Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The day started out clear and warm, but it soon turned to clouds and a strong side wind that turned into a head wind for the last 5 miles of the day. They were slow miles! I don't think it will rain, and it's not as muggy as it was last night.
The Adventure Cycling Map says that there is a historical society that runs a museum and allows campers. It was a great place, and people there were very friendly and welcoming! They even had free bottled water! They allowed me to camp on the porch of an old cabin, and they unlocked the bathroom/shower house. What a great place to camp for the night.
A pair of cyclists from Germany, Matthais and Neele, arrived to town shortly after me, so the three of us camped together at the museum. We had a nice visit, and their english was outstanding! They will follow the Southern Tier for a while, but will travel north and end up in San Francisco rather than San Diego. They are planning on seeing some of the National Parks like the Grand Canyon. They said they will end near the 1st of June, so maybe I'll see them again when I'm hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail when they bike West to San Francisco. I hope they will come to Sisters in December, but it might be a long ways to travel from Germany!
Camped at Willie's Washington RV Park last night. It was a funky RV Park next to a river, complete with it's own small tavern. They had a band that started playing at 9:00 pm, so after I took a shower and ate dinner (a sandwich from a nearby gas station), I went in to listen to the band for a while. I didn't like how smokey it was, and my clothes still have a smell of smoke, but it was a great place to see how the locals like to have some fun. The bartender, Slim, was a very nice guy and wanted to know a lot about my trip. We talked for a long time. I enjoyed it there, and I even slept pretty good that night.
I didn't get started on my way today until 8:30 am. I have to get up earlier than that if I'm going to keep up 55 miles per day!
I found a great place to eat lunch in Ville Platte, LA, called the Pig Shack. Wow, their buffet lunch was really good! Ribs, Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, and so much more! The place was packed, so I ended up sitting at a table with Greg, an Oil Company employee that operates remote contolled subs at off-shore rigs, inspecting the supports and cleaning off the barnicals that attach to the supports. It sounded like a very interesting job, and Greg knew a lot about some of the small near-by towns. We had a nice visit.
Later in the day, a biker heading East (Mike) stopped and we talked for a long time. It was nice to take a little break. His wife was driving the support vehicle, and they are staying only in motels (no camping), so he was traveling very light. Mike is a graphic artist that used to work for a TV station in Chicago. We talked about work, the future, and biking! I hope that Mike and his wife will consider coming to Sisters in December for my celebration party! Bike on, Mike!
I camped in the back of the Police Station in Oberlin. I figured that it would be a fairly safe place to camp, and that way, the police knew right where I was! It worked out well, except that the train tracks were also near-by, and at least 3 trains went through in the night. No way to sleep through a passing train in the night!
There was a long section of road that was under complete re-construction. The good news was the traffic was very light! The bad news, parts were completely gravel (and mud) for about a mile. I can't ride in gravel and mud, so I had to walk my bike for part of it. All in all, though, it was a great day ... warm, no hills, no rain.
I passed the 1,000 mile mark today in the town of DuPont, LA! This was an exciting moment for me. It was like the trip was finally REAL and not just a dream. 1,000 miles seems like a long way to travel by bike, but I just take one pedal at a time.
I met a biker from Wyoming today. His name is John, and he's a history professor. We enjoyed eating breakfast together and talking about the South. He's not following the Adventure Cycling route, but making up his own route though very rural parts of the South. We had a great visit. The breakfast at Rossie's, French Toast and OJ, was also very good!
I'm still having a lot of problems with this whole "mail-drop" thing. I know that I have a couple of letters out there, and thank you to whom ever sent them. One of these days, I hope I can read the letters! I left a note for the postmaster at DuPont, LA to foward any mail to my last scheduled mail-drop at Anderson, TX. I should be there by Thursday or Friday, and I hope to catch up with my mail there.
Still, the fastest way to reach me is to text me on my cell phone. I've been trying to save my battery, so I do keep the phone off for most of the day, but I turn it on from time to time, and will always reply to a text message. Otherwise, e-mail is also good and posting comments on this blog is also good.
Be cautious about some of the comments. If the comment is very brief and all is has is a link, DON'T CLICK ON THE LINK! I'm trying to figure out how to delete these, and it seems that spammer's are posting these comments. I'll get them removed as soon as I can figure out how.
