Heading to the South.

Colorado’s capitol building.

9 Nov – 20 Nov 2021

Twin Falls, Idaho to Beaumont, Louisiana via Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.

At 5am in Twin Falls we wake up, have a nice fruity smoothie full of energy and natural goodness and we pack up the rest of our things into Max’s pickup. We set off on time at 6am. It’s still dark and it’s cold but we are keen and excited for the drive ahead. We aim to arrive in Denver at around 6 or 7pm. During the drive Wifey has to work on her phone to find us a place to stay for the night. Max keeps himself awake by telling us silly stories and jokes. It’s good fun and it keeps us interested and we enjoy the journey. A couple of hours or so into the drive we swap seats and I take my turn driving while Max takes a nap. We make good time and it’s not a difficult drive. We pass the signs for Salt Lake City the capital of Utah but we don’t have time to stop and visit there. We are focussed now on our current destination. Gale finally finishes her research, checking prices, reviews and locations of different place and we have now have a place to stay in Denver. It even includes a buffet breakfast and for three people that’s a good deal and a big saving. I keep checking my phone and by mid-morning I get the email confirmation for the RV booking and the address of the pickup location. All the pieces are in place now. 

We arrive in downtown Denver around 7pm, get the car parked and secured in a nearby car park and head out for dinner nearby. We get up early again as Max has a long drive on his own to get back home. Breakfast is a good buffet and we all have plenty to eat to prepare us for our respective days activities. 

After breakfast we unload the bike and all our gear and have to say goodbye to Max. He has been a great help to us as well as a good friend. Without his help I’m not sure how we could have made it to Denver.

Max, you made a difference

We store our bags in the hotel and then ride to the Colorado State Capitol building. Joining the tour we are able to climb the stairs up into the big dome at the top of the building for some great views of Denver. We can see the city and the mountains beyond. There is snow on the peaks and it reminds us again that winter is coming even on this warm and sunny day.

The view from the top of Colorado’s capitol building.
The capitol dome in Denver.

After the tour we decide to split up. Gale will stay in the downtown area to visit some of the museums while I ride the bike on my own to pick up the RV.

It’s a twenty nine mile ride to pick up the RV, most of the ride is along the riverside and I enjoy the ride. It’s a very different feeling riding the tandem on my own and without the heavy gear. The bike feels light, agile and speedy. After leaving the city I’m back to riding on the roads until I pickup another bike path. Unfortunately the path runs out and I’m soon heading off-road on a bridle path for horses. If Gale was with me I probably would look for an easier path, but on my own I feel confident and ride on. I finally arrive at the pick up point, there are a lot of big and small RV’s here. I wonder which one is mine that I need to drive to Dallas.

As it turns out, the RV for us is a big one. Some 36 feet long, it has sleeping space for 10 people. One big slide out that widens the interior. There is heat and air conditioning as well as three TV’s. For me the main concern is the sheer size of it, mainly the width of it. It’s a big vehicle that takes up most of the lane on the roads. Even though I passed my bus and truck driving tests in Hong Kong it was still stressful to pick up this big RV and drive straight into the middle of Denver to find Gale. I finally got there and my nerves were on edge. The evening rush hour was already underway and navigating the busy streets was not fun.

Jonny Blessing and our monster RV.
Garden of the Gods, CO.
Sun setting over Colorado and our big RV.

After picking up Gale we headed out of the city. I was happy to find a place to eat, take a break and let the traffic die down.

We have the RV for five days. The drive down to Dallas is about 800 miles and can be done in about 12 hours. So we have some extra time and we are busy online checking places that we might want to go to. We have a free allowance of 1000 miles so we can go a little out of our way without it costing us. The first place we went to is the Garden of the Gods. It’s a very beautiful place with some amazing rock formations. We arrive late in the afternoon, too late to really enjoy the place. We take some pictures and then drive out of the park and find a place nearby to park for the night. The Garden of the Gods is a special place so we stay nearby in a shopping mall car park and return early in the morning so that we can walk around the area at a relaxing pace. After a nice walk there we are still unsure where to go. We for sure are heading South in the general direction of Dallas. To the East lies Oklahoma and the state capital Oklahoma City. It seems like a good idea to go there and we can tick another capital off our list.

Garden of the Gods.

