November 5th – 12th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

Date: November 5th

Time Pedaling: 3 hr. 12 min.
Miles: 38.88
Avg. Speed: 12.1 mph
Max Speed: 20.2 mph
Trip Odometer: 576.78
Weather: sunny and warm, 69 (Gulfport, MS) to 51 degrees (Pearlington, MS)
Breezy with a eastern tailwind (woohoo!) Started raining lightly around 3:30.
Time of Departure: 9:45
Arrival Time at Pearlington Christian Church in Pearlington, MS: 4:00
Repairs: Luke’s pedal needed tightening.

We enjoyed a quick breakfast at Barbara and Bernie’s. We spent a little time talking with them and our French friends. Leaving new friends isn’t so easy, especially for Luke and Dakota. Luke was a bit teary eyed as we pedaled away from our wonderful Gulfport hosts and friends. The day wasn’t completely sad for Luke, though. (More on Luke cheering up later.)

It’s amazing how fast this life on the road is. It is flying by. Were we ever in Jacksonville Beach? We joke about that idea a lot. The idea that you move from one place to another making friends and collecting memories, and then, on to another. The pedaling is the only consistent part of our journey.

We had awesome pedaling for most of the day. We had a nice (10-15 mph) tailwind leaving Gulfport that pushed us until the last 30 minutes of our day. If you haven’t enjoyed a nice tailwind pushing you along on your ride, I can assure you it is the cats meow. We were able to lightly pedal and still average 12.1 mph which is a really good number for us.

We stopped in Long Beach to take some pictures of the wood carvings that beautify the Gulf Coast from Biloxi to Bay St. Louis, MS.

Marlin Miller's Sculpture of Great Blue Herons

Marlin Miller’s Sculpture of Great Blue Herons

A Bald Eagle carved by Marlin Miller after Katrina

A Bald Eagle carved by Marlin Miller after Katrina

Sea Turtles sunning along the coast, carved by Marlin Miller

Sea Turtles sunning along the coast, carved by Marlin Miller

Another Marlin Miller beauty at Long Beach, MS

Another Marlin Miller beauty at Long Beach, MS

As we were taking pictures, a nice lady introduced herself as Kay and asked if we would like to visit her home and get a drink. We had to decline the offer as we had just started pedaling. It turns out that the woman had some interesting stories to share with us.

Kay a Survivor told us all about Marlin Miller

Kay a Survivor told us all about Marlin Miller

You can check them out here and here. (sorry, but this 2nd link still needs to be edited)

We stopped in Waveland after pedaling about 22 miles. Can you guess where we stopped? If you guessed Walmart, you would be correct. We picked up some groceries and then ate part of them at the McDonald’s located within the Walmart. We did receive some strange looks as we made a nice stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and commenced to taking them down. While there, Dakota called ahead to see if a church up the road would take us in for the night. Although we weren’t sure if we would stop after only 38 miles we did receive an offer. Actually, it was almost insistence, that we stop for the night and have dinner with them.

The church is the Pearlington Christian Church. The name of the pastor is Jon. A community is represented by folks like this. We get our impression whether good or bad by the people we meet while passing through an area. Pearlington is a small town that is still rebuilding after Katrina. Was the town of Pearlington wonderful to look at? No. Did we get bothered by dogs in town? Yes. Did we get our bikes loaded with mud there? Yes. Would we ever visit there again? Definitely, we plan to. Jon and his wife Kim live out the faith that they share together. They wear it out in the open without talking about it much at all. From the time Jon and Dakota spoke initially until we left this morning, our stay was one of enjoyment.

Pastor John & Kim from Pearlington Christian Church with sons Isaac & Josiah

Pastor Jon & Kim from Pearlington Christian Church with sons Isaac & Josiah

Dakota with little Emily - what a doll

Dakota with little Emily – what a doll

Before I go on about Jon and Kim and their family (Isaac, Josiah, Emily) I must take you back to getting there, and the mud/clay, and the dogs, and the suv. Interested?

Okay. Pastor Jon had given Dakota directions and mentioned a shortcut using a dirt road. When we arrived at the road, it seemed like a good idea (at least to me). The first 20 feet were great, and then it happened. The dirt (actually red clay) was moist and we began sinking. It stuck to our tires to the point of immobility. Each of us had to get off of our bikes and turn around in 4” of wet clay. Clay got into every nook and cranny on our bikes and shoes. As we made it back the 30 feet to the road it began to drizzle on us while the mosquitoes snacked on us.

The mud from the 'dirt' road in Pearlington, MS

The mud from the ‘dirt’ road in Pearlington, MS

This was after I cleaned a little mud off!

This was after I cleaned a little mud off!

The Dirt Road which was very muddy!

The Dirt Road which was very muddy!

