William Penn and Independence are tiny, almost unnoticable farm and ranch towns. I see many grandiose ranch houses on hilltops, adorned with pillars and balconies. I go all the way to Burton before I find food. The Burton Cafe has been here forever and never changes. While I eat, a local lady gossips nonstop, whether anyone is listening or not. A mexican cowboy with a terribly scarred face cracks open a Budweiser which he drinks in silence, in lieu of a morning meal. A few other cowboys wander in, sometimes asking a polite question or two.
It’s still cold, so I book it through Round Top and Warrenton to La Grange. I’m debating whether to take the long, scenic bike route, or just cruise on highway 71 to Bastrop. The La Grange DQ has $2 banana splits, and this puts me in a good mood, so I opt for the scenic route.
I plunge north and downward out of La Grange in rolling country with sparse, srubby pinons and junipers. The road through Winchester is even sparser, but small and very light on traffic. Then I enter Beuscher State Park, and the woods fill out. The park road seems custom made for cycling, with short punchy hills, twisty turns, and no cars. I have a blast. The sun comes out and really gives the forest an inviting, fairy tale look. When I reach Bastrop State Park I consider camping, especially after I accidentally ride an extra-grueling loop. The thirst for miles wins out, though, and I move on.
In Bastrop I have a quick bite at Wendy’s, trading money for time again. I notice my rear tire is low, so I fill it at the service station and continue. A few miles later I find a strange little oak forest to camp in. Here I take the time to fix the rear tire, then pitch the tent and call it a day.