This shot was a typical countryside shot ... It's really been beautiful here in the South:
The library I'm using today won't allow me to up-load any photos ... I'm not sure why that is. I'll add some photos at the next library when I get the chance.
I toured some more old homes and a church today in St. Francisville. I got a lazy start, but that's OK once in a while. Washed my soaking clothes from the rain yesterday. Today got a little cool in the afternoon, and had to get out my warm gloves by about 2:30 pm or so. That is unusual!
This is the Mississippi River:
While looking for a place to camp, I found an old church, but it just didn't feel like a good place to camp, so I pressed on. I ended up staying at the Sportsman Motel in Simmesport, LA. They had a great pizza restaurant next to the motel, so I got a nice hot dinner.
And here's my "Sign for the day":
Can you read the small sign on the phone pole? Why would they care if bikes are on the sidewalk?
Friday, February 22, 2008
It rained really hard today, again! The rain was warm, but it totally soaked everything ... my sleeping bag, my clothes, and even my envelope full of my receipts. I had to lay them all out on towels so they could dry out! I'm sending most of these home to be filed, not only so I don't have to carry them, but also so they don't get wet again! I also got some large plastic bags to help keep my stuff dry.
I decided to stay in a motel again, just so I could do some wash and have a chance to dry out.
Dinner was great at a place called Oxbow Restaurant.
I also stopped at a couple of Plantations today: Oakley Plantation, where James Audubon did a lot of his early drawings of birds, and the Rosedown Plantation. Both of these were built in the early 1800's.
The top photo is the Oakley Plantation. The next two are the Rosedown Plantation.
I did some math today, and found out that I'm averaging 47 miles per day. At this pace, I'll get to San Diego on about April 7th. I'd like to get there sooner than that, so I'll need to increase my average by about 5 miles extra per day, or 52 miles per day, to get there by April 1st.
I'm surprised that I haven't felt the need to take a zero day yet, although there have been some days that I was being lazy!
St. Francisville had some great older homes and an old church. I stopped at a little coffee shop called "the Bird Man Coffee Shop and Book Store".
This trip is really fun, and I'm meeting a lot of very nice people.
Today was a great day! The roads were good, and there were only a few spots with heavey traffic. Most of the time, the traffic was light, but there were a few log trucks. Most of the time, they slow down and take a lot of care when passing me.
I left the motel early at 7:30 am, so I got a good start. It was nice to have a shower.
I'm having a real problem with these mail stops. It seems that every place where I think I can catch up with my mail, its either closed or I'm there too early or there is some other problem. I know that there are at least two letters out there, but I have not been able to get them yet. I had to send a written request back to one of the post offices, asking them to forward the mail ahead. I think my next stop, scheduled for DuPont, LA will also be impossible as I'll likely be there by Sunday. I could take a zero day, but I'd rather keep going than wait for my mail to catch up to me.
I had wonderful fried chicken for dinner tonight! The food has been really good!
Here's a typical shot of what the road look like here:
There was frost on my tent as I woke up in the morning, but I slept warm in my sleeping bag. I put on several layers of clothes to keep warm as I rode, even into the afternoon.
I was excited to get to the sign that said "Welcome to Louisanna". It won't be long until I'm in Texas! There's another big strom coming my way, so I'll stay at a motel again tonight.
Here's the sign for today:
Perkinston, MS to Popularville, MS. 27 miles - 795 total.
Stopped at this great campground called "Roger's Campground" to see if I could take a shower and do some laundry. The woman that runs the place, Mrs. Rogers, was a very nice woman! She did a load of wash, offered me a towel and a place to take a shower, and while we were waiting for the clothes to dry, she even fed me breakfast! It was a beautiful campground next to a lake that she had built. I can highly recommend this place for anyone in the area needing a place to camp!
Monday, February 18, 2008
The day started out cloudy and cool. After just a short time riding, it started to rain, but not too bad. Then the sky grew dark and the wind started to blow hard. I knew that it was about to be a heavy downpour, and I was already wet from the first round of rain. Not too far later, I found an empty house with a nice carport, so I pulled in to wait out the storm.
