05 November 2008

Where I Have Been Since Then

Day 20: Marathon to Dryden (rode 54 miles downhill with tailwinds to Sanderson before hitting the first hills we would be with for awhile; ate lunch at a picnic area with a former real estate agent and his wife with the last name Newhouse; camped next to gas station in the middle of nowhere)

Day 21: Dryden to Comstock (experienced more hills; experienced more nothing; saw Judge Roy Bean museum in Langtry; wasn't charged for staying at Owl's Nest RV Park; got jumped on by goat that has been raised thinking it is a dog)

Day 22: Comstock to Del Rio (took half day and stayed at a hotel for Michael's birthday; ate the most food of any day on the trip despite only biking 30 miles that day; was barely able to finish the Texas-size portion of Thai food I ordered at dinner; met guy at hotel who was intrigued with what we were doing and offered to put us up in a hotel later on in the trip using "frequent guest points" he had amassed from traveling a lot for work)

Day 23: Del Rio to Bridge Eight Miles West of Uvalde (avoided more hills by staying south; didn't get to Uvalde by dark, so set up camp under a bridge; got woken up in the middle of the night by a Border Patrol car passing 40 feet from the tent)

Day 24: Bridge Eight Miles West of Uvalde to Bandera (ate the most mood-boosting food of the trip at a Little Caesars in Hondo; finally left Route 90 after being on it for almost 400 miles; got into the real hills of Texas, meaning motorcyclists passed us once every 30 seconds because it was the weekend; went to what might be my first high school football game in Bandera, but left at halftime with Bandera beating Pearsall 42-21)

Day 25: Bandera to Johnson City/Henly (took my first Official Fall® off my bike when I tried to start moving on an incline, couldn't get enough momentum to stay upright, and couldn't unclip in time, but falling when not moving rarely hurts; encountered a billion more motorcyclists; got in touch with John S. in Austin who decided to come out to meet us and ride into Austin with us the next day; John noticed he had a slow-leak in one of his tubes while not having the patches to fix it; he ended up having to hitch a ride with Billy to come out to meet us at an RV park... where we were told tents weren't allowed; ended up all going to the home of Billy, a rancher and recreational Civil War reenactor; slept in Billy's house while he worked the graveyard shift at the electric co-op; realized some people are very trusting)

Day 26: Johnson City/Henly to Austin (gave John a tube so he could ride; saw more cyclists on the outskirts of Austin than we had the entire trip leading up to it, most of whom had bikes probably worth over $5000; went down the steepest hill of the trip, but couldn't enjoy it due to it winding and not being paved very well, causing me to hold down the brakes very hard; saw Burn After Reading at the Alamo Draft House, a movie theater that makes Chicago's Brew & View look like the piece-of-crap-movie-theater-that-serves-beer that it is)

Day 27: Rest Day (experienced my first day of no riding since leaving San Diego; saw the University of Texas campus and realized that it is almost the exact same as the University of Florida campus; had dinner with Melanie & Adam F., friends who had recently moved from Chicago)

Day 28: Rest Day (stayed inside a lot of the day to keep out of the rain; did final preparations for the second half of the trip; stayed up too late again dealing with stupid blog stuff)

Day 29: Austin to Bastrop (got rained on for the first time on the trip; got rained on a lot; used the hand-dryer in the bathroom at Bastrop State Park to dry most of our stuff )

Day 30: Bastrop to Warrenton (woke up with things still very wet; rode up the steepest hills of the trip in the state park, one of which had me walk up it due to me starting it in way too high of a gear; got out of the park and got back on the hills of normal ridiculousness; slept on the porch of an antique shop, of which Warrenton has about 5000)

Day 31: Warrenton to Anderson (had another day of Texas hills that I realize now are pretty hard to remember; stayed on a ranch of the owner of a gas station)

Day 32: Anderson to Camilla (woke up with the tent soaked with dew; spent 90 minutes trying to dry the stuff before we left; fixed another flat 30 miles into the day while Michael and Katherine attempted to dry our stuff some more; counted about 100 sport bikes [the motorcycles, not the bicycle] going west, but zero going east; ran into Maurice—our British friend who had stayed on the Adventure Cycling Association route—for the first time since Van Horn on Day 17; rode through Sam Houston State Park, a park which can be described as "nice" or something; stayed in a large RV park hosting a concert; was told of a minute-long conversation Katherine had with a resident of the park who unironically used the phrase, "Cool beans," three times)

