Nov 20: Rain and SuchNov 20: Rain and Such
[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on Nov 20, 2004]
Hi, folks! I'm holed up in a hotel in Clifton, TX, while a wild and crazy thunderstorm goes by outside. I didn't have to ride through this one very long, unlike on Wednesday...
Wednesday morning Jimmy's daughter was still feeling sick (don't know if I mentioned this before), so he stayed home to take care of her, and I was also in no hurry to leave because it was pouring rain outside. I got out the door around 8, headed south through the interurbs (?) between Dallas and Fort Worth. I passed two Waffle Houses before taking a hint and stopping at the third for lunch. I ordered hash browns "scattered all the way" for a change of pace and so sampled "Bert's Chili" for the first time. It had beans in it, but I figured a few wouldn't hurt me...
The rain continued nonstop until I got to my campsite at Cedar Hill State Park. I got a shock: Texas state parks are expensive! More so even than Michigan's! There was water standing on the ground, but no sweat, I just set up camp on top off the sheltered picnic table as I'd done in Klondike, MO. Only in Klondike there hadn't been any mosquitos. I didn't want to put on bug repellant after showering, so I put on my mosquito net and slept fitfully. I had the hardest time getting up in the morning. I slept in until well after dawn and then puttered around in a toxified haze for an hour before I remembered Bert's Chili. If I have this legume intolerance long enough, I'll eventually work out a system for reminding myself when I'm going to be sick... write a note on my hand or something. I also found that I'd gotten about 20 mosquito bites on my forehead during the night, so in addition to the freckles I now appear to have acne! I bet if I put on my short shorts, oversized T-shirt, sun hat, and faded red $1 beach shoes, I could really master the dweeb look.
Due to the late start, I didn't make it all the way to Dinosaur Valley State Park on Thursday as I had planned. When I got to Cleburne it was clear I wouldn't have time to reach the park before dark, so I went to Cleburne State Park instead -- it looked much closer on the map. It turned out to be nearly as far, but at least I got a nice peaceful night's sleep with no mosquitos! Friday I just rode the rest of the way to Dinosaur Valley State Park, near Glen Rose, southwest of Fort Worth. The main attraction of the park is the fossilized dinosaur tracks, but due to the rain they were underwater and not visible. I enjoyed the other exhibits.I stopped in at the nearby Creation Evidence Museum as well for their intriguing explanations of how the tracks are really only a few thousand years old, and the Earth used to be smaller, and it used to have a magenta crystalline sphere ten miles above the surface.
This morning I resumed my southerly course and got as far as Clifton, where I had planned to camp at the Texas Safari RV Park, but a huge thunderstorm hit just before I got to town, so I got a hotel room instead. The clerk was covered with burn scars -- she literally looked like a Halloween fright mask -- but her eyes were fine, and they lit up when I declined the first price she quoted for a room, as if she hadn't haggled since leaving India. When I saw the room, I realized the first price she quoted was very reasonable, but there was no way to tell that from the seedy-looking exterior. So now I'm hoping to dry most of my laundry overnight, so that I won't have to carry a bunch of wet clothes around for the few days that remain until I reach Austin on Tuesday!
Q: I can't picture or understand the modifications you described for the bike's seat & pedals, let alone shoes and insoles? I hope it didn't cost you a bundle.
A: Sorry I didn't describe it very well. The theory seems to be that there's one "biodynamically optimal" range of motion for pedaling, and my slapdash collection of shoes and haphazard seat position weren't getting me that, and so I was hurting my knees. The shoes have rigid soles, and the insoles provide arch support, so that my feet can't flex. Then there's a metal clip in the sole of each shoe that's adjusted to the angle that foot needs to be held at, and it snaps into the pedal so that the foot can't yaw or roll, it can only pitch. The whole setup cost me $70, much less than I would have paid for a clinic appointment! The prescribed seat position is the final factor, securing the other end of the angle so that my joints only move in the optimal range. One problem: my muscles are all pumped from 3000+ miles in the wrong position, so now when I try to ride in the right position, I have no strength or endurance. So I've been compromising, and I'll get it right by the time I leave Austin!
Talk to you then! --Ben
to Cedar Hill SP, TXto Cedar Hill SP, TX
This morning Natalie was still sick and cantankerous, so Jimmy stayed home to take care of her. Rain was falling pretty hard, so I wasn't in a hurry to leave either, but I did around 8. The rain continued nonstop until I got to my campsite around 3, and was intermittent after that.
