Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 39

DeRidder to Mamou

Leaving Pleasant Valley RV park was bittersweet, it was time to move on, but the place was awesome. Everything we could want in a kitchen(except the food of course), clean warm showers, and friendly people running the park.

It rained a bit last night so we took our time picking up and leaving. Emilio had a second spoke break on his bike, so we replaced one of them this morning with Ron. Ron has been riding with friends and stayed with us to assist with the spoke operation. And yes it was a success!

When we hit the road it was cool and sunny to start our day and the wind was at our backs. I have really enjoyed watching the scenery change into a lot of taller trees and rivers and new landscapes over the last week or so. It has become more dramatic in the past couple of days, with all the pine forests here.

The rivers we cross all seem to have what I can only describe as "beach sand" all along the banks, and have a large number of people playing and fishing in them. As we crossed our second river of the day we started to change to a forest, and then quickly to what we thought was farm land. Well, we were partially right - in some of the fields they were growing rice, while the flooded fields were crawfish breeding grounds. A very different sight for all of us.

We were about 6 miles out of Mamou when we turned North, right into the wind! We followed the road and were amazed at the number of dead turtles we found on this stretch of road. We passed a rather large turtle who had made it to the double yellow line, and we were concerned for its safe trip, not concerned enough to stop with the headwinds beating us. When we turned one more corner the wind was at our back again, we stopped for pictures and all decided we could not live with ourselves if the turtle died. So what did we do you ask? We went back to help the turtle, 1.26 miles we went back knowing we would again have to face the headwinds. And when we got to the spot where the turtle was;(yes I said was) we could no longer find it. So heres what we figured ---
1) It had made it across safely(yeah right)
2) Someone stopped and helped it across(not likely)
or 3) Someone brought it home for soup(there was absolutely no sign of it anywhere!)
We can let everyone pick their own ending on that one.

Facing the headwind we headed for town and a well deserved rest. Emilio stayed at the hotel in town, Karman, myself and Ron all headed for the RV park. Big mistake - it was a run down dive that did not even have showers! We too went back to the hotel for the evening. We showered and were off to find dinner. This turned into a nearly 2 mile walk across town, to David and Lori's kitchen. Good food at a good price. I had the country fried steak while the others tried the fried fish basket and salad. We were full and tired, so it was back to the hotel for a good nights rest.

The Garmin Information for today is as follows:

Day 39 DeRidder to Mamou by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 38
Silsbee, Tx. to DeRidder, La.

We were camped at the Red Cloud Rv Park last night, and as luck would have it, so was the group from Adventure Cycling. We talked some last night and this morning before we headed out for the day. There are some amazing people with amazing stories in their group, from a mother son team doing the crossing to the man with double cochlear implants. It was awesome to meet and talk with them all. We stopped at a local Walmart for breakfast(McDonald's in the store). Emilio set out already and is going to wait for us in Buna.

The roads today are starting out well, we are on Rt 96, and it has a nice surface and wide shoulders. We made good time to Buna - about an hour where we met up with Emilio and Adventure Cyclings group. We rode together for a while and soon found only a couple of riders ahead of us. The wind was blowing at us so Emilio, Karman and I decide to try a pace line to get through the day. We each stayed in front for a mile, then moved to the back. In no time we had caught and passed all the riders and found ourselves 6 miles from Merryville, and at the restaurant we were looking for to eat lunch.

The riders we passed arrived within minutes and we all sat and had an extended lunch, and got to learn a little more about each other. I was able to explain the "semicolons) theme of the ride and the causes I am riding for. I handed out cards for all to look over and we all exchanged information, as they were all staying in Merryville while the three of us were heading to DeRidder since we were doing so good timewise.

We ate and headed for the border....the Louisiana border. Finally a new state. Texas officially took up 1/3 of the entire trip. I have as much left to go as I travelled in Texas, thats a big state!

Arrived in DeRidder, La. and found the campsite for the night. The Manager was not there, he had gone to get supplies for a workman on site, rather than wait, we headed with a couple of others to an RV Park listed on the older Adventure Cycling maps....Pleasant Hill RV Park. When we arrived we found the cutest little Rv park, complete with TeePees that sleep 2 with air conditioning and tv(they are really made of wood), to a little western town looking building that has 2 showers a bunk room,laundry facility, kitchen(2 sinks, pots and pans, and refrigerator) Cable TV, and WiFi throughout the park. I would recommend this over all others in the area that we saw!!!!
Jennifer (the on site manager) and her daughter Lilly are the best hostesses, and make you feel very welcome. They love bicyclists and even have a scrapbook of many visiting bicyclists form over the years!

As the days go on I am finalizing my arrival into the New Orleans area. As I get more concrete date I will post for all to see. The way points are changing a little as I go and find I am able to travel farther, but I remain on the Adventure Cycling route until DDW in New Orleans. Then I will again head towards the route and continue to St. Augustine, Fla.

18 days to go until St Augustin, Fla!!

Todays Garmin information is as follows:

Day 38 Silsbee, Tx. to DeRidder, La. by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 37
Double Lake National Park to Silsbee, Tx

Whomever told me that it is flat here was definitely pulling my leg!
We still have some hills to contend with, granted they are not as bad or as frequent, but, they are hills just the same!