I had received word that I was sent a notice for jury duty. That was odd to me since I had served on a jury as the foreman just a couple of years ago. On top of that, before we left I had received a notice to serve but wasn’t chosen. Nearly three months later I am getting another notice??? Anyhow I needed to call our awesome friend Cathy who is taking care of our matters while we are away. I was hoping that she could send a letter in or call to settle the matter. While we were turning on the next road that was paved, Cathy called. It was now raining harder, the mosquitoes wanted more than a snack, and it would be dark soon. I decided to talk to Cathy while riding down this seemingly lightly traveled road.

I can assure you that this all happened in about 3 seconds: An SUV comes around a curve moving towards us quickly causing me to have to cut in front of Dakota in a hurry, at the same time a loose dog is running towards us and barking causing Luke to lay on his air horn (quick reflexes!). It was the recipe for a wipeout for sure…but we all stayed afloat somehow. Cathy was quite impressed with all the noises she was hearing in the background. I told her it may be best for us to talk another time.

Back to Pastor Jon, Pearlington, and Luke’s brighter disposition. Jon is a hunter, fisherman, and all around capital D, Dude. His name is in the Indiana (yes, another transplanted Hoosier) record books for a buck he took down. He has many good stories and he tells them well. He has an alligator catching story, too.

If all that wasn’t enough to impress Luke (and me!), he patiently taught Luke how to sharpen his pocket knife. After working all day for the sanitation department, he was able to make more than just time for people passing through on their bikes, he made himself available.

Pastor John, Luke's new 'best friend' and soon to be hunting partner!

Pastor Jon, Luke’s new ‘best friend’ and soon to be hunting partner!

His wife Kim is quite remarkable herself and shared her Mother’s story of breast cancer which you can see here. There was also a group of volunteers that were there from Jacksonville. They were rebuilding Jon and Kim’s home that had been damaged most recently by hurricane Isaac. There was only one in the whole group that was younger than 55. An inspiring group. I can only hope to spend some of my time later in life undertaking similar worthwhile endeavors.

Members of Westside Christian Church came to help rebuild John & Kim's home

Members of Westside Christian Church came to help rebuild Jon & Kim’s home

Pastor John, Kim & Emily, Rob, Luke & Dakota with most of the members that came to rebuild John & Kim's home!

Pastor Jon, Kim & Emily, Rob, Luke & Dakota with most of the members that came to rebuild Jon & Kim’s home!

Sidenote: It is always a nice thing to have people speak kindly of your children. Several times on this trip, that has been the case.

Jon and I spoke late into the night. Gail and Dakota slept with the female volunteers in a bunkhouse, and Luke and I slept with the men.

Date: November 6th

Time Pedaling: 4 hr. 34 min.
Miles: 47.96
Avg. Speed: 10.4 mph
Max Speed: 16.8 mph
Trip Odometer: 624.74
Weather: overcast and cool, 62 (Pearlington, MS) to 63 degrees (Covington, LA)
Breezy with a north northwest wind at approximately 10-15mph…ouch!
Time of Departure: 11:07
Arrival Time at Covington Baptist Church in Covington, MS: 8:00
Repairs: Luke’s pedal needed a new clamp.

We got up in the morning and were grateful for a breakfast of cereal and conversation. We cleaned the clay off of our bikes with a hose and our fingers, and loaded them up. Just before it was time to leave, Luke once again was teary eyed. Although, the circumstances were a bit different. Pastor Jon told Luke that he had wanted to give him a whetstone for sharpening his knives, but couldn’t find it. Instead of the whetstone, he had a knife that he would like him to have. I am not joking when I say that there were tears in my boys eyes upon seeing the knife. To you or I, it may be a simple pocket knife with a few accessories, but to my 8 year old boy, it was winning the lottery. He has a new favorite place on our bike trip.

Thank you Jon and Kim and the inspiring volunteers, for making our stay in Pearlington one to cherish.

We pedaled off while waving our goodbyes to the group. After 3 miles of pedaling, we reached Louisiana without much fanfare. There wasn’t a welcome, but an Entering St. Tammany Parrish sign inviting us in. We had decided that we wanted to try and make at least 40 miles today. Little did we know, that wasn’t going to be easy. The winds were NNW 10-15 mph which made for a difficult time of things.

We had gone about 13 miles and were plugging away when a weakness of ours was exposed. The first Starbucks since before Pensacola magically appeared and beckoned us. If we had known before that, that we would still be pedaling 7 hours later…we may not have stopped. But we did, and we were.

While at Starbucks Gail and I caught up on some website stuff as Dakota looked for places that may work for the night.

