A Sabbatical Bike Trip Archive


Day 42 – Heading Home

Loading baggage at BWI

A baggage handler loading my boxed bike (and half my gear) at the BWI airport, en-route home. I haven't yet opened the box to survey the damage. Tomorrow is soon enough.

4 May 2011. I have mixed emotions as I’m winging my way home. Flying into Jackson, Mississippi, on the first leg of this Southwest flight, I looked down at the dense green vegetation and the rain-swollen rivers and had some pangs of regret that I didn’t get into Louisiana or the truly lush green of the Delta Country. A few of the roads I could see wending their way along creeks and bayous looked pretty inviting.

And, as noted yesterday, I was also disappointed not to end my trip on a train—that would have been a great way to decompress after a month-and-a-half of biking.

But I am also very happy to be heading home to Vermont—to Jerelyn and our golden retriever, Roxy, and the many friends who have sent such good wishes to me on this adventure. Spring has sprung in Vermont, and I can’t wait to see our forsythia in bloom and our redbud in bud.

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Day 40 and 41 – Houston and the End of the Ride

FM 1774

FM 1774 heading towards Houston. This almost looks like the Northeast here! Click on any image to enlarge.

3 May 2011 (posted the next day—from the Hobby Airport in Houston). The ride yesterday from Navasota to Houston was physically pretty easy. While I covered 72 miles, I had a nice tailbreeze out of the north most of the day and—more significantly—the weather turned, so the humidity was much lower. There were threatening clouds (locals might refer to these as “teasing” clouds), but no rain.

What was hard about today’s ride was the level of concentration required relative to traffic. I was off the Adventure Cycling route and making it up as I made my way toward Houston. I took 105 east for about 15 or 20 miles, then turned south on FM 1994 (FM for “Farm to Market—which is kind-of cool). Route 105 had a good shoulder, but quite a bit of fast traffic; 1774 had somewhat less traffic, but no shoulder.

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Day 39 – A Long Slog Into Navasota

Rest stop under live oak

One of my many rest stops--under some spreading live oak trees. Note that my tent is gone from my bike; I sent it back home from Austin.

1 May 2011 (posted two days later–I’ve had trouble getting good Internet connections, and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of dealing with return-travel hassles, which I’ll describe in the next blog). This biking was supposed to get easier as my aging muscles attune to the workout. It didn’t seem that way today!

I biked 78 miles to Navasota, Texas, which is northwest of Houston. Tomorrow, I’ll head down toward Houston and the terminus of this biking journey.

Heading out of LaGrange, after a nice stay with Brad Cutright and his daughter, I took a slightly longer route Brad had showed me that would be free of traffic. It was largely free of traffic, and even though it was Sunday, I’m sure the lower traffic warranted the extra five or six miles.

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Day 37 & 38 – Last Day in Austin and on to La Grange

Bugle Boy "listening room"

The Bugle Boy “listening room” in La Grange, Texas. Amazing place! Click on any image to enlarge.

30 April 2011 (posted the next evening). As I write this I’m in a place called The Bugle Boy in La Grange, Texas. It’s a “listening room” operated as a nonprofit organization. A wide range of musician’s play here; tonight is Woody Russell, a bluesman extraordinaire.

The place is run by Lane Gosnay, who is a good friend of Kim Miller and Alex Long. When I mentioned to Kim and Alex that my plan was to head to La Grange today, they immediately suggested that I should get to the Bugle Boy if at all possible. In fact, they called Lane to let her know that I’d be coming through town and see if she might have a place to put me up.

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Day 36 – Another Down Day in Austin

The Broken Spoke

One of Austin's signature institutions: The Broken Spoke--a mecca for Western swing dancing.

28 April 2011 (posted the next morning). I’m just back from The Broken Spoke, an Austin institution. Alex Long and Kim Miller, with whom I stayed in Wimberley and who were here at the Pfeiffer’s tonight, took me there after the gathering here wound down. The Broken spoke is a Texas country western dance hall—one of the classic ones I’m told. Funky, full of memorabilia about the famous musicians who have performed here, crowded with people serious about swing dancing.

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Day 35 – A Down Day in Austin

Rainwater Tank

Visiting a jobsite with Peter Pfeiffer (on the left) and fellow architect Scott Witt--who is holding open a hatch into a 64,000-gallon rainwater cistern.

27 April 2011 (posted the next morning). Today was an organizing and exploring-Austin day. In the morning, I went through the next batch of maps that Jerelyn had sent to me here—as I try to decide how far east I want to go.

I’m feeling pretty good, but the question may be the weather. Reading about the tornadoes in Alabama certainly gives me pause…. I would like to get far enough to see fully green vegetation–to complete the transition from the Southwestern deserts–but I’m not into biking through thunderstorms and tornadoes! On Tuesday night there was a tornado warning in Austin.

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Day 34 – Out of Texas and Into Austin!

Alex at The Salt Lick

At a great lunch spot I happened across near Driftwood.

26 April 2011 (posted the next morning). I’m hardly an authority on Texas, having been biking here for only a couple weeks and with a half-dozen prior visits. But there was a distinct shift when I approached Austin. Foreign cars, guys with ponytails, bumper stickers that might get shot at in the neighboring counties, espresso bars, alpaca farms. It seems like a different place. Politically, it’s very different, from what I gather. There’s that old political joke told in more liberal circles that the only problem with Austin is that when you leave the city you’re in Texas….

But remember, I don’t talk politics in Texas, so I wouldn’t know….

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Day 33 – On Toward Austin With a Green Home Visit

Route 473

The rolling hills get greener and greener as I progress east. This was taken on Route 473 (I think). Click on any image to enlarge.

25 April 2011 (posted the next morning). Wimberley, Texas. I’m thirty or forty miles outside of Austin right now, staying with Alex Long and Kim Miller. Alex is the one who came across my blog after reading in Environmental Building News that I was starting a sabbatical and on a biking trip. He went to the blog and learned that I was almost in his backyard—and about to make a big mistake by biking into San Antonio and then trying to get up to Austin from there.

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Day 32 – Hard to Believe it’s Been a Month!

Texas Hill Country

The rolling hills of Texas Hill Country, west of Austin. Click on any image to enlarge.

24 April 2011. Kerrville, Texas. Today’s spectacular ride passed through some of Central Texas’s famous Hill Country. I started out, shortly after daybreak, in Utopia, pedaled an easy 10 miles past farmland and designer ranches to Vanderpool.

I had expected everything to be closed today (Easter), but right away passed a gas station in Utopia and bought one of those vacuum-sealed ham & cheese sandwiches on white bread, plus a few other rations—and a chocolate milk that I downed on the spot. Then in Vanderpool there was another convenience store that was open until 10:30 am. I bought a small orange juice and drank it before continuing on. You never know around here when you will find the next store!

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Day 31 – I Made it to Utopia!

Route 90

There's some green in that grass! This is along Route 90, between Uvalde and Sabinal.

23 April 2011. Utopia, Texas, that is. Today’s ride was the easiest in a couple weeks, it seems. It was warm and the humidity has increased as I’ve headed east and met air masses coming off the Gulf (I suppose that’s what’s going on), but the wind was gentle and for half of today’s 44 miles, there was a tailwind! Imagine that!

I left my motel in Uvalde (probably the worst motel I’ve stayed in on this trip) around 8 am and went to a nearby pancake house. The buffet was great, because I could eat quickly and go back for seconds to bulk up on those carbs and protein!

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