When someone meets me now, they don't ask me about my cross country bike tour. In fact, my top conversation starter with strangers these days is a Bavarian hat I picked up in Leavenworth, WA. But in general I pass off as fairly normal. The other day I was in the cereal aisle with a stranger and we helped each other find our favorites. Turns out we are both tall and our picks were on the bottom shelf. I still like talking to strangers. I should probably start asking people what interesting things they've done.
Originally Posted April 30, 2007
St. Augustine - 100.65
5:00 a.m. came with the same nervous intensity that an early flight out of Sitka does. It is just too much of an inconvenience to be late for an important important. I had to meet with the darkness so we could experience the ebb and flow of the shadows as the street lamps pass us by. This single sensation with the cool night air and tidal movement of my shadow chasing me and leaving me behind is my favorite part of cycling.
I watched the orb rise with the traffic: the same color as my reflective shirt. I stopped once to eat breakfast at Hardee's and again before crossing the St. John's to eat grilled cheese, veggie-beef soup, and more sweet tea. On my way to complete the century to St. Augustine, I understood why the ACA route goes where it does. Near the coast I passed traffic caused by a down cyclist out for a Monday spin.
Waiting in the touristed out town, I took pictures of myself on timer hoping to have one halfway decent one. I rode down some of the narrow streets as the traffic dissipated to interact with some of my last strangers. Riding a loaded bike is like wearing a sign on your forehead that says "Yes, you should ask where I've been." I'll miss that.
11.4 ave - 25.0 max - 2988.1 odo - 8:46:03 time
It is always great to stop, reflect, and plan. That's just what I did in my first vlog. Yes, I feel ridiculous even saying the word "vlog", but that's what it is. Enjoy! Keep your eye out for new t-shirt designs every Tuesday and new YouTube videos on a variety of topics every Friday!
A big shout out to all the women who have carried babies! I've ridden my bike across the country once. It took 3 months. I have two children and each time I was pregnant for about 9 months.
I would go on another cross country bike tour.
I have zero interest in having another child. I'm not going to say being pregnant was ALL bad for me, but yeah, it was horrible.
Originally Posted April 29, 2007
Lake City - 27.27 miles
Nearly emptying my bottle of No-Ad 45spf, I hoped that it would last me just one more day. Two bottles for the whole trip and I can never remember applying it in Sitka. After a leisurely rise from the room I let a cockroach in as I let myself out. I won't miss the hot sticky cockroach south. There was also some sort of flat bug that wouldn't be killed by squishing it. So I flushed it. It was a short day for having a long day tomorrow. So I wasn't in a rush to get to Barry's in Lake City. He does quite a bit of touring and cooks quite well. For lunch he made a tasty banana matzo brei. With a pump in my tires and oil on my chain, I am off to sleep.
11.6 ave - 26.9 max - 2888.5 odo - 2:20:19 time
An interesting CBS Mornings clip about peat moss.
Originally Posted April 28, 2007
Live Oak - 63.17 miles
I spoke with Jimmy over a BBQ sandwich and sweet tea. He was born and raised and again at 70 something living in Greenville. He claims that unlike neighboring towns, the quaint rural town is unsegregated. The K's are only active battling incest. There was a big enough problem in the area that the circuses came and picked up their freaks there. But a while back the state came in and broke the whole scene up and spread incestual seeds around the country. He also believes that 90% of what causes Global Warming is methane from peat moss. He didn't really buy that I doubted that peat moss was the culprit, but he did buy me lunch for my time. I made great time for the rest of the afternoon and when the Suwannee River State Park campground was closed, I was tempted to ride the last 120 miles before dawn. But I thought better of it and stopped in Live Oak to eat gas station fare for dinner. The Warmshowers in Lake City just returned from some minor surgery, but is expecting me tomorrow. 22 miles tomorrow and the last 90 miles on Monday.
12.8 ave - 30.6 max - 2861.2 odo - 4:54:51 time
I don't want to say that I can't relate to liberal 20 somethings anymore... but as life goes on... I've gained more perspective. In many ways I am able to relate to so many more people now. In other ways, I am less interested in stepping out and meeting new people.
