#SD2KW, Day 40, Ville Platte to Simmesport, 61 Miles | Don’t Let It Pass “Bayou”

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Well Louisiana has been a surprise. We’ve been hearing a lot about this state, about the aggressive dogs, rough roads and poverty. This got me thinking about what we’ve experienced so far.

As far as the roads, yea there are a few rough spots but nothing like the road coming into our own neighborhood at home up Olney Street. Hello, Marion County. We be lookin’ at you. 👀 Don’t let the rough spots in the road keep you from the path you are meant to take lest opportunities pass “bayou”.

Yes there is financial poverty in Louisiana (from the limited areas we’ve ridden through) but friends, we are in the midst of a people who are rich in kindness, culture and camaraderie. Don’t let what looks like poverty in a person obscure your vision lest the wealth inherent in them and their culture pass “bayou”.

Sometimes we want to be the “helpers” instead of the “helpees”. Don’t let the opportunity to accept someone’s help pass “bayou”. It benefits both the helper AND the helpee. Thank you, Mr. Maddie.

And so far the dog sitch has been solved. Yes there are some chargers and chasers but I finally got up the courage to do what Tom’s been telling me to do. Get. Off. The. Bike. So I do that and then give them the biggest growl and meanest “NO” I can muster. Most of them do a 180 and quickly scurry away. Some come up for a scratch behind the ears. Don’t let your fears keep you from enjoying the life God so dearly wants you to live lest your life be limited and pass “bayou”.

We’re grateful for opportunities to meet new friends and rendez with ones we’ve met in the past. Don’t let those moments pass “bayou” as relationships are the gold standard in life.

Allow me to run something else “bayou”. Signs often spur a memory for us and this one sure did for me. I’ve done 2-3 short section hikes on the Appalachian Trail. My trail name is Ghost Bunkie (Bunkie for short). I couldn’t pass up this photo op and thinking about my trail buds.🤙🏻

Finally, we scored another truck stop tent site. We mighta threw our tent up right next to a semi who kept his engine running all night but we pretended it was an soothing air conditioner and slept like babies.

Click on the image below to view more pics and vids. This is one of my faves so check it out. 😉

#SD2KW, Day 39, De Ridder to Ville Platte, 74 Miles | Rice and Crawdaddies

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All of a sudden we have entered a whole different space: the rice fields. We’ve never seen anything like it, much less had the opportunity to ride bikes through acres and acres of them.

Rice is planted in fields and then the fields are flooded with water. The plants grow in the water until ready for harvest and then the water is drained. Louisiana is the second largest rice producing state in the United States.

The COOLEST thing about the rice fields however is that farmers set crawfish traps in there. Had Chris in DeRidder not shared that, we’d have no idea. Apparently rice and crawfish thrive in clay soil and water so BOOM! The crawfish deposit waste that fertilize the rice field for the next season and the rice plants provide shelter and a breeding habitat for the little critters.

The other animals that like the water? Snakes. Big snakes. They were all dead (I’ll spare you a pic). But… there are a lot of them around the rice paddies. The Gardners will not be throwing their tent up around the rice fields even if they now have a working zipper. Not to mention reconning the area around road side bio breaks have become a little more vigilant.🐍👀

Today was the first day we had even a smidgen of rain and it was just a mist. Riding among the rice fields in overcast skies was peaceful and the 70+ miles passed quickly.

And oh one more thing people have asked about now that they see us wearing differing clothing: what do we bring and how much does it weigh?

Here’s Tom’s packing list. And here is mine. Notice this doesn’t include two liters of water (about two pounds each) and food. Also, we don’t carry a stove or “kitchen”.

Aside from a couple of snack stops and continuing to marvel at the rice/crawfish fields I’d say it was a fairly uneventful day (sans doggos).

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#SD2KW, Day 38, Silsbee to De Ridder, 73 Miles | The Pelican State!

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Yep! We made it to Louisiana. Finally. 😂 When we started this ride we teased ourselves wondering if we could possibly make NewOrleans in time for Mardi Gras.🎉 LOL Nope!

