Posts Tagged ‘lady biker travel’

So I’ve had this goal for a long time – not a dream, exactly because it would be more of a nightmare, but a goal – and that’s to run a marathon before I’m 50. So, without going into exactly how old I am, let’s just say that it’s time to get moving. And the first move was a half marathon.

I had originally planned to run the Big D Half Marathon, but things didn’t exactly work out for that. And once they didn’t work out, neither did I – meaning I kind of abandoned my training regimen. But I didn’t abandon my dream. So The Big D day dawned stormy and rainy and cold and I was SO grateful I’d opted not to pay money for the event. But as it turned out, the balance of the day was perfect for running so, once the last serious rain shower had passed, I took off with my iPod set to my “Running Tunes” playlist and Nike Trainer letting me know how much further I had till I was home.

13.1 miles on a bike is a handy distance. It’s definitely not a long ride but neither is it a trip to the corner store. On two feet, 13.1 miles is akin to what William Walton experienced at the hands of the English and at about 12 miles, you’re thinking about how you wish you’d taken whatever drug it was that would keep you from feeling everything they’re doing to you. In fact, at mile 12, even Led Zeppelin wasn’t making me happy I was still alive. It was all pain and age and miles and people honking like they couldn’t tell I was about to die and honking didn’t make it better. I mean, when has a “thumbs up” ever been listed as any kind of medicine. Now, if they’d REALLY wanted to be helpful they would have tossed me a beer, but who parts with a beer in Irving on a Sunday afternoon?

So, I’m running really far and I’m really tired and everything hurts really badly and I’m contemplating the series of events that have led me here. The question I landed on, that I contemplated for the last hour of my run was this: why? Why, why, why?

When I was a little kid, I clearly remember asking my Mom – over and over – why? Why, why, why? Why, Mother? Then, once I became a Mom, I was asked the same question: Why, Mom? Why did he do that? Why is this that way? Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green (or, in our case, brown)? All questions I couldn’t answer. I fell back on my mom’s answer to me. “Just because.” Or, if she wasn’t in a good mood, “Because I said so.” That was actually the point in time I decided I wanted to be a Mother – because they were able to just say something and make it so.

Back to life’s question. Why? Why was I doing something that was causing physical pain? Why was I doing something that no one really cared about – except to be glad it was me and not then? Why had I gotten it into my head that there was some kind of significant reason to do this? Why? Why, why, why?

I made it home – stumbled, rather. In fact, either because my GPS is off just a bit or because of the way the streets meander, I actually finished about a quarter mile from the house. That meant I was through running but still had to get to the house. I actually thought about calling Tim and asking him to pick me up but pride intervened…thank God. I mean, how embarrassing would that be? I just ran 13.1 miles and cannot go another step so come get me for the last 100 yards!

Anyway, once I was home and sipping the beer no one had been kind enough to throw me, I had a chance to analyze things. Why? Why do we do what we do? I asked my father why I’d done something like that. (I rarely asked him the “why” question growing up because, as a chemistry professor, his answers often involved logic, reasoning, and science, three things I avoid religiously.)

He replied, not like a scientist, but like a father: because we take pleasure from setting challenges for ourselves, then achieving them. I suppose that’s why, at 82 years of age, he’s still kicking pretty hard. It’s about challenges.

I also suppose that’s part of the reason for me. It’s why I rode an Iron Butt (1,000 miles in 24 hours) on my own a year ago. It was for the challenge. It was also because someone very close to me (who shall remained unnamed, except to say he’s sometimes referred to as “Honey”) told me it was really hard and I had no idea how much work it would be. It was basically a gauntlet being thrown down. Turned out it wasn’t that hard after all and I realized that, while Tim (oops…not that Tim is the one who told me I shouldn’t do an Iron Butt because I had no idea how hard it was) is a great rider – much better than me – I’m in pretty good shape and have more endurance on the bike than he has.

The same was true with the run, except that Tim really encouraged me to do it. When I was having second thoughts because I’d slacked off on my training and the weather was bad early in the day, he reminded me of just how important it had been to me and how much I’d talked about it. He was right. It was important. Why? I don’t really know. Just because, I guess.

So that’s the story of how a Lady Biker got a thrill out of going a modest distance on two feet instead of two wheels.

