Costa Rica days 3 & 4: Day trips around Quepos

On Monday we headed south from Quepos to Dominical and Uvita to check out the beaches. We first stopped at Dominical, navigating the extremely rough dirt road to check out the beach where the river Rio Baru meets the ocean. It had good surfing waves.

We then drove down to Uvita to visit Ballena Marine National Park and walked along the expansive beach to Isla Ballena, a small little sand bar type island only accessible during low tide. During low tide when the sandbar and connecting sand bridge is visible, it’s shaped like a whale’s tail – hence the word Ballena! Well, they also say that whales migrate past this beach in the winter, so maybe that’s also a contributing factor.

After taking a dip in the calm waters sheltered by the sandbar, we made the long walk back to the car, during which we spotted many sanddollars on the beach. Afterwards we went to Dominical for lunch, stopping at the rather disappointing Patron’s Bar and Grill.

We then drove back south to take a quick stroll at Playa Hermosa before returning to view the sunset from our porch once again.

We dined at Emilio’s Cafe which had delicious food, good service and a live jazz band. We topped the night off with some awkward family photos on the porch.

On Tuesday we drove north to Rainmaker, a rainforest conservation project. We took the self guided river walk and suspension bridge canopy tour. The tour was more strenuous than it sounded, but we saw many waterfalls, little pools you can swim in, and the suspension bridges were pretty awesome. After climbing many stairs on the tour, we enjoyed local craft beer Perro Vida, brewed on site. It was quite good. A hummingbird visited us while we were hanging out.

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We then headed back down south to Playa Espadilla, which is the beach just outside Manuel Antonio Park. We had lunch at Marlin Grill, another disappointing lunch spot but at least that had a view of the beach. After lunch we headed to the beach for some lounging under a beach umbrella and strolling down the beach.

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The tide was coming in right before sunset, so we packed up and headed back to El Avion for a drink at the bar while viewing a particularly lovely sunset. For dinner we went to the Marina and tried Z Gastropoda, where the food was good, souls vide chicken was on the menu, and my kale salad was missing kale.

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Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica days 1 & 2

Early Saturday morning we boarded our flight from Houston to San Jose, Costa Rica. After an hour delay, we were on our way. After arriving in San Jose, we picked up our luggage and rental car and hit the road to Quepos. After some exciting driving getting out of San Jose, we were on the toll road for a while before stopping for lunch at a roadside stand selling authentic Costa Rica food – we all had rice & black beans, plantains, and either meat or fried cheese.

Upon arriving in Quepos we met the manager of the AirBnB property I booked and took a truly terrifying drive up a steep and curvy hillside to our house with an awesome view.

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Rental house up a steep hill

 

We settled in, hit up a local supermarket, and then had birthday dinner for Mom at La Luna at GAIA Hotel & Reserve. The food was good and I imagine that the view would have been good if it weren’t dark outside.

Sunday we headed to Manuel Antonio National Park for hiking, beach time, and to meet the monkeys. The hiking trails were well maintained with a ton of steps. We saw a ton of wildlife at the park: white faced monkeys, squirrel monkeys, three toed sloths (including a mamma with a baby), leaf cutter ants, iguanas and other lizards, coatimundi, and agouti. The white faced monkeys were particularly numerous and excited about people, we definitely saw people feed them when they shouldn’t!

Beach at Manuel Antonio Park

Beach at Manuel Antonio park

Viewing the fish trap built by natives a long time ago to catch fish at low tide

White faced monkey

Squirrel monkey

Coatimundi (similar to a raccoon)

Iguana

Leaf cutter ants

We stopped for lunch at El Avion and enjoyed a great view and good food next to an old airplane converted into a bar.

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Carl enjoying some seafood curry

After that we went on a bike canopy tour… which basically is a little carriage hanging from a cable amongst the trees and you use a throttle to go fast / slow down. The bike part is simply that there are bike pedals that you can put your feet on but don’t do anything. It was pretty fun to slowly move amongst the trees, even if only one of us saw a sloth. I did see a vulture with a red head.

