10/22/17 – Richards to Shepherd, TX

Three things were going in today. Foremost and of greatest importance was the fact that my sister Janette was driving down from North Richland Hills, a 5 hour drive from the Ft. Worth area,  to spend the night with me.  The second was that it was going to be a pretty long ride today–64+ miles, and the last was yesterday’s rainfall prediction was now a certainty, with rain expected at 8 AM.  

Sweet talking the owners of Mexican Hills Ranch, they gave me permission to set my tent up under the pavilion, so that if it rained, it wouldn’t get soaked and would be easier to pack up in the morning.  

So I set an extra early alarm, with hopes of packing up and getting on the road before the rain hit, but it rained a couple times during the night (glad I was under the pavilion). As I was taking down my tent, the heavy rain arrived along with high winds. I was the only person under the pavilion, and several folks had gear under there, so a lot of it was getting blown away.  While trying to hold onto my own gear, I was catching other people’s things before they totally blew away to Neverland.  

Our bikes ready to roll when the rain and lightening stopped

It didn’t take long for the rest of the group to get under the pavilion to secure their gear. At that point, all 10 of us moved into Ernie’s man cave to wait out the storm.  

Some of these guys come from places where it rains a lot, so they’re accustomed to riding in the rain, but this was also an electrical storm, so no one was going anywhere until the nearby thunder and lightening stopped.  
Also rearing to go was Tom C, whose  sister from Houston was meeting him in Shepherd at 2 PM. He, Chris and Joe left when the lightening stopped, but before the rain and thunder stopped.  

Me? Not taking any chances.  I want to live to see my grandkids grow up.  I called my sister and told her I’d be running late and probably wouldn’t be to our destination till 5 PM. No big deal–she is totally flexible. I have rain gear, but no way was I going to ride in all out rain with rolling, rumbling thunder, so I waited.  

The rain had pretty much let up when I started riding a 10:19 AM, and by then I was under the gun to cover some ground.  I rode by myself, stopping only to down a few bites of food and give my sit zone a rest every hour or so, and to take photos, of course. The rest of the time it was pedal to the metal. 

My route passed through the Little Creek Wilderness, into and out of the Sam Houston National Forest, over Lake Conroe (did you catch that Lisa Hatch?), and through an unnecessary detour, as I entered New Waverly, that added 2-3 miles onto my ride.  

The entire day, threatening rain clouds hung overhead as if rain could start falling any second, and for most of the day there was a bit of a headwind as I passed through Pumpkin, Evergreen, and into Coldspring.  The road changed directions in Coldspring, and the wind became a partial tailwind for the rest of the ride into Shepherd.

Thankfully, I managed to arrive Shepherd’s Sanctuary before Janette did, so I had time to meet Tom C’s sister and enjoy snacks she brought, look around a little, and get my shower in.  Janette arrived just in time for dinner, and it was so good to see my sister!

Shepherd’s Sanctuary, is so obscure that even locals don’t know about it. A couple of ladies built it to accommodate family groups, but now open it up for weddings, bike groups and other functions. The place is a funky collection of little cabins decorated with a menagerie of eclectic decor (see above) 

Per Ken, we were only paying $10-20 a night for each cabin, so I had warned Janette to bring her own bedding and towel and to be prepared for creepy shared bathrooms.  We were pleasantly surprised at how clean the place was and that all linens were provided.   We had our own cabin with a comfortable queen sized bed–sheer luxury for me. 

Janette considered joining the tour, but this bike was too loaded down

The purveyor, a gal named Peach, showed us the setup underway for the big Halloween party she throws every other year. She has an entire barn full of Halloween decor she and her partners are in he process of putting out. Wow! That will be quite the party!

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