Oh, by the way, later that evening, we rode the bikes up to spend time with friends. I’d had a short nap, three Advil, and was almost completely myself again. I guess 13.1 miles wasn’t that much after all. But I sure am glad I did it.

Now, as for the marathon. Right now that’s a little bit like asking a woman who’s just had a baby how many more she’s going to have. But I’ve had more than one baby. I know I’ll feel better about it later. And there’s still time before the drop-dead date of 50 years old to make my decision. The pain always goes away and you’re left with the sense of accomplishment. Feels good!

Until next time, wheels down and eyes up.

Advertisements

So, I’ve been writing a lot about wanting to learn how to ride places on my own without needing someone to ride with me. I have to be honest and admit there were two reasons for my mild rants. One was that I truly do want to learn to be comfortable riding by myself. I want to learn how to choose routes that will get me there in the safest but also most fulfilling way. I like scenic rides; I like to see new, different things; I like things that are off the beaten track. But I also like safe roads and being able to get gasoline regularly.

I also want to be comfortable camping on my own. I travel all the time for work and am very used to being on my own in strange towns, strange hotels. That doesn’t bother me a bit. But pitching a tent (which I certainly know how to do) and actually staying in it alone overnight is more daunting. I still haven’t done that – not because I’m afraid, but because it hasn’t worked out. It will sometime and in the meantime, I’ve had plenty of awesome day rides on my own that have been very fulfilling and loads of fun.

The other reason the topic has come up so often in my blogs is, I’m ashamed to say, because I was making not-so-veiled references to my relationship life. I’m with a guy I love without reservation, with all my heart; we share just about everything – not in a clingy way but out of shared interests and passions. We both love to ride and some of our best times are spent riding together. We have a business together and, while I continue to work full-time at my regular job, Tim puts in countless hours working on the business – especially his life coaching work, including writing books, training courses, and a daily blog.

But even with all that togetherness and commitment inherent in the legal relationship through our business, I kept bringing up wanting to function alone on the bike because it seemed to me that our partnership would always be a step shy of what I hoped for. I’m a chick; I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what I was longing for.

Well, last week, we took a trip to Milwaukee to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum. I wanted to get an additional ten passport stamps in my quest to win a new Harley. Now, I know that sounds like a pretty frivolous trip but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I had to take a business trip to the area; we had a free airline ticket available for Tim, as well as a free hotel stay so there weren’t any added costs for the travel. Add to that two tickets for free entry into the museum that some friends gave us and it cost no more than a nice night out on the town.

The museum was fantastic and I’ll plan to do a blog about it later but it was completely overshadowed by Tim working out the perfect marriage proposal. As it happens, we were traveling with a stuffed dog named Dot, who is the mascot for our Harley group. Each week at our dinner ride, there is a 50-50 drawing and the first winner gets to take Dot for the week. While we didn’t win her, the man who won her had actually had her the week before and, knowing we were going to the Harley museum, he gave her to us to take.

There is a pink bike at the museum which is also named Dot, after the woman who rode her for many years. So we were having our picture taken in front of Dot while holding Dot. Tim kept asking the girl who was taking the picture to “take a picture of this…and this…and NOW take a picture of this!” That’s when he got down on his knee to propose to me. Very well done! I said “yes”, of course!

I promise not to gush on and on about how wonderful my guy is and how very happy I am that he actually DOES want to marry me after almost three years of me thinking he was just waiting until he found the right one…who apparently wasn’t me. On one level, of course, I knew better but always had nagging thoughts that maybe I was wrong. Well, that’s all settled now and I’m truly, truly overjoyed at what’s to come.

So where does this leave me as an independent Lady Biker? Exactly where I was before. I will still take trips on my own and I will still look forward to expanding my comfort zone when it comes to ride planning and taking overnight rides alone. And I’m guessing that the vast majority of my pleasure riding will continue to be with Tim as my road captain, leading the way and looking out for me in his rearview all the time. It really is perfect riding.

Have I in some way betrayed my purpose with this blog by being so happy not to be alone? I don’t think so. I’m still a woman who can make her own decisions and is happy to have the means to travel independently. But I was never someone who relished being single. Perhaps as a result of my upbringing or some other internal wiring, I’m much happier with a home base that includes not just my wonderful family, but my growing family – my soon-to-be stepdaughter and my I-can’t-wait-to-be husband. Hmm. I like that word. Husband, husband, husband. Nice.