We watched a lovely sunset from our porch and then eventually headed back down to Quepos for dinner at Runaway Grill in the marina area.

Our porch view

 

2016 Bike MS: The Road Divided – ride recap

Well, the big day finally arrived! Last Friday we packed up all my bike stuff, and our dog, into our car and drove straight north on I-35 until we hit Norman, OK (just south of Oklahoma City). Thanks to almost 40 donors and a generous matching donation from my employer, I raised $2,900 for the MS Society! And, it’s not too late to donate if you’re interested. I really can’t thank everyone enough, many who have donated each of the 9 years that I’ve fundraising for the MS Society.

During our drive, we stopped in Fort Worth for lunch with a friend and then in Norman to see a cousin’s new baby. The weather forecast for Sunday was showing a strong chance of thunderstorms, so the ride organizer made the decision Friday afternoon to proactively cancel Sunday for safety reasons. It was quite disappointing, even more so when it didn’t rain at all on Sunday on the route. At least we got rained on during the drive back to Austin.

I rode 100.5 miles on Saturday, the first 70 miles were mostly north, so the strong wind out of the south was incredibly helpful. The 100 mile route went very close to the finish line in Guthrie, and then out northwest to a small town called Crescent. The portion of the ride that went out to Crescent and back was quite difficult… so crossing the finish line was quite the relief.

And now, for the barrage of photos:

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Waiting for the start, wearing last year’s top fundraiser jersey from the Bike MS Arkansas ride

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A view of the start – including the crazy blue bike thing…

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Riding through the Oklahoma University campus

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Oklahoma University castle type building

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Small church on campus

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Sun rising over the cemetery

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Long straight roads

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Some sheep along the side of the road… in a more developed area than you might expect

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We rode next to Tinker Air Force base, which was surrounded by defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman

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One of the entrances to the Air Force Base

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Arriving the “lunch” rest stop at mile 44, meeting Carl and Molly

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The rest stop was at a camp building

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There were inspirational signs placed along the route

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Bike path!

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About to cross highways and the Oklahoma River, which is a US Olympics training area

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Oklahoma River

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OKC skyline

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People marching for an unknown (to me) cause, wearing purple shirts

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Old house in downtown

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Another old house

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Approaching the Capitol building with an oil derrick in front of it

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Better view of the oil derrick

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Capitol building

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I saw SO MANY CHURCHES. It put Austin’s church density to shame. In one stretch of road about a mile long, I passed 7 churches!

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Nice smooth road – a welcome change from the mostly bumpy Oklahoma roads

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A little amusement park, gearing up for Halloween – you can sort of see the giant spider on the side of the roller coaster

 

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The views on the roads north of OKC were some of the nicest on the ride

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Pleasant Hill cemetery (with a backwards ‘N’?)

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Old stone house out in the country

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Entering “Historic Guthrie” – this was about 10 miles before I hit the actual downtown area

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Cows

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Second rest stop at mile 70 – just on the outskirts of Guthrie, and right before I started the hardest part of my ride. I was the first rider to hit this rest stop!

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From the rest stop in Guthrie I headed northwest, first crossing the Cimarron river which reminded me of the color of cinnamon

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See? Kinda reddish

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Looking the other direction

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A haunted house on the outskirts of town

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The dirt out here was really red

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Lots of inspirational signs on the 100 mile route

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Horses

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Out towards Crescent, the clouds were really ominous

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But luckily the storm stayed to the west

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I basically alternated between riding straight north and then straight west

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Very red dirt, very dark clouds

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I paused briefly at the rest stop in Crescent and talked to the friendly volunteers

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They had lined the road with signs

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Crescent is not very big…

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I came across these squiggly lines painted on the road from time to time, but have no idea what they mean

 

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Small town cemetery

 

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Red cliffs

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Where’s a good tailwind when you need it? Especially appropriate at this point since I was riding against a pretty heavy headwind for the last 15 miles.

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Back in Guthrie I got to take photos of some old buildings

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Including this bike shop which had a penny farthing out front!