The first 30 miles went quickly on this Sunday morning. As we entered Kirbyville we passed a Catholic Church and as luck would have it, we were only a few minutes late for Mass so ducked in. Lots to be grateful for these days!

Not long after we met Tanner from Portland, Oregon. This ambitious 27 year old is riding the Southern Tier eastbound like us (the first eastbounder we’ve seen). Out of Orlando he, his bike and gear are flying to Paris to begin an extended European bike tour. Time and money permitting he hopes to make it to Australia and Japan as well. We had so many questions for him, however each of us wanted to get on our way. We did, however, share dog wrangling tips. 😉

Tom found a nice little RV park just outside of DeRidder and just like last night… we had our own little shelter. So cozy. When we checked in the gentleman informed there are flushers, however, BYOTP (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper). We don’t provide because people run off with it. Lucky for us we packed well. (avec TP).

The owner of the righteous looking pickup truck behind the gazebo is Chris. He’s a traveling nurse and was heading out for his shift in an emergency room in a local hospital. We could have chatted with him all night for if you are a bartender, a hairdresser or an emergency room nurse, you have the BEST stories. Chris actually offered his place up for us to stay while he was working but we’d already pitched our tent. That struck me as uber kind.

As we were packing up the next morning, Chris rolled in after his shift. We asked him how many lives he saved and he chuckled. He mentioned he’d seen a man who was driving a pickup truck who’d had a medical emergency while driving. Sure enough when we stopped for coffee on the way out DeRidder we saw the truck on the wrecker. This was the guy Chris saw in the ER. The sheriff told us the driver may have had a stroke, was going 65 miles an hour and hit the gas pump dead on. Dang! Wonder what that sounded like.

Back to Chris though… when he found out we’d never eaten crawfish he got out his phone and started looking up the best places on our route to get some. And the guy grew over 150 pepper plants last year and varieties I’d never heard of! If only we had more time… we could chat so long.

Time to saddle up. Happy Monday everybody! 🤙🏻

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#SD2KW, Day 37, Coldspring to Silsbee, 76 miles | Doggone It!

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Finally our last day in Texas, where we have spent the last 17 days, ridden 1,034 miles at an average of 60 miles a day. Nine of those nights we camped and eight we slept inside. That deserves ice cream!

And today we passed the 2,000 mile mark!

As we leave the Lone Star State what’s most on our mind, well before getting our first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico, are dogs. We’ve heard the stories, read the blogs and even experienced them as we leave Texas. They charge cyclists and chase us down until they tire or lose interest.

Tom’s been stopping and yelling at them but as most people know I’m terrified, especially of the big dogs. I think I need to confront my fears, stop, shout and growl as well. A united front is always best. 👍🏻

When we checked into the RV place, Rita, the manager, was interested in our trip and said she has a lot of cyclists ride through. A couple years ago a group set off and had to come back after one of the riders had an encounter with a loose dog that resulted in a crash and had to go to the hospital. So… yea, not a fan of charging dogs. Of all things… she had to mention the dogs. 😢

On a positive note we are feeling strong, happy and grateful! Our bike setups are dialed in. We have a place for everything on our bikes and can quickly find it. Our bikes are holding up well, including the tires and as a bonus I did laundry last night so we smell good as we roll past these pines that smell even better.

And finally today we want to wish our Charlie a happy, happy eighth birthday! We love you Char and can’t wait to see you soon!

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#SD2KW, Day 36, Navasota to Coldspring, 66 miles | Juxtaposition

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Two days of riding, one right after the other – it’s that juxtaposition of a great day next to a not-so-great day that makes them appear grandly different although we are seeing subtle changes.

The rolling hills aren’t as meaty; they are softening. Instead of the 3-8% climbs, today’s were seldom more than 5%. Things are greening up and budding out as we ride east. We are seeing homes built on blocks and even changes in roadkill with very few deer and feral hogs and now more turtles. 😟 We even passed our first bayou today and experiencing our first mosquitoes tonight.

