I took the freeway out of Lisbon, glad to find the big bridge over the harbor is toll free going away from downtown. This part of Portugal is flat and boring for riders, and other than seeing a 1954 (I think) Cadillac Fleetwood on a car carrier it was pretty routine. No safe way to take a photo (should have bought that GoPro last year) so I can't share it, sorry. My first stop was lunch in Evola, a world heritage site with a cool 15th century aqueduct, cool cathedral that was closed on Sunday
and a vendor making ham and cheese sandwiches without the cheese. Cheese was all gone 5 minutes ago. But the ham was good, I love European air dried ham.
Stopped for gas and these two guys in the late 40's or 50's were hanging out at the gas station, watching the world go by.
Pretty soon a third guy shows up on a bike, and they all chat together. I wonder if they've been doing it just this way for 35 years. And I can't decide if that sounds stifling or appealing. In the center of town was the group of 60's and 70's guys, and on the east end another group in their 40's and 50's. Biding their time 'til they can move into the main square, I bet.
Then I wandered the two lane roads through the countryside, stopping for pictures of wildflowers and things. The fact that I took no pictures of roads today says enough about that. Not very interesting riding, no roads marked green for scenic, but lots of relaxing scenery. Just what I needed today.
Rode by seven or eight castles, too.
First day I've needed my sunglasses on this trip.
Arrived in Merida to find this, could be right out on Route 66.
My first vehicle-centered road trip was driving a Honda S2000 from LA to Ohio, mostly along Route 66 with Pete (TT100) back in 2007. Great times. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.
Merida is home to tons of Roman ruins, something both readers of my first ride report back in 2011 will notice. I meant to come here then but didn't get here.
Great example of Roman building techniques. Dressed stone exterior, interior filled with rubble and mortar, a course of brick every five to ten feet to help bind it all together.
No mortar in the joints on the dressed granite.
And you know what I'm going to say here...
I was riding by fruit orchards and vineyards all day today, and got to thinking about trees and vines.
My wife's Uncle Drew is a botanist with a specialty in urban forestry, and he is bothered by people planting trees that are going to grow big and then are constantly cutting them back. He would prefer they plant small trees in the first place, and let the tree be true to it's nature. That's applied to urban tree growning. But that isn't how fruit farming works at all, it seems.
Fruit trees and vines are constantly being pruned to become what the owner wants them to be. Sometimes a little off the top and sides, sometimes a buzz cut, but the object is for the plant to put it's energy into producing fruit for the owner.
Left to it's own, the tree will produce a little fruit, but not much. Most of it's growth goes into making itself bigger. Which makes it more susceptible to wind damage or even being blown over by a big storm. And makes it less useful to others. The owner cuts it back, cuts off stray branches so they don't waste the plants energy, and so the plant directs most of it's energy into producing fruit.
And this happens different ways. Some of the vineyards I saw had vines trained along wires very strictly. Some others looked like a giant brush hog mower had been set at two feet high every month for twenty years, so everything above that got cut off, but what was below that was hard and solid. And scarred and knotty.
No matter how you think we got here, created or evolved, we share at least some of the nature of these plants. What makes me think I'm best off being left alone to do my own thing, to become what I think is in my nature? Wouldn't I benefit from some pruning of wasted branches, too? Be it my God, my wife, my boss, my friend, there are people in my life that see things in me that I do not see, and can probably help me produce more and better fruit instead of wasting most of my energy on making myself bigger.
See what happens when I spend a sunny Sunday afternoon riding through vineyards and listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos!
Tomorrow lots of Roman ruins, then south to the capitol of ham (one of them anyway) and some more sunshine. I hope.