So my blog will still be devoted to riding as a woman – with a group, alone, and as a couple. Nothing different there. Just a bigger smile on my face. Now you know why!

Until next time, wheels down and eyes up. Enjoy your ride.

Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Frankly, it’s been a pretty long time since I’ve ridden, either – I mean real riding, not just back and forth to work. I’d planned a long hard ride for the Labor Day Weekend but at the absolute last second (I was actually on the road leaving town) I decided against it. Honey’s daughter was up in the ER and I just felt that I couldn’t leave town without knowing the outcome. She’s been hospitalized three times in the past year and I knew she wasn’t feeling well when I was preparing for the trip. Ultimately, it was found to be a stomach bug and she was released early that evening – far too late for me to begin the ride, but plenty of time to pout about the turn of events. Still, I made the right decision under the circumstances.

Here’s the thing, though: this would have been my first long, hard solo ride that involved camping on my own overnight. I know I did an Iron Butt alone last year, but that specifically does NOT involve stopping and I went out and back in a single day, albeit a VERY LONG DAY. This ride would have been different because I would have been alone for several days and nights. Until I’ve done that, I’ll never know if I actually can or not and that’s important to me. I can talk a good game but I’ve never proved my mettle when it comes to camping on my own. Frankly, I was a little apprehensive and in my heart of hearts, I wondered if I wasn’t just a little bit grateful for a reprieve. I won’t know until I plan a trip like that again and actually follow through with it.

Honey was kind enough to take me for a Courthouse Challenge ride on Labor Day, even though he had, by then, contracted the same stomach bug that sent Jess to the ER. We did a long swoop around through Glen Rose, Hillsboro, and Waxahachie so I added three more to my quest – not the 42 I’d hoped to get, but that ride will be waiting for me later. I’ll write about the ride we actually did in another post, with pictures.

The rest of September was rider’s hell for me: I was traveling out of town by plane and forced to get around in a cage. Each place I went (Nebraska, Florida, Chicago) was full of riders enjoying the wonderful fall weather – yes, even in the streets of Chicago, there were reminders that I was stuck in a Chevy Aveo. It’s been a brutally hot summer in Texas with fires all over the place; now I was hanging out in places with highs in the 70s and 80s and salivating for a long ride. Problem is, my next scheduled weekday off work wasn’t until Thanksgiving when the beautiful Texas autumn is just a memory.

What I needed was a long ride, and not just any long ride. A long ride with a tangible goal. Enter the Harley-Davidson Passport Challenge! From August 20 through November 20, there is a challenge for participants to visit each of 41 participating Texas Harley-Davidson dealerships, obtain a passport stamp (in our nifty Harley-Davidson Passport Book) and fill in an entry to win a 2012 Street Glide. If you hit all 41 participating dealerships, you receive an additional 41 entries. There are also some other things for which you obtain an entry: special events at your home dealership, visiting the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, renewing your HOG chapter membership for next year. Obviously, while winning the trip to the museum would be nice, I’m most interested in visiting all the dealerships…and, of course, the rides to get there!

One of the benefits of having worked for the same company nearly 13 years is the accumulation of vacation time. I’ve got loads of it and now I have a reason to take it. Once my September business travel was completed and I’d caught up my work desk (sort of), I scheduled a full week (that’s five business days with two weekend days on either side for a total of NINE, count ’em NINE days) of vacation. And guess what I’m doing: I’m going to win that bike! I am now a Biker Chick with a Mission and it’s a scary thing. Ask anyone.

So, what does “a mission” entail? Well, in my case, it means a lot of riding and a boyfriend who is vacillating between being lovingly irritated and outright ill-tempered with my devotion to my new mission. I AM going to win that bike! He’s planned all our routes and we’ll have hit all but about 7 or 8 dealerships by the end of the week. I actually am still working my Weight Watchers meetings both Saturdays so it’s not a full week of riding. That crimps the outcome a bit but I have until November 20th to get the last handful of dealerships – and they are all reachable with a Saturday afternoon of riding. It doesn’t hurt that two of them are open on Sunday also.