The route took us through the Sam Houston National Forest most of the day through towns with services (food, etc) spaced about every 20 miles which makes for well timed opportunities to take breaks.

We got to the campsite in Sam Houston National Forest fairly early and had time for a game Gin. The score is now tied at four games each.

Texas, it’s been a beautiful time and we are going to miss you but we are slowly leaving you behind.

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#SD2KW, Day 35, La Grange to Navasota, 68 miles | Frackin’ Trucks!

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What a peaceful way to start a morning… packing up the tent just outside the Community Center at the Colorado River Landing RV Park after having enjoyed fresh brewed coffee. It was a little overcast, birds were chirping, red bud trees are blooming. Then we hit the road with the fracking trucks. Ouch!

They are big, loud, intimidating and no matter where you stand on the issue of fracking, you probably don’t want to be riding a bicycle on a two lane country road with fracking trucks.

It was mentally and physically challenging as we rode with and gave way to the truckers by pulling off the road to give them room. Throw in a head wind, small shoulders and rough roads and it’s exhausting, maybe even a little aggravating. However it only lasted 25 miles. 😊

Our ride led us through small towns offering antiques, community churches and up and over so many PUDS (pointless/pretty ups and downs) we thought we’d returned to Hill Country. 😂

Once in Navasota, we came to the end of our fourth Southern Tier Map (yes we are still in Texas) and were trying to locate the local fire station where free primitive camping is available to cyclists. After loading the new map we realized we bypassed the station by almost two miles.

Instead of turning around we pushed on and checked in to a motel for hot showers and dinner at a steak house right next door.

Grateful for this journey everyday, even the tough ones. 🥰 Thanks so much for coming along!

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#SD2KW, Day 34, Bastrop to La Grange , 49 miles | A Haw Haw Haw Haw

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After saying our goodbyes in Bastrop we set our sites on the Texas town of La Grange. It was just a short 50 miles and we were looking forward to cycling through two state parks today: Bastrop State Park and Burscher State Park. They did not disappoint.

And they threw in some “short and steep” (not short and sweet) righteous hills to keep things spicy.

We started peddling in shorts and short sleeves today. Now when we take drink breaks we choose cold drinks instead of warm ones in stores and we seek shade instead of sun when we take rests. I think we have finally escaped the cold! Only took 34 days! 😂

And I even saw a new wildflower blooming!

Tonight we threw up our new tent in an RV park on the outskirts of La Grange. It’s a super nice place with an awesome shower. Ok not like Haley and Christian’s home or the Marriott Element in Austin but nice. After showers we walked two blocks into town and found Mexican for dinner. Yum! By the way here’s the size of my towel. Have to keep items to a minimum size while bike touring.

New tent, old poles. It works and we like it! And a campsite for $15 with all the essentials, wifi, shower, flusher and electricity. 👊🏻

Click on the image below to view more pics and vids. There was only one song to use for today’s video. ❤️🤍💙

#SD2KW, Day 33, Austin to Bastrop, 50 miles | Feels Like Home

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Short ride today. Not because we weren’t feeling it or the wind was blowing (well it was, but not in our face all day) 😂 but instead we were headed to Haley and Christian’s home.

We met them back in Marathon, Texas at a coffee shop. They were in town with Haley’s extended family celebrating a birthday and planned to go down to Big Bend for a day of big hiking. Everything in Texas is BIG! ❤️🤍💙 That morning we dashed into town for a big cup of hot coffee.

We got to talking about bike touring and were fascinated to hear about Christian’s dad cycling across Australia some years ago. And no that’s not going to be our next trip. It sounded grueling.

Haley came out to see our bike set up, ask a few questions and said if we’d be anywhere close to their home in Bastrop they’d like to host us for a night.

I gave her a travel card and said our goodbyes. A few days later she emailed me and we figured out our route went right past their driveway. I kid you not. It was meant to be.

As we were peddling up their driveway today Haley came walking down with their littles in tow and all smiles. What a welcome reunion!

Their family lives on 22 acres outside of Bastrop. So peaceful and just lovely in every way.

