Sunday, April 12, 2009


Meandering wherever the wind blew us, we ended up south of Austin at the state park, Bastrop. The wind was going to blow from the south for the next few days, so it seemed right that if we stayed with our friends, the Caldwells in Texas, that we should stay in Caldwell, TX. Thoughts of home entered our minds as we discussed how very close we were to our destination: the Eastern edge of Texas. Our pedals now had renewed strength to quicken our destination.

From there, we again meandered with the wind to a campground, just north of Bryan. We stopped at a grocery store to stock up on supplies to spice up the evening meal and for the next few days. Before reaching the intended campground, we happened upon another one. This is good, it’s closer.

Following instructions and ringing two bells, the manager responds with a smile, but then disappoints us, “We don’t take tents.”

“How about the one down the road?”

“I own that one also, and we don’t take tenters anymore at either one. We don’t have shower or bathroom facilities.”

After seeing our disappointment, he took pity and started to think and called another campground nearby. Good news, they’ll take us. So we head out the door, start pushing the bike, but something is wrong. It happened while it was sitting there, waiting for us. The wheel had a drag to it.

Now, what probably happened is that our tandem, Echo, was probably listening to our previous day’s conversation about going home and thought that was a good idea and had plans to hasten the end without having to roll the heavy burden down the road anymore.

This is how he fixed us: the back wheel’s rim split. Sad. With only four days left of the trip. A tandem rim would have to be ordered from a bicycle shop, which would take several days, not to mention the time it would take to rebuild the wheel and work that into the schedule of other people’s bicycles waiting for repair. Just because we’re touring really doesn’t make us special. Without any conversation, Charley and I both knew the verdict, the trip was over. Releasing some of the drag by disconnecting the back brake, we slowly followed the RV/campground owner’s directions to where we would pitch our tent the last time for this trip.

The campground, pristinely cared for, welcomed us. In concern for our predicament, advice and a telephone book was passed on. We quickly arranged for a rental car for the next day. Next problem: how to get to the airport 10 miles away. One of the campground caretakers informed us that buses would not run on Good Friday. Echo, the crippled tandem, could probably make it if we left all of our luggage behind.

We were led to our campsite, and began setting up. A neighbor camper came up to me, “We saw you several days ago and really admired you and your husband. You are on quite a journey. We drove ahead and stopped, and when we started up again, we saw you again! We couldn’t get over how you got ahead of us? Where are you coming from?

“El Paso.”

“Wow! That’s a long way away. What’s your destination?”

“Well, actually, it turns out that this is it,” and I went on to explain our situation.

Later, her friend came over and we had a similar conversation, and she offered to take us to the airport to pick up our rental car. They were going head out to find the George Bush Library anyway.

We both had a look at the map to see where the airport was and lo and behold, it was right next to the Bush Library! My new friend exclaims, “Serendipity!” Plans were made for departure the next morning.

It seemed whatever needs we had were quickly tended to at this park. For example, Charley and I were going to walk a couple of miles to get some ice. No need--the campground’s community refrigerator had ice for us. We didn’t have a picnic table so another neighbor, who saw us sitting on the ground, brought us two patio chairs and a table! He even provided coffee the next morning. This was meant to be!

The bicycle journey throughout Texas, from desert to hill country, then on to the gentle lush, green slopes of the Eastern side has been a truly beautiful experience. Traveling by bicycle always shows me what I’m made of, what I’m capable of. Summiting the Guadalupe mountain pass, desert wild camping, distance cycling, hill climbing are little victories of this adventure which was enriched with visits with families and friends. I might add--without a single flat tire!

But traveling on a tandem is not just a bicycle tour for us, it’s a marital affair. Just as in our life, we talk, love, deal with conflicts, laugh, worry, work together, and maintain flexibility. The strength and love of our relationship as we have journeyed together on the highway of life only adds to the ability to cycle down it also. And just when we think that it is impossible to get any closer, guess what? We’re even closer and more in love than before.

So serendipity played with us in the end.

Serendipity--was it chance, fate, karma, luck, coincidence, or destiny that our trip was cut short 185 miles? I’ll let you decide.

The next day (yesterday, the 10th), the car was rented, Echo broke down effortlessly, everything packed, and we headed out and arrived home today. Home sweet home. Cats and dogs greeted us and the house seemed to smile.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Charley and Kamala - We finally got through 10 weeks of back mail, began writing our thank-you notes to everyone who hosted us, and then started looking at things on the web. Your site is great, and we enjoyed reading it and watching/listening to the videos. You had quite a fantastic, although shortened, trip. Sorry about the wheel, as I know you would have continued to have a great time for the rest of the trip. That's the kind of trip to take: no set deadlines. Our ride was tremendous, and we had a wonderful adventure, but we were always faced with the schedule. As it turned out, we made it to West Point as planned, although we had to revise the schedule a couple of times because of the weather. Tandem did well, except for one broken spoke, which I replaced; but couldn't really true the wheel, so we found a bike shop (not an easy task in the South/Southeast) and took that day as a rest day. We finally got the folks back here in Redlands to keep the web site ( current, although for a time it showed us in GA, and we were already in VA. You'll be getting one of those thank-you notes, but in the interim, we want to again thank you for showing us such warm hospitality.

    Dick and Susan Rogers