With no firm deadline for completing this Spring North Cycling Tour, and only vague plans for our route, we agreed we could take detours when the spirit so moved us. So I decided to invoke my right to declare a diversion. With skepticism in his eyes, Rich tolerated my description of where I wanted to go and ultimately agreed, with reservations. Having read up on the tourism literature, I wanted to take our path further east through the Piney Woods area of Texas. The idea of tall trees and forests appealed to me, so I settled for a foray into the Davy Crockett National Forest to get a taste for the area.
We found that the hills returned as we headed east from Marquez. And although we left the bluebonnets behind, there were new varieties of wildflowers that continued to populate the roadsides. Trees increased and ranches turned into farms. We no longer saw any cactus and the dry creek beds were replaced with flowing water and wet ponds in the fields.
Today was the main focus of my plan. We were to spend the bulk of our time cycling through the Forest, which meant a less than direct route. That's where the rub came in, but I stuck to my guns. The idea was to take a road straight west into the park. There, I'd found a little café where we could have breakfast then take a small local road north through the forest. The only glitch was that I couldn't verify the café's hours, or that even still existed. So it was with great relief that I spied the neon “Open” sign in the window, and we settled in for a hearty meal.
The forest road turned out to be just as I'd hoped. It was narrow and quiet, with load restrictions on a bridge that kept trucks from invading our space. It was rolling without having difficult climbs and at times the trees formed a canopy over our heads. We even passed some of the tallest pines in East Texas. The peace of cycling in the woods, hearing the birds and other outdoor sounds was restorative. It was 13 miles of bliss.
Despite 25 more miles in the heat of the Texas afternoon sun to reach our motel, it was well worth the extra time to meander through the forest. It was a haven from the hectic roads and traffic we'd endured, and presented plenty of opportunities for photos. Indeed, it was a worthy detour, if I do say so myself.