Saturday, April 23, 2011
What better way to follow up a gorgeous day in the hill country? I decided it was to trip going down the path after the tribe went to bed for the night. I managed to skin both my knees, my right elbow, strain the ribs on my left side, and re-invent the colors black and blue. No, Kevin, when you saw me stumble onto my tent attempting to go to bed it wasn't for too many glasses of wine! I was in pain. And continue to be so. What a klutz! I won't be wearing a skirt any time soon!
The tribe did have a gorgeous day for a ride! Very consistent ups and downs today. Some wildflowers, not nearly as lush as last year, but still beautiful. We had a couple tribe members try and get lost more than once, but eventually they made it to camp. I don't envy the staff having to keep tabs on 50+ cyclists. A great responsibility and a great job done by this ACA staff.
A large percent of the tribe opted to spend the afternoon frolicking in the Pedernales River: it was hot outside and the river felt so good! I won't mention the snakes that I saw slithering along the bank of the river by their swimming hole. Or the snapping turtles.
The tribe gathered for a final map meeting and awards ceremony, followed by a dinner of honey spiced pork chops, green salad with Chrissy's goat cheese, red potatoes, fresh carrots and green beans, zucchini, spinach & eggplant strata with feta & parmesan cheeses, and marbled cream cheese cakes for dessert.
So it was up early the last morning, limp and gimp around camp, load up, say farewells and head for home. A long trip home! 4 days in the big yellow truck. We, (Jack really), battled 45+ mph headwinds all the way across Texas, Colorado and Wyoming. Moral was not too good when the gas gauge registered 3mpg.
We're home for a month and then head to Utah for Cycle Utah, then immediately on to Montana for Cycle Montana. It will be great to see Ranger Tommy and crew, and Tony and Montana Annie! Utah is almost full, and there's still room on Montana! For more summer fun take a look at Cycle the Gorge and the Oregon Coastal Odyssey! What better way to vacation but on your bike! See ya!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Joe after a hard day wrenching! Honeysuckle: the Rather Sweet Bakery.
Wednesday is the layover day here in Fredericksburg. The tribe was up early to ride out to Enchanted Rock. Straight out of town and it's up and down, up and down. One of the climbs stretches up 3 miles and reaches 15% grade. Ouch! Enchanted Rock is a smooth, tall rock formation that can be traversed to the top for an amazing view of the hill country, if you're wearing the right shoes! It is enchanted because as the wind works around the formation it makes wailing type sounds that made the natives believe it was enchanted.
Tonight was BBQ night for this lucky tribe. They feasted on a purple and bleau coleslaw, potato salad, smoked brisket, bbq'd pulled pork, german sausages and sauerkraut, fresh baked cornbread and a huge bowl of chocolate oreo pudding for dessert. They cleaned up!
It was a quiet day for us. Our friend Isabelle came up from San Antonio to ride and visit for the day. She rode across country with Jack on the 2006 Trans Am ride. We opted for a quiet day at the campground and running a few errands. I was pretty beat! :The middle of the ride week is my tired time: up and down and in and out of the truck, equipment on, equipment off, set up and tear down. Cook, cook, cook, clean up. Whew!
We were honored to have Rebecca Rather stop by the camp tonight. She made time in the middle of a crazy week: magazine article deadline, desserts for 800 Saturday night, dinner for 60 on Sunday. And I think I;m nuts!! We had a nice visit and I hope to stay in touch with her.
Thursday is upon us and the tribe is headed out for a beautiful ride with hopes to see fields of wild flowers. There aren't too many out: Texas has been in a drought and the flowers bloom when there's rain. Go figure; we come to ride the hills and see the flowers and are thankful for no rain, but we don't get the flowers if there's no rain! We will end the ride today in Pedernales Falls State Park. It will be a quiet change from the noisy traffic next to us the last two nights!
Jack and I are headed to Opa's Smokehouse to load up on sausages for future rides and a case of smoked turkey legs for my son, Matt's going away party. He has received orders to deploy to Afghanastan in June for 7 months. Not quite where we want him to be, but he'll do fine. We'll just keep the care packages going!
Tomorrow is the last day for this tour. The tribe will ride back to Austin and we will head home. Three days in a big yellow truck. Yuck. Our next tour will be Cycle Utah, and then on to Cycle Montana. I believe there is still room on Utah and for sure right now on Montana. Get signed up and come out and ride!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The tribe relaxing with goat cheese appetizers & beer! My new catering truck! My kinda mail box. Goat cheese from Chrissy Omo!
It's April! April showers! We got hit with a thunderous storm around two Monday morning, then sunshine again for the ride to Blanco and then from Blanco to Fredericksburg. A gorgeous day for a ride! Rolling hills and a spattering of wild flowers. The tribe had a great day and rolled into town for a beer at the brewery and into camp for a dinner of curried chicken, peanut yam tofu, spicy noodle salad and basmati rice. Chocolate cake for dessert. Last year at this camp a couple or errant tribe members happened upon the cakes I had baked for dessert the next day and helped themselves to a snack! No bad tribe members this year!