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Downtown Guthrie

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The Oklahoma Territorial Museum

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Getting so close to the finish!

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The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple

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The finish line finally in sight

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If you look closely you can see Carl and Molly behind the guy in the green shirt

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100.5 miles!

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Crossing the finish

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Posing with my favorite dog

Final Bike MS Training weekend!

I’m getting close to my fundraising goal for Bike MS: The Road Divided! Can you help me meet my goal?

This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and next weekend I’ll be riding 160 miles over two days at Bike MS: The Road Divided in Oklahoma. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease.

For my last big training ride, I headed south to San Marcos so that we could visit the new location of Middleton Brewing. The weather was much hotter than my last few long rides, with high humidity. Hopefully next weekend in Oklahoma is much more pleasant! Saturday’s route totaled 86 miles and had a few detours, but was overall a nice ride.

In order to get to San Marcos at a reasonable time, I left home at 7 am, just as the sun was coming up and the full moon was going down.

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Good morning sun!

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This cemetery confuses me – it’s incredibly overgrown, but next to a well-tended cemetery. Both are within Austin city limits!

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Crossing the Lady Bird Lake damn

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My shadow, Lady Bird Lake, and the Austin skyline

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A firefighter training facility

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Church on the outskirts of Austin, and it’s accompanying cemetery

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There was an event at the Circuit of Americas and I was passed by many fancy cars when riding by the track, including 3 Corvettes in a row

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A little farm with handmade signs listing the price for goats, sheep, chickens…

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The same farm with some sort of little shade shelters in a field of wildflowers

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Small country road

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Lots of little purple wildflowers along the side of the road

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Fancy new school near Kyle

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Long flat road

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Small pond and lots of clouds

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For some reason I saw many donkeys on this ride. This the best donkey photo.

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And another donkey

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Rolling country road

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Railroad bridge, close to San Marcos

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Another railroad bridge, with a low water crossing and big stone supports

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After meeting my husband, we found a food truck lot, had a delicious lust at Wanderlust and then visited Middleton Brewing for a tasting and to pick up a bottle of their latest release. 

Bike MS Training Sept 10 & 11: Riding out to the breweries

ONLY ONE MORE TRAINING WEEKEND LEFT! This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and in just over a week and a half I’ll be riding 160 miles over two days at Bike MS: The Road Divided in Oklahoma. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS? I’m almost 50% to my fundraising goal and I would be honored by your support!

This past weekend I got to do another destination ride, where I left from my house and ended up at a place that serves alcohol. This time, I rode 80 miles to Jester King brewery and Last Stand brewing on Saturday where my husband met me with lunch. Jester King had a beer release we wanted to try, and Last Stand was hosting an Oktoberfest party. On Sunday, I rode 42 miles closer to home.

Saturday’s ride started off pretty cool for Texas in early September. As I rode north the clouds became pretty ominous. And then it started to get really windy. Next, it started raining big stinging rain drops, that might have been small pieces of hail. I had to pull over and seek cover next to a large stone sign for a few minutes until it slowed down enough to ride again.

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Very ominous looking sky

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Can you see the rainbow? It’s pretty light.

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Lots of greenery everywhere

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Small town church

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Cows walking through a field

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Big playground in north Austin

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View from Southwest Parkway

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BBQ ahead, in the little trailer you can hardly see by the red building

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Cool driveway entrance

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After arriving Jester King, I got to enjoy the newest release of La Vie en Rose. It was quite good.

On Sunday I rode some very familiar roads and therefore didn’t end up with many photos.

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You can kinda see the light purple wildflowers along the roadside

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Lots of hay bales

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Yellow AND purple wildflowers

 

Bike MS Training, Labor Day Weekend: I almost rode to Canada

We attended a wedding along the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota over Labor Day weekend. And I do mean north – we flew to Minneapolis and then drove straight north through Duluth to Lutsen along the shore of the lake. We had mostly lovely weather on our trip and my father-in-law ferried my old bike up from Iowa so that I could ride it in Minnesota. I know, he’s pretty awesome.