Originally Posted April 27, 2007
Monticello - 32.83 miles
I wasn't in a hurry to leave. I missed being around liberal twenty somethings. After I woke up I chatted with some guy whose name I'm sorry I can't remember, but I think it started with an R. We spoke of many things while I avoided packing and leaving, including a proposed trip from Tallahassee to Anchorage. He and some other Harry Potter following would load up a van and drive to Alaska while listening to the first 6 books. Timing arrival with the release of the final book, they would read the last of the saga over a few days in a cabin in the wild. He confessed that the trip probably wouldn't happen. Our lives get in the way of our hobbies. Eventually I moved the couple of blocks to the bike show where the mechanic who misses the Colorado air, investigated my clicking noise. He decided that it was actually from inside of the frame, that it wasn't hurting anything, and it might be cured with linseed oil, I'll deal with that later. Stopping then at Black Dog Coffee Shop I was comforted by the automatic use of a mug. A bagel and carrot cake gave me fuel for the hills to Monticello. At a gas station I drank O.J. and chatted with a spry older man who was blind in one eye. He lives on a co-op, knew Justin, and was looking for a captain he could stoke for on a tandem cross-country tour. It seemed everyone knew Justin and spoke very highly of him. Diane and Maria's farm in Monticello was the breeding ground for goats and Chihuahuas. Two goats were born a couple of days ago from a virgin mother. Their names are Mary and Virgil. Funny things happen on this farm.
10.6 ave - 30.9 max - 2798 odo - 3:04:36 time
Originally Posted April 26, 2007
Tallahassee - 57.65 miles
In Chattahoochee, Mullet isn't a hairstyle, but it is on the menu. I didn't try the fish dish, but I stuck with a turkey club. As I sat chatting with some Georgians, I realized I lost an hour. 45 more miles to go and I projected an 8'o clock arrival at Justin's house where he warned his roommates's band would be practicing. Following my 11th flat tire (glass), I arrived a the house that could be easily detected by the pile of bikes outside. The area vegans were eating stuffed shells for dinner here. Most had a connection to the university and all were quite amusing, including the one they call chatterbox. Justin left for Night at the Museum and offered me a shower and the use of the computer, which no longer has internet connectivity. I could play minesweeper or freecell. I read the blurbs that came with the photos in Pedal while listening to the atmospheric tunes in the adjacent room. Justin did part of the Northern tier and we stayed up far too late chatting about hospitality and bike friendly cities.
10.5 ave - 31.8 max - 2765.2 odo - 5:26:31 time
It is interesting that at the time I let the turtles go it was a symbol of committing to a life where I didn't put down any roots. Well... of course even just a year later I was trying to do that exact thing in Palmer, AK. It has always been a challenge for me to commit to not committing. Ultimately, I wasn't able to settle in Alaska. I came back to Washington and started building a tiny house. I took a short break from that to go to Idaho and eventually meet and marry my husband. We finished the tiny house, had a kid, bought a normal house, had another kid, and sold the tiny house. I've even now been in the same job for almost 8 years! I still struggle with the question "to commit or not to commit?" when it comes to our home. I can't see ever leaving... but I also can't see living in the same place for the rest of my life.
Originally Posted April 25, 2007
Grand Ridge - 57.21 miles
I let Claudia and Snowball go. They are in a better place now. Claudia quickly scooted away, but Snowball lingered for a moment. They probably would have just gone the way of my gold fish and my hamster, Sherman. I too would have tired of the turtles.
Uncle Billy's Restaurant proved to have a tasty Billy burger, smooth banana pudding, and classic sweet tea.
I was stopped, taking pictures of lichen on a fence, and the owner drove up wondering what I was doing taking pictures of his property. He seemed to think I was crazy when I told him what I was photographing.
Stopping in Grand Ridge at Providence Baptist Church for the night, I found the youth and music ministers preparing for youth service. There was much conversation and it turned to my tan. I raised up my shorts a smidgen to reveal the dramatic line while accidentally revealing my bite/wound. I explained, but John Micheal quipped, "It looks more like a bullet hole." Maybe I'll tell people that when they are telling me about crazy people. Sherlinda offered me a bed so I went to the music practice to tell the folks that helped me earlier where I ended up. The minister at the piano must not have heard me because he stood up to block my exit. Only after explaining that I was leaving because the woman who was very excited to hear she would be a grandmother was putting me up, did he let me pass.
