Here is a list of the people who were nice enough to go out of their respective ways to help us on our trip.
[Don't see yourself on here and think you should be? It's only a matter of time before I remember. I apologize.]
Anna VDH in San Diego, CA: Anna, a fellow Oberlin College and Oberlin Steel alum, allowed us to use her home as a launching pad for our trip. We stayed there several days while sorting everything out. She and her roommates were extremely patient in dealing with our bikes and gear lying around all over the place. I also played both disc golf and Ultimate with her.
Linda Katherine in Dateland, AZ: Linda Katherine approached us at a gas station when we were trying to figure out a plan of action for the rest of the day. Without us saying anything, she asked us if we wanted to stay in an unoccupied house she had. That was pretty nice.
John and Heather in Gila Bend, AZ: In a similar situation to our Dateland experience, we got another random offer. While waiting for Heather to get off work, John showered us with amazing and ridiculous stories from his amazing and ridiculous life. They took us out to dinner, and we got another night of sleeping inside. It was a great night.
Emily F in Tucson, AZ: Emily is another Oberlin alum, though one I had never met in my time there. She let us inconvenience her by staying in her house, but it was a pretty tubular time. Something she had written on a note attached to her door became my motto the remainder of the trip.
o ya shes also a bit of a star trek nerd so make fun of her
David H and the rest of his family in Las Cruces, NM: I met David, the mechanic at a bike shop, when I just needed some small amount of work done. I was my normal complaining self: we had been trying to find a place to stay for the night using the INTERNET at the library, but we ran out of time and had to get off the computers so kids could go on MySpace. Despite the fact that I appeared to be a whining baby, David offered his house for the night, which turned out to be a pretty radical place. He lived with his two parents, Kay and Adrian, and his six younger siblings, Levi, Stephen, Marcus, James, Kati, and Marilla. (His older siblings, of which I believe there are four, have moved out.) Their garage was just a huge bike shop, and all the kids seemed to either be well-versed in bike repair or were on their way. I had a great time talking with the kids about movies and Calvin & Hobbes. In the morning, Kay made us breakfast AND snacks for the road. It was pretty ridiculous. What a great family.
Kamala and Charles L in El Paso, TX: We found K&C on WarmShowers.org, the creepily named website for helping touring cyclists find a place to say. They were experienced touring cyclists themselves, and they were able to offer us several tips for the rest of our journey. They had read on Katherine's profile on the website that she was vegan, so they made us both dinner and breakfast that was vegan. Charles had recently injured his shoulder, temporarily sidelining him from doing any cycling. Let's all hope for a speedy recovery for him.
Liz R (and friends) in West Texas: Liz, while not a cyclist herself, is intrigued enough by the aspect of bike touring that she not only opens her own home in Alpine to cyclists, but she hooks them up with family and friends throughout West Texas. We first stayed with her brother, Street, and his wife, Melloy, in Fort Hancock. A few days later, we met up with her in Marfa, where we stayed at her boyfriend Mike O's house. We then stopped at her house a few days later in Alpine in the middle of the day to do laundry and eat lunch. Liz is one of those people that seems to know everyone and could probably best be described as "larger than life." [Once Michael gets me his photographs, I'll show a picture that does a pretty good job of summing her up.]
Guil J in Marathon, TX: Guil was yet another WarmShowers find. A retired airline pilot, Guil now spends his days in Marathon building very small structures out of a cement/paper mixture. Anyone biking through Marathon should try to stay here. It's pretty gnarly.
Joe in Del Rio, TX: Katherine and Michael were in the hot tub of our birthday hotel and met Joe, another guest of the hotel. They told him about the trip, and he seemed pretty into it. Because he travels so much for work, he has what amounts to "frequent guest points" at Hilton-owned hotels. While his points add up to only five free nights at hotels, he generously offered to let us use them to stay at a hotel for free at some point during the rest of the trip. That is pretty groovy. We ended up using it when we reached the ocean and got to watch that guy on the news win that whatever thing that I guess is important.
