March 24 - April 12: Texas

4/8 - La Grange (43 miles 1560 total)
43 miles from the comfort inn in bastrop to the executive inn & suites in la grange, TX
12 folks traveled those miles by van, the rest by bike. michelle told us last night that there were storms brewing all around us. by this morning, one was blowing right thru town. there was no precipitation, but there were very strong winds. frances had seen a weather advisory warning people to tie down all their lawn furniture & anything else on their properties that might be blown away. RVs & semis were advised to use extra caution. sari & i struggled long & hard with our decision whether to ride or not. we were all ready to go when we wheeled our bikes out in front of the motel & felt the gusts of winds almost knocking us aside. with that, we decided to join the "common sense club" that was already gathered in the motel lobby awaiting departure of the van with their bikes on top.
as we waited to leave for la grange in the van, catherine walked by with boxes of last night's leftover pizza. good for breakfast. it didn't take us long to hijack the pizza, as you can see in this photo. standing in back is kathy grubb; from left in front are sari, rita (in the chair with all her stuff piled on top of her), marilyn boger, cynthia, & loralee.
a little later we went out to the van, where the staff had just finished loading all the bikes on top (sari's & mine went into the kitchen galley in the rear of the trailer). on the ground, from left, are patty fainer (our newly arrived sag driver) & michelle. on top of the van ready to ride her bike to la grange is none other than our favorite comic relief, catherine.
about 15 mi of the route to la grange wound through bastrop state park, a beautiful, green, heavily wooded park with a narrow, winding, hilly road. it offered the bikers quite a bit of protection from the winds.
sandy later told me a good wind story: she was riding to the top of a hill not far out of bastrop, about to crest & head down, when a strong gust of wind caught her & pushed her off her bike. she landed in a beautiful bed of texas blue bonnets along the roadside (unhurt). bryn was riding a short distance behind sandy & was quite surprised to find her in the bluebells when she crested the hill.
one of the things saggers usually do is help unload bags from the luggage trailer, since they're the first in town. in this photo is the luggage-unloading lineup we formed here late this morning; it sure gets the job done quickly. from left are mary (from boston), marilyn boger, rita, donna, sari, loralee (in the green jacket), & gay closest to the trailer. you'll notice we're dressed very warmly; the wind was chilly, even tho' the sun was out by now.
our motel is a couple miles west of downtown la grange. sari & i decided to walk downtown this afternoon. like lockhart (tho' smaller), it's a very historic town, with fascinating buildings that are kept in good repair by its proud citizens.
in this photo is the historic jail building, which is now the town visitors' center. inside they've even restored one of the cells, complete with a mannequin dressed like an inmate lying on his metal bed. also like lockhart, this was a rough & tumble town in the early days. in the 1870's, lockhart was known as "the place where they kill a man every day." we learned when visiting this jail that it had some notorious residents in its day.
sari & i then wandered all around the town square, stopping to talk with some local folks, & visiting some of the shops. sari needed some heavy-duty sunscreen, so we went into the hermes pharmacy. it was a step back into history. in fact, this is the oldest still-operating pharmacy in the state of texas.
on around the square we wanted to stop for a snack at the bistro cafe; bryn had raved about it, telling us that locals had deemed it not only the best place to eat in town, but in the county. but the bistro was closed after the lunch hour, so on we went. we spotted a cute little bakery, & inside found some czech specialties. (many folks in this area are of czech heritage.) the ladies behind the counter were so helpful & friendly. i picked out a prune kolache & sari a peach one. the lady handed me mine & said, "that'll be 50 cents." when she pulled sari's peach one from the display case, she looked at it carefully & said, "this one's a little smaller; it'll be 40 cents." in an hour's stroll around the square, sari & i have become enamored of this little town.
this town's square, like lockhart's, is built around a beautiful court house building (fayette county), built in 1891. here's a photo of it, taken thru a bush of what looked like roses. i hope you can discern some of the lovely carvings on its surface.
the 3-story building is a masonry & stone romanesque revival structure. its exterior walls are built from blue sandstone from muldoon, texas, & trimmed with red pecos sandstone, burnet granite, & belton white limestone. the architect, j.r. gordon of san antonio, was paid a 5% commission on the total cost of the courthouse ($99,407.04) for drawing plans & supervising the construction; local newspapers at the time stated that the architect's fee was too high! the perky lady at the visitors' center told us the town is very proud to have been awarded a large grant that will be used for a major restoration of the court house over the next couple of years.
the sign in the right side of the photo describes how a group of 25 czech-texans gathered here in december of 1896 to form the Slovanic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas (SPJST).
for supper this evening, michelle steamed some fresh asparagus, which we enjoyed with rice, chicken (or tofu) cooked in a lime/teriyaki marinade, a big green salad, & 3-bean salad. catherine brot some blue bell ice cream & whipped topping (the kind you squirt from a can) for dessert.
michelle described the terrain on the route for tomorrow's 73-mi ride into navasota as much like what we've experienced the past couple of days (without the winds, we hope).
sari made the day's BITCH socks presentation to elaine, who noticed from the time sari joined our group just 2 weeks ago that sari, like elaine, enjoys having milk with her supper. so every evening, elaine fills 2 cups with milk & takes one to sari, wherever she's sitting.
sari has taken a few liberties with some standard english words in order to come up with the new acronym label: Bring Ing The Calcium Happifies.
the highest mohair shawl bid remains at $300.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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