Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day Sixty-four, 090503 - La Grange, TX

Day Sixty-four, Date Sunday, May 3, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:37
Distance for the Day: 66.61 miles From Austin, TX To La Grange, TX
Accumulated Trip Distance: 2749.3 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 683’/524’, Highest: 699’ Accumulated: 2031’
Speeds: Avg: 10.0 mph, Max: 35.7 mph
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm, humid
Expenditures: $37

I spent the (real) final morning at Walt’s updating my Google Maps route, prepped a package back home containing the water purifier (never needed it), my old hammock, the stripped rear-axel skewer, and my non-functioning CC Witness radio (sigh!). Walt and I left at noon on our cycles. He wanted to guide me out of town on a complex but scenic route following a cycling/running trail that went along the Colorado River, and included an early visit to Lance Armstrong’s cycling shop, Mellow Johnnie’s (the name came from American cyclists’ inability to properly pronounce “maillot jaune” [yellow jersey] while racing in France). Wow, what a facility for cyclists! Nice stuff, full shop with “laser fitting,” whatever that is, and a workout room with test equipment, not to mention the nice coffee cafĂ©. I bought one of those yellow plastic “Livestrong” bracelets, and we took off. The ride through town was pleasant and easy, though impossible to follow unless you’ve done it a lot. We passed over a bridge and I saw tons of turtles lounging around, swimming and sunning themselves – cool! We eventually went past all the nice paths, and then got back into the streets. We paused a few moments to watch some small kids playing T-Ball, and another group of slightly older kids playing baseball, and then had to take a short highway segment that wasn’t all that bike friendly. It got us to the Austin Airport, where Walt and I said our final farewells, took some pictures, and parted ways. Thank you, Walt. I apologize for staying quite so long, but you fed me and let me use your electricity and water without a peep of complaint, and for that I will be forever grateful. May you cycle strong for decades more, and your sons become successful and at least as happy and well-situated as you are, to the end of their days!

I figured out how to get my mapping program to pick routes suitable for cycles, and it recommended taking Hwy 71 south and east out of Austin, so that’s what I did. I stopped off at Bastrop, and got a cold soda and supplies ($8). I also went to the local Walgreens, and found/purchased the *perfect* battery operated shaver ($21) (compact, has a swing-away foil guard, uses two AA batteries, and even has a stow-away brush to clean the blades – all built into the unit, itself). I gave myself a shave right then and there, as I was starting to get a noticeable beard and moustache(!) – not a pretty sight, at all. I left Bastrop at 4:27pm, and found a dead boar on the side of the road that was about 2.5 feet high, lying on its side – it was rather huge! I also stopped on a bridge crossing the Colorado River (the road would do that several times, as the river meandered, but the road didn’t) and video’d birds that nested under the bridge, and were flying just under where I stood facing the river. They were apparently flycatchers of some kind, and flew through the air eating insects on the wing, right in front of me. Cool! I was able to make it as far as La Grange for the day, where I stopped to get a Subway sandwich ($7) before continuing on and turning onto Hwy 77 for a few miles to look for a good stealth camp. It had gotten almost dark, by then, and that’s when I achieved one of the major goals for this trip. I saw a flash over the lawn out of the corner of my eye that shouldn’t have been there. I froze, and kept looking in the direction I thought I saw that light. There it went, again – a bright, almost amber colored streak, lasting only about a half-second. Fireflies! I looked around, and could see them all over the place - not often, and pretty sparse, but even as far as 100 yards away, I could see them. Whenever a car’s headlights came by, they quit, but would come back again in a minute or two. My very first firefly experience, on a temperate, windless and somewhat humid evening in west Texas. I was very happy, indeed. I set up my stealth camp (N29 53.222’ W96 52.399’) down off a dirt road next to a nursing home in a wooded area at about 10:50pm, and used my new hammock for the first time. It was much more comfortable than my original hammock, and the built-in mosquito netting was nice (and needed) but I didn’t set it up quite right, so the little buggers still got to me during the night, somewhat. Not as much as they would have if I hadn’t had it, though. I’ll do it right, the next time.

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