Sidenote: We could stay in hotels or campgrounds every night. One of the points of our journey was to meet people where they were in their normal everyday life. That usually isn’t in a hotel or campground (unless you’re Vernon). That means calling churches, using Warmshowers.org, and being willing to try something outside of the box (camping at a rescue station). Our trip has been enriched greatly by this approach.

Dakota found a church, but it was in Covington, and it was about 48 miles total. We had only done 13 and it was 2:30pm when we left Starbucks. Due to the time change, it would get dark at about 5:30. Nice.

We pedaled on roads until we made it to the Tammany Trace bike path. This is an excellent path that allowed us to make good time. The winds had died down some already, and the treed bike path made that even better. Before long darkness descended upon us. A pastor from the First Baptist of Covington called Dakota to touch base, so we stopped for a few minutes. As Dakota was talking on the phone a fellow bicyclist stopped and talked to us. His name was James and he was just about to get off the bike path and ride 2 blocks to his house. We asked him for directions to Covington and possibly the church. His job as an electrician had him familiar with Covington and the church we were going to. He offered to guide us there if we wanted.

We gladly accepted as it was dark and could use some guidance from a local. As it turned out, it was 15 extra miles of pedaling for James.

Who does that?

We didn’t make it to the church until about 8:00pm. It would have been at least another hour had James not volunteered his time and services to us. Thanks James! We appreciate you.

James our escort to Covington, LA via The Trace bike path

James our escort to Covington, LA via The Trace bike path

We were received quite warmly at the First Baptist. The youth building was opened to us for showering and sleeping. Dakota played the piano for some people who were at the church for a function. They enjoyed it quite a bit. We enjoyed conversations with a few people and then were surprised with dinner of Chick-a-fila. Awesome, and right on time after a 48 mile day of pedaling into the wind.

Mike showed us around and then visited with us in the morning!

Mike showed us around and then visited with us in the morning!

First Baptist Church of Covington, LA

First Baptist Church of Covington, LA

Personally, this is the most tired my legs have been on the entire journey. I think that sentiment is popular. Luke needed little more than food and a shower before he was out.
Gail and Dakota weren’t too far behind. Gail added some more videos to the site. Dakota caught up on some Twitter work. And, out they went.

Me? Time to end this post before I fall asleep at the keyboard.

P.S. Thanks to those who are helping our journey along by buying through our Amazon links…we really appreciate it. If you aren’t, please consider it. Use the Amazon Search Box below!

Date: November 7th

Time Pedaling: 3 hr. 45 min.
Miles: 38.70
Avg. Speed: 10.2 mph
Max Speed: 14.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 663.44
Weather: sunny and cool, 70 (Covington, LA) to 68 degrees (Livingston, LA)
Breezy with a north northwest wind at approximately 13mph…painful!
Time of Departure: 11:40
Arrival Time at Bethel Baptist Church in Livingston, LA: 5:07
Repairs: None

We were up at about 8:30. Once again, we intended an earlier start but things happen. We slept in a little because of our adventure filled evening ride of the day before. Then, we couldn’t refuse the nice breakfast that we were offered. Besides that, there were a lot of ladies at the church that were asking questions and conversing with us. Finally, we videoed a survivor story from a woman we had met the night before.

We knew we were in for a challenging day because the wind was 13 mph NNW. That was evident as we loaded our bikes and leaned them in front of the church. Two of the bikes fell over including my wife’s which had the video recorder mounted on the handlebars. The recorder fell off and hit the concrete and isn’t working quite right at the moment.

Getting ready to set out - the camera was fine the next day!

Getting ready to set out – the camera was fine the next day!

When pedaling into the wind, a mile seems a bit more than a mile. Fortunately, this part of Louisiana is flat so we only had to fight one obstacle. We are becoming bicyclists for sure. One pedal stroke after another pedal stroke, etc.

Each person in our family is battling the mental aspect quite well. Anyone who does this is going to ache at times. Negative thoughts will entertain. It is easy to be discouraged. It is easy to want to quit. No one has voiced that.

Our stops were brief today. As we become more in tune with the work necessary to get from point A to point B, we are all anxious to make it happen. Today our long stop was at McDonald’s and it was mainly so that we (Dakota) could call ahead to find a stop for us. Once she did, it was back on the bikes to battle the wind again. Our stop was at Bethel Baptist Church in Livingston. It was about 16 miles from the McDonald’s stop. The wind died down slightly but there was little or no shoulder at all to ride on for much of the 16 miles. This was one of the worst stretches that we have covered thus far. We were on US 190 which turns into one lane on each side. If we stayed close to the right, vehicles would pass on our side next to us. After one vehicle got a little too close, I put a stop to it by riding in the middle of the lane and making the vehicles behind us pass in the other lane. It was really the only safe way for us to get through this stretch. There was also about a three block stretch where the road had been stripped, but hadn’t been repaved. Bumpy with many potholes.