Day 33: Camilla to Jasper (decided to go north of what the ACA route suggested; ran into more hills; encountered more cruiser motorcyclists; got turned away from a Baptist church; went next door to Catholic church and was immediately allowed to set up our tent there; got excited for leaving Texas)

Day 34: Jasper to De Ridder, LA (spent three hours at library in Newton trying to figure out route stuff; met guy biking corner-to-corner; GOT OUT OF TEXAS; felt kind of ripped off when there was no kind of "Welcome to Louisiana" sign; stopped at RV park and learned Maurice was staying there for the night; learned continuing on the ACA after Camilla would have given us a flatter ride, a route we avoided because of my push to stay north; stayed up learning that this trip through the American South was Maurice's least favorite of all his tours)

Day 35: De Ridder to 18 Miles Northwest of Opelousas (saw the corner-to-corner guy again on the road where he took our picture; stopped for lunch in a town that shares its name with the school where the three of us went to college; encountered a loose gravel road under construction while it was getting dark, forcing us to go in a direction we hadn't planned, scrambling for a place to sleep; got helped out by Jessie who pointed us toward what he thought was a Baptist church but turned out to be an empty field; decided to camp in the field behind some bushes; while getting ready for bed, heard a car come to a stop about 60 feet from our tent; earned a bunch of Bravery Points by going out to investigate—with the aid of my trusty Halt!—but saw the car had pulled away without us hearing it; heard animals crawling around outside the tent throughout the night)

Day 36: 18 Miles Northwest of Opelousas to Grosse Tete (heard another car pull to the side of the road shortly after waking up, this time hearing the driver turn off the car and get out; soon learned it was Jessie who had driven 25 miles to check on us and bring us donuts; watched throughout the day as Michael ate all of the twelve [non-vegan] donuts; hitched a ride in a pickup truck across a four-mile bridge with no shoulder on 190; ended up in Grosse Tete at a truck stop where we got to shower for free; stayed in the back yard of Daryl, one of the employees and owner of a very small puppy [pictures later])

Day 37: Grosse Tete to Donaldsonville (woke up to the sound of a lot of rain on the tent; took about two hours to work up the courage to get out of the tent, during which Daryl brought us breakfast; got under small covering about a block away in an attempt to dry stuff out before leaving in the cold, cold rain, which stopped well before we left Grosse Tete at 1:00 in the afternoon; saw the Mississippi River for the first time on the trip and started riding down the west side of it toward New Orleans; set up camp under a roof at a Catholic church; helped the high school football team move tables around)

Day 38: Donaldsonville to Bayou Segnette State Park (started out with a very bumpy road; rode by a bunch of factories that may or may not have been causing extremely foggy conditions; ate lunch on levee in Edgard; was told to take a look at St. Augustine Church by police officer: "If you're into old, beautiful stuff... that's the shit..."; talked to two guys in Hahnville trying to one-up the other in giving us directions; got into a loud fight with Katherine in the grocery store about hominy; saw a worker at the Bayou Segnette State Park's office eating an entire pie as if it were a slice of pie; experienced a laundry disaster when it took us over an hour to get the washer's door open)

Day 39: Bayou Segnette State Park to New Orleans (woke up with a lot of dew on the tent yet again; broke my second valve of the trip when not being careful inflating my tube; stopped at a library to look up what we thought would be a complicated and long route to the ferry into New Orleans; realized we were only eight miles away; crossed the Mississippi River on the ferry going west; got served meat on my plate at an otherwise good West African restaurant in the French Quarter; met up with Willie H. at Plan B, a community bike shop; watched The Rock at Willie's house in order to ensure we had enough stock to do Sean Connery impressions the rest of the trip ["...just waiting for the tides to be right..."]; slept on the pavement behind Willie's apartment)

Day 40: New Orleans to Bay St. Louis, MS (went over a large, shoulderless bridge that we weren't expecting to be there; smelled the best part of waking up while riding by a Folger's factory; took pictures of a rocket ship just lyin' around outside a NASA plant; encountered a "Welcome to Mississippi" sign about two miles after we had crossed in and taken pictures with a sign telling Mississippi drivers to buckle up; set up camp outside what seemed like a temporary Catholic church right on the beach)

Day 41: Bay St. Louis to Alabama Port, AL (got woken up by the wind lifting the tent off the ground; experienced head winds all day; rode over two large bridges that had been rebuilt since Katrina; rode along coast all through the state; while in Biloxi on a fairly empty street with three lanes going each direction, got followed and beeped at for a quarter mile by someone who obviously thinks bikes belong on the sidewalk, even if they aren't impeding a driver from going fast if he or she decides to go into one of the empty two lanes [...jerk]; got into another state with no "Welcome to..." sign to be found; did 91+ miles—our longest day of the trip—despite having headwinds a majority of the day)

Day 42: Alabama Port to Big Lagoon State Park, FL (woke up to the start of a cold spell; learned that ferry from Daupin Island might not be running due to high winds, meaning we would have to bike an additional 80 miles around the bay and through Mobile; decided to risk it and take the bridge onto the island, where a ferry eventually took us off after three hours of waiting; finally rotated the tires on my wheels; got into Florida with no sign welcoming us yet again; rode into Big Lagoon State Park well after dark; heard what sounded like coyotes very close to our tent)

Day 43: Big Lagoon State Park to Milligan (woke up to another cold morning; saw the Blue Angels practice their craaaazy flying patterns so Middle America can watch slack-jawed as they waste fuel at next summer's air shows; learned that most of Florida's roads have very good shoulders for biking; set up camp in a picnic area that had a sign that clearly said, "Camping Prohibited," because we are so cool; slept in temperatures getting into the mid-30s)

Day 44: Milligan to Ponce de Leon (spent an hour at a gas station in the morning trying to warm up; saw Maurice for the first time since Oberlin, LA; encountered a German cycling east who had a Rubik's Cube ["Ohh... a fellow chucker, eh?"]; broke my wheel and met some walkers; felt like stupid Americans while Maurice talked with the walkers in French during our dinner together; had a slightly warmer night of sleeping)

Day 45: Ponce de Leon to Chattahoochee (counted my blessings while walking just the half-mile from where I slept to the interstate exit where several cars—potential rides—got gas; got a ride with the fourth car I asked, Mario and Tammy driving from San Antonio to Miami in a nice pickup truck; got dropped off 100 miles later in Tallahassee at Higher Ground, Florida's highest bike shop at an elevation of 201 feet; got my wheel fixed by Ryan who informed me of a place to camp in Newport which turned out to be super-helpful in the end; rode west 45 miles to meet Katherine and Michael in Chattahoochee to ensure we didn't have to spend a night apart; slept at same campsite as Maurice)

Day 46: Chattahoochee to Newport (said our final goodbyes to Maurice, who decided to stray from the ACA route and finish his trip in Jacksonville; biked over same roads as the day before and felt weird; went to a different bike shop in Tallahassee where it was pointed out there was nothing wrong with my bike and that I was an idiot [my words, not theirs]; found the only good part of Tallahassee for biking [south on Monroe] to get out of the city; got to Newport Park Camp Ground where the owner, Ed, let us stay for free when he learned about biking for CPT)

Day 47: Newport to Branford (got back onto flat terrain again after some hills around Tallahassee; saw three dead dogs that had been hit by cars; got turned away from a church; pulled into city park where we thought camping wasn't allowed while car was pulling out; heard Michael tell them we had biked from San Diego and then the following exchange: "You're shitting me!" "No. No shit." "... Shit!"; were informed if a ranger who was bald came around asking us why we were camping, "Tell'm Bobby Shaw says it's okay!")

Day 48: Branford to Florahome (sprinted ahead of Michael and Katherine to spend a few hours in Gainesville; did the 45 miles before 10:30; ate at El Indio, my favorite burrito place during my grad school years, and tasted their new tempeh burrito; went back to my old department and saw some old friends about to get their PhDs and actually get real jobs [suckas!!]; visited my old boss at the job I've held for the longest time in my life; met up with Michael and Katherine and ate at Reggae Shack, my favorite restaurant during my grad school years; got out of Gainesville in the late afternoon; ended up outside Methodist church, our first non-Catholic church of the trip, but no one was around to say no; got barked at by dogs throughout the night as we hid)

Day 49: Florahome to St. Augustine Beach (tricked Michael and Katherine into waking up earlier than they wanted; got to beach just before noon; got our bikes covered in sand; checked into a hotel on the beach with the points from the guy we met in the Del Rio hotel; watched some guy win something on television... can't quite remember what or who... someone help me out)

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