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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 19: Junction, TX to Johnson City, TX

We believe that we have reached the halfway mark in this adventure! And we had another great day of biking... 91 miles today!

Our bests for the day was Fredericksburg. Brother and Sister Robinson recommended we go to the downtown area of Fredericksburg. (Unfortunately, we never could find the restoration memorial that recognizes the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints that you told us to go see.)  It was the cutest city! Fredericksburg was settled by German immigrants in the 1840's and so everything has a German name, and there are little shops and bakeries just like in Germany. We were riding through Fredericksburg around lunchtime, so we decided to stop for lunch. We got some really good pastries from one of the bakeries including some apfelstrudel (apple strudel).

Matt's worst for the day is that his Achilles tendon was hurting him a lot. (He hurt it when he ran the Park City marathon last summer, and it's been bothering him the whole trip, but some days are worse than others.) We had to stop today at 91 miles because it was bothering him too much. My worst for the day is Matt's Achilles tendon and that Texas has so many hills. All day we were biking up and down hills which really slows us down.

Texas is beautiful! There were several occasions when I gave an audible gasp because of the beautiful surroundings. It's really green here right now, and there are a lot of purple and yellow flowers everywhere. America is such an amazing country, and I feel so blessed to live here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Day 18: Ozona, TX to Junction, TX

Hey everyone, this is Matt writing today; Amber said she is too tired to write tonight, so I'm going to fill in :)

Today we discovered the best weather for biking: partly cloudy. Although the weather channel kept threatening us with possible flash floods and thunderstorms, today’s weather couldn’t have been better! We were able to get 106 miles in today!

We also became more familiar with some of the Texas wildlife (most of it was roadkill, but we're still going to count it). We saw deer, sheep, cows, horses, goats (we loved making bleating noises because the goats would look at us and bleat back), a dead armadillo, a lizard (I almost stepped on it--you can see it pretty easily in the picture, but in real life it's got amazing camouflage ability), lots of swallows (they like to build nests in freeway overpasses, and they go crazy when we bike right under them), vultures, black beetles, and grasshoppers. Did you know that some grasshoppers down here are cannibals? We found that out today as we passed hundreds of grasshoppers out on the road eating each other.

Speaking of food, we stopped at Pizza Hut for lunch! Of course we chose to get the buffet. I think I ate 1.5 pizzas by myself; Grandma and Amber ate a lot too. Biking all day every day makes you really hungry and really thirsty! We stop for a water/food break about every hour, and when we're done we eat a lot for dinner. I've stopped trying to drink out of water bottles because I have to keep filling them up so often; now I just drink straight from the gallon jugs that we buy. Oh and by the way, if you ever want a weird look from a grocery store clerk, go to the supermarket and buy 10 gallons of water.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 17: Fort Stockton, TX to Ozona, TX

Great news: We passed the 1,000 mile mark today, ending with a total of 1,082 miles so far!

We woke up to a lot of rain this morning. After checking the weather report, we decided to wait it out until the flash flood warnings went away. The good part was that we got to sleep a little longer. The bad part was that we got started a few hours late (9:30).

When we started biking, it was still raining pretty hard. We rode through some really big puddles (and I walked around one especially deep one), but, luckily, there was a frontage road next to the highway so we didn't get splashed by any traffic. After the first couple hours, when the rain subsided, we were completely drenched!

Gratefully, the sun was out for most of the day and we covered some good ground. The last 30 miles of our ride today we were going up and down some mountains. I love what Matt told me he thinks of when he climbs a big hill; he said that he pictures he is on a roller coaster and the hill is the part where it's taking you up slowly for the fun and fast ride down :) Now, getting up hills aren't as hard for me because I'm just gearing up for the ride down!

I loved that most of our ride today was on a frontage road because Matt and I get to ride side-by-side and talk with each other. We started brainstorming ideas for our next big adventure; Matt suggested climbing Mt. Everest... I think that's a little too cold for me. Matt and Grandma Gina's bests for the day were the frontage roads. My best for the day was that my boyfriend got back from his three week trip to China so I got to talk to him on the phone. I miss him a lot!

We have a new record: 9 friendly honkers :)

We decided that being on a piece of metal in a lightning storm isn't the best idea, so we called it quits 15 miles outside of Ozona. Despite the late start to the day, the rain, and the mountains, we biked 92 miles today! It felt great after having some unexpected opposition for the past week that has set us back a bit.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 16: The-Middle-of-Nowhere, TX to Fort Stockton, TX

First off, we would like to thank those who donated to JDRF (the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) since last Sunday. Thank you all so much for your thoughtful donations!:

Laura LeBaron (our grandma), Spencer Ray, Trevor Evans, Kimball Hansen, Marcus Shaw, Ron Purvis, and Todd Castagna

If you would like to make a donation, click here or on the button that says "MAKE A DONATION!" on the right of our blog under the thermometer. All donations go straight to JDRF; Matt and I don't see any of it. (All of our expenses like lodging, food, biking gear, etc. come from our own savings.) Every donation makes a difference!

