Anne and I were talking before this ride. We've been to 13 different
Bed and Breakfast Inns in the past three years, some of them multiple
times, while traveling to these bicycle tours. We've also stayed in
hotels. Some of the B&Bs were very nice, others were just so-so.
Generally they all have the qualities reflecting their owners, and the
general expectation of the B&B visitors: victorian, loaded with
trinkets, nick-nacks, and junk, no TVs or radios, creative bathrooms
(or shared bathrooms) many with no shower, fine breakfasts, and
usually around $100/night. The hotels are generally always the same.
Private baths, large beds, TVs and radios in every room, privacy,
standard furnishing, no breakfast, sometimes a coffee pot, sometimes a
"contintental breakfast", and usually around $ 50-60/night.
Well, we decided that we are getting a bit tired of the variability and cost of the B&Bs and that we'll probably start staying more in hotels. The St. Butolph Inn in Weatherford is the exception to this newly forming plan. This Inn and the proprieters Dan and Shea Botolph are exceptional. Their home is incredibly large (probably near 6000 sq. ft.) The grounds are large and well manicured. In the last three years we always have had breakfast at 6am on the lawn. The 2nd story of this house has three large bedrooms that share a ballroom. Yes, that's right, a ballroom. Its about 30 feet by 30 feet, hardwood floors, two bandstands, one on either side of the ballroom, a TV room in an alcove near the largest bedroom on the floor, a gigantic shared bathroom for two of the rooms, a 25 foot high curved ceiling with ceiling fans and lights on dimmers, a door that exits from the back of one of the bandstands and down a flight of stairs to a small porch (for smokers), then on down to the pool on the west side of the grounds. The Botolph's live on the 1st floor and rent one room out down there. All in all, its an amazing place. The Botolphs take very good care of everything.
We left Dallas about 530pm and drove west across the north side of Dallas on 121, caught 820 and circled Ft. Worth on the north side heading west then south to catch I-30 heading straight west. 20 minutes out of Ft. Worth we turned north toward Weatherford. We stopped at a small chinese restaurant that Alan and Maria ate at last year and had a good meal. Then on to St. Botolph's to get settled in for the night. Dan met us at the door and welcomed us back. He remembered our names and what we were doing last year! We talked for a bit then stashed our gear in our rooms and roamed the grounds to see what had changed.
This year the peach crop was bumper. It was night and day from last year, when the draught had prevented any peaches from growing and the peach festival was greatly reduced. This year however there were peaches, peaches, and more peaches! Shea had peaches set out in Alan and Maria's room and a bowl of peaches in the refreshment room upstairs off the ballroom. For breakfast the next morning, on the lawn again, we had pancakes, fruit compost, and peach preserves to spread on the pancakes, muffins, and toast. It was wonderful. We'll surely continue to come to this charming B&B even if we substitute hotels for the other rides.
Anyway, after breakfast we headed over to the high school for packet pickup. Anne and Maria picked up the packets while Alan and I got the bikes ready. Or as Alan put it, I got the bikes ready while Alan fiddled with his shoes! We pedaled over to the starting line which turned out to be moved from last year, and was just two streets directly west of St. Botolph's! If we could have picked up our packets early we could have ridden from St. Botolphs directly to the starting line in 3 minutes or less.
The ride headed east to Main Street then north toward downtown, around the town square, then west out the other side, up a long hill and out into the Parker County countryside. We had chosen the 40 mile ride this year which went west, then southwest, then at the halfway point turned east, then northeast back toward town. A sharp right before getting into downtown took us back to the high school where the ride ended. As usual we couldn't remember much about the ride before we rode it. There were low rolling hills at the beginning, the road overhung by mesquite and low trees. It was generally very pleasant. We thought that we had gotten ahead of Alan and Maria and dogged it a bit during the 1st 10 miles, but never saw them. We had decided that we'd wait at the 1st rest stop and see if they would show. As it happened, we were wrong about them being behind us. In fact they were in _front_of_us_ and waiting for us at the 1st rest stop! Imagine that.
Neither Anne or I remembered the hills at the end as being part of this ride! We thought these hills were part of the Meunster ride and we were both suprised to see them here. They were long, rolling hills, deceptive, easy to pick up speed and push very hard, but continuing on and on. After a while it could be exhausting. Maria put on a burst of energy and attacked those hills with gusto. I pushed as hard as I could to catch her and she kindly relented so we could ride along together to the end.
After the ride we went back to St. Botolph and took showers. We packed up and headed back into downtown for the peach festival. They have a very fine festival every year and this year was no exception. In fact this year was the most crowded of all we've been to. We had three missions: 1) buy a case of peaches to share between us; 2) Buy and eat peach ice cream; and 3) Find that hat shop, "Pat's Hats" and buy some hats. In particular Alan needed a hat to keep his delicate head from getting sunburned. I'd bought a cool hat last year that I fell in love with and I wanted a new one since my old one was getting a bit ratty. We had generally good luck. Alan got his hat, Anne got some peach ice cream, Maria got a broomstick skirt (huh?) and a sun dress for her niece. They were out of hat's for me. I'll have to wait another year and try again. This festival had more food vendors than all the others rides put together. You could find roasted corn, sausage on a stick, fresh lemonade and limeade, shishkabob, crawfish, alligator, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, peaches (of course).
Here are my lasting impressions: