We hit the road from Cuba enthusiastic for the ride. There are so few miles to go we can almost see the border from here (not really, it's still over 350 miles). Well, it seems closer than it's been this entire trip.
The ride started with ten miles of pavement and then we turned onto a pretty nice dirt road. We hoped to cover about 70 miles, but around mile 58, it became obvious that it was going to rain.
Funny thing about those dirt roads: when they are dry, it's hard like cement with occasional soft sandy bits. When they're wet, it's like snot with glue.
We tried to make it two extra miles to what the map called a campground but it became apparent that movement was out of the question. I put my tent up as fast as I could, right next to the road. Once it was up, I spent a few minutes bailing water from the floor and then sat and watched it rain. Paul was up the road a quarter of a mile doing the same thing.
The rain only lasted 30 minutes or so, and it was only mid-day. The road was dry by the time I had my tent repacked. I joined Paul and as he packed his tent, a local pulled up on an ATV. He had water and even better: come by the ranch, he said. Just 6 miles, he said.
Twelve miles later we rolled onto his half-mile-long driveway. He did have a ranch, or rather, was caretaker to his nephew's ranch. But the nephew stayed in town, and we were given free run of the main house. Our host stayed in the guest house at night.
So the three of us sat on the porch of the main house on this 10,000 acre ranch. And as we sat there, Paul, the caretaker (nameless for reasons), and myself, we all wondered what would make someone want to stay in town instead. Utterly peaceful, watching lightning so far away that we couldn't hear it. Occasionally, coyotes off in the distance chased rabbits, and cigar smoke drifted lazily around us. No traffic, no other people. Even airplanes passed quietly, too polite to disturb the silence. I could have sat there for a long time. Maybe I will do that next. But not now.
Instead we left in the morning. Pretty fast riding got us to Milan/Grant in time for lunch. That had been our goal for the entire day, but we're getting fast, apparently.
Options were discussed, weather and maps were checked. In the end, we called it an early day. It was either that or ride in the rain and then have a short day tomorrow. But who really wants to ride a bicycle in the rain?