Vanderpool, TX

I left the motel at 7:51, stopped by the gas station for a bag of “Orange Slice” candy, and set off for the hills.

first climb
Just by luck, I snapped this picture. I had no idea that just around the corner, was a 0.3-mile, granny-gear-mandatory climb. The pictures of the road will not be very good today, because I was busy concentrating on pedaling, breathing, and wiping away the sweat that was running into my eyes.
first summit
The first summit was just after Rim Rock Road. As with the next two summits, I knew the top because of the warning sign.
Leakey cabins
I reached the town of Leakey at 10:30 am. One summit down. These cabins might have been a decent place to stay in town. There are lots of cabins in the area, probably because this is a popular hunting area at other times of year. But I was still feeling fine, so there was no need to invoke the safety stop.
BBG's bakery sign
At the general store, I saw this on the bulletin board. Notice that they have kolaches.

I went up the road, but couldn’t locate the bakery. Just by chance, I had stopped by the Leakey Senior Center, and a man getting out of his car in the parking lot asked if I needed help. I asked where the bakery might be, and he gave me directions, but then asked if I would join them for lunch. Well, sure!

Jim (R) and Joan (L). Jim invited me to lunch at the Senior Center, and wouldn’t let me pay. Jim and Joan have a sign and advertising business.
The Senior Center serves a lunch every week day. Folks come in to eat and socialize. Edie here had been in the area 40 years. Originally growing up in Maine, she had actually spent time in Hawaii (Scofield Barracks) in 1945, at the tail end of the war. The lunch served is actually a decent amount of calories for an active person. I was surprised that Edie polished hers off so quickly, but later found out that she had stored half of it in a gladware for another meal, as several others had. I finished every bit of mine, of course.

I never did find the BBG Bakery. Oh, well – there will be other chances for kolaches.

At the edge of Leakey, I saw one of the few rivers that actually had water in it.
terrible two
More climbing, of what I dub the Terrible Two. 1.2 miles of 10%, then down the other side, then 1.0 mile of 10%.
The downhills weren’t so bad, as the turns were reasonably wide. Also, a headwind helped to keep my speed under control.
Almost at the intersection of 337 and 187. I thought Vanderpool was to the right. Is there actually a place called Utopia?
My plan was to stay at cabins up the road, but I stopped at the Lost Maples Country Store for refreshments.
L-R: Sabina, Arnulfo “Arnie”, and Chris. They were friends that met at University of Texas, and were in the area for a wedding.
This is Thomas, one of the owners of the store and campground. He had been in an accident (drunk driver hit him), and was in 6/10 pain for a long time. But he was a master of gratitude, and was still positive about the way things turned out.
John and Johnny
I met a lot of people on the porch of the Country Store. This is John (L) and Johnny (R). They were from Dallas. John’s youngest son was in a nearby camp with the Lyons, so in the meantime, he and Johnny were hiking in the area. John liked maps, and was very interested in my ACA map.
country store campground
I called ahead to the cabins up the road, and found that they wanted $145 a night. That’s probably worth it if you have a hunting party, but it’s way more than I needed. Camping at the country store was only $10. They don’t have showers, but the bathroom is open all night, and they have wi-fi. I filled my pot with water, and doused myself outside. My tent is oriented so that the wind blows through.
I did have freeze-dried food, but when there was ready food in an area, I took advantage of it. I got these things from the store, and ate them on the porch, which was shaded and breezy.
a deer
As I was working on the porch, a few deer walked by. I’m seeing a few every day, but they’re really hard to photograph.

I’m not going to tag today as hard. I just stayed in my granny gear on the steep grades and kept very relaxed speed. Maybe the reason others burned out was that they were trying to attack the hills too quickly?

Tomorrow, after breakfast at the store, maybe I’ll be able to make Kerrville. There’s only one steep climb on the way to that, then a general downhill trend.

Miles today: 40.2 (with steep climbing)

(Visited 92 times, 1 visit(s) today)
  1. So you did three of the four peaks today, then? Not bad!

    Curious that there are kolaches there in TX. My brother-in-law’s family was Czech/Bohemian on his dad’s side, and his dad had a recipe for (fruit-filled) kolaches that he gave to my sister. I infrequently made them around Christmas time (but now… low carb bandwagon). (Your bakery ad has me drooling and sighing.)

    (On a side note… when I was a senior in undergrad, one of the grad students was from Poland. I asked him if they had kolaches, and his response was something on the order of “not with fruit” (more bread-like), and that they had an old saying along the lines of “Without work, there is no kolache”. For you, I guess that would translate to “Without climbing the peaks, and putting in the miles, and then searching for the bakery, there is no kolache!”)

    1. Lots of Czechs immigrated to the U.S. through Galveston in the early 1900’s, and many remained in Texas. There are Czech heritage organizations and museums in Temple, Houston, La Grange, and Caldwell. My mom’s parents came from Moravia and farmed near Austin for a number of years before moving to Oregon. (My dad’s parents came from Bohemia to Berwyn near Chicago — lots of Czechs there, too.)

      “Bez práce nejsou koláče” is a Czech proverb. Literally “without work there are no kolaches”, it implies nothing ventured, nothing gained. As my wife, Liba, who is also from Moravia, will attest, it also actually does takes a lot of work to make good kolache.

  2. When I lived in Chicago kolache’s were very popular I believe because of a large Polish population, you have to try one !
    Also I’ve been looking for Utopia most of my life glad you found it looks like I’m going to Texas, Safe travels.

    1. Am I the only guy in the room who has never had a kolache?

      Also, I spoke to a cashier at the store who now lives in Vanderpool, having previously lived in Utopia. Contrary to the name, she didn’t think it was that great a place to be.

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