Night Rider

After a month of being home and doing nothing but yardwork, house stuff, and bicycle events, the Fireball will finally be rolling again this weekend!  This will probably be one of our more oddball camping trips – we’re providing SAG support for a bunch of crazy mountain bikers who are night-riding 100 miles (think dark trails and bright little blinky eyes peering out of the darkness).  We start in Rockford, and  finish at Silver Creek campground in Luther, MI. Ride starts at 7pm, and will probably finish in the wee hours Saturday morning.  Our role is to cross the route in our truck at several points with food, caffeine, and water.  If someone wants to bail out of the ride, we have room to haul them and their bike up to camp.

We’re excited to try out all of the new camping stuff we’ve acquired in the last month.  There will be photos galore from camp.

Can’t wait to roll!



We left Hot Springs on Friday, wishing that we had another day or two to spend there.  But, Memphis calls – with the promise of BBQ and Mud Island Park – a place John’s been talking about visiting ever since we began this trip.

Mud Island Park contains a scale model of the Mississippi River, from the northern basins down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Informational panels tell the story of significant bends and Corps of Engineering changes that have been made in the River’s flow.  You can walk in the water and step across the River.

The model is produced by the Corps of Engineers.

The model is produced by the Corps of Engineers.

The total length of the park is about three blocks.  It’s amazing. As we returned to the truck, the first booms of thunder were rolling in.  We sprinted to get inside, and found Jezzy curled up on the floor of the passenger side, quivering.  She’s just terrified (it didn’t get any better for the entire evening, as it continued to storm)

Picking up all that new knowledge made us hungry, so we headed to Neely’s Interstate BBQ, a restaurant that’s been on John’s BBQ radar for years.  We ate eye-popping amounts of BBQ (John, especially).

You might think this is waaay too much food for two people.  Not really

You might think this is waaay too much food for two people. Not really

Our favorite item, curiously, was the hot link sausage.  We liked everything else, especially the pork ribs.  We did wish that the sauce would have had a bit more kick to it – guess we’re addicted to spicy foods.

We headed to Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, right on the Mississippi River, about 25 miles north of Memphis.  Parked the Fireball, leashed Jezzy up and decided to stretch our legs with a hike.  We wanted to get down to the shore of the River.  Folly!  After walking forever (it seemed), and crossing the same little creek about four times, we turned back.  Good timing, as it was starting to thunder again and rain in earnest. Holy cow – what a storm!  By morning, we thought we might have to swim our way out of the Park.

Beautiful, but REALLY wet.

Beautiful, but REALLY wet.

Scary view thru the porthole at Meeman Shelby Forest SP.

Scary view thru the porthole at Meeman Shelby Forest SP.

We did get packed up & moving without too much incident, and headed to Evansville.  Fluffy towels and a real bed await us at John’s brother’s house.  We’re excited.

Bison, bats, and a busted bike ride

This is several days old, but we’ve been without phone service or wifi for days now….will try to catch up to today (4-23) soon….this is actually April 19-20…

You’ve probably all seen the video of the “Alan, Alan” prairie dogs, right?  Add the largest wild herd of bison in the state of Texas, and you’re living our current campground at Caprock Canyon State Park, near Quitaque (kitty-quay), TX.  What a great park!  As we pulled in on Friday, we had to wait along the roadside for the bison to cross

The herd was large - at least 30...

The herd was large – at least 30…

.  A few headed toward the wallow (think big sandy pit) where they tossed and rolled in the red sand.  The canyon is beautiful, the campsites are very spacious, and the bathrooms clean.  The prairie dogs are just like the video – popping out of holes one or two at a time, scurrying around while chattering the entire time.  Once Jezzy figured out that they were squirrel-like, she was all about getting closer to her new ‘friends’.  The upside to that is….if she somehow gets loose from us, we know exactly where she’ll head.  Retrieval will be simple.

On the way to Caprock, we stopped to see the famous Cadillac Ranch.

Cadillac Ranch in all its glory

Cadillac Ranch in all its glory

This is the graveyard for ten Cadillacs buried nose-down in the Texas soil.

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

I’ve seen images of this,  but was really unprepared the site itself.  My preconceived idea was of Cadillacs in pink, blue, and silver pristinely preserved on the Texas prairie.  Not so.  They have been a free-for-all for graffiti artists through the years, and are buried under layers of spray paint.  A few new painters were there when we were, and we observed them in action.

There's a constant state of new painting going on....

There’s a constant state of new painting going on….

I kind of like the changing face of this.  What I didn’t care much for was the huge amount of trash on the site…..tons of spraypaint cans, bottles, and other assorted cans.  But, I did wish that I had a little can of red paint to spray a heart with John’s and names on it.  An odd little bit of Americana, near Amarillo.

On Saturday, we attempted to cycle on the Caprock Canyons Trailway, a 62 mile dirt trail that takes in some interesting sights of the area.  We headed off in a huge headwind (25mph or so) to get the five miles to the trailhead, which is an old railroad right of way.

Caprock Canyon Trail is the flattest trail you NEVER want to ride...

Caprock Canyon Trail is the flattest trail you NEVER want to ride…

It’s as flat as you can possibly imagine, the two-track dirt stretching before us as far as we can see.  Our goal was to get to the Clarity Tunnel, an old railway tunnel, which is now the home of the Mexican free-tailed bat.  You must walk bikes thru the 800 ft tunnel, which I was nervous about, but prepared to do.  Not to worry….less than a mile into the Trail, John had a flat tire.  We got it changed, but decided to abandon ship and head back to town for coffee, as the wind was making us miserable.  By the time we got back to the mostly abandoned town, he had a second flat on the same tire.  I decided to ride ahead in search of a café or coffee shop.  Returned to John (about two blocks) to find that I also had a flat tire.  Changed it, John’s other tire went flat, my other tire went flat….it went on and on!!!  We had picked up dozens of tiny little thorns on the Trail, which went thru the rubber to puncture the tube.  We finally decided to abandon my ride back to camp (about 3-1/2 miles).  John headed out to get the truck and come back for me.  I headed to the café for the worst $1 cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life.  Decided to start walking to camp with my bike, to shorten John’s rescue mission.  After we finally got back to camp, we pulled tires and tubes off  completely.  Both bikes had all tires flat.  John found 8-10 holes in each tube.  I spent about two hours with a pair of tweezers pulling teeny little thorns out of the tires.  We’ve had better days on bikes, for sure.  Guess we survived, but pity anyone else thinking they’re going to ride 62 miles on this trail.  HA!

from an abondoned building in Quidaquay

from an abondoned building in Quitaque

The wind has driven us back into the Fireball for the evening (Saturday).  Sunday and Monday, we’ll be at Palo Duro SP, then heading east.  We’ll be in Evansville, IN next weekend, and home on Monday the 29th.  Re-entry to real life is going to be difficult.

Caprock Canyon

Caprock Canyon