Turns out this is a Muscovy duck which is invasive in Florida and not easily frightened.
Originally Posted April 24, 2007
Westville - 51.18 miles
The decision to keep or not to keep the turtles is a difficult one. First there is the concern for the health and the care of the turtles. I'm not sure if they're getting enough to eat. Then there are all the symbolic implications. If you have turtles are you actually going to live somewhere long enough that moving them isn't a hassle? If you keep the turtles why don't you get a bed, a mattress, kitchen appliances? They are all linked and sooner or later you are up to your elbows in potpourri and you'll never travel extensively again. I got rid of a ton of stuff before leaving on this trip and I still have quilts, baskets, clothes, books, and outdoor gear in my parent's attic. The alternative is to rent a furnished apartment and keep it simple. To turtle or not to turtle... that is the question.
Oh and while Florida is quite pleasant with a nice shoulder, nothing stands out. So I press on. I went to a Baptist revival tonight and the preacher was quite a strong preacher. He used an illustration involving a clockmaker that made a clock with 13 hours instead of 12 hours. Then the clockmakers wife asked him what time it was and he said that it was later than it had ever been.
11.1 ave - 31.0 max - 2650.3 odo - 4:35:41 time
Originally Posted April 23, 2007
Crestview - 58.1 miles
Today was eventful in an uneventful kind of way. I bought soap and replaced the dead red water bottle. More pipe insulation was added to my handlebars and the bolt holding on my front rack was replaced on the right side. Yesterday it sheered off at the fork. I didn't take any pictures. I put in my miles and didn't talk to many people. I have 7 - 9 more days left. I called and asked Raven when the most convenient time for me to get picked up would be.
10.9 ave - 27 max - 2599.1 odo - 5:18:12 time
I just love how beachy these houses on stilts are! I'm not sure how much sense there is building right on the beach with all the storms that come through here... but it does look like a happy place.
Originally Posted April 22, 2007
Pensacola - 57.29 miles
Happy Earth Day!
Florida came with its condos and white sandy beaches without a welcome sign. I struggled to figure out when I finally made it. I felt like more than enough people stared at me awkwardly today. It was especially the teenage beach bums. Pensacola is nice enough on a Sunday evening. Tomorrow morning I get to replenish my Magic Soap at the natural food store down the street. Only 533 miles to go if I stay on route over ten riding days. But if I take a more direct route I can cut that down to 9. This is tempting.
9.1 ave - 22.8 max - 2541.0 odo - 6:14:41 time
Originally Posted April 21, 2007
Dauphin Island - 55.03 miles
The moral fabric of this country is torn. That's what Jim, a Gideon heading up to the prison for the day, said. The prisons are breeding grounds for Islam and they turn out radicals who go to mosques right after they get out. The only way to solve the problem in Iraq is to blow the whole place up. This all I learned from the man who used to go talk about oil drilling at Berkley but not too often because they'd come after him. The whole west coast is radical.
Then I rode to Dauphin Island where I was met by Brown Pelicans, a nasty headwind, and Anne from South Dakota. My neighbor for the night fed me dinner and showed me around the island where she used to live. She took me to the west end where all the foolish people are rebuilding their houses on the sand. "the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm". After showering, Anne and I watched A Good Year. Nothing like a classic-vineyard-run the girl off the road-try to drown the guy-fall in love-Russell Crowe-movie to cap off an evening.
9.7 ave - 24.3 max - 2483.7 odo - 5:39:19 time
There I was minding my own business drawing a crawfish holding a microphone. Suddenly that Brian and Drew on the Goulet Pencast started talking about their newly acquired fanny packs. They of course say the most ridiculous things and I absolutely had to stop what I was doing and make a new shirt.
Originally Posted April 20, 2007
Wade - 55.0 miles
As I sit 10 miles from the Alabama border in Wade on the cott provided to me, I'm trying to reflect on the day. Nothing exceedingly specific happened on my ride today. One boy told me I was his new role model. Then 10 minutes later some child threw something that left a white powdery mark out of a school bus window at me. I met James Dean in Larue. Shortly after that I met a van full of people lost trying to find their way to the Crawfish Festival. I spoke with some folks back in Sitka and I wished I could be back in a place that celebrates Earth Day for a week. Sitka may be small, but it does some things better than anywhere else. I missed the entire spring season of Monthly Grinds. But I must finish my trip, find my turtles somewhere in the room, and go to sleep early.