The wedding started fairly early on Saturday, so I had to get out early to get ready in time. There’s really only one paved road to put in significant mileage along the North Shore. I chose to go north because the traffic was lighter and road shoulder was nice. I rode just over 60 miles  (Canada wasn’t that much further north!) and got some lovely photos.

On Sunday, my husband and I rode south along the Gitchi Gami trail down to Temperance River State Park, did a bit of hiking, had lunch, and rode back up to Lutsen for a total of 23 miles.

This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and I’ve raised over $15K during the last 8 years for the National MS Society, thanks to many generous friends and family. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS? The big ride is just two weeks away in Oklahoma!

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These two buildings, plus just a few more, make up the entirety of Lutsen

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Early morning sun

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Early morning shade

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Another lodge

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A glimpse of Lake Superior

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Trailhead for Cascade River state park – we hiked from this area on Monday

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Going down over a ridge

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Pretty cliffs

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Jagged rocks

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Small cemetery as you enter Grand Marais

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Entering Grand Marais – you can just barely see the lake

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Beginning of the shopping area

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Grand Marais harbor

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Grand Marais harbor – we ate at the restaurant on the right on Monday (it was delicious)

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Riding along the harbor

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On the north side of Grand Marais

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Crazy sculptures and rock piles in front of this house

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Little fire department

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Itty bitty town hall

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View of the lake

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Close up of the rock piles

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Little stream

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Some small purple and yellow wildflowers

Enjoying the wedding later that day:

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Bike MS Training Aug 27 – 28: Riding to Treaty Oak Distilling

Riding the same routes from my house for long distance training starts to get monotonous after a while, so sometimes I convince my husband and our friends to meet me in an exiting locale so I can ride my bike there. This weekend, I planned a route to Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs. Treaty Oak turned some awesome ranch land into a distillery, an experimental brewery, and a generally awesome place to hang out. They have cocktails on tap!

This weekend, I rode 76 miles to Treaty Oak on Saturday, and then another 43 on Sunday, my longest riding weekend yet! Good thing, with only one month to go until Bike MS: The Road Divided. This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and I’ve raised over $15K during the last 8 years for the National MS Society, thanks to many generous friends and family. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS?

The last two weeks in Austin have been cooler than usual. It’s still hot, but way less so than normal. I mean, we’re talking highs in the 80s sometimes! It’s August, people! I totally appreciate these lower temps though, because I don’t have to get out quite so early on my bike to beat the heat. Saturday was pretty sunny and I got some lovely photos.

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A bunch of vultures in a tree

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An old cemetery along Springdale Rd

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There are actually two cemeteries in a row along Springdale

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Creepy soldier statue in the bed of a truck, with a “Veterans for Trump” banner…

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Crossing the Colorado along 183

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Crossing on the bridge

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View from the bridge

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Santa in a tree, missing his head

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Trails and pedestrian bridge in Richard Moya park, near the airport

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Country road

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Another country road

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Bright pink trees

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Roadside flowers

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Longhorn statue

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Old farm building, along a major road in Buda

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Entering Old Town Buda Historical District

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A church in Buda (I think)

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Old fancy house

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Food truck lot, outside of Buda

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Coming up on the Salt Lick

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Fall Creek Vineyards, across the street from the Salt Lick

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The Salt Lick

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Crossing a stream

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Riding along a ridge

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Riding along a ridge

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Had to cross a flooded road, right before getting to Fitzhugh Rd

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Carl was waiting for me at Treat Oak!

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We had lunch, and a few delicious drinks at Treaty Oak, while hanging out with our friends

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And then, we stopped in at Argus Cider to taste test their latest ciders. It was on the way home, I swear!

Sunday’s ride started out cloudy, which kept the temperatures cooler.

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Cows in a very green field

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Everything is so green!

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White wildflowers in a field

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Building a new bridge

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The church on Cameron Rd from a distance

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More cows

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“Prinz Farms” has a semi truck logo

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Horses!

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The Cele Store

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Close up of the church – you can see it in this photo, but there is a large cemetery in the back