At some point during our searching I get distracted and start looking for hot springs. I find one less than an hour away so we decide the best thing to do is to go to the hot springs for a dip and a bathe.

As so often happens with our plans things change quickly. We have decided to go in a different direction and given up on Oklahoma. Instead we will take the RV further south and go to New Mexico. The capital there is Santa Fe and we drive there, unload the bike for some pictures and then quickly load up again. We have arranged to meet Jim and Lyn. We have been introduced to them by a good friend in Hong Kong who used to work with them in China. As it turns out they live about 60 miles from Santa Fe. The drive there is along a dark narrow canyon road. Not ideal for a big RV, but we manage to make it in time for the table reservations at the best restaurant in town. Thank you Jim and Lyn for the lovely dinner. We spent our only night in New Mexico outside the post office close to where Jim and Lyn live. It’s only a short walk from their house and it’s much easier to park there rather than trying to get the RV in and out again in the morning. We head back to the house in the morning where Jim and Lyn are preparing breakfast for us. It’s such a shame that after breakfast we have to head off again so soon. It’s a long drive to Dallas and we need to be back the following day. New Mexico is a special place and we hope that we can return there at some point and spend more time. Certainly our brief time there has left us eager to see more.

Dinner with Jim & Lyn.
Jim, Lyn and they doggy come out to see us off.

Driving the big RV is not so easy when it’s dark and the traffic is busy. I drive during the day towards Dallas but as soon as it gets dark the driving is hard. The rush hour traffic is still with us and I decide it’s better to stop and wait. So we pull over at a truck stop. We get dinner and I go to sleep at around 730pm. I sleep until midnight. The roads are very quiet now and the driving is much nicer. I recall the last time I drove an RV through the night back at the start of our trip when we headed down to Arizona from San Francisco. This time the vehicle is bigger, much newer and the brakes are working fine. Sipping Monster energy drinks I drive through the night. I had planned on driving until we are about an hour or two from the RV drop off point, but I decide to drive on. Gale is sleeping beside me, the roads are still quiet and I make the decision to just carry on. Driving through Dallas in the middle of the night is a good idea. The highway is six lanes wide with exits all over the place. During the day I think it would be nightmarish to drive, but the way we did it was easy. We parked up at the shopping mall just across the road from the drop off place. I go to sleep and still have time to get a few hours of sleep before we have to get up, tidy up the RV and return it.

This RV is BIG. It takes a while to get used to driving it.
Wifey at the Navigators station.

It has been quite an adventure. The RV was indeed not an easy drive. But it got us to where it is warm. Now in Texas we don’t have to worry so much about the cold weather. Even though it was not easy driving I did enjoy the experience. Going to the Garden of the Gods was special and without a vehicle it would not have been easy to go there. 

After dropping off the RV, we load up the bike again and make the short ride to a motel nearby. There is a new adventure in store for us, and again even the simple plans we have made are in for a surprise.

Riding around the US is exhausting. Even if it is within a picture frame.
JB seems ready to go.

Our hotel is in McKinney, after getting settled and a short nap we take a ride into town for dinner. We are only staying one night here before we head into the heart of Dallas.

16 Nov We called our next host during dinner last night. Lesley is super excited to host us and tells us the best way to ride from Mckinney to Dallas. We take the Cottonwood Trail and then the Santa Fe trail that leads almost right up to her apartment. It’s a nice ride, the sun is shining and it’s warm. The trails are busy with walkers, joggers and other bikers. Lots of people are out with their kids and their dogs. It’s a nice atmosphere of people enjoying the outdoors.

We reached the home of Lesley, a super enthusiastic lady, she is a keen biker who loves her bike. She rides at our pace and she is excited for our journey. She excitedly tells everyone during our taco dinner about our trip and what we are doing.

Our lovely Texan host, Lesley and Nefertiny.
Best fish tacos in town!
Jonny Blessing and Red Savina. Two excellent bicycles.

17 Nov Lesley has the day planned out for us. She is a super planner, and she has planned for us a day of pictures and photo ops and tasty treats. With her little dog Nefertiny, on the front of her bike, Red Savina, she leads us around Dallas. We go to see the JFK memorial, the cowboys at Pioneer Park and even a giant eye. Besides the sights she takes us for delicious donuts which are just what we need after all the sightseeing.

