The closer we get to the hill country, the better the scenery. Or perhaps it's that the winds have abated somewhat and we are able to raise our heads and actually take in what's around us. I think it's some of both, really, but either way it has been a visual treat.
This is what cycle touring is all about. Traveling the countryside at 12 mph, stopping to see things along the way, taking pictures and meeting local folk. However, I'm not always the most observant cyclist. Sometimes I get too absorbed in pedaling along and forget to take in what's around me. So when I lost Rich this morning and had to double back to find him, I was given a second chance to see what I'd missed. He'd spotted a young donkey with its mother in a field. Although they were wandering away by the time I got there, I still had time to watch them. Just beyond, the adjacent farmhouse had two peacocks perched on the garage roof. I'd totally missed those the first time as well. At another stopping point, a dead tree first attracted Rich as he thought it harbored a bird. I thought the tree itself was more interesting.
Passing through tiny towns that barely make it on the map, it's a sure bet they have one or more nice churches. We have found their grounds to be pleasant resting spots. It's debatable whether there will be any businesses open. Today, we were lucky to find an all purpose general store. Purchasing a few snack items led to questions about our trip and some fun conversations.
One ubiquitous sight that consistently compells us to stop is Dairy Queen. There is nothing better than ice cream after a long hot day of cycling. And it's the one time we can indulge without a single pang of guilt. In Goldthwaite the manager was very interested in our trip and was eager to help us out. We left with a fistful of coupons for free dip cones! We cashed in the first pair the very next afternoon.
But back to the roadside. With each passing mile the wild flowers become more abundant. Not knowing if the varieties varied by locale, I finally took the time to stop and capture as many of them as I could.
Of course the most famous and plentiful flowers are the bluebonnets. The patches grow larger and thicker the further south we travel, and along with their volume comes the fragrance. On a bicycle, it's much more than just a roadside sight – it's a feast for all the senses.