We did make it safely to the church in Livingston at about 5:00 pm. We were greeted by Charles who was wearing a Top Gun shirt with the word Wingman on the back (remember that?). Charles opened up a vacant but furnished house for us and showed us around and then left.

At about 7:00 we decided to walk and grab a bite to eat at a local place. We went to a place on 190 about a half a block away from where we were staying. Charles had recommended it to us, and since it was so close and we didn’t have to ride our bikes there, we thought we would try it. Great choice. The name of the place is the G & J Drive Inn. The place was busy which is usually (but not always) a good sign. In this case, it was well warranted.

G & J Drive Inn, great food and service!

G & J Drive Inn, great food and service!

The onion rings that came with my cajun cheeseburger were homemade and delicious. The burger was cooked to perfection and the sauce was unique. My wife had a seafood platter that came with a salad, toast, catfish, oysters, jumbo shrimp and fries. We all tried a little of everything. Luke, Dakota, and I are now fans of catfish after trying it for the first time. I am hardly a food critic, but have had plenty of experience eating and I would go out of my way to stop at this friendly and thriving establishment.

While there, we had the pleasure of talking to the manager’s husband. He had many stories that held us captive. Alligators, sinking boats, big fish, and the mysteries of the bayou. It came complete with an accent that could deliver such stories well. We listened intently while having dessert.

It is the cure. It is the wind and roads challenging us. It is the not knowing. It is the people like our newest friend, who took time out of his life to share his story with strangers. It is all of this and more.

Good night.

We slept in the parsonage a large 4 bedroom home

We slept in the parsonage a large 4 bedroom home

Date: November 8th

Time Pedaling: 4 hr. 19 min.
Miles: 51.38
Avg. Speed: 11.8 mph
Max Speed: 26.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 714.82
Weather: sunny and cool, 68 (Livingston, LA) to 67 degrees (Livonia, LA)
Breezy with a ESE wind at 6mph
Time of Departure: 10:00
Arrival Time at Faith Baptist Church in Livonia, LA: 5:00
Repairs: Rear tire on tandem went flat and the single axle trailer Rob pulls broke

An interesting day to say the least. Instant oatmeal and coffee for breakfast got us started. We left our lodgings at about 9:40 and pedaled back to our dinner spot of the previous evening. I already mentioned how wonderful the food was. I must also share that Darlene and the other workers generously decided they would pick up our tab for the entire meal and dessert. It was Darlene’s husband that entertained us with many bayou stories as we ate. We went back to G & J Drive Inn to snap a few pictures before we hit the road.

Luke may have a new favorite place. Upon arriving at the restaurant we were greeted by Darlene. She came out the door with a Cabela’s fanny pack in her hand. She told us that her husband (Roy) had a couple of things for the boys (sorry girls) but I think it was mostly for Luke. Not only did he give us the fanny pack, but it had a pocket watch (with a buck on the face), knife, and some coupons in it. Luke once again was beaming! Not only did he get to hear awesome stories but he also was sent off with gifts. Two knives in three days, we are seeing a pattern here and Luke doesn’t mind at all.

Darlene giving Luke the fanny pack filled with wonderful gifts

Darlene giving Luke the fanny pack filled with wonderful gifts

Saying goodbye to our new friend Darlene - until we meet again!

Saying goodbye to our new friend Darlene – until we meet again!

We said our goodbyes and pedaled with the 6 mph wind. That was nice since the day before was a real struggle.

I will try and share the most exciting part of the day. We were crossing the Mississippi River on a four lane bridge. There was no shoulder for a bike so we had to take a whole lane to get to the other side. The bridge is on 190 and named the Huey P. Long Bridge. It isn’t terribly long but is a bit steep. We had been warned a couple times and were ready to tackle it. Luke and I climbed the bridge and were nearing the pleasant downhill when our rear tire hit in between the huge gap where the bridge joins together. I was able to avoid damage to the front tire by pulling up quickly, but the back tire wasn’t so fortunate and we got an instant flat. The seam connecting the bridge had a gap of at least 8” long and 2” wide. This was the perfect recipe for a flat. The tube had been leaking but I was waiting until it breathed it’s last to change the tube and tire at the same time. Now was my chance (wink wink).

Three bikes with trailers in one lane while cars and trucks whizzed by in the other. Before long two officers on motorcycles came onto the scene. They were a roadblock for us. It was taking a bit longer than we wanted, as I hadn’t ever changed a tube on the back of the Burley before. It’s hard to explain, but the trailer we pull has special attachments that lock into place. The attachments fit on the end of a rod that feed through the wheel hub. As I tightened the end on one side, the end of the other side snapped off. The rod was made of stainless steel, I think hardened steel would have been the better way as I hadn’t even tightened it fully before it broke. When the end snapped off, it found its way between a 10” gap and quickly made its way to the bottom of the Mississippi.