After dinner Lesley has a proposal for us. She has enjoyed the day with us so much that she wants more! San Antonio is a town that she has wanted to go to visit for a long time. If we go and ride with her there she will take us not only to the Texas State Capital at Austin but also take us into Louisiana and towards the next capital at Baton Rouge.

Doughnuts! Or I guess it should be donuts.

It sounds like a lot of fun, a three day road trip with a super fun lady and her tiny dog. Amazingly we manage to fit our two bikes, three people, one dog and lots of bags into her car. On the morning of the 18th Nov we are all set to go, we just need to wait for UPS to come to deliver a package that Lesley has ordered. She has a big heart and loves to give. She has bought some Christmas gifts for needy kids and wants to wait for the package to arrive safely before we head off. Our first stop for this trip is Austin, the state capital of Texas.

We arrive in Austin after dark, and we settle into our shared room for the night. By the time we wake up Lesley has been awake for quite a while and has already planned our itinerary for the day. She has planned where we will park the car for the day and unload the bikes. Our breakfast will be at a truck stop that sells amazing biscuits. From there we will head to the capital building and stop at a few other places that are special and we can take some cool pictures.

As promised, the biscuit breakfast is amazing. I never knew biscuits could be so filling, they are loaded with toppings and we struggle to finish them. It’s good fuel for the day of riding ahead of us. Lesley keeps us busy as we jump from spot to spot. It’s a very different style from the way we normally we see a city, it’s exciting and very energetic. At the end of our day of touring Austin we finish off with a visit to Terry Blacks’ BBQ. It’s a very famous BBQ joint where we get BBQed ribs and sausages for a late lunch.

A super filling biscuit breakfast. Groovy!
A man and his amazing creation.
Won’t you be my neighbour? Lesley tells me it’s her favourite childhood TV show.
There are lots of pretty murals in Austin.
A required stop on any mural tour – Greetings from Austin.
We are forever grateful for the blessings we see each day.
The Texas capitol building at Austin.
A beaver named Buc-cees.

We can’t linger over lunch, we need to get moving. Our next destination is San Antonio, 80 miles further south. On the way we have another important stop. Apparently Buc-cees is a major tourist attraction and after stopping there I can see why. It is simply a petrol station and store but it’s at a scale I have never seen before. There are a hundred filling pumps and it seems that each one is occupied. The store is huge and sells all manner of souvenirs as well as the regular highway gas station wares. But again the scale is huge and the amount of choice is mind boggling. They have rows and rows of drinks, snacks and all manner of tasty treats. Even the toilets are huge, I roughly counted over 50 urinals and a similar number of stalls. Strangely though only 8 hand washing sinks. I wonder do they wash their hands after they use the toilet?

Despite the hand washing question we have to get one of the Buc-cees special sandwiches. Pulled beef brisket sandwiches. They are made right there at the store and the pile of pulled beef is impressive as they make almost endless numbers of the very popular sandwiches. Tasty tasty!

20 Nov Our last full day of the Lesley Texas Roadtrip takes us to San Antonio. Again Lesley has the day all planned out for us. We go to see some murals and then embark on visiting the missions starting with the Alamo. The Alamo is busy with tourists and we are shooed away with our bikes. The other missions are much more pleasant. The missions are the remnants of the monasteries and churches that were built many years ago when the Spanish were spreading Christianity to the people there. The Mission trail is a nice trail that winds out of the city, at times by the river and other times along quiet, wide roads. It’s a long ride out and then back to the hotel. Lesley decides to head back before us, but we carry on to the final two missions before we ourselves turn around and head back to the car.

After we return to the car there are still a couple of places we need to go to. We must go to see the worlds largest cowboy boots. Of course in the middle of Texas! But just before that a big big chicken burger. It’s huge and juicy and tasty, I can’t finish it even with my big cyclist appetite.

Me, little wifey, a tiny dog and a GIANT pair of cowboy boots. Only to be found in Texas.

Just one more night with our Texan Angel Lesley. Thank you for sharing this part of the journey with us.

We had an unforgettable fun time with our new found family, Lesley, Neferteeny and Red Savina.We love you!

Finally we are in the south, next stop is Louisiana. Happy to be warm, happy to find so many helpful and loving friends. Happy and looking forward to experiencing the famous Southern Hospitality.