Got an early start for a change and headed out of Johnson City by 9am. About 10 miles west of the city, I rode past a neglected home that looked like it had been built more than a century ago. From its porch, I heard the high-pitched yelp of an angry dog. My adrenal glands opened immediately and flooded my body. As I got ready to pump I looked over my shoulder at my pursuer. What I saw was the most pathetic member of the canine family I have ever seen. This dog was an obese mongrel about the size of a cantaloupe. He was missing large patches of fur along his sides and had one ear that appeared to have been chewed off. In addition to these the deficiencies, the poor guy had only three legs. But, he was committed to doing his job.
Sizing up my opponent, I decided to slow down and let this former warrior have one last day in the sun. I rode at a pace that was so slow I had difficulty keeping balanced. Eventually the dog hopped within striking distance of my foot. At that point, I feigned surprised and pedaled away furiously.
It’s a dog karma thing.
From Johnson City, I followed Hwy 290 to Stonewall and past the Johnson Ranch, which is where LBJ and Lady Bird retired after his years in the Oval Office. A few miles later, I saw two backpackers on the opposite site of the road hiking west. I pulled across the highway and walked with them for a while. Matt and Mike are hiking across the U.S. Matt started in New York and Mike joined him in Louisiana. You can read Mike’s blog here. Back on my bike after spending time with them, I determined that I will not complain about my pace anymore. These guys still have another three to four months before they get to Santa Monica.
The ride toward Fredricksburg wove through peach orchards. Signs everywhere advertised fresh peaches, peach pie, peach ice cream and peach jam. Of course, I’m too early in the season to enjoy these and am now craving the fruit.
I crossed over the Pedernales River and stopped briefly at Ft. Martin Scott. This was one of a series of outposts built in the 1840s to protect Texas citizens against Comanche raids. General James Longstreet was one of the Commanders of this small base. Later he rose to fame in the Civil War fighting under Gen. Robert E. Lee at the battle of Gettysburg.
In Fredericksburg I had a great lunch at an outdoor cafe. It’s a large community founded by Germans more than 150 years ago. The town takes pride in its Germanic roots, you see it in the food served at restaurants and at the various celebrations they have throughout the year. The main street on either side of Hwy 290 has many beautiful restored buildings with interesting restaurants, art galleries, antique shops and boutiques. Quite different than the towns I’ve seen to date on this trip.
After lunch I stopped at Hill Country Bikes for some tire irons (I broke mine). The owner suggested an alternative route that avoided the major highways. She said that it was one of the most beautiful road rides in the country. After following it this afternoon, I would have to agree. The route wound through rolling hills with cattle ranches on both sides and the wonderful spring Hill Country landscape everywhere. The best part was that there was almost no traffic. During my three hours on this part of the ride, I saw only one truck.
Around 6:30pm, I rolled into the “By the River RV and Campground” in Ingram. What a find. For $9 it has hot showers, WiFi and washing machines. Best of all, the RVs are all in a parking lot on one side of the river. Tent campers cross a bridge and camp on a large multi-acre island. Tonight I have it all to myself and will be sleeping under the stars. Oh, and in case you’re jealous with the thought that I might be enjoying some wonderful Texan cuisine, this evening’s dinner will be a bowl of Top Ramen and a Lone Star beer.