Anne and I picked up Alan and their gear at his house at about 2:30pm on Friday and headed to downtown Dallas to pick up Maria. A&M drove separately because they had a commitment on Saturday evening that gave them a more serious completion time than us. We had a reservation in Waxahachie, TX at the "Seven Gables" B&B. This is about 20-30 miles north of Italy and is in a very nice area. We planned on meeting at the Waxahachie town square and driving on to the B&B. The traffic was _terrible_ in Dallas (afternoon on a Friday! No kidding!). We separated from A&M early in the drive. Anne and I arrived and parked at the town square. An afternoon storm was blowing into Ellis county and the temperature had dropped, the wind picked up, and it was spitting rain. We waited for 30 minutes but no A&M! We decided to go ahead and checkin and come back to the town square, so we went on over the Seven Gables. Jim (of Jim and Helen, owners of the B&B) was outside and called out "Hello Stewart!" as we drove in. He directed us to the right parking place. We talked with him (Helen came out) for a bit and started to head back to the town square when A&M drove up behind us. They'd missed their turn off I-35 and went on down to Italy, then backtracked to Waxahachie.
Jim and Helen showed us the B&B and led us to our rooms. This is a _very_nice_ place. Much nicer than the one we stayed at last year, and much newer. Jim and Helen are smokers, but they had completely separated their living area from the B&B rooms, with each B&B room having our own air conditioning system. So the smoking wasn't a problem at all. We settled in and drove over to the Crazy Horse restaurant. We ate here last year and really liked it. It was again very good and we sat around and talked. Then back to the B&B. A&M retired for the evening, Anne and I watched the Texas Ranger game until we fell asleep. Our room was a suite with an upstairs bedroom and bath, and a downstairs sitting room/TV room with a door to the porch. A&M had a large room on the second floor with a separate bath.
Saturday morning we loaded up and drove down to Italy. Anne and Maria went over and picked up the ride packets while Alan and I prepared the bikes. It was a clear, warm day with light winds. It had the feel that it would get pretty hot in the afternoon and it did (but it didn't hit 100). The ride started kind of haphazard with people just pedaling off. So we got started with a group. We hadn't decided whether to do 40 or 50 miles yet, but they both went along together for a while and we postponed making that decision until we absolutely had to. I couldn't remember _anything_at_all_ about this ride from last year! It turns out that the ride is pretty flat and nondescript, but it is good biking along the Texas country roads. I did remember the last rest stop which is along a lake. They had a crate full of plums and I took 7 of them "for the road". They would have given us more if we could have carried them. We decided on 50 miles at the right time, and polished off the ride. They had snow cones at the end (and other stuff). Nothing like a Snow Cone headache! Ouch!
Here are my lasting impressions: