.

Nena was an exceptionally kind and caring person who warmed my heart.

Eat at Nena's Café when in Leakey and say hello for me.

Off we went for some mountain climbing. It would be a day that began with a climb like the one that we rode to get there the night before.

The night before, Walter, at the lodge, told us that the first six miles of our route was under construction and he would help us route around it in the morning if we wanted to avoid it. That whole part of Texas Hill Country is very, very popular with motorcyclists and he said they were all coming to town complaining about the six miles of torn up dirt road. We both grew up in Santa Fe and a little dirt doesn't scare us.

The climbing began shortly after the return of the pavement. The construction wasn't too bad at all. There was hardly any car traffic and no work going on so I think we got lucky.

We rode to Vanderpool and stopped for a brisket sandwich. So far, the brisket I've had has been out of refrigerators and warmed in microwaves. It has been excellent without exception.

We turned North at Vanderpool and started riding along the Guadalupe River. It started pretty wild with more game ranches but as we neared Hunt we began riding past riverside resorts and summer camps. I noticed many places offering cold storage for bagged game in the areas with the game ranches and hunt clubs.

It was very green and lush and was getting more so all the time. We rode past guest houses with mowed front lawns the size of football fields. It was a beautiful ride.

The river got wider and wider. I think we crossed it at least nine times. It was wide enough in some places for jet skis. We rode for fifty miles or more next to the river. What a treat. It seemed like we left the beautiful and wild but sometimes bleak dry plains of West Texas behind.

We got to Comfort and stopped to do a little laundry on our way to the Motel and dinner.

It was a glorious, hot and humid day.

More to come.