The officers thought it best to expedite our departure off the bridge and flagged a pickup truck to stop. We loaded the tandem and trailer in the back of a strangers pickup. Luke sat in his front seat and I sat in the bed and held the tandem as the guy ascended down the bridge a bit faster than was comfortable. Dakota and Gail had a police escort the .7 of a mile down to the station we were stopped at.

The officers were insistent on letting them take the trailer to be fixed (the attachment). I explained that it wasn’t feasible, but they called a truck and took it and gave me their card so that I could pick it up at a later date.

We had a spare part that would keep the Burley running fine, but we were now with only two trailers. Unfortunately, we had to split some of the weight I was carrying between Gail and Dakota. I was still able to carry 40 pounds or so on the back rack and the front handlebar, but it added weight to their load by about 15 pounds each. The good news was that we already pedaled 31 miles and only had about 21 to go.

The two motorcycle officers that we met on the bridge

The two motorcycle officers that we met on the bridge

We will be buying a trailer at the Opelousas Walmart tomorrow if it will work on the Burley. The tandem we have is 20 years old and has some parts that really aren’t used anymore. We will see how that goes.

The whole adventure gave us another memory.

We stopped to eat a bite from our food holdings when he had made it about 43 miles. We happened to stop at a gas station with a McDonald’s although we ate what we had. The town was Erwinville and a few people offered us a couple of dollars for the journey and cure. One guy told us about his mother’s battle and that she has been in remission for a year. We like to hear those stories.

We got back on our bikes and put in another 9 miles until we got to the town of Livonia. We had no plans in advance for lodgings and decided to try another church. We have found that if we ask at a Baptist church, we needn’t ask any farther. No different in this case. It has been a chilly couple of nights and so it was nice to stay out of the tent for now.

Faith Baptist Church of Livonia, LA

Faith Baptist Church of Livonia, LA

Bridget saw us pull into the church parking lot and was on the phone getting us into the church!

Bridget saw us pull into the church parking lot and was on the phone getting us into the church!

Keith showed up to let us in, show us around and give us instructions.

Keith showed up to let us in, show us around and give us instructions.

Subway (with lots of veggies) for dinner. I personally have lost about 10 pounds so far and I eat early and often. Our appetites are all huge, and we can go through a meal in a hurry.

No dog problems today. The Schwalbe tires are holding up great along with the one kevlar tire from Walmart. Only one flat since Pensacola (on the older Burley tires).

Everyone is getting stronger. We are taking less breaks and pedaling long stretches. We probably have made it 15-18 miles without breaking. The girls are kicking major butt! Dakota is the pace car. She keeps us fairly close to 12 mph’s depending on wind and traffic lights.

I almost forgot to mention that we surpassed 700 miles today.

Date: November 9th

Time Pedaling: 4 hr. 22 min.
Miles: 51.03
Avg. Speed: 11.6 mph
Max Speed: 23.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 765.85
Weather: sunny and cool, 58 (Livonia, LA) to 70 degrees (Eunice, LA)
Breezy with a ESE wind at 8mph
Time of Departure: 10:22
Arrival Time at Days Inn in Eunice, LA: 6:05
Repairs: Front tire on tandem had a blowout

Today we had the chance to meet a Super Officer. After nearly 700 miles with flat tires abounding on the Denali’s, the Burley has been trying to compete a bit. We had a great adventure on the Huey P. Long Bridge, but could we compete with that the very next day? Of course.

We were traveling from Eunice and had just got onto the Morganza Spillway, when the front tire (tube) blew out. There wasn’t a shoulder, so we immediately undertook changing the tire. We had only just begun when an officer pulled in behind us with his lights. We found out his name was Ken Ortego. He told us to take our time and that he would keep his lights on and redirect traffic. After we changed the tube he told us he would escort us over the remaining portion of the Spillway and the Atchafalaya River. What a pleasant surprise. It got even better.

Tandem had a blowout 50 yards onto the bridge over the Morganza Spillway and the Atchafalaya River

Tandem had a blowout 50 yards onto the bridge over the Morganza Spillway and the Atchafalaya River

Changing the flat tire

Changing the flat tire

As we slowly pedaled with Officer Ortego behind us, he began giving us the history of the area over his loudspeaker. I’m not joking. He covered the Spillway, the river, and more. We were all smiling ear to ear.

This officer not only gave us a police escort he gave us a history lesson over his load speaker

This officer not only gave us a police escort he gave us a history lesson over his load speaker

When we arrived at Krotz Springs, Officer Ortego parked his squad car in order to make sure we were alright. We had a wonderful conversation with Ken about many things. He found out that we had never tried boudin and insisted that we go inside at Billy’s and try it right away. We did, and it was delicious.

