May 15 Richmond

The morning was sunny and calm, like nothing had happened at all. We woke up to the sound of the William and Mary University Rowing club on the river next to our tent, their rowing venue based in our park.

William and Mary Rowing Club

We packed up and were back on the beautiful bike trail by 8am, passing plantations and roadside commemorative plaques. We stopped to visit Sherwood Forest Plantation, home of President John Tyler (10th president) Of Tippecanoe and Tyler Too fame.

President Tylers house
President Tylers Pet Cemetery. Even his horses are here.

Late morning we came upon a cafe, rather nondescript, but we decided to get a early lunch. What an amazing fresh, creative meal we had! Homemade bread, fresh dressings, crisp lettuce, really rare to find on the road.

Little cafe with great food
Vivian, breadmaker extraordinaire!

Vivian is 78 years old and makes the bread fresh every morning. She worked in the kitchen of a plantation most of her life.

Back on the road the day was quickly getting very hot and muggy. We decided to go off route and head into Richmond, the capital of Virginia to see the Capitol Building as we had heard the tours were fantastic. So very hot we decided at the last minute to get a room at the downtown hostel and not continue on to Ashland as we had planned. We needed more time in this historic town!

May 14 Yorktown to Chickahominy River Park

So sunny and warm as we left Yorktown this morning. We got back on the Colonial Parkway and headed towards Williamsburg and then on to Jamestown. As usual we stopped for a long breakfast where we happened upon a fantastic 50’s diner (Shortys) owned by a retired harness racer from near us back home. Small world. He retired, opened a diner, and is more successful than ever. Crazy.

More Parkway

We made it to Jamestown to explore some more before getting on the Capital bike trail, a 51 mile long bike path that runs from Jamestown to Richmond. Easy riding!

Founders Club, not the founders we know and love in Grand Rapids

51 miles of this!

We made it to the county owed park of Chickahominy River which boasted two swimming pools, canoe rentals, ect. Being near 95 degrees we were so excited to get there only to find pools were closed and tent sites without water or electric $32 a night. We took it. All alone in the campground.

We set up our new super light weight tent, cooked dinner and settled in for the night before suddenly the wind became unbelievably strong (a derecho we later found out) we could hear trees falling around us and ran in the dark to the bathrooms.

Blue dot is our tent
Our campsite

Rather exciting and scary night. We have been in terrible storms before in a tent and have great respect for the weather.

May 12 and 13 Yorktown

A short 14 mile ride up the Coloniel Parkway (record breaking heat, 95 degrees) brought us into the very small village of Yorktown, much smaller than we had imagined.

Colonial Parkway

The downtown area is all beach and cute little shops, tons of traffic and beachgoers and a farmers market.

Downtown Yorktown

We called the contact number we had for the church in town which offers free lodging for cyclists and we were overwhelmed with the offerings! A whole house used just for things like this! The house sits on a bluff overlooking the York River and was adorable.

Front yard free million dollar view
Little church house belonging to Grace Episcopal Church
The official start (or end) of the transamerica trail

We spent the night and next day visiting the Revolutionary War Museum and Yorktown Battlefields. As a reminder, Yorktown was the location of the last battle of the Revolutionary war. Lord Cornwallis surrendered here. Big Stuff.

Revolutionary War Museum

Saturday night we ran into this super cute couple who were as addicted to self employment and fun as we are. Patty and Matt live nearby but decided to spend the night and enjoy the music.

Cute couple! Patty and Matt!

And of course last but certainly a blast to watch, this little spitfire, fastest bartender in town. Stephanie, who always matches her hair to her shirt!

Super Speedy Stephanie!

May 11, Historic Williamsburg

Woke up pretty early to spend the day visiting Historic Williamsburg.

The Capitol

I talked Mike into participating in a court proceeding. He was found guilty

Beautiful Allee
Every night at 5
Silversmith workshop. Swoon

This was pretty fun for me because I have always wanted to be a historical interpreter, and we both love history. We had our bicycles so we were able to buzz around the village and the slow moving groups very nicely, highly recommended in fact. The village was quite empty, I think we came at such a good time of year.