Today was full of blessings! I biked the whole way today and didn't have a headache at all from my concussion last week. I really appreciate those who prayed and fasted for me! Thank you so very much.

The whole time we were biking the weather was great too. There were some headwinds but they weren't too bad.

Matt and I biked 71 miles to Fort Stockton where we talked to two really nice newspaper reporters. (We'll put up a link when it comes out.) The next town is 100 miles away, so we decided to grab a motel room, take our bags in, and then get some dinner before we started off again until it got dark. We were having some Mexican food across the street from the motel when out of nowhere it started raining like nuts! The drops were the size of marbles and the streets were totally flooded within a couple minutes. (The pictures do not do it justice.) Because conditions were too dangerous for biking, we called it a day and went back to the motel. I was screaming the whole time we were taking the bikes from the bed of the truck into the motel room with us, and our clothes and shoes are all hanging up to dry now :) Thankfully we had already carried in all of our bags and such before it started raining.

Weirdest moment of the day: I was biking down the road and thought I saw a tree in the distance walking! I was worrying that my headaches from yesterday was being replaced by hallucinations! Haha when we got about a minute closer, however, I realized it was just a hitch hiker walking down the side of the road :) It made me feel better that Matt thought it was a sign walking.

We found another website that mentions our trip, even though the picture they put in is definitely not us :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 15: Van Horn, TX to The-Middle-of-Nowhere, TX

I thought Texas was supposed to be hot and sunny. There were 25 mph winds all day, thick fog, and rain. And then when it started thundering and lightning Grandma Gina made Matt quit (after 48 miles). Matt's best of the day was that he got to experience riding a bike in a rain storm... my brother is so legit! He was riding uphill most of the day too. Matt says his worst of the day is that I couldn't ride the whole day.

At one point when Matt was riding on the freeway, he heard a really loud noise behind him. He said it sounded like a semi was crossing the rumble strip and about to run over him, so he was getting ready to bail off of the shoulder into the bushes. He turned his head to look at the last second and realized that it wasn't a semi, it was a helicopter! It passed right over our heads--we guessed it was flying so low because of the fog.

Today was really frustrating for me. I rode the first eight miles and then had to stop because I had a headache which means it isn't safe to ride yet after my concussion. I spent most of the day angry/sad because I'm so ready to bike again but my brain isn't. To pass the time I sketched stuff like furniture/plant/picture arrangements and like my little bike across America doodle. I'm going to try to bike again tomorrow and hopefully get farther.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is 40% chance of thunderstorms (and a 70% chance on Thursday). Cross your fingers that the weather clears up soon.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 14: Fort Hancock, TX to Van Horn, TX

We cannot seem to escape problems on this trip. Today it was the truck, not the bike, that got a flat tire. Matt rode 68 miles against a headwind before the flat just outside Van Horn. When I surveyed the damage, there was this big screw looking thing sticking out of the tire. We ended up taking the truck into a car shop to get the tire fixed, and the guys fixed the punctured tire and put in on again for $14! What a steal.

Matt said that his best for the day was getting through a book and a half on his iPod. His worst is that I wasn't biking with him (how presh).
I got to experience what Grandma Gina goes through the whole day. Let me tell you, biking is more fun than being the follow car. After being in the truck for one day I think I have mastered the process.

Follow Car Directions:

If road has other traffic on it:
Wait for biker to get a ways ahead of you. Merge back onto road and pass biker a ways up but so they are still visible looking in rear-view mirrors. Pull off onto shoulder and wait for biker to pass and go a ways ahead. Repeat process. Stop for occasional food/bathroom breaks.

If road only has the occasional other vehicle:
Slowly follow biker at safe distance going their same speed (about 15 mph). When occasional vehicle comes, put emergency lights on and pull to side of road to let them pass. Go back onto road to follow biker. Repeat process. Stop for occasional food/bathroom breaks.

Thank you Grandma Gina for doing this for us! We love you and appreciate you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 13: Rest Day (Sunday)

I love Sundays! Today we fasted and went to church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Conveniently, we found a church just five minutes away. It was a Spanish ward so a really nice guy, Brother Flores, translated for us. (I am always in awe of people who speak more than one language... What an interesting concept languages are.) The members at church were very kind and their testimonies were beautiful. A lot of them are converts and expressed their love of the gospel and how it transformed their lives into something with more meaning and happiness. I know the gospel fills my life with happiness and purpose. 

When I was getting dressed for church (in the only set of church clothes I brought), I was thrilled to discover that my wrist brace matches my skirt perfectly! I had Matt take a picture. Maybe I'll keep the brace even after my wrist heals and consider it an accessory from now on.

I acknowledged Matt's wild and woolly facial hair yesterday, but Grandma Gina said I needed a picture so she took one of Matt. While we document our journey across America, we might as well document the journey of Matt's facial hair.

Tonight we also watched an amazing the CES fireside by Elder Marlin K. Jensen. He gave fantastic analogies of the sacred grove. I strongly recommend it! 

Tomorrow Matt resumes biking; I will be riding along in the truck until I feel it's safe to bike after my concussion.