Karman and I set out from our campsites, after one more stroll down to the dock on the lake at the end of our sites. The view was awesome and very relaxing, but we had to leave to meet Emilio in Shepherd. When we got to town we found we went right by his motel and did not even realize it. When we stopped it was at a donut shop at the corner of SR 150 and route 59, so we stopped for some coffee and donuts. While we were there George Reed happened upon us. It seems that George has been leapfrogging Emilio and Karman for a while now. We were introduced and George explained that his trip is being cut short. He has friends on the way to pick him up and bring him back to Illinois. It seems he has a close friend back home who is not doing well, suffering from Stage IV colon cancer. I told him about the ride and that I would now be riding for his friend as well. He rode with us the rest of the day until Kountze where he was to meet his friends.

We were still in the Sam Houston National Forest and it was quite amazing to ride through. The forest was thick and very alive with many birds and animals running around. It was amazing to listen and actually hear the animals in the distance.

We hit the road with George and finally found Emilio just past Romayor. We decide to stop for lunch in Votaw, but when we got there food was off the route some so we opted for Honey Island. When we arrived we found a real general store still in operation, it was modern, but it was a true general store! One of the people having lunch had just finished, went to the counter to pay and bought two bags of corn while he was there! they sold everything from hardware, seeds, feed for animals, to food for us, and it was very good!

After filling ourselves up, we hit the road only to find one of the longest most desolate stretches of road I have ever been on. It seemed to be an extremely long slow uphill (gradual, but uphill just the same)that never ended. There were sections of the forest on the side of the road that had been clearcut, and looked very strange with the surrounding of the remaining forest. We arrived at Kountze and said our goodbyes to George, wished he and his friend well and were on our way for the last 10 miles to Silsbee.

We arrived in town and Emilio decided to stay at a motel so we said good bye until morning and Karman and I went off to the campground. Karman found many familiar faces there, as he explained he has been also leapfrogging a lot with a group from Adventure Cycling, doing the same trip!

He introduced me to many people (there are 14 I think in total), we sat and exchanged stories for a bit. We set up camp, showered, relaxed a little then it was off to bed for a good night's rest!

The Garmin information for today is as follows:

Day 37 Double Lake State Park to Silsbee by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

Day 36
Navasota to Double Lake National Park

Last night I stayed at the Navasota Fire Department, I set up my tent in the back yard next to their training building. The weather reports were not promising, severe storms possible by morning. After a while I decided it would be best to be a little better protected in case the storms hit, so I moved my tent around the corner to the area that had a wood deck over it. I was about to start doing some catch up on the computer, when the Assistant Chief, his wife, and young daughter drove up to check on me.
We got to talking and he said the Chief had asked him to offer me the upstairs training room to sleep in for the night, with the threat of weather moving in I accepted. I tore down my camp and brought it inside and repacked my bags for the morning. I caught up on my blogging and talked to Tammy (my wife) while she was on her way back to Irving (she had an early morning flight back home). She drove through much of the severe weather that was in the area, and about that time the local news was reporting a Tornado watch for my area until 6 am.
When I awoke at 6:30 am I was amazed to find we did not even get a drop of rain! I got up went downstairs to talk to the chief and day crew before I left; they were very kind and gave me a T-shirt to remember them by. I took some photos of them and of the statue in front of the building and was on my way.
I rode to McDonald’s where I grabbed a quick bite to eat, and was greeted by two fellow cyclist who were “going my way”. Lee and Karman sat and talked with me and they went on their way while I finished eating. Once on the road, I found the rolling hills of the hill country were still among us, but with less frequency. I approached my first change of roads and as surprised to find I had caught up to Karman, Karman is from Vancouver riding the same route. We started down the road together but he quickly was ahead of me and I was only keeping pace with him and not catching him so I slowed down to enjoy the day.
I rode a couple of miles and found Karman on the side of the road with a flat; I pulled over and helped him change it. We were soon met by7 or 8 people out for a day ride together, they stopped to render assistance if needed, we talked for a few minutes and they were again on their way. As Karman was just about finished we were met by another rider doing the southern tier route, his name is Emilio, from Italy who is now living in Brussels. Emilio, Karman, and I all headed out together.
We rode and talked and before we knew it we had gone some 50 miles and were in New Waverly, Tx., and it was lunch time. We grabbed a quick lunch and hit the road for our final destinations, Karman and I to Double Lake National Park and Emilio to Shepherd to a motel for the night, with a group from Adventure Cycling.
When we got to Pumpkin/Evergreen the fire station was open with a lot of activity. It seems they are doing some renovations. I had to stop to see if they had patches, and they did! I traded a patch with the Chief who was working on the station with about 8 or ten people, And myself, Emilio, and Karman all took pictures and were again on our way.
Karman and I set out to find the grocery store in Cold Spring to get some food for the night, and headed to the park where we set up our camp sites and sat by the lake to relax. After we showered and ate we had a cup of coffee and turned in for a good night’s rest.
What an awesome end to a great day!!!!

The Garmin information for the day is as follows:

Day 37 Double Lake State Park to Silsbee by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details