Billy's Diner was just over the river in Krotz Springs, LA

Billy’s Diner was just over the river in Krotz Springs, LA

Boudin Balls made fresh at Billy's Diner

Boudin Balls made fresh at Billy’s Diner

Ken Ortego went to the Andy Griffith school of policing. Krotz Springs should be proud to call him their own. What an honor it was for us to meet this man. Thank you so much Officer Ortego.

Rob and Luke were really upset after they hit this Barred Owl

Rob and Luke were really upset after they hit this Barred Owl

Just kidding! A Barred Owl on the side of the road

Just kidding! A Barred Owl on the side of the road

A stowaway on the tent bag

A stowaway on the tent bag

For those of you who read French!

For those of you who read French!

For those of us who don't!

For those of us who don’t!

One of many painted Cello's around the Opelousas town square

One of many painted Cello’s around the Opelousas town square

One of many painted Cello's around the Opelousas town square

One of many painted Cello’s around the Opelousas town square

One of many painted Cello's around the Opelousas town square

One of many painted Cello’s around the Opelousas town square

One of many painted Cello's around the Opelousas town square

One of many painted Cello’s around the Opelousas town square

Just before getting to Eunice, darkness was upon us (once again). It was Friday night and the shoulder disappeared about 7 blocks before our destination. I stopped the troops at a side street to game plan the final blocks without a shoulder and in the darkness. As I did this, a man driving an SUV came to where we were stopped so that he could turn to go into town. My wife was looking for another light and he was nice enough to put his brights on to help. While he was stopped I had Dakota ask him if he would drive behind us with his hazards on the remaining few blocks. He said he would and did.

When we reached the Days Inn, he pulled in and talked with us. He introduced himself as Terry Brown and told us his family was out of town. He then told us to clean up and he would take us out to dinner at a local place. Not only that but he wanted us to try alligator.
Dinner, and the alligator strip appetizers, were wonderful. Terry’s company was also wonderful. He shared family stories as well as Cajun lore.

Terry Brown lighted our path into Eunice and shared his story about his Mom.

Terry Brown lighted our path into Eunice and shared his story about his Mom.

He dropped us off at our lodgings. We rested, watched TV, ate ice cream, worked…and slept.

Date: November 10th

Time Pedaling: 4 hr. 4 min.
Miles: 47.28
Avg. Speed: 11.6 mph
Max Speed: 17.5 mph
Trip Odometer: 813.13
Weather: partly cloudy and warm, 65 (Eunice, LA) to 68 degrees (Ragley, LA)
Breezy with a ESE wind at 7mph
Time of Departure: 11:10
Arrival Time at Faith Fellowship Church in Ragley, LA: 6:00
Repairs: Rear tire on tandem had a blowout

We left the hotel in Eunice, LA just after 11:00am. We must mention that for $85, there would be better choices than the Days Inn if you happen to be passing through. That’s all that I will say about that.

We headed to the Walmart that was located on 190 on the west side of town. We needed some groceries, tubes, and a harmonica for Luke. While pedaling Luke and I listen to different podcasts (for instance-learning Spanish), practice times tables together, and talk about what we see. We had talked about the harmonica for some reason a few days ago, and he has been thinking about it ever since. We agreed to get him one as long as he would work on actual songs. He agreed, so we left with a cheap beginner harmonica.

The tubes we bought would come in handy later in the day (wink wink). My tubes and tires made it almost 700 miles and then seemed to give out all at once. I know you are waiting for another bridge story. Sorry, not so romantic this time. We were making fairly good time on our ride even combating the wind to some extent. The wind was blowing from the SE, but mainly south heading due north. We will take the wind coming from the east…but not both directions. We all seemed to be hitting a wall today, but we pedaled on.

Our last day off was last Sunday (our trip by car to New Orleans). We have been knocking down 40 and 50 mile days with regularity since. It took us nearly 3 weeks to get through Florida, partly due to being stuck in Pensacola, partly due to getting in shape. It has taken us less than 10 days to get through Alabama, Mississippi, and most of Louisiana. That feels good.

Elton, LA besides this sign outside a restaurant/filling station/store there wasn't much else.

Elton, LA besides this sign outside a restaurant/filling station/store there wasn’t much else.

This could be the city lawn maintenance for Elton, LA, this goat was tied at the side of the road.

This could be the city lawn maintenance for Elton, LA, this goat was tied at the side of the road.

Luke taking it easy as we enjoy some nature and grab a quick snack

Luke taking it easy as we enjoy some nature and grab a quick snack

Dakota looking pretty as always

Dakota looking pretty as always

I think Rob and Luke are searching for an alligator! Haven't seen one yet.