11.7 ave - 25.2 max - 2428.7 odo - 4:40:07 time
One of the many transitions in our neighborhood lately was the impressive removal of the neighbor's blackberries. The noxious weed department at the county has come by a couple times to kill knotweed behind the garage and it has taken out the blackberries there too. It is insanely sad to see these sweet and juicy berries die off so quickly. Before, we could pick gallons of them every summer. However, we didn't have room for gallons in our freezer and the neighbors deserved to have a backyard. Trying to look for the good in the change!
Originally Posted April 19, 2007
Perkinston - 31.10 miles
After spending two nights on Steven and Tanya's futon eating blackberries and mingling with goats, I pedaled into the pine forests mixed intermittently wihth clear cuts. I'm goign to miss picking on their teenager, Jessica, and her boyfriend, Budd. Just before leaving the fattest county in the fattest state in the fattest country, I came across Brian. His tours include a Perth - Sydney, but after only a short chatt, the New Yorker and I parted ways. I think I'm up to 10 flat tires. That usually means I have bad luck or I need new tires. The glass has been hard on them lately. In Perkinston, I stopped for a pint of Blue Bell and perusal of the local paper. I can't remember his name, but another trouing cyclist with a BOB trailer rolled up. The Australian is running high mileage days and still had miles to go. So after some chocolate milk and canned fruit, he headed off. I headed to the Baptist Church where I was offered a spare room a few miles further on the route. Nyhl and Debbie's kids, Sarah and nathan, were about to go play a t-ball game. Sarah immediatly said I was like a sister and Nathan tried to kiss me. Oh to be five.
10.1 ave - 28.3 max - 2373.7 odo - 3:03:20 time
Originally Posted April 18, 2007
Poplarville - 0 miles
I was reading the Adventure Cycling magazine at the warmshowers in Poplarville shortly after watching their 16 year old make blue flame in a coke bottle. The article titled "Carfree in the Cowboy State" detailed the state's decision to ban driving for the week of July 16-22. People who want to drive in Wyoming will be limited to Interstates 80, 25, and 90. I'm curious and wish I could be riding there that week. www.carfreewyoming.com
Happy Easter! I've got another refrigerator bread recipe for you!
The dough is made in advance and this video walks you through shaping and baking these tasty little pretzels. This is a new twist on an old Easter family favorite: bunny rolls. I leave out the raisins for eyes, because I'm not a fan of raisins. You could use craisins or chocolate chips instead.
Again, my children helped me with the voiceover.
I was headed east on LA-38 getting close to Easleyville. The sun was about to set and I needed to find a place to camp for the night. Then there off to the right was Firetower Rd and I glimpsed its namesake. Intrigued, I turned and checked it out. I didn't write about it in my journal or in my blog. It was probably trespassing or something and I didn't want to get in trouble. I was able to hike up the tower a good ways and take in a magical view of the sunset. After contemplating stealth camping at the base of the tower, I pedaled off into the dark to an established campground like a good kid.
Big shout out to Google Maps for helping me turn this vague recollection into more than just pieces of a memory. Their satellite images and 360° roadside photographs helped me figure out that this is the Liverpool Fire Tower. However, I am incredibly surprised that there are no other pictures or records of it on the internet.
And of course I had to make it into a t-shirt! I really love this one!
Originally Posted April 16, 2007
Easleyville - 49.92 miles
The bathroom was of the condition that I was more comfortable walking naked to and from the shower than changing in it. The water was cold, but the cement cell was warm. This campground was my only option in Easleyville at 8 o'clock at night. I was delayed today by a visit to the Audobon State Historic Site (note pictures of flowers and caterpillars...) and a flat tire. It was my second metal shard. The terrain has changed from super flat to slightly rolley since I crossed the Mississippi. The trees, draped in spanish moss, are not struggling for life. More than anywhere else I've been through, Louisiana logs. Sometimes the clear cut fields come right up to the road as if to shove it in your face that owls no longer swoop gracefully there. Though it didn't rain, the ground here is damp and my tent is already covered in dew. Tomorrow I'm headed to Bogalusa which boasts a population greater than 100 including cats and dogs.