Sounds idyllic, right? Well, because I am a woman, even though I’m doing something I absolutely love (riding with my honey), there’s still an element of dissatisfaction with the whole process. You see, while I am in a “relationship,” I am still a single woman and I can’t help feeling I need to be able to do all these things on my own when the time comes that I find myself alone again. That was a big impetus for me planning out the long holiday weekend trip: I need to be able to travel alone, camp alone, manage destinations, everything about riding I need to be able to do on my own. So, what have I learned about ride planning on this trip? Absolutely nothing, except how to tell Tim where I’d like to go or the route I’d like to take and be told it won’t work.

Don’t get me wrong; I love riding with my honey, but I know I’m not learning anything about how to do things myself and that’s something that I still must do. But not this week. Right now, we’re having a ball visiting as many dealerships as we can wring out. We’ll have done almost 30 on this trip alone by the time we get home Friday night. Now THAT’s some great riding! And Texas the first week of October can’t be beat anywhere! I’m sure of it.

Next time some specifics about the actual rides. They’ve been awesome!

It’s countdown time to my next big riding weekend. Just a little over two weeks to go. I’m getting excited. I’m also getting in shape!

A few weeks ago, I got rid of a lease car I’d been carrying around my neck for four years. Its outrageous payment and accompanying insurance was like an albatross dragging me down but I’m free now. Free as a bird with one perfect bike and no car payment.

Funny side note, when I turned in the car at the dealership, I rode up on my bike and my son followed behind in the car (quite a ways behind because he got lost). When I got there, a couple of salesmen were all over me asking if I was trading in Coco for a car. Haha! I said “Not just ‘No’ but ‘Hell, no!'” They thought that was really amusing and laughed about it for a while…until they realized I was completely serious and wasn’t going to be driving off in another payment…I mean another car, no matter how hard they pitched it.

So now that I’m financially free of the burden of a car payment (did I mention it was an outrageous payment?) I have some disposable income which I am disposing on myself. That means I’ve rejoined a health club so there are no excuses for not working out. Too hot? They have air conditioning. Too dark? They have lights? Too bored with my routine? They have every conceivable class and piece of workout equipment available. No excuses. And I haven’t made them.

This week, I attended my first Yoga class in about 18 months. Now, Yoga is something you can definitely do at home, but that doesn’t mean I did it. It’s also something you don’t just pick back up after a year and a half like you’ve never been away. Sure, it’s a bit like a good friendship from childhood that revives quickly and easily, but it’s not completely without effort. In this case, lots of effort. In fact, yesterday was the first time I’d ridden Coco (a relatively heavy bike for me) after a solid hour of Yoga and I was a quivering mess for the entire ride home. My arms were shaking and my legs felt like jelly. Means I worked hard.

Next morning, I was sore in places I didn’t know I even had muscles to GET sore and I felt it on the ride today. Why does this matter? Because a long, hard day of riding followed by a night of rough sleeping on the ground can make you sore. I’ve got to be ready for that when the time comes – ready to ache and keep right on going. No point in complaining since no one will be with me to hear. And I won’t be able to post about it since I’ll have to maintain the farce that every single moment is perfection. I have to do that since I’ve been telling everyone who was a little uncertain about the trip that roughing it isn’t a problem. I relish the challenge, live for the hard times. Carpe diem and all that.

The truth is, as with most things in life, being in the best shape I can be in makes just about everything else I do more enjoyable. I enjoy my food more, I sleep better, I enjoy my rides more, I feel better about myself and I think I look better now that I’m exercising more regularly. Add eating sensibly (enough to lose 20 lbs) and there’s no reason I shouldn’t feel terrific. I KNOW I look better on the bike than ever and, most importantly, I’m confident and happy.

Sure there are a lot of things that contribute to my immensely good mood (like a fabulous guy who is pretty much perfect in every way); taking care of myself is just a part of it. I’m not sure if it’s the chicken or the egg. Do I feel better because I’m taking better care of myself or or am I taking better care of myself because I’ve been feeling so good? Doesn’t matter. The whole package  makes for better days…and better rides. I’m so ready.

Next posts will cover route planning and packing gear. I can hardly wait! Until next time, wheels down and eyes ahead.