I think Rob and Luke are searching for an alligator! Haven’t seen one yet.

Luke was under the weather today. Not so fun. When we did get a flat on the back tandem tire, he laid on the side of the road in his sister’s arms while Gail and I changed the tire and tube. He wasn’t vomiting but had diarrhea most of the day and even had to make a necessary stop on the side of the road (better than the alternative).

I have to mention that Luke and Dakota are like your normal brother and sister. They have their teasing moments and what not. But, Dakota rises to the occasion anytime her little brother needs support of any type. She has a kind heart and shows it well.

After changing the tire and tube rather quickly (under 20 minutes) we kept fighting the wind to get to some unknown lodgings for the night. We made it to Reeves and it was starting to get dark. We (Dakota) started making calls as there wasn’t much in the area. Success! Pastor David of Living Faith Fellowship Church said we had a place, but there was a youth function going on until 10:00pm. We rode the last 8 miles in relative darkness.

We talked to a few people and had to wait for the pastor to show up. While waiting we spotted a basketball court with balls on it. Amazing how fast an 8 year old can feel better when a ball is at hand!

Dakota, Luke, and I were on the court when the youth group came out of the building. Slowly they all came over and started asking questions. Then, they invited us to play with them. Nice. Being a Hoosier, I tried not to disappoint on the court (wink wink). We played for about an hour and a half.

We had a nice place to lay our head for the evening and we were ready. If our legs hadn’t given it all on the bikes, they did on the court.

Date: November 11th

Time Pedaling: 17 min.
Miles: 3.96
Avg. Speed: 13.7 mph
Max Speed: 17.4 mph
Trip Odometer: 817.09
Weather: rainy and cool (Ragley, LA)
Time of Departure: 1:25
Arrival Time at Corey & Peggy’s Home in Ragley, LA: 1:40
Repairs: None

We awoke before 9:00am and were cleaning up when the pastor came knocking. We opened the door to a breakfast prepared by the pastors’ wife, Cindy. The breakfast was complete with eggs, sausage, biscuits and homemade syrup. What a lovely surprise.

We were invited to stay for service and since it had been raining steadily, we accepted. We may have anyhow, but the rain made the choice much easier for us. After service, we were invited to stay at Corey and Peggy Burleigh’s home (guest house so to speak). We again accepted due to the current drizzle and forecast of rain. We are grateful for any offer of staying in someone’s home. We are never expecting a fancy Ritz-Carlton type of place. We consider safety, dryness and  warmth, but not aesthetics.

The Burleigh home and guesthouse had all of the above, and more. It wasn’t the lodgings that made this place special, though. It was Corey and Peggy, and their two girls Allison and Kaitlin. They shared a home filled with love and encouragement (and humorous commentary!).

Our 'apartment' while staying at the Burleigh's!

Our ‘apartment’ while staying at the Burleigh’s!

Sidenote: Picture a family of four pulling into your town on bicycles. You may look at them with bewilderment. You may even look longingly. But who is it that says, “Hey, we would like you to come home with us and I’d be happy to drive your equipment for you?”

Back to the Burleigh family.

After we unloaded our gear, Corey drove us to the Subway up the road for a bite (he tried paying for it, too, but we couldn’t allow that). We ate at the guest house and then just relaxed and watched a movie.

After a while Corey came back over and told us dinner would be ready at about 8:00. He told us he could send it over or we could join the family. He also asked (privately) if it would be alright for Luke to do a little squirrel hunting. He told me he would skin them and cook them if we wanted. My first thought was, “Are you talking about the squirrels in the trees? Those things with the bushy tails?” I realized these were the very things he was talking about.

Luke had one more super hero to add to his list. He was as excited as Elmer Fudd on the rabbit trail. We could find no squirrels willing to participate. I let Luke shoot the BB Rifle a couple of times and we cleaned up for dinner.

We had boudin, sausage and steak with gravy, rice, corn and fudge as dessert. Peggy is a wonderful cook and even better hostess. They had invited another couple over to eat with us, Shannon and Jenny. Shannon is the praise team leader at church and plays a mean bass. He, along with Corey, are laugh out loud funny.

Peggy and Corey, our latest new found friends!

Peggy and Corey, our latest new found friends!

Date: November 12th

Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 35 min.
Miles: 30.56
Avg. Speed: 11.7 mph
Max Speed: 19.0 mph
Trip Odometer: 847.65
Weather: sunny and cool 70 degrees (Ragley, LA) to 75 degrees (Starks, LA)
Time of Departure: 12:30
Arrival Time at Reverend Shields house in Starks, LA: 4:30
Repairs: None

We awoke the next morning by way of phone. Corey and Peggy texted that breakfast would be ready at 9:00. Another surprise. We ate venison sausage, eggs, and homemade cinnamon rolls (made by Corey’s sister who was eating with us). Everything was fantastic.