About 5 or 6 very heavy thunderstroms past over head, with lightening and thunder. You know the lightening is very close by when you hear the thunder at the same time! I was really glad that I had a good shelter.
Not long afterwards, though, the sun came out and it turned into a very nice afternoon, although it was a little cool.
I rode into the town of Perkinston, but there wasn't too much there except for a nice community college. I was able to get a burger at the Student Center and watched the news for a while. Also had a nice talk with Charlie, the guy that runs the Student Center. But then, it was back on the road.
That evening, there was a bright moon out, and I could ride without my light. I rode until about 7:00 pm or so, and soon found a nice place along side the road to put up my tent. There was very little traffic, so I slept really good.
I'm seeing more and more signs that really strike me. Some are funny, some are deep. Here's my sign for the day:
Thanks to everyone that's following along on my blog. I hope you are enjoying it and I appreciate all your prayers and thoughts. I also enjoy hearing your comments. Thanks to everyone that's sending them to me.
Also, please make plans to join me the last two weeks in December, 2008 in the town of Sisters, Oregon to celebrate the completion of my trip! Everyone is welcome (if I can find a big enough cabin to rent) for a couple of days or for the entire two weeks. Watch this blog for more details as they become available. I'd love to have you as my guest.
I was doing really great until I blew out one of my trailer tires, twice! After a closer inspection of the tire, I found that it had split from the inside out. Of course, I have extra tires for the front and rear of my bike, but NOT for the trailer. I hobbled back to the TNT Video and Pizza store in Hurley where I met the nicest couple, Cheryl and Jessie, the owners. Not only did they feed me dinner and allow me to set up my tent behind their store, they also gave me a ride about 20 miles away to a Wal-Mart where I could purchase a new tire. I had such a nice time there, talking about their recent trip to Florida. What wonderful people they were, and the food was out of this world. I had the Pulled Pork BBQ dinner, and it was great!
Then for the bad news. When I got up the next moring and started to fix the tire, I discovered that I had purchased the wrong tire, even though I had the old one in my hand! I couldn't believe it!
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008
Hurley, MS to Larue, MS - 44 miles, 736 total.
Since I had the wrong tire and needed to get back to Wal-Mart, I decided to try and use a small piece of rubber that I had from one of bike lights, placing it on the inside of the tire and under-inflating the tube ... just enough air so it would roll, but not so much that it would try to poke out through the torn tread. It worked for about 4 miles or so. Then there was an Assembly of God Church. Here's what the reader board said:
I thought I'd give it try. The pastor's house was next to the church, and I thought that I'd ask if I could leave my bike and trailer there while I hitch-hiked to Wal-Mart. They were just leaving to return a carpet cleaner to Lowe's, and it was near a different Wal-Mart than the one that Jessie took me to, but that didn't mater. I rode with Paster Bob and his lovely wife about 20 miles the other way, returned the wrong tire for the right one, and was back to my bike within the hour! Thank you Paster Bob!
Once I was on my way, the sky grew dark and stromy, and it felt like it was going to rain really hard, but there were only a few rain drops, and then the sky cleared up. By 3:00 pm, the sky was completely clear and sunny.
I camped in a very remote area near a motorcycle trail in a forest. I knew it was going to be a cool night, but I've been sleeping very warm in my down sleeping bag ... almost too warm in fact.
Part of these miles were on the ferry across Mobile Bay, so don't think that I'm a "super-biker-dude"!
It started out clear and cold today with a light wind. I got an eary start at 7 am - that's pretty unusual for me! Riding along in the same direction as me was a "snowbird" from Illinois named Tom. He lead me on a slight detour on a very nice bike path that ended up at a very large RV park full of people from a wide variety of Northern States and even Canada. It was a nice ride and nice to visit with him. He rode with me for almost an hour, even though he had a tee-time with some of his golfing friends. Thanks, Tom. We went past by a lot of large condo buildings, and lots of private beach homes. It was a nice area.
Then, as I was riding towards the Mobile Bay Ferry, I was so surprised to catch up with Susan again. She's the woman from Germany that I rode with a few days earlier in Caryville, but I couldn't keep up with her. She's traveling very light, and with my trailer, I just couldn't keep up to her fast pace!
