My expectations didn’t change as fast as the weather forecast. A week and a half ago, it was to be the perfect fall weekend. But as the days went by the forecast trended warmer and warmer. I should have adjusted my expectations, but somehow couldn’t let my hope for cooler weather go. So it was hotter than I expected on my first attempt at a more rugged S24O.
Within 15 minutes of rolling out, I was on the first bit of gravel. This route is dominated by gravel and dirt roads, and it about 50% longer than my typical S24O ride to the lake. Going west from my house, it also includes more elevation changes. I was able to take the afternoon off from work and take my time hauling my gear, including more water than usual.
I was eager to stop and cool off in Greenwood. It was rather warm, and most of the route so far included no shade. Besides this is the last opportunity to top off bottles. There is no water source where I’m headed.
I found me a pleasant spot on the top of a small knob in the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands. I wondered if guards would tell me that this public land was closed and turn me away. But it looked like business as usual, during the government shutdown, for me and a host of horse enthusiasts.
Feeling lazy, I decided to relax in the shade before dinner. Since I didn’t wait until after my normal workday before departing, I had a lot more time to enjoy my surroundings before the darkness. Eventually, I was ready to explore the area, take a few photos, and have some dinner.
There’s more than grass in the Grasslands. There are a few wide open prairies, and a variety of beautiful grasses swaying in the breeze. But there is also plenty of rock, flowers, trees, lakes, and wildlife to entertain the naturalist.
When dinner was done, I could see the sun was nearing the horizon. I had found this step just down the knob from my campsite. It was a fine, shady place to enjoy a meal. Peaceful. But what of that sunset? Would I be able to see it from the hammock?
There were too many clouds to bother attempting sunrise photos. Besides, I was in no hurry to climb out of my bed. This is completely different from tent camping for me where I couldn’t stay comfortable for long, and never really slept well on the ground. When hunger overcame comfort and laziness, I attended to breakfast. Then, I took my time packing my gear, and headed home.
When I returned to Greenwood, it didn’t look like its normal sleepy self. I rolled into town just seconds before the parade began. Dripping with sweat, and low on water, this seemed the perfect spot for a cool-down. The parade didn’t have marching bands, drill teams, or giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters, but it did have vintage tractors. Works for me!
When this one came by, the announcer indicated it was a John Deere manure spreader. Then he paused for effect and quipped, “That’s one tractor John Deere won’t stand behind!” Har, har.
Once entertained and refreshed, it was time to pedal home. There were still miles of gravel to cover…and it wasn’t getting any cooler out there.
Pedal to the horizon, and turn right. Then it’s 30 minutes to lunch…well…maybe 45 minutes with a camping load.
All that wonderfulness in 23 hours, and 40 minutes. Another successful S24O in the books.