I know it’s blazing hot outside and it’s still high summer but I’m thinking about fall and the inaugural weekend of that season of cool nights, changing colors, and perfect rides. That’s right. Labor Day is coming soon, folks and this Lady Biker has big travel plans.

I have some friends who did the Hoka Hey Bike challenge this year. It’s a HUGE ride to hit all 48 contiguous states and Canadian territories in 18 days. 10,000 miles in less than 3 weeks. Woot! Woot! I can’t wait to talk to them about the ride. I followed a number of their posts (those I could read through eyes green with envy) and fantasized I was traveling with them. I even dreamed one night that I slept on a picnic table, after Lulu posted about it. I’m pretty sure I awoke more refreshed from that night than they did, but I also awoke more trapped in my back-and-forth-in-the-heat rides to work than they were.

I’ve taken plenty of long rides of several hundred miles or more and some of them on my own. The hardest ride I ever did was an Iron Butt last Labor Day weekend. That’s 1000 miles in 24 hours or less. I did it on my own because at the time, my circle of riding friends was pretty small and none of them was dumb enough to ride to Meridian, MS for no better reason than to say “I did it!”

Now, I have a MUCH larger circle of biker friends, including a lot of Lady Bikers! Ahhh. Every time I write those words, the choirs of heaven throw an “Alleluia” my way! I bet I could get a taker on an Iron Butt ride now…if that was what I had planned…

Anyway, I can’t wait to talk to them about the ride because I want to do my own challenge ride again this Labor Day. I’m still mapping it out, but it’s designed for me to knock out about 40 courthouses on my courthouse challenge – all in 2-1/2 days. I’ll be leaving Saturday after my Weight Watchers meetings (I’m really committed to my members and rarely get subs for my meetings if I can possibly help it). I have to work Tuesday the 6th so that only gives me Sunday, Monday, half a day Saturday…and however much of the nights in between it will take me to get it done.

The main reason I want to talk to them about their ride is this: I’ll be taking this trip alone, too. Again, my treks do not garner interest on the home front so it will be just me (why a trip to every county in the Texas Panhandle isn’t a coveted ride, I simply don’t know). Actually, I kind of prefer riding alone because I want to choose the route and the only way I feel comfortable doing that is when I’m on my own. That also means I’ll be camping completely on my own. Now, I’m full of bravado about “throwing my sleeping bag down on the ground and catching a few winks” but the truth is that I’ve never camped alone like that and I’m not 100% comfortable with the idea. If I’m at a KOA, no problem. They’re like a hotel to me, but just stopping at a roadside park is scary. Maggie and Lulu did some pretty rough camping (of course, there were two of them and that changes everything) and I want to feel OK doing that, too.

I’m not typically a scared person. In fact, I’m more likely to be called as reckless than cautious. But that’s not really always true; I just want so badly not to be scared (I HATE being scared of anything) that I make myself do things. Sometimes, that’s a good philosophy, but sometimes it really is reckless. Frankly, riding 1000 miles just to say “I did it” is pretty silly. I’m still glad I did it, but it’s kind of like dying rappelling down a building with no safety rope. What a dumb way to go.

So I’m putting together a long trip on my own. There’s lots of planning to do, things to prepare, routes to check, and stopping places to mull over. I sure could use a shot of bravado and I’m looking to Maggie and Lulu for the first round! Cheers, girls. You totally rock and have paved the way for me personally to expand my horizons and my experiences!

Until next time, wheels down and eyes up! Come on fall. I’m SO ready for you!

It’s so hot. I mean the kind of heat that actually has weight, that makes the air so think you feel like you part it with your body when you’re riding. The kind of heat that squeezes all the energy out of you like you squeeze water out of sponge.It’s the kind of heat that makes me want to be a good girl because I know I couldn’t stand this for eternity. The kind of heat that makes you wish for winter…almost.

The worst part of this heat is that it makes my rides something that I don’t long for any more. I’m used to feeling like every minute on the bike is better than just about anything else I could be doing; this heat makes it hard to feel that way. It doesn’t make me dislike riding but I can’t lie. It’s sapping some of the joy of the ride, much like the sun is sapping the life from the grass and the trees all around us.