We raced to the ferry landing, but ended up having to wait about an hour for the next ferry. It gave us a chance to snack on lunch as we waited for the 18 car ferry to arrive. I enjoyed the plesant ride and conversation with Susan as we crossed to the other side of Mobile Bay.
We met a man and wife team that is riding their tandem bike 12,000 miles around the U.S.A. They had just crossed the ferry and were headed East. Had a nice visit with them, also.
It was cold and windy today, mostly a tail wind, that helped. It started out overcast, but no rain. I used the library in the town of Pace to up-date the blog.
An 8 mile section of roadway near Pensacola was the worst of the trip so far. There was road construction going on, and they had ground off the pavement on the bike lane in both directions. The auto lane was good, and they expected bikes to "share the road", but the traffic was heavy and there were a lot of hills, so it was slow going.
I stayed at a motel again, and went to a supermarket to buy dinner supplies rather than eating out. It was over 10 miles to a campground, and it was a little too "urban" to camp beside the road. I'm glad I stopped there for the night.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
What a difference a day can make! It was much cooler today. It started with a few sprinkles, and soon turned to a cool, steady rain, heavy at times. I discovered something very important: Rain gear doesn't keep you dry, it keeps you warm! You end up just as wet with or without, but you stay a lot warmer with the rain gear on!
I stopped during a heavy shower, threw my tarp over my trailer and bike, and proceeded to install the rear fender that I had purchased a few day earlier. I could have done this at a more convenient time, but it seemed like I might not need it at all since the weather had been so good.
Then, just as I was leaving the town of Crestview, Florida, I started having some very serious problems with my left pedal. It was making a lot of noise, and it wouldn't spin freely like it should.
Mission Control found me a bike shop about 20 miles away, and I gave them a call on my cell phone, but they were a good distance off route. They suggested a bike shop in Milton, so I was on my way. It was about 24 miles away, but at least I didn't have to go off course to get there.
The closer I got to Milton, though, the worse the problem became. Soon, it wouldn't spin at all, and it was really draging my progress down. The steady, cool rain didn't help much, either. I finally made it to the bike shop about an hour before they closed for the day.
Turns out that it wasn't just a rain storm, the National Weather Service issued severe Thunder Storm warning, with the strong possibility of a tornado! I decided to check into a motel for the night, and it was a good thing I did. There was a lot of lightening and thunder, and it rained very hard for about an hour. It was also windy. I was able to walk about a block to a pizza restaurant for dinner. Next to the pizza place is a laundrymat, so I'll be able to wash a load of clothes in the morning before heading out.
In Caryville, I was passed by a woman from Germany, named Susan, headed West. We talked for about 20 minutes or so. I tired to keep up with her, but she was traveling very light, with only 3 small bags, and I couldn't keep up with her. I so wish I could lighten my trailer some more! I'm afraid to weigh it ... I'd really rather not know how much it weighs.
She also saw the two guy's from California that I sat at my table at Sage's Cafe. We all enjoyed a slice of Spice Cake, compliments of the cafe!
I ate an enjoyable breakfast in De Funiak Springs, and looked around the town just a bit, then headed on my way West.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Breakfast was at Jerry's, but it was a little late, and they had already started their Lunch Buffet. I asked if they would still make breakfast, and they did, but it wasn't all that good. I guess I should have tried the buffet!
Dinner was a buffet in Marianna called Jim's Buffet and Grill. The billboard along side the road said that it was the place where locals eat, so I thought I'd give it a try. Buffets seem to be very popular around here!
I was really needing a shower, so I stayed at a motel in Marianna called "Best Value". I took their last room, and it was not very expensive, so I'm glad I stopped there for the night.
I was feeling some pain in my left leg today, my feet are sore, and my tailbone is still hurting. I've been in the saddle too long, or maybe I'm just getting too old! And the hills! Tallahassee had a lot of hills! There's a college there, so I saw a lot of college students in town.
There was a beautiful sunset tonight.
I've been finding that I do really well by getting up and riding for a while before breakfast, eating some sort of snack in the middle of the day (like a granola bar, some candy or an ice cream sandwich), then eating a big dinner at about 4:00 in the afternoon. That way, I can be looking for a place to camp for the night while it's still light out. If I eat a later dinner, it's dark when I'm trying to find a place to camp, and it doesn't work out as well.
