#SD2KW, Day 46, Pearlington to Gautier, 66 Miles | Gulf In View; O The Joy

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If you’ve been following us for a while you know when we were shivering in Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas, we could hardly wait until we could cycle in short sleeves and shorts. And we couldn’t wait to see the Gulf of Mexico. Today was that day! Well kind of. 🤣

We were so socked in with fog for most of the day we hardly saw anything. 😂 Well maybe except the ginormous guitar by Hard Rock Cafe in Biloxi.

Early this morning we met westbound rider, Mary and her pooch Migs who travels with her on her bike in a chest carrier. She estimates she’s carrying about 80 pounds with gear and doggie. Woof!

We rode through towns along the Gulf mostly on bike lanes without any sense of a schedule, because we had none and took breaks when we took a liking to unique signs, carvings or other local landmarks such the Angel Tree in Bay St. Louis. Created by chainsaw sculpture Dayle Lewis (from Indiana 😉), one of the below pictured Angel Trees is located near Our Lady of the Gulf Church however there are two more located on Demontluzin Avenue, one of which was used as a life raft by three Katrina survivors and their dog.

Tom found his favorite bike shop in Ocean Springs this afternoon when he stopped to add air to our tires with a proper air pump. They have a beer tap in the store. What? The only time we’ve seen that is at The Hub right outside of Pisgah National Forest. Ok now Tom has two fave bike shops.

Tom scored a nice campsite at a state park right on the route.

However, as I write this at 1:30am, a pesky raccoon just opened up my bike bag and tried to run away with my peanut M & Ms after he ate my crackers and peanuts. Tom chased him away and he dropped them so I got my candy back. I’m sure he’ll be back. Once they know there is food, they always come back. 🦝

For the second graders:

Jackson wants to know if you have enough clothes with you. What if it rains and you get all wet? Yes we have plenty of clothes because we wear the same clothes all of the time. We don’t need new outfits everyday to look good. Instead we wear clothing to keep us warm, cool or dry.

If it rains and it’s cold, (below 45 degrees or so) we put on a raincoat right away to keep our body warm and dry. Continuing to ride our bikes helps keep us warm. If it’s warm out, we just ride in the rain and our clothes dry while we are riding. If it is storming and there is lightning we always find shelter until it stops.

I have a question for you, Jackson. How many pair of shoes do you think we bring?

Brody we will answer your question next time.👍🏻

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#SD2KW, Day 45, Metarie to Pearlington, 59 Miles | The Big Easy

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Tom created a route using Ride with GPS on his phone, synched it to our Garmins, and it guided us safely back to our route where we hooked up at Audubon Park in the New Orleans Garden District.

However before we left Metarie Larry took us to 7am Mass at St. Catherine of Siena (first time riding in a car since San Diego) where Tom and I heard one of the most compelling homilies about the fourth commandment. The priest’s delivery and content were 💯 After Mass, Larry introduced us to Fr. Andrew and I had to ask… “Father, how old are you? ‘Cause I’d vote for you if you ran for president.” He laughed and said that he was 29 years old. Well dang… not old enough. Before our goodbyes he gave us a blessing.

Friends, it seems like it took us a long time to get here but we DID make it to New Orleans, aka, NOLA, The Big Easy, The Crescent City and more. And we rolled in on a perfectly sunny Sunday morning. We’d both been here before when we ran the Mardi Gras Marathon so it was fun to see some familiar sights. We agreed NOT to wait in line at Cafe DuMond for a beignet. Nope! We did however score some freshly made doughnuts in Bernard Parish at Gerald’s Donut House and some fresh brewed coffee to soothe our crawfish hangover. 🤣

There are lots of pics of NOLA in the vid below. What we really enjoyed however was getting out of town and riding through The Rigolets and among the marshy areas of eastern Louisiana. There’s so much water with egrets, herons and osprey to watch as we cycled by.

We road into Pearlington and grabbed a couple of burgers and tots at a local place on the water just a mile from our campground.

And when we got to our campground, sure enough the owner was there with his 23 year old cockatoo ready to show us all of Mozart’s tricks.

I think Tom kinda got attached to Mozart.

And oh yeah… we’re in Mississippi now!

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#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 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 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 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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#SD2KW, Day 30, Vanderpool to Kerrville, 57 miles | Good Hill “Hunt”ing

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As we left the town of Hunt, Texas we officially entered Texas Hill Country!

We had one of our last steep climbs out of Vanderpool within the first three miles today. Tom thinks it’s the longest hill at such a steep climb we’ve ever completed. However, it’s not nearly as tough as you may think because although we have traffic to contend with we are on pavement, and our tires always get traction. The rear tires don’t spin out as they do when trying to climb on dirt and gravel. On to the rolley polley Hill Country.

We share most every day what a remarkable ride this has been. Today’s no different. Although we only cycled a little under 60 miles, it was like 3-4 rides in one day with the early climb, trolling up and over the hills at the top, passing the cycling club riders, meeting Rory from Palm Beach riding ST westbound and following the Guadeloupe River through Hunt and then into Kerrville.

One day runs into another and if we didn’t spend the time to take and make the pics, vids and track data we’d forget so much.

I’m writing this in the middle of the night as 1) we finally got cell service. It was only AT & T for days out in ranch land and us Verizon users were out of luck, 2) After our ride, a stop at the bike store for a proper air fill, big burgers and bevvies at Brew Dawgs and setting up the tent, we went right to sleep and 3) It’s only getting down to 40 tonight and my texting fingers aren’t numb. Yay for warmth!

We’re camping four miles off route in a Kerrville City Park near some Boy Scouts (go Scouts!).

Really hoping to be able to get to 7:45am Mass tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Then we peddle east towards Fredericksburg with a stretch goal of Johnson City (which is just outside of Austin!) Lovin’ these days and this guy so much!

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#SD2KW, Day 28, Del Rio to Camp Wood, 76 miles | Saying Goodbyes

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Today we said our goodbyes both to Highway 90 and Map #3 on the Southern Tier. As you may recall, Highway 90 started back in Van Horn some 340 miles or so ago. And we started the great state of Texas with Map #3 all the way back in El Paso some 475 miles and nine days ago.

Just outside Del Rio we passed Laughlin Air Force Base and stopped a few times to watch and listen to jets soar overhead.

We stopped in Bracketville to get a cup of coffee and met Frank. This man a had an unmistakable aura of joy about him. He explained he was heading to McAllen, Texas to do service work and wants to involve youth. The fact that he’s a double leg amputee wasn’t going to stop him. There’s no stopping Frank!

After our coffee stop we met westbound bike travelers from Cambridge, UK. Riders Luke and Emma are cycling Austin to San Diego and plan to take six weeks. We’ve seen just one other cyclist on tour and that was way back near Glamis and he was westbound also. We are definitely early birds on the Southern Tier as evidenced not only by lack of riders but the weather.

Finally back cycling in rural areas and away from semi trucks, we sailed up and down hills and even starting to see trees again!

Tom picked out a campground on the Nueces River. There isn’t anyone here but the caretaker, but Larry stopped by when he saw us roll in. He wondered if we knew what the overnight temps were going to be and asked us if we wanted to use his hot plate. 😂

Loved this campground! The property was so well kept and had so many offerings for families. It even had a driving range. 🏌️‍♂️

Tomorrow we venture onto new roads with a few steep hills thrown in for fun.

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