So, I don’t own a car any longer. I finally unloaded the boulder of a lease car I’ve been dragging (not driving) around for the past four years and am both car and car payment free. It’s a glorious feeling, even with the weight of the heat outside. It’s completely changed my financial picture and now I can actually breath. It means I don’t have any other option, though, than riding. It shouldn’t matter since I didn’t actually have an option before; the car wasn’t available to drive, it was just something I paid for. I guess they kind of cancel each other out. No more heat from Honda Finance but enough heat from the sun to make up for it.

But  not quite. These may be dog days – slow, hot, lazy days – but they are days full of promise. Sure, it’s hot, but it won’t last forever. It will cool off…eventually. My rides will become the snatched moments of joy in the day they have always been. And the fact that I’ve got extra brass in pocket means I can take longer rides when fall comes, and I will enjoy them more because they won’t be breaking the bank.

So come on, September. I’m ready for that nip in the air, that hint of fall, the promise that I will have to layer clothes for warmth rather than orchestrating my ride to ride through any sprinkler that’s running so I can get a breath of coolness that lasts until the heat dries me off…in about 10 seconds or so.

Fall is coming and I’m ready for it. I’ve got a long ride planned for Labor Day Weekend. It’ll be solo because I can’t sell honey on the beauty of a 1500-mile ride done in 60 hours or less (preferably less since I must work Saturday morning and can’t take off Tuesday. It will be a serious courthouse swing. Lady Biker will be back riding for a purpose higher than just commuting back and forth to work. Fun is around the corner. The heat can’t win because winter must come. And I’ll have something else to complain about. I can hardly wait!

So the vacation is over and it’s time for the long ride home from Mustang Island to Irving. Honey was too tired to hit all my planned courthouses on the way down but he really came through headed north again so let’s hit it!

Aransas County Courthouse, Rockport, TexasFirst was the Aransas County courthouse in Rockport, Texas. Don’t even bother with a trip to see this one. It’s a blah 1970s building with exactly zero character points. A UPS guy was coming out as I parked to take my pictures and I asked him if there was an original courthouse somewhere in town. He scratched his head then said he thought they’d torn it down “a long time ago.” I mean, how long ago does he think the 1970s were anyway?

A plus was how pretty the ride was from Mustang Island to Rockport, including the ferry ride again (more time waiting than actually being ferried but still fun). The town itself, as well as the surrounding area is full of ocean front houses and water “teasers” as you ride through town. It’s not haute living, but more like “comfortable retirement” homes – the kind of thing I might be able to hope for someday.

One more benefit of hitting Rockport was we got a picture of our Hog chapter’s “I’ve Been Everywhere in Texas” rider challenge. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone!

After that was done, we turned back towards the mainland and licked up FM 136 to take us to Refugio for a picture of the Refugio CountyRefugio County Courthouse, Refugio, Texas Courthouse. While the building isn’t ancient, parts of it are still quite old. It’s been added to over the years with wings and other additions. There were a lot of historical markers on the site which I read but did not retain. Good thing I took pictures of those, too.

There was also a city library across the street and I took advantage of the restrooms there as well as the air conditioning. I couldn’t resist walking through the shelves of books. I haven’t been in a real library in years but remember the years I spent working in one through college as well as the many visits to our hometown library in Irving to try to cut down on my costly book habit.

Goliad County Courthouse, Goliad, TexasAfter Refugio, we picked up Alt US 77 (that road is so significant that it takes two versions of it to cover all the places it needs to go). That took us to Goliad, a very old courthouse, indeed. It’s on a beautifully revitalized town square with several eat joints and even a bed and breakfast. The courthouse is huge with lots of trees and a large memorial to the citizens of the town lost in World War II. This is a trend I see more and more as I visit courthouses throughout the state.

While we were trying to decide which of the three obvious eat joints to patronize, the county sheriff stopped by to talk to us. He had been walking his rounds around the square and stopped to greet us (or check us out, albeit in a friendly way) and ask where we were from, where we were headed. Honey asked him the best place for lunch and he said he patronized all three regularly but was going to the Emporium that day for lunch so we decided to join him…sort of.