I camped for the night in Sweet Field at a Baptist Chruch, next to a power sub station. This worked out really well. I didn't follow the Southern Tier Route the whole way today, finding that it saved a few miles by staying on Highway 90. I'm not sure why the printed route went so far South. I saw a few more bike riders today, heading East.
I'm really enjoying the local food at the small restaurants along the way. I haven't cooked a meal yet, and if I don't soon, I just might be sending home my stove, pot and silverware. I'd sure like to lighten the weight of my trailer!
I didn't camp here, but I think this cabin would have been a nice place to stay! This was on Highway 90.
Friday, February 8, 2008
I stopped in Wellborn for my mail, and had this great Philli Cheese Sandwich at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Continued through the countryside to the town of Lee. Stopped at Archie's Dinner for Prime Rib ... I think it was the best Prime Rib I've ever had! I camped at the First Baptist Church for the night. It was really cold, maybe 38 or so! I thought it might rain during the night, but it didn't. That was good. Everything was wet from dew, though, and I got out my stocking cap and my warm gloves for the morning ride.
I've added several photos to some of the earlier posts, so scroll back so you can see them.
Thanks to everyone that have been adding comments. I'm about to be kicked off this computer at the Madison Public Library, but I will respond to your comments soon. I'm hoping to get to Tallahassee tonight.
Note to John ... I don't really have an itenary that I'm following. I just ride until I feel like I've done enough for the day. I'll try to keep to my "mail drop" schedule as best I can, but for the most part, I'll be sticking to the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier route. However, I'm planning on staying on highway 90 all the way to Tallahassee rather than heading south. It will save me a few miles, and I might be able to make it there tonight. Thanks for all your text messages. That's the best way to get a message to me, as I've been able to keep my cell phone charged. I don't always hear it ringing, but the text message will be waiting for me when I check the cell phone.
If anyone wants to send me a text message, send it to my cell phone.
A very nice woman paid for my breakfast this morning. She couldn't believe I was headed for San Diego on my bike. I'm avoiding all the regular chain restaurants like Burger King or McDonalds, opting for local establishments. The food has been great, but I don't think I'm losing any weight!
I ended up camping at the Ichetucknee Campground, next to a large park with a couple of springs. This seems to be very popular around here, and there are a lot of places where people dive into these springs, where there are underwater caves full of cool, clear water. I took a nice hike, and there were canoe's for rent, but I did not rent one. A big storm was passing by way to the north, and it looked like it might rain, so I opted to stay in one of the cabins rather than camp in my tent. It was also nice to wash my clothes and take a hot shower.
I also got to sleep in a real bed. That was nice.
Just outside of Melrose, I went to the small town of Hawthorne. There's a great "rail-to-trail" bike path from Hawthorne to Gainsville, about 20 miles. There were a lot of people out enjoying the nice weather, and I can highly recommend this bike trail. The grade was easy, and there was very little cross traffic. It was really beautiful.
In Gainsville, I stopped at Mr. Goodbike to work on my bike. The first order of business was to get the trailer hitch off of my rear axle and put it on the frame. It seems that the rear tire is being pulled out of alignment by the weight of the trailer. I went to Lowe's Home Improvement to get the parts I needed, and with the help of the guys at Mr. Goodbike, was able to rig up the new attachment. It seems to be working great now. I replaced the blown-out rear brake, and adjusted the front brakes.
I also had a great sub sandwich at Big Lou's in Gainsville. It's a great town, and would love to stay for a while, but I need to get back on road.
About 10 miles outside of Gainsville, it was starting to get dark, so I was looking for a place to camp for the night. A car pulled up with a bike rack on top, so I asked the driver if she knew of a place I could camp for the night. She thought that her friend's dad wouldn't mind if I camped in their yard, so I turned up a dirt road and went about 1/4 mile or so. Turns out that Steve had his own racquetball court that he built on his property about 15 years ago, and he plays racquetball 3 times a week with several friends nearby. I enjoyed playing a game with Steve, Lee, and Elijah! Who would have ever guessed that I'd get a chance to play racquetball on this trip!