Billy M in Johnson City, TX: John S was biking out from Austin to meet the three of us when he noticed his tube had a slow-leak. Of course, this was the one time that he hadn't brought with him the means to fix a flat, so he elected to just pump up the tire once every 20 minutes. Because he was going for speed, John broke the valve on the tube, thus making it impossible for it to hold air any longer. He ended up at Billy's store, where Billy agreed to give him a ride the rest of the way to meet us at an RV Park.
Meanwhile, the three of us were at that RV park being told tents were not allowed. At this point, it was after dark, and biking anymore was out of the question on the hilly, winding roads with no shoulder. Billy offered to let us stay at his house for the night. He put all our bikes in his truck and drove us to his ranch.
We hung out with Billy for awhile, and we learned a lot about this "hippie cowboy freak." He had to work the graveyard shift at the electric co-op, so he left us alone in his house to sleep. That is pretty bodacious.
John S in Austin, TX: John, after getting a new tube from us at Billy's house, led us into Austin, a path for which I'm glad we had a guide. Yet another Oberlin alum, he let us stay at his house three nights while we rested up for the second half of our trip. I hadn't really known John in Oberlin, but he turned out to be way cool.
He is also an elite athlete. He just competed in a 10k race while out of shape and came in like 27th place out of about 10,000 people. Lance Armstrong came in the top 10. I am convinced John could have beaten him.
Jessie in Point Blue, LA: A road we had planned on taking turned out to be just loose gravel, and biking on it with road tires wasn't possible, so we decided to turn another direction. A few miles later, we reached a fork in the road that wasn't supposed to be there. As we stood there and discussed what to do, a truck pulled over. Jessie stepped out, and he asked us if we were looking for a place to stay. We said yes, so he got back in his truck to drive to a friend's house down the road who he would ask about us setting up our tent. His friend wasn't there, so he came back and told us about a church nearby where it would probably be okay for us to camp. When we rode there, however, we found it was just an empty field. He told us that his mother's family owned the land (a claim I'm not confident is true), so it would probably be fine if we camped there. We ended up choosing to stay there. In the morning, we got freaked out by the sound of a car stopping next to the field, but it turned out to be Jessie. He had driven about 25 miles to check on us and bring us donuts.
The remainder of the trip, we got calls from Jessie so he could ensure we were still okay.
Daryl and everyone at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, LA: We met Daryl at the truck stop where he worked. He seemed to be pretty into our trip, so he let us use the showers there for free. We got to set up our tent in his backyard, and we got to meet his very young puppy who will one day grow up and eat my head. In the morning before he went to work early, he brought breakfast out to the tent for us. Another awesome person we got to meet.
Willie H in New Orleans, LA: Willie was our last WarmShowers person of the trip. He volunteers as a bike mechanic at Plan B, where we met up with him. He fed us some pretty good soup, and instead of going out to a concert, he helped us relax by letting us watch The Rock, a movie the three of us had seen at least a combined 20 times. He is planning on doing his own bike trip in the spring, one that might go on for a lot longer than our puny seven-week excursion. I wish him luck.
Maurice in all over the damn place, USA: Maurice was following the Adventure Cycling Association's route from San Diego, CA, to St. Augustine, FL, and had started a few days before we did. A 64-year-old retiree from Liverpool, UK, he had done several tours before this one, including ACA's Northern Tier route and some through Europe. On this trip, however, he seemed pretty disgruntled with what the American South had to offer him. It was funny to listen to him complain, but despite this, he seemed like a pretty cool guy. He was good company for us when we needed something else. He ended up breaking off the ACA route at the end and just went straight into Jacksonville to hit the ocean. (He actually touched his wheel in the water a few hours after we did down in St. Augustine Beach.) I hope this trip didn't sour him to touring in general. He definitely has at least a few more in him.
Katherine E and Michael G in Our Bike Trip, USA: I realize that I am not the first person most people would choose for a bike trip partner. Katherine and Michael dealt with day after day of my sour attitudes, social ineptness, and annoying singing of popular songs whose words had been replaced by lyrics about liking "things and stuff." They are probably the most patient people on the planet. While I was the glass-half-empty guy, they would come along and put a few drops in the glass so I couldn't have anything to say about it. Then they would point out how dumb my metaphors are. I'm really glad that they shared this experience with me. As much as I wanted to tell myself otherwise, I could not have done it without them. Thanks, friends.