Friday, January 8, 2010

Easing Back In

Leaving Austin after around three weeks of not touring, my body sure felt it. The first two days of riding were even harder then my very first days of the trip! Fortunately, as I'm in no hurry, I've been able to rider shorter days and take it easy.

I took two days to ride a little round-about way to San Antonio. Riding along the Guadeloupe River turned out to be very scenic and a popular cycling road. An eagle, pestered by a gull, dropped a headless 10" fish a few feet in front of me-I was sure glad that I wasn't riding any faster!

Once into San Antonio, I made my way to Clare's, my warmshowers host for my stay in town. Clare made a great dinner and I settled in, one whole night of camping and I was back to a bed! Rough life. The next day I rode around the city, explored a number of missions and the downtown area.

San Antonio has five missions built in the early 1700s by Spanish missionaries. The goal was to convert native people to Catholicism and introduce them to Spanish culture, thus turning them into Spanish citizens. The missions lasted for around 80 years before they were abandon due to cost, disease, attacks, and declining interest. The last mission I visited was the Alamo in the center of downtown, the site of the historic battle between the Texans and the Mexican Military.

Mission San Jose, the only fully restored mission site. This is the church, it's surrounded by housing, a grist mill, and farming outside of the compound.

Mission Espada

The Alamo

The other main attraction in San Antonio is the Riverwalk. The river is dammed and diverted to run in a horseshoe through town and lined by shops and restaurants. There are even little gondola type boat rides you can take around it. However, every year after new years, they drain it out to clean it. This is the way I saw it, so it definitely wasn't attractive, mucky and full of trash; but I can envision how it would be nice.

The Riverwalk, this machine was stuck and had around twenty workers standing staring at it.

Another, nicer looking section of the Riverwalk.

Upon leaving San Antonio, I rode up to Kyle, TX to spend a few days WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on Millberg Farm with Tim Miller and his family. Tim grows on five acres for his CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) customers and two restaurants.
He currently delivers to ~20 families every week, but has had as many as 45. As a one-man operation, this is very impressive; he also grows/delivers nearly year-round, only slowing down in the extreme heat of summer. Tim is a wealth of knowledge and had a unique method of farming so had been excellent to learn from. Despite the high temps most of the year here in Central Texas, he uses no irrigation, only rainwater from limited catchment systems (which he's planning on expanding). He grows over 50 different crops throughout the year. Currently, Tim's CSA members are getting: eggs, mustard greens, mixed greens, collard greens, green onions, leeks, carrots, turnips, and radishes. He has 125 families on a wait list to get on his CSA, which he says will never get on, no one leaves and he just can't produce more.


Ann, Tim, and their two dalmatians

A view of part of the farm, covered up from the cold.


In this cold weather, the chickens would wait right outside the door, seemingly begging to come inside.


Not only is it great to get my hands in the dirt for a few days, but with this arctic front here it's a wonderful time to be off the bike. Next it's back to Austin for a night then wandering around Texas for another 10 days.



I had a question about what gear I'd changed out so I'll briefly state what I did:

Sleeping pad-I had a Mont Bell 3/4 length pad, it deflated many (but not all nights), my hips and tail bone hurt from hitting the ground constantly. I replaced this with the Exped SynMat 7, this is synthetic filled with an R value of 4.9 (so warm!), it has a built in pump and is 2.5" thick! Although I've only spent one night on it so far, I love it! It's so comfortable and worth the extra size, weight, and effort/time to pump it up.
Rain Jacket- I didn't really have one before, I used a water resistant soft shell and an old outer shell, neither kept me dry in anything bit mist. I gave in and got a Showers Pass Double Century jacket. I had one day of little rain so far and it worked great, hopefully I won't have to test it out too much, but will definitely be a great improvement.
Dromedary-this I just had to replace the cap which was leaking, I have an MSR drom.
Stove-OK, haven't done this yet, but am planning to when I get back to Austin. My MSR Whisperlite just hasn't been running well for the last month+, so I'm planning on switching it out and upgrading to an MSR Whisperlite International, that way I can fulfill my dream of riding up to a gas station to fill my fuel bottles! And maybe I won't have to lug around a gallon of white gas anymore.

I think those were the only real changes I made. My tent fly is starting to look a bit rough, needs more duct tape! It will probably be a little while before I get a new tent.

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