Instead of Tom and I being on the cooking side of the kitchen counter, Haley and Christian prepared the tastiest meal (and plenty for second helpings) while wrangling little James and Charlie. It just felt like home as they opened theirs up to us and loved us BIG.

Conversation and a meal with a loving, faith filled family and hearing about their lives, their future while sharing about ours was one of the most soul satisfying evenings of this trip.

We have only a few days left in Texas and our visit with this sweet family is a heartfelt way to say good bye to a state we’ll miss.

And oh… guess who we met.

This is Bevo, their neighbor David’s longhorn that he received as a birthday present from his wife. I just think that is so cool!

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#SD2KW, Day 32, Johnson City to Austin, 50 miles | Always Awesome Austin

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Some days play out as planned and others not so much. Today threw a couple surprises at us beginning with when Tom opened the tent and the zipper broke. Our Big Agnes tent has travelled with us thousands of miles and it’s old. Broken beyond a field repair and unwilling to sleep inside every night for the rest of the ride, we bought a new tent.

Lucky for us we cruised into Austin today where there is an REI store. Unlucky for us they didn’t have the bikepacking tent model (with shorter tent poles). So rather than wait a few days to have one shipped, we bought a new tent (same model) and are using our existing tent poles. We set the tent up in our room to verify it works. Yep!

Secondly, I couldn’t get the blog to upload pics or vids. Sometimes finding bandwidth is the issue but not this time. It was driving me nuts as I’m a former problem-solving, technology teacher hack. Finally figured it out. Just needed to buy more cloud storage. Cha-Ching… add that to the cost of buying a new tent today.💸

The mister has been keeping his hair covered with a helmet, stocking cap or ball cap just about every moment of every day because of his shaggy hair. Today was haircut day for Tom. Cycling down the road all of a sudden I saw a barber trailer. Boom! Best. Haircut. Ever.

As mentioned yesterday we are staying in an amazing Marriott property in downtown Austin. We think we have reached the halfway point of our ride. Look what our daughter Anne and her colleague, Mary at the Element had waiting for us in a our room. Thank you ladies. 😘

You know how people often say “you can’t go back; it isn’t the same.” Sometimes it’s better! In 2014, Tom and I ran the Austin Marathon.

Nine years later (almost to the day) 29 marathons, five weddings and seven grands later we’re back! It’s better this time because we didn’t have to run 26.2 miles. 😂 Note in the pic below the guy running in the cowboy hat is running barefoot. Back then and now, still keepin’ it weird in Austin.

In 2014 we pledged to return to Bangers Sausage and Beer House and made good on that promise to each other tonight.

This post is already long enough so I’m not going to mention that hill going into Austin that Tom called a little bump. (17% uphill grade). Done with that one. Let’s keep riding east!

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#SD2KW, Day 31, Kerrville to Johnson City, 77 miles | Aptly Named

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Made it to 7:45 Mass on time with room to spare for some coffee! We packed up in the dark and jumped on The Riverside Trail cycling it four miles into Kerrville. There must have been 15-20 deer grazing along the trail. What an asset to the city of Kerrville, the trail… not the deer necessarily. 😉

The route took us quickly out for a morning spin on a one lane, winding ranch road. It was scenic, quiet and the perfect way to kick off a Sunday morning ride while thinking about the homily, the liturgical music and how grateful we are for faith, family, friends and of course each other.

Hill Country is aptly named as there are well… wait for it… HILLS. It’s a lot of fun to see if we can peddle down fast enough to get up the next hill without much effort. It usually doesn’t work but it’s fun trying. These aren’t just little bumps; they have some meat to them and they are a lot of fun!

Shout out to our daughter Anne who scored a night at a Marriott property in Austin tomorrow night (at a friends and family discount). We love our tent, our cabin stays and little motel rooms but we really love it when we can indulge ourselves in luxury. Thank you Anne!

Chicken and tuna wraps for din din, a large bag of Lay’s chips, and a beef and cheese stick. Tomorrow we feast!

Every night includes a route rap for the following day. Tonight’s no different.

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