Here's my tent in Steve's yard:
This was an easy day. I started out mailing about 25 pounds of unnecessary stuff back to Oregon, and what a difference it makes pulling the trailer up hills. I still have too much, but can't decide what I can live without!
Melrose was a great little town. I ate pizza at Betty's Pizza, thanks to a recommendation from a couple of Melrose Elementary School students. I camped at the back end of a City Park ... fortunately, it was dark, so if there was a sign that said "NO CAMPING", I couldn't see it!
Monday, February 4, 2008
After a nice breakfast at the Oasis Cafe, I made it to St. Augustine, Florida for the official start of the Southern Tier route. Two bikers from Alaska came in for breakfast. They started their ride in Austin, Texas, and were headed for Key West, Florida, following along parts of the Southern Tier Route.
At about 11:00 am, I dipped my rear tire into the Atlantic Ocean and had a nice woman take my picture. St. Augustine is a very old town, with a lot of nice shops and restaurants, and lots of hotels. It was tempting to stay there for the night, but I wanted to move on.
My bike is working pretty good, although my trailer really pulls at my rear axle, and I've been having a lot of trouble with my rear brake. I need to get into a bike shop, but there isn't a bike shop in this town (can you imagine a town without a bike shop?).
I also had to get rid of a few things, and unloaded close to 25 pounds of unnecessary stuff. Most of it, I shipped back to Oregon. If I need it before I start the hike, I can have it shipped back, but I had way too much in the trailer.
I was wanting a place to watch the Superbowl, but in the town of Hastings, where I was hoping to stop for the night, there were no motels and no place to watch the game, so on I went to the town of Palakta, Florida. My arms are a little sunburnt (not too bad ... I'll get some sunscreen later today), and my tailbone is very sore. I'm planning on making today a light day, 20 miles or so.
I ended up staying at the Budget Inn ... was surprised that it was only $55 to stay there. They had a nice TV, and the bed wasn't too bad. I had a difficult time staying awake during the game, though! Even the commercials couldn't keep me awake!
Well, my 30 minutes are just about up, so I need to get back on the road. I'll edit this post to add photos the next chance I get, so scan back to these pages later.
Carter drove me to Daytona Beach from Maitland, Florida. We ate a quick lunch, and then I was finally on the road, for real! I hope Carter remembered to fill up his Mom's car! Thanks again to the Hunt family for everything they did to get me started on my journey! I'm looking forward to being your host in Central Oregon in December!
I didn't want to go too far on my first day on the road, so I stopped in Flagger Beach for dinner at Cafe Cara. A very nice couple, Dan and Sharron Webster, were eating dinner there and they invited me to camp at their home site on the outskirts of town. What a great place. This is the view from my tent!
I turned in early at about 6:00 pm, and woke up at about 3:30 am, and decided to hit the road ... mostly to beat the traffic (heavy at times yesterday) and also to beat the wind. It was a beautiful morning, and the most un-believable sunrise coming out of the ocean. I bet most people around here never see the sunrise, which is a lot like the sunsets back in Oregon.
I slept too warm, and I wish I had my summer bag rather than my down bag. If the weather turns cold, I'm sure I'll be glad to have the warmer sleeping bag, but for now, every ounce of weight can be felt!
Friday, February 1, 2008
I'm staying in Orlando with Carter and his wonderful family in their nice home in Maitland, Florida, just outside of Orlando. I spent the morning putting my bike together, then this afternoon, decided to take it on a 10 mile spin, just to see how it was working.
I was riding along on the Cady Trail, a nice 'rail to trail' path near their house, when all the sudden, my front tire exploded. There I was, no repair kit, no spare tube, just me, my bike and my cell phone! After a short wait, a young man with a pick-up truck stopped to see if I needed any help. Damin gave me a ride back to Carter's house with the bike in the back of his truck. How lucky is that? I hope that all my flat tires are so easy to fix.
Tomorrow, Carter is planning on taking me to Daytona Beach, about 50 miles from here, and I'll start my ride towards St. Augustine so I can start the Southern Tier Route. It should be an easy ride up the Florida Coast to St. Augustine. It's been really nice staying here, and Carter's family has been friendly and helpful.