After breakfast, Corey, Luke and I went looking for some squirrels again.

Sidenote: Corey told me that he doesn’t hunt game but that he does hunt hunters. He has them bring him their gains. This has worked well for him, and is just a glimpse into his wry humor.

Again, we could find no willing participants. So instead, Corey asked Luke if he had ever fired a shotgun? Luke’s eyes got big and his trip was about to get even better. Luke got to shoot a fence post with Corey helping to steady the kickback. Afterwards, Corey picked up the shell from the shot he took and brought it to his nose and took in the smell. He told Luke that he would remember the smell 30 years from now, and that it was a good smell. Luke quickly grabbed his own shell and brought it to his nose. Deep into his eyes I could see the memory already made permanent. Several times I witnessed Luke bringing the shell to his nose after that. He safely keeps his shell in the Cabela’s pouch that Roy gave him. I imagine he’ll be holding onto these things for a long while.

The fence post that Luke and Corey shot at!

The fence post that Luke and Corey shot at!

Corey has a tractor and was more than too happy to pull it out and let Luke and Rob both have some fun on it!

Corey on his tractor

Corey on his tractor

Luke getting a ride in the bucket

Luke getting a ride in the bucket

Corey teaching Luke how to change gears!

Corey teaching Luke how to change gears!

Rob working the pedals, Luke shifting and steering!

Rob working the pedals, Luke shifting and steering!

They are both enjoying this ride!

They are both enjoying this ride!

I forgot to mention that my princess was in her element the night before as Peggy and Kaitlin brought the nail polish out! What’s a girl to do on a long bike trip with no polish? Enter the Burleigh gals. No shortcuts here, the toenails got it also. Two thoroughly happy children enjoying our stay.

Thank you Peggy and Corey!

Thank you Peggy and Corey!

Alas, we had to push on or else the story would have to end. We waved as we pedaled off their road. Corey snapped some pictures as we faded from sight.

It wasn’t easy making 40 miles that day, but we did. We pedaled through changing scenery and cooling temps…and, yes, wind. It was blowing NNE and helped a little but also hurt with the gusting and what not.

For the night we stayed at Reverend Shields humble abode. Reverend Shields was quick to offer his home rather than his church. He was working on it when we pedaled up. The house had been hit by lightning and he was making it livable again.

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8 thoughts on “November 5th – 12th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

  1. I loved meeting with you. It is a great people like you that makes the world a special place. Hope we meet again in life way. Be safe and God bless.

    • Hey Darlene (and Roy),

      We feel the same about you. You didn’t know it at the time, but our day before getting to you was a little challenging. You were the pot of gold at the day’s end. It is the hands of friends like you that gently push us forward through the headwinds.
      We would love to come back and enjoy more time with a family like yours.

      Keep Shining,
      Rob, Gail, Dakota…and especially Luke!

      • Hope this finds you doing good. I have been trying to keep up with you. I still talk about meeting you. And how it was a great thing that you are doing. Hope you get back to Livingston, LA one day. So Roy can bring you to see the swamp. And do a little fishing. Well I’m off to bed. Hope all is well. Be safe and may God Bless.

        • Hey Darlene (and Roy),

          We were just visiting with some new friends named Corey and Peggy. We were telling them about you and some other awesome people that we have met. We told them that we were going to add their names as our story continues. We want you and Roy to know that our story is about you and wouldn’t be the same without you. Thank you for sharing your lives with us, and believe me, we are already looking forward to visiting with you again.

          May the winds always be gentle, unless they’re pushing you forward!

          The Four The Road Family,
          Rob, Gail, Dakota and Luke

          P.S. Please let Roy know that Luke continues to fill his Cabela’s pouch and wears it all the time (like the Pony Express).

  2. Greetings, Adelphia’s,
    You guys are hauling! We’ve been trying to keep up with you on your journey but our current (and self-inflicted) schedule leaves us little time to catch up. There are so many things we’d like to say about your adventure but I think we can narrow it down by saying “You guys are living a dream!”
    It is so cool to see all the interesting places and people you’ve met along the way. The photos are great too.
    Be safe, be well, and be envied 🙂
    Rob, Keep touching those Indians 😉
    David and Family

    • Dave and Family,

      You are with us, you just don’t know it! We walk among the hills together (barefoot of course). As far as the pictures, we have so many more but just not the time to upload. We are storing so many more within.
      Interesting people? Definitely beyond our expectations.

      Indeed, the Indians will continue to be touched.

      From our hearts to yours,
      Rob, Gail, Dakota and Luke

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