It was an old, old restaurant in an old, old building and they were just finishing up the lunch crowd. They had a little of everything, include a fantastic taco salad in a bowl you could eat (something I haven’t done in more than a decade) and which I enjoyed immensely. I paid later, but who cares? It was vacation.

Goliad is also a town we needed for our Hog chapter challenge so we got pictures in front of the town library as well as the city limits sign.

Dewitt County Courthouse, Cuero, Texas, with CocoIt was well into the afternoon and the heat was turning up, ticking its way up over 100 as we left out of town, still traveling on Alt US 77 towards Cuero and our next courthouse. That would be the DeWitt County courthouse. This is a town I don’t ever remember visiting, or even hearing of, for that matter.

The courthouse is back to the red brick style and is large. The disappointment was that I couldn’t get a picture of CocoDeWitt County Courthouse, Cuero, Texas in front of the courthouse because all the parking was taken. This is the first time I’ve gone to courthouses during a work day and I’m accustomed to having the places to myself for the most part. The best I could do was get a picture of my bike overlooking the corner of the courthouse but I’m also posting a full on picture of the building because it’s so lovely.

Now it was time to move on along Alt US 77/US 183 to Gonzales. This town is trying to do the Goliad thing but they’re years away from getting it done. Also, they don’t have the right kind of set up to work with. There are huge open lots on two sides of the courthouse where they have a couple of monuments commemorating the history of the city and the town square (which is really a long street) is beyond that. It’s hard to tell but it doesn’t look like the courthouse is much of a municipal building any more. I felt comfortable enough to ride my bike up on the sidewalk in front so I could get a picture of the full building.

From there, we picked up Texas 304 and headed to Bastrop. This is a town I know fairly well, having spent some time there, or at least driving through it, during the years I came down to visit my grandparents in Giddings. It’s also a town we needed for our challenge so we took care of that picture just as we were entering town. Honey had apparently mis-keyed the coordinates of the courthouse into his GPS because he took us off in the wrong direction. After a while, he realized we were getting closer to Austin with less and less town in sight so I took over from my coordinates and we turned around.

Naturally, with me in the lead, I made a turn that he missed (I swear I used my signal but I didn’t gesture wildly in advance because it’s pretty darn hard to read a Garmin when the sun is shining full onto it. I’m lucky I even saw the turn on the screen. After over-shooting the turn, Honey had to go around and by the time we finally got back together, well, let’s just say I like it better when I follow on our rides.

Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop, TexasBastrop is working very hard on its downtown and has tried to perk it up with arts and even a wine bar nearby. It was getting close to quitting time so I rolled my bike up on the sidewalk to get a good picture – really quickly because lots of people were coming and going. Honey didn’t ride to the courthouse with me because his wamma-jamma brand new Screaming Eagle CVO couldn’t stand the heat of in-town traffic. He pulled off at a gas station to cool down (and, I suspect, cool off; this courthouse thing can’t be that much fun for him).

We met back up and headed out of town on Texas 21 back toward the original US 77, which would take us up to I-35 outside Waco and home. It was a very sweet ride through pure pine forests. Only problem is the quality of the roads wasn’t that great; lots of cracks and breakaways in the pavement.

We’d toyed with the idea of diverting to Dime Box to take a picture for the HOG challenge but Honey bailed (and I don’t blame him) saying we could catch it another time. Instead, we rolled on toward Cameron and I pulled off to pick up one extra courthouse that I could see from the road.

The Milam County courthouse is on an old, kind of run down square. It’s off the main highway enough that it doesn’t appear the townMilam County Courthouse, Cameron, Texas has done anything to renovate the area. The courthouse was nice enough and I found another monument dedicated to those lost in wars, from WWII on up to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I met back up with Honey at a Sonic (http://www.sonicdrivein.com for a drink – the perfectly refreshing Diet Cherry Limeade. Then we pulled out and headed home – still a few hours away, but the finishing up a wonderful four days of vacation. It’s left me salivating for more: more riding, more camping, and more courthouses. I’m working out a long panhandle run over Labor Day weekend. Last year, I did an Iron Butt; this year, I have to top that, of course!

Until next time, Lord, keep my wheels down and my eyes up. Keep me out of people’s way and them out of mine. And if today is the day I meet you face to face, I do it with gratitude for a joy-filled life.