10.2 ave - 26.5 max - 2315.9 odo - 4:53:01 time
In the same vein as my 15 year old post, I set out to be nostalgic. I stopped by a taco truck in Purdy near where I used to work. There were beautiful blue skies and it was lovely to watch the folks come and go with their burritos, tacos, and sopas.
Originally Posted April 15, 2007
St. Francisville - 51.76 miles
Today's riding was absolutely pleasant. 95% of the time the roads had nearly no traffic and the scenery was scenic. Part of the time I was following some series of signs that mark the MRT bicycle route. I don't know what that is for though. I was anxious to see the Mississippi, so before my crossing I stopped to eat peaches. I took the short road over the levy to a ferry route that wasn't running. I was immediately sucked into memories of the Yukon River. I was quickly pulled out as I waked because I startled a gator down in the swampy section between river and levy. But seeing that I was far away and no threat, it climbed back onto its log. I continued on to ride past what seemed like hundreds of cute little white churches with adjacent graves. There were some cattle and some corn fields. With perfect timing, I caught the ferry that took me across the Mississippi to St. Francisville. The ride was quite reminiscent of the Dawson ferry rides. It made me want to go on a canoeing trip. The town is quite pleasant and I look forward to exploring the grounds of the Episcopal Church where they were gracious enough to let me sleep in their church hall on sofa cushions. They also let me use their shower and do something normal like drink a Wisconsin Amber while watching baseball.
9.9 ave - 28.2 max - 2266 odo - 5:11:52 time
15 years ago it sounds like it was an idyllic day to be back on the road after the significant layover in Big Cane. Part of what made that day amazing was the lack of traffic. Louisianans were especially prone to honking at cyclists just so that they would know that a truck was coming. Looks like Delaware even made unnecessary honking at cyclists illegal. So I designed a shirt in hopes that we can spread the word.
Also spread the word: the folks in Louisiana were some of the most generous and hospitable people ever!
Originally Posted April 14, 2007
Simmesport - 32.27 miles
Most people would not get excited about liquid oozing out of a limb. I, however, was tired of the painful tautness of the skin from the mass of liquid built up. Aside from perhaps finally getting back on the road again, this was the highlight of my day. St. Augustine once again doesn't feel very far away as I plan to finish off the fifth of the seven maps tomorrow and cross the Mississippi. Checking my email in Simmesport, I received several happy birthdays. A couple of which were from people who claimed not to know me, but were friends of my mother's. So later on the phone I asked my mother if she'd sent a provoking email out. She had. I caught her. Not that it's bad, but usually I'm lucky to have more than one or two people remember it's my birthday. The day hasn't traditionally been great. Last year's was good though.
9.5 ave - 15.1 max - 2214.2 odo - 3:26:38 time
Please comment with your best raccoon chat!
Originally Posted April 13, 2007
Big Cane - 0 miles
Snowball and Claudia are convinced that I'm not going to leave tomorrow. I keep telling them that I am. My turtle, Snowball, and I intend on pedaling around the severe weather warnings to Simmesport tomorrow morning. I even called Henry (Warmshowers) and left a message telling him I'm coming. I tidied up tonight and gave the bite another examination. Pain, heat, and redness are still present, but I'm hoping it doesn't bother me much while riding. Dear Claudia made me a birthday cake today after we came back from Baton Rouge dropping off Hailey. Miss Bright was over to pick up the coons Snowball shot for her. She and Snowball didn't seem to be much of singers since they left Claudia alone on vocals for the happy birthday song.
I am still a little congested from my cold last week, but isn't really holding me back from being productive. I got this little turtle painted tonight and I still have time to take care of a few more things... or just get to bed at a decent hour.
Originally Posted April 12, 2007
Big Cane - 0 miles
Though still congested, I don't feel half as ill as I did a few days ago. Drugs work wonders, but the bite on my thigh is still hot, red, tender, and 5 inches in diameter. And people worry about mosquitos in Alaska. I think I may force myself to rest one more day before I take off. I've been anxious to leave since I got here. But my hosts have been the kindest anyone could ask for. To be honest I'll miss the buckets of live crawfish that rest and surprise me on the kitchen floor and the baby turtles in tupperware on the counter. With any luck they'll find that second one that climbed but before they sniff it out.
