Out of Season

Posted: October 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

Out of Season

Just us and our shadow

Just us and our shadows

Greens are turning to yellows on the tree branches.  My thermometer reads 34 degrees and I can see my breath as I fire up the camp stove to make coffee and heat water for our ramen packets.  Everything is wet from last night’s rain and more rain is in the forecast – I’m thinking maybe a hotel for the next night is in order.

Haunted Goat Run free camp

Haunted Goat Run Free Camp

The last few days were incredibly beautiful, cycling through quilted hillsides of grapes, acres of rosemary, sunflowers, corn, wheat, pine and oak forests, pastures full of newly shorn sheep, and a peculiar region where they grow only acorns to feed hogs, creating a specialty ham famous in the region.


Patchwork Quilts

View from lunch break

Lunch Stop

Over the last few days we’ve seen very few cars, one day I counted a total of 5.  Typically, we climbed relentlessly – only to descend into some small village forgotten by time – a church, a few stone buildings, always a plaza with a water fountain and a bench, silent, everything in earth tones.  Sometimes there would be a café or bar open and we could score a bit of food, usually not.  Lunch was most often tinned fish of some sort that we’d bought before we entered this region. Dinner was ramen, breakfast was ramen.  Once we found some canned lentils and had them with some leftover cheese we’d been saving.  Then we’d climb out of the village and back into the patchwork quilt of agriculture.  There were days that I felt like a snail on a treadmill.

Really - this is a road

Really?  This is a road?

Chruch in town plaze

Church in a town plaza



How bad can tinned fish be when you have  a selection like this?

When I was young, I was curious about my heritage.  My mom was always proud to tell me that she had direct lineage to the Mayflower, my dad always joked that I shouldn’t dig too deep, as on his side I’d discover that I’d descended from horse thieves, our family name originally being “Brander” and morphing into “Bradner” through a spelling error at the immigration docks, my ancestors apparently happy to be shed of their “Brand.”  I tried to imagine myself as being a part of some European ethnicity but I never could – in truth I was I was just a suburban white kid growing up in America with three television channels and crush on Annette Funicello.   That’s why I was surprised to learn that my heart was actually Spanish.  Hearts aren’t tied to ethnicities.

Amazing Cathedral in Siguenza

Church that would rival anything the Loire has to offer

I really love this country.  I have from the first time my feet touched the earth here.  France is nice but really, the language is just stupid – why have so many letters in a word and only pronounce half of them?  In Spain, every letter is pronounced – no waste.  And the French think their wine is good – which is only because they’re too stuffy to try the Spanish wines, which are so much better – and the food…………OMG, you simply cannot out cuisine the Basque region of Spain, but of course that’s not fair because the Basque are not Spanish.

Riverside freecamp

Riverside Free Camp

And that’s why we’re here right now, despite the cold temperatures and closed campgrounds, despite the fact there are no other tourists – we just had to get our Spanish fix before we left Europe.  We had actually planned on cycling to the Algarve and staying a few more weeks but the diminishing hours of daylight and yes, the 34-degree mornings have persuaded us to reconsider.

Pine forest free camp

Pine Forest Free Camp

We fly to Malaysia next, and yes, there is a bit of my heart in SE Asia as well, besides not being defined by ethnicity, hearts don’t really have size and weight restrictions so you can just have bits and pieces of them all over the place.

More later.

Hotel laundry

Hotel room after 3 days of free camping – OMG


  1. Tom says:

    Good to hear from you guys – Tom and Courtenay – Back in Gunnison



    I love your posts!

    I also love Spain, moreso now after my most recent visit Sept 18 – Oct 8. The weather was absolutely perfect while we were there, and the tourists mostly gone. If you ever get the chance, you need to hike in the Picos de Europa National Park – an area little known by Americans. Extremely spectacular tall spiky limestone peaks in a fairly small area nestled between Asturias and Cantabria, fairly close to the Atlantic Ocean to the north.

    I’m now trying to come up with a way to live in Europe for a year – either in Spain or Germany (which is my heritage).




  3. Sharon MacConnach says:

    Love your stories.

    On Fri, Oct 18, 2019, 2:04 PM Ride off the Earth wrote:

    > Rideoffthearth posted: “Out of Season Greens are turning to yellows on the > tree branches. My thermometer reads 34 degrees and I can see my breath as > I fire up the camp stove to make coffee and heat water for our ramen > packets. Everything is wet from last night’s rain and mor” >


  4. Maureen Russell says:

    Our first trip to Europe was Spain in 1965 when Franco was still in power. We started our family there and our daughter likes to say, “Of course I speak Spanish, it’s my native language.” We loved every day of our entire month there driving the back roads, visiting wonderful places. I won this trip in a department store (Meier & Frank in Salem) drawing. We were too young and poor to get there on our own. Loved your photos!


  5. Dave Batka says:

    Great to hear from you guys!


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