The Innkeeper

Once again one of the most interesting parts of the day came after our tour rather serendipitously. We stopped by a renowned seafood restaurant for dinner, Berret’s Seafood And Taphouse Grill. Sitting at the bar, as we usually do, we met the most interesting guy. Tommy Leggett is an oyster farmer who harvests and delivers his oysters fresh everyday to this restaurant. He works alone, and loves his work. He told us of the many years he spent in college working towards his PhD in marine biology, but found the physical work much more satisfying. We could have listened to his stories all night, his life not unlike Mikes.

Tommy Liggett

York River Oysters

May 10 Williamsburg

Travel day! We leave Washington DC pretty early on the regional Amtrak route for a 3 hour ride to Williamsburg. Find our non descript hotel, shower, and head into the downtown area to explore. A huge thunderstorm has us running for cover and we spend a few hours staying dry and chit chatting at the bar with a Chicago native named Shannon.

Chicago boy Shannon
Great beer selection and good food!

A group of middle school girls on a field trip were practicing cheers in the bathroom, so, of course, I had to show them mine from 1974. We all laughed so hard!

Make it back to the hotel without getting killed by lightening.

Fun day.

May 8 and 9, 2018

The train arrives in Washington DC early! It is just past noon and beautiful here! The Azaleas and Bradford pear trees are in full bloom. We ride the 2 miles to our VRBO in a cute edge of Capital Hill row house. Super cheap, clean and a $7 uber ride to the Capitol.

We quickly shower and head out to explore. Riding our bikes in the bigger cities is actually not difficult because the bike lanes are well marked and drivers are used to sharing the road. Tons of cyclists in DC and the bike share program seems to be very popular.

We only have one day in town so we choose to do a guided bus tour. These are really pretty cool. You get a knowledgeable person telling you interesting things and driving you around. We love them. We have been in DC several times before but learned so much more on this bus tour. The our tour guide April is my new BFF.

After our fantastic tour we headed out to lunch and back to our apartment to clean up before meeting a fellow transam rider for dinner.

We had met Lee last summer while riding and spent a great evening reminiscing and plotting future rides together! Love that guy!

May 7, 2018

Mike and I feel pretty smug and confident planning our trips from the comfort of our living room chairs in the middle of our Michigan winters. Fun! Rewarding! Adventurous! Now we quietly load our panniers and bicycles into the back of our pickup so our dear friend can drop us off at the train station in early dawn light.

We dare not look each other in the eye, we are each deep in our own thoughts.

The Holland MI Amtrak takes us to Chicago where we have a nine hour wait til we can load our bikes on the Capitol Limited headed to Washington DC. It is a gorgeous day in Chicago so we ride the bikes out to the lakeshore, and easily spend the day exploring the lakeshore and stopping now and then to crack open a book and sit in the grass to read.

I want so bad to pop into Nordstrom but I just can’t carry any purchases cross country, and Mike is the worst shopper. Ugh. Thinking about it tears me up 🙂

Figuring it out in Union Station
Chicago Lakeshore

Before long we are settled in on the train for the 18 hour ride..we both love the train. Mike camps out in the observation car and I knit and listen to podcasts in a roomy seat. We have already forgotten about work, knowing it is all in good hands.

And Austin

March 2, 2018

Gorgeous sunny weather for our last day of riding! The topo map showed some pretty ominous hills once again, but something about a new day and sunshine can bring great optimism. Our last day of Texas Hill Country looked beautiful.

We left the hotel earlier than usual since we had a lot of mileage to cover and we were eager to see Donna and Gary. The day started out with even bigger elevation climbs than previously (i mean it!) but we were fresh. We passed through Pedernales Falls State Park, a very pretty narrow winding road.

Pictures cannot even express how steep these hills are, but so pretty!