Because of the rain, I only stopped when I found shelter, which wasn't as often as I would have liked. The new seat position put more strain on my Achilles' tendons, so they began to hurt even as my knees showed dubious progress.
Cedar Hill State Park is just south of the metro area, and alas it's close to a highway, so there's a lot of racket. When I checked in I made sure I got a site with a shelter over the picnic table (not knowing the rain would soon stop) and that ice was available for purchase (not knowing the shop that sold it would close early due to the weather). I got a real shock: Texas state parks are expensive! Not only did they charge me $18 for the night, but their day use fees are $5 per person, not per car, so I had to pay that as well, making the total even higher than a Michigan state park! And unfortunately it looks like most of my camping options between here and Austin will be state parks. But there won't be many of them... I could get there as soon as Sunday.
to Cleburne SP, TXto Cleburne SP, TX
I woke this morning feeling exhausted. I had gone to bed early, having stayed up late the previous two nights with Chris and Jimmy, but what with the insects buzzing around my mosquito-netted head all night I hadn't slept well. When I looked in the mirror, I saw that the mosquitos had bitten all over my forehead, so in addition to having freckles, I now appear too have acne!
I puttered around for the better part of an hour in a toxic daze before I remembered I had had beans at lunch yesterday! Armed with that explanation for my malaise, I was able to get my act together at last. If I have this condition long enough, I'll eventually work out a system to remind myself when it's been 18 hours after eating legumes!
Due to the late start, I didn't make it all the way to Dinosaur Valley State Park. I got to Cleburne around 3 and stopped to chat with a computer dealer who let me use his dialup line. I decided to ride to Cleburne State Park, which looked closer -- on the map. An old lady in a car who pulled over to ask about my bike tried to discourage me from going to the Cleburne park, but I headed there anyway.
It was farther than it looked on the map. Much farther. I arrived after all the staff had left for the night, so no ice... but I did rig up a clothesline inside my tent so I could at least elevate my legs during dinner and bedtime.
I think the key to taking better care of myself in these last few days before Austin will be to plan on fewer miles, so that I'll have time to get the ice and other supplies I need.
to Dinosaur Valley SP, TXto Dinosaur Valley SP, TX
It was a short ride today from Cleburne SP to Dinosaur Valley SP. I reasoned that if I felt ambitious, I could make the park just a day trip and ride south in the afternoon, and if I didn't, I could just stay here.
On the way to the park, I visited the Creaton Evidence Museum, at Malinda's recommendation. It's amazing the sorts of things people will invent to justify an existing belief. The "science" behind this version of the creation story supposes that the world used to be smaller than it is now and had a "firmament" made of a magenta, crystalline substance that later fell as rain during the Flood. Then there's the 'hyperbaric biosphere," where plants and animals are grown under magenta light at 2 atmospheres of pressure and high electomagnetic fields of unspecified frequency, to simulate antedeluvian conditions.
Of course the reason for the museum's placement, en route to the state park, is to contest the park's claims that the fossil footprints are millions of years old. Instead, the museum asserts that dinosaurs lived alongside people five thousand years ago.
Anyhow, I got to the park around 2:00 and found a sign at the entrance saying "no tracks visible." Come to find out, all the tracks are underwater most of the time, and when the river is high, e.g. after a day of rain, they can't be seen. So I came all this way and don't get to see the tracks. I was tempted to ride on down the road just to show my frustration, but my joints were sore, and the place did sell ice... so I stayed to dry my laundry and look at the exhibits and ice my joints real good.
to Clifton, TXto Clifton, TX
Today was pretty uneventful... I kept waiting for the predicted "partly cloudy" weather to materialize, but I only saw the sun for about 15 minutes total. When I was a few miles from my evening destination of Clifton, rain started falling, and it got gradually more intense as I rode into town.
I had planned to camp at Texas Safari RV park -- that was the reason Clifton was my destination -- but I stopped at the Clifton Inn on my way into town. The clerk had burn scars all over her face and arms -- she looked like a Halloween mask, but her eyes were fine, and they lit up when I declined her first offer, as if she hadn't haggled since leaving India. Once I saw the room I realized her first offer had been plenty reasonable.
The rain stopped as soon as I paid for the room, naturally, but soon enough it started again and carried on dramatically for several hours. I watched an entire movie while icing my joints -- a luxury I can't get at a campground! When I took a shower, I started hearing strange noises and imagined a tornado approaching, but it turned out to just be weird echoes in the shower stall.
I'm hoping to get all my laundry dry so that I won't have to carry around wet clothes for the next few days, aside from the ones I'm wearing in the rain.