I don't think I ever made it into the Bunkie Record, but I did do a little digging and found a rough website. There were a couple current articles. One about the school district adopting a 4-day school calendar for the 2022-2023 school year caught my eye. I keep hearing from teachers around here that the job description for a teacher is a little rough. It was rough before the pandemic and the toll of the workload has them leaving the profession in droves. I love that the Avoyelles Parish School District is trying something new next year with a longer school year, but only 4 days a week. Very cool!
Originally Posted April 11, 2007
After feeling completely horrible for far too long, I decided to go to the doctor. Claudia took me to the Bunkie General Hospital which bears no resemblance in size to the Tacoma General Hospital or even the Sitka Community Hospital. It reminded me more of my orthodontist's office. They were quite enamored with my story and the doctor consulted me about Alaska before before he inquired after my head cold and the bite that was growing in size on my thigh. He prescribed some antibiotics and gave me some Allegra D. To top it off I got a shot in tush of something all with the promise that they should solve all my problems. Before I left they took down my story and took polaroids for the Bunkie Record. Maybe I'll make the paper after all. I forgot to mention that I wanted all the Louisianans to stop honking at me.
Originally Posted April 09, 2007
Thankfully, my hosts don't appear to have any intention of kicking me out on my congested bicycle ass. They offered to take me to the doctor tomorrow. But I'm sure in due time this will pass. In light of recent events, St. Augustine doesn't appear to be quite as palatable of a goal as before. We choose our goals quite arbitrarily sometimes and I've always been more concerned with the time I'm having than the time I'm making. So if I don't reach the Atlantic, please do not be that disappointed. I'm not. I've been to the Atlantic before. It's not that exciting.
15 years ago it was Easter. We still have a little over a week to go until Easter this year. So I am feeling extra on top of things right now! To me the big difference between Washington Easters and Louisiana Easters is temperature. Louisiana is going to be in the high 70's and Washington the high 50's. So the weather in Louisiana is wonderful and prime for outdoor family gatherings and so many bouncy castles! Family gatherings in Washington require a back-up plan in case it rains.
Originally Posted April 08, 2007
I took a sick day on the couch watching movies like Thumbsucker and An Inconvenient Truth. Gore puts on a good show. First it was the sore throat, then the cough, then the fever. Hopefully I'll get through the stuffed faze overnight. I was invited to attend the family Easter gatherings but I declined. THey were kind enough to bring back a plate for me. I made it up to eat dinner at the table and watch granddaughter Haley stamp up her face. Tomorrow... I won't make it out until after Claudia's back from running the crawfish traps.
15 years ago I had a head cold, but (spoiler alert) it was actually something worse: an infected spider bite. It ended up keeping me off the road 6 days!
Flash forward 15 years... I actually have a head cold. No, really, I tested and it is not COVID.... we did that in January. Since it is just a cold it is not going to derail me for 6 days. It will make the laundry pile up. On the up side, it was unseasonably warm here (75°) so I went out to enjoy our tulips.
Originally Posted April 07, 2007
I woke this morning in South Park to another humidity free day. I wasn't able to get a hold of the Warmshowers in town, so I tried to keep warm in the windy chill while packing up. My head cold had worsened from the day before and a stop at Papa's Potatoes was needed to warm me up. "We specialize in Stuffed Potatoes" but I had hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, sausage, and what I would call a real southern biscuit. The motivation of the Warmshowers in Simmesport pushed me on. It's exciting to be back on the ACA route. In Big Cane at the grocery, they know my story and I signed their book. Claudia offered me a room that the headwinds and 40 degree temps made hard to turn down. Here in Catholic country all the families are getting together for Easter weekend renting fun jumps for the kids to play on. We went a couple houses down past their crawfish traps balancing carefully on the levies in their big truck to her sister's house for gumbo. Apparently I was quiet because they kept on asking me if I had siblings. They were a bit loud for me. But I contentedly observed the inner workings of a Louisiana family gathering and worked on the newspaper puzzles.
9.0 ave - 16.7 max - 2181.9 odo - 2:34:47 time