The back roads took us almost directly east and after about 30 miles we started to see signs of city sprawl. I was ready for it! We found a little brewery we could stop at for lunch, the first midday sitdown spot we had found all week.

After lunch the roads became heavy with friday afternoon traffic, and they were very, very narrow. We rode miles in Austin suburbs heading towards the downtown area, coming in through the north, a more affluent area than the southern outskirts we had ridden through the week before. No sidewalks, no bike lanes, no cyclists or runners or walkers, just heavy gated communities and large SUVs with tinted windows. About 6 pm we found ourselves on the charming bikepath that circles Lady Bird Lake and found a gorgeous sunset with the lovely buzz of city life.

Heading East

Thursday March 1, 2018

We knew for sure (!) we had a moderate 40 mile day today heading east back towards Austin, same terrain, same rolling hills.

We grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and headed out into cooler misty weather again. We were riding what is called the Pendernales Cutoff in order to get back to Austin to spend the weekend with my sister Donna and brother in law Gary. This would take us to Johnson City for the night. Hometown of President Johnson, founded by his uncle.

We had our first “debate” of the ride midmorning when Mike thought we should take the scenic loop to stay off the main roads. By now I was ready to bike the highway in order to bypass the hills and make a beeline to Johnson City (Mike says I was like a horse heading back to the barn). He won the debate and rode a half mile in front of me to avoid my vocal disagreement. My theme song on rides like this is Paul Simons “50 ways to leave your lover”. I want this blog to be a true account so I am including the hard stuff, and I felt there was a lot of hard stuff in these hills of Texas!

The morning turned around quickly when we started to see more livestock.

I turned into a happy camper!

We didn’t ride through any towns, or even busy intersections all day, I just concentrated on playing with all the gears my new bike has, and getting up the next hill. With all the complaining I did, the end of a hard day brings so much satisfaction for a job well?? done.

We got into Johnson city, cleaned up and walked to the Pecan Street Brewery for dinner. What a riot! The townspeople were interesting and curious. The older rancher sitting next to me got so excited talking about bluebonnets he could hardly contain himself.

Missed ’em by a week

Really good people who love those hills!

LBJ was here, and so was her husband

Wed Feb 28, 2018

A gorgeous sunrise and twelve hours of sleep did a lot for our, or my, attitude. We headed to the local coffee shop before riding into what the tourism brochure people out here call “bicycling nirvana”, and it was a nice ride! The landscape was changing with more to look at and a bit more civilization. We passed many, many wine tasting rooms with acres of newly planted vineyards. The German presence was obvious, the ranches with either German or Hispanic names but all flying the texas flag.

Can’t forget which state we are in

The humidity was perfect and the hills were fun rollers.

A bit on geology..we noticed the land in hill country seems to be mostly limestone or granite with very thin topsoil. Lots of exposed rocks and boulders, yucca plants, prickly pear cactus and tons of Texas live oak. How they grow grapes we haven’t a clue!

This was a typical pasture. We ran into a rancher near here and asked if this was his cow. He exclaimed “No way! Look at that sloppy pasture!” I guess a good rancher picks out ALL the rocks.

We still felt we were in pretty remote areas until we rode near the Lyndon B Johnson State Park and Historic Site.

I think he is pointing at his house.

We stopped at the visitor center for just a few minutes, we could see LBJ’S house through the trees! So close but we had to move on to get to our destination by dark. Hated to miss it.

Family Church of LBJ. Probably Lady Bird Johnson LBJ

We enjoyed the ride into Fredericksburg, obviously a very popular destination in the hill country. The shops and restaurants were pretty much all German themed, and it was filled with tourists.

Our super cheap hotel room on top. Came with a friendly Kitty!

We cleaned up, walked into town too late to visit the huge National Museum of the Pacific War. It is located here because Fredricksburg is the boyhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester w. Nimitz. Sorry we missed it! (Another reason to come back some day for a visit.)

Of course we scouted out the town, listened to some music and ended up at the German brewery, which served up good American food and beer, but no German lager?