Speaking of showers: you don't realize how fortunate you are with your home shower until you spend a couple of weeks on the road. We have seen it all. One of the first Cycle Washington's we had no showers in New Halem. Tom hung shower bags in the trees and everyone showered with mother nature. Mountain Breeze campground two nights ago was interesting! Wood slat floors and shower heads jutting out of pvc pipe running along the ceiling. Quite a few of the schools have the push button, 1 minute jobbers. Quite a few of the schools don't fire up their boilers and the showers are anything but warm. Chilling. One night in Harrison, Idaho, the showers are $1.00 per minute. The pay box is outside of the shower. The trick is to pay, run, shower, pay, run, shower. Cycle Utah, in Panguitch at the fair grounds, we share the showers. Men one hour, women the next. Tammy has bought showers curtains more than once to accommodate the women. The showers at the campground in Cataldo, Idaho, are in a trailer. More exposed pvc pipe and only one temperature. HOT! We have had showers that dribble, showers that will blast you out of the room. We have had showers that I refuse to use. I'll smell like a pork chop, thank you.
Today's ride is an optional ride out to Enchanted Rock. Quite a few of the tribe members opted to sag out and ride back. Many of the tribe took advantage of the off day and trecked into Fredericksburg for a day of exploring the town. The Nimitz Museum is a whole day of exploring in itself!
So we're off to town to re-up on diet coke and beer. Beer for the tribe, not us. Fried pickles for us!
Monday, April 11, 2011
Kevin and his crew:hard at work? My duck buddy: the evil creepy crawly thing that wanted to eat me: not a good sign when the van pulls in: who's watching you at camp?
OK. I love critters. I love to feed critters. I hate creepy, crawly, slithery things with weird colors and fangs that want to chomp me. Here at Blanco State Park, tonight's overnight, I have encountered evil geese (see this ride last year!) and really cute ducks. The ducks returned for a handout or two and the geese (yeah) where nowhere to be found. Today I encountered a creepy, crawly, slithery, science fiction picture show wanna be in the sink in our kitchen. I screamed. I made Jack put it in a cup and let it loose outdoors. It contemplated coming back into the kitchen but then changed it's mind. Do things like this actually have a mind???? I am not sleeping in my tent!!
Jack googled this thing and found that it is a red headed centipede. It has a red head and antenna type thingies, large red fangs (OK, I'm making that one up), a black body and fifty million (not quite) yellow legs. Look at the not so good picture above! We don't have things like that in Washington. We have slugs. Slugs are cute; harmless to humans and animals. This thing is potentially dangerous to dogs, young children, and the elderly. Probably to slugs. I'm going home.
OK, Kevin, I won't go home until Friday; today was a much better ride day for our tribe. Yesterday was, as I might have mentioned, really hard. But everyone made it into camp, ate dinner, cleaned up, and were on the road again this morning! Good job tribe! Today was a lot of ups and downs and in the afternoon a good headwind. Is there such a thing, really? OK: it was a headwind.
We are at Blanco State Park, situated on the Blanco River. It is so beautiful here! We were saddened to hear that this is one of 7 state parks in Texas that may close due to budget cuts. Hopefully this can be rectified. We have a pavilion with a full kitchen! I got to make brownies and chocolate cakes for tomorrow night! The tribe has seems to have gotten their appetite back: they feasted on a Greek vegetable & quinua salad, broccoli salad, roast pork with mushroom pan gravy, steamed yellow potatoes, homemade apple sauce and fresh baked brownies for dessert. It really was yumm. Hearty, old fashioned, home cooking, yumm.
Tomorrow's ride is on Farm to Market Roads and into Johnson City, then on to the Lynden B. Johnson Ranch. After a tour, the tribe makes their way to Fredericksburg. Beer and fried pickles for all! Really, they are so good!
We will hopefully take possession of our coveted goat cheese from Chrissy Omo, in the morning and then make our way to prepare dinner for our tribe in Fredericksburg. Rebecca Rather will be joining us, and no, my BFF Susan, I am not obsessing over this. Well, maybe a little. Ask Jack. He'll tell you.
Another day done; sorry ya'll aren't here to share this with us. (Did you know: you can use ya'll 3 times in one sentence???? Our waiter did the other night! I was amazed.) Night Ya'all.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
The water tower at Gruene: the old gristmill at Gruene: a red cardinal above my kitchen: my new nome: Mckinney Falls.
I scored on the goat cheese! Took a couple of days, but we finally got hold of Chrissy and I have farm fresh Chevre being delivered to Blanco on Tuesday morning. She makes her cheeses to order, so we know it's going to be fresh! Her brother is delivering it on his way to school. Now I call the Texas hospitality! I'm dreaming of all the yummy things I can do with Chevre. Chevre & crackers, Chevre & roasted vegetable sandwiches, spring greens w/ Chevre in a salad..........anyone have ideas for me?
