After a restful sleep, we woke that morning to a beautiful blueberry pancake breakfast with fruit, sausage patties, coffee and juice. Grandpa Miller’s pancakes had quite a reputation, after hearing rave reviews from Dr. Benjamin Jones, no small lover of all things cake. Ben had the singular opportunity to sample the glory of these flapjacks in the days before our wedding when he was staying at India’s family home in Decatur. Somehow he managed to put away a heaping stack of five; my stack of three and India’s meager two paled in comparison. After breakfast we were treated to a brief driving tour of Wildwood, saw the golf course, the horse pastures, some of the homes that the Millers had considered in their search, and made the trip out to the Post Office where all the residents have PO boxes to receive their mail. There seemed to be miles of paved and dirt roads to explore, along with powerline cuts, grassy fields, and four-wheeler trails to explore, so India and I thought a two-wheeled expedition might be in order, especially since neither of us had been on a bike in nearly a week, and we were both starting to feel a little pudgy and soft from all the sitting, driving, eating and lack of exercise.
We saddled up and headed out in search of some four-wheeler trails that a neighbor had informed us of, somewhere off the campground area in the northeast corner of Wildwood. We crossed a narrow, wooden bridge into the slightly wilder, more wooded section of the town, far from the manicured lawns and well-tended greens of the areas around the golf course.
We found a couple of hidden stashes of sandy double-track off some dead-end dirt roads, but after we found ourselves in someone’s backwoods backyard with two dogs barking us down, we decided it might be time to make for the lake and cool off with a swim.
We headed back across the bridge to the more civilized part of town, parked our bikes under a little pavilion on the man-made sandy beach on the lake, and made for the water.
It was warm on the surface, but the water below the thermocline was nice and cool, making me wish I had gills or a four-foot snorkel to allow me to stay down longer.
Moist and refreshed, we headed back to the house on Sassafras Lane for showers, lunch, and some discussions over a map. It was time to firm up plans for the second half of our journey through Texas and into the west. To continue my education in Texan heritage, we planned to make an easy drive to San Antonio the next day to see the “Shrine of Texas Liberty,” The Alamo. We would stay the night there in a bed and breakfast and have some restful sleep and showers to steel ourselves for what awaited us on the day following: a 600 mile grind through central and west Texas, all the way to El Paso and on into southern New Mexico, where we would camp at the edge of the Gila national forest, near the small town of Kingston. From there, we would turn north through New Mexico for a shorter and more scenic drive to Taos, a city just shy of the Colorado border where we could camp in the Carson national forest, and which would put us within a half-day drive into the mountains to Crested Butte, where we would spend 3 nights at the Elk Mountain Lodge riding legendary mountain bike trails and exploring the Rocky Mountains. From there it would be another two days northwest to Portland. Honestly, we were both so excited about Crested Butte that it was harder to think much farther ahead than that.
However, our kind hosts were thinking ahead to dinner, and preparations had begun for a Texas-sized steak feast, rounded off with twice-baked potatoes, homemade rolls and a salad topped with grandma Miller’s legendary French dressing and bleu cheese. We sipped cocktails on the patio while the grill heated up, chatted, snacked and prepared our bellies for wonderful food. The dinner was delicious, but someone decided that I should be given and entire steak to tackle by myself. It was quite a challenge, but I was unable to polish off the massive slab of beef, so we saved a chunk to eat with our eggs in the morning for breakfast. After dinner we looked through the Miller/McGuinn family album that went back several generations and relaxed while our food settled. Then we were off to bed before our trek to San Antonio.