Right out of the chute, we changed plans. Enjoying a pre-tour stay on their country farm with my brother Bill and his wife Phillis, we learned that the bluebonnets and other wildflowers were beginning to bloom and it was shaping up to be another bountiful year. That’s all it took for us to reverse direction and head to the Hill Country. Even though we traveled that ground on our last Texas tour, the memories drew us back. So instead of heading East, we are going south to the Fredericksburg area. Since we’ve already broken the mold, we may just change up our itinerary all together. Time will tell, as we make our destination decisions day by day.
Bill saw us off to a fine start, and we wound through quiet farmland dominated by cattle, horses and even a one-off llama. As we rolled up and down with the continuous undulations of the country road, I couldn’t help but revel in the green grass, sprinkling of color from the wildflowers, and eventually the warmth of the sun. Rich couldn’t resist dumpster diving when he found a pony friend awaiting the garbage pickup. He declared it the first Purple Cow of the tour.
We targeted Stephenville for our breakfast stop. Finding no eateries while circling the town square, Rich stopped to ask a woman for advice. She recommended Jack and Dorothy’s Cafe, saying it was chosen as one of the 40 best cafes in Texas. Founded in 1948 and now run by the daughter, it is a classic. The cacophony of clanking plates and waitresses shouting out orders greeted us at the door. Black and white tile, green spinning stools at the counter, coffee pots over-heating on their burners and well worn booths were testimony to its authenticity. As was its menu steeped in the era of heaping portions of eggs, hash browns, bacon and toast. No latte for me today. But Rich’s stock touring breakfast, a ham and cheese omelette, got a thumbs up.
Our cool morning start changed rapidly as the sun came out and the wind picked up. Not only buffeted by the winds, we found the worst cycling road surface yet. Until now, chip seal was our nemesis. But grooved chip seal earned even lower marks. It looked like a road prepared for a resurfacing that never materialized. Fortunately we only had three miles to cover on that washboard, but it was enough to dislodge my sleeping bag from its bungees and send it off into the roadside abyss. By the time we noticed it’s absence, we were miles down the next road. Someone else will be it’s proud new owner, as Rich convinced me it was futile to try and find it. So no camping for us until we can buy a replacement.
As the day wore on, I gradually felt myself getting back into the touring groove. My legs remembered how to power up the hills. The burden of my panniers disappeared once I was rolling. My butt rebelled after 38 miles in the saddle. The passing countryside entertained me. And I zeroed in on the Dairy Queen as soon as we arrived in our destination town.
Not everything went according to plan, but it’s a start. And no doubt we will tweak this tour many more times before we are through. After all, we have four weeks to keep changing our minds.