So, the tribe all gathered at Mckinney Falls State Park Saturday afternoon, signed in, attended the map meeting hosted by our fearless leader, Kevin, then dined on a German themed meal. Dinner consisted of spinach & apple waldorf salad, mustard potato salad, Opa's German sausages, BBQ chicken, white balsamic glazed cabbage, apples & onions, & Nana's rum cakes for dessert. Those rum cakes are hot! 3 weeks in the truck and they are as good as the day Nana made them. It's the rum! Kind of like preserving a fruit cake!
We have quite a few return riders on this tour as well as a few that this is their first time with us. We also have a remarkable number that have admitted to not training for this ride. This is going to make things tough on them today: as we headed out of Mckinney Falls we turned face first into 30-35 mile an hour head winds. All the way to Gruene. And, word has it that one railroad crossing is blocked by a train and has been for over 1/2 an hour. The riders are backed up and sitting in the 90* heat and 42% humidity. I will have the beer cold and the pretzels out when they get here!
Gruene is a Historic District that is home to the oldest dance hall in Texas. Gruene was established in 1945 by Ernst Gruene, and his second son began cotton farming. The town prospered until the cotton gin burned down and the Depression took hold. Gruene Hall, though, never closed. In 1975 new businesses were established and Gruene is now on the National Register of Historical Places. It is one of the great places to visit when you're in the Hill Country!
Tonight's dinner will be chicken fajitas with all the trimmings, spanish rice, refried beans, Texas Wedge salad & pound cake for dessert. We are set up at the Mountain Breeze Campground on the Guadalupe River. Tubing is huge here! All up the river is campground after campground featuring tubing and kayaking trips down the river. Sounds good to me!
Hopefully my tribe makes it all in in one piece and is not too wind blown! I'll let you know how they fare.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Bubble and Quack! (my first quilt) Sunset on the tarmac. I did sleep like a baby at the Hanger Hotel!
Yahoo! We're in Texas! Two days of busses, planes & a big yellow truck and we're in beautiful Fredericksburg, Texas. The weather is hot and humid and going to be more so for the week of the trip. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I hope this tribe is drinking gallons of water right now.
We arrived a couple of days early; took advantage and spent a relaxing day exploring Fredericksburg. This included beer and fried pickles at the brew pub, breakfast and pastries at the Rather Sweet Bakery, more beer and fried pickles, (can't get enough of those fried pickles!) and a tour of a couple of local quilt shops. Ok, so one was local. I made Jack drive 30 miles to the other one in Kerrville. But what a quilt shop it is! We hit it during their "quilt hop". Jack's fortunate that the big yellow truck is too expensive to drive around the county chasing quilts. Yes, cousin Mike, your wife has helped to create a quilt maniac. (I finished the duck quilt on the drive down here! I have named it bubble and quack.)
Speaking of the Rather Sweet Bakery; I have mentioned it a couple of times in the past as "THE" bakery to visit when you're in Texas. The pastries and cakes are amazing: Texas big and delicious. Tribe members feast on the Texas Pecan Pie Bars from one of the cook books that owner Rebecca Rather has published. We were honored to meet Rebecca yesterday morning and spend an hour talking "shop" with her. She was intrigued by the tours and feeding the tribe day after day on the road. I am awed by her talent as a chef and love all three of her books. If you can get your hands on one I highly suggest it! She well deserves the title of "Pastry Queen"! We have invited her to dinner on Tuesday; I shall obsess over this for the next four days! What to cook?!? She encouraged me to get my act together and get a book of my own going. I can do this.
We stayed last night at the coolest hotel in Fredericksburg! The Hanger Hotel sits on the tarmac of the local airport. It is fashioned out of an old hanger and the hotel is styled from the 1940's. There is an officer's club that is open for cocktails every evening and a great diner in the hanger next door open for lunch. We were fortunate to be here during an expo of WW2 bombers. Spent the evening browsing the planes and drinking chardonnay while rocking in the chairs at the edge of the tarmac, watching a fabulous sunset. Life is rough. Yes, I will make it up this next week.
We also got our hands on some of the yummiest German sausages you have ever tasted. Rebecca steered us to Opa's Smoke House here in Fredericksburg when I inquired about the best local fare to feed my tribe. The products that are produced there are incredibly delicious AND are available for shipping! Check them out on line and treat yourself to some great sausages, hams, and smoked meats. Guess what's for dinner Saturday night!
There is also a small, local Artisan Cheesemaker that I am hoping to procure some goat cheeses from as a treat for my new tribe. Again, a recommendation from Rebecca Rather! Cheesemaker Chrissy Omo gained a passion for goat cheese at the age of 16 and now produces hundreds of pounds of feta, chevre, and other fine goat cheeses. We'll see what I can get!
So on to Austin to grocery shop, then out to McKinney Falls State Park to meet up with Kevin and the crew. (Kevin; we found a new nome! He shall grace our doorstep every day of your tour!) I'll expound on this in future blogs. Hydrate, tribe members! We'll see you on Saturday.