"Freedom and responsibility we speak of easily, nearly always without recognition of the iron courage required to make them effective in our lives." j. glenn gray

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day Four

Hot, long day. Merryville to Gardner LA via Leesville, home of Ft. Polk! 79 miles to campsite…primitive no showers. Absolutely NOTHING between Leesville & Gardner. 1 quick stop at bait shop called Ray’s & it was closed! Got 2 bottles of dew & chugged first! No I-net so the wife’s updating blog for me. Sharon’s truck didn’t start this a.m. Chuck left door open & light on & ran battery down. Sharon bought new battery. Give shout out to Willie Harris for helping Sharon by putting battery in at the AutoZone parking lot. Really nice guy, Sharon sez thanks a million!

Beautiful morning ride thru LA forest; light traffic & shaded roads. Then good hills near Leesville. Nice stop at Leesville. Shout out to folks at Stephen Country store! Thanks for the courtesy and support… HOOAH! Leesville to Gardner, long, long way! Straight as a board with rolling hills. Crappy shoulder for 10 miles, Ranger station closed on weekend… No showers, no ac, just roughin’ it with the LA state bird…the mosquito! Got 2 Mt Dew & bottle of H2o from vending at Ray’s near hicks. Water turned to slush when I popped the tip… PERFECT! Ice cold water at the final hour when it was needed most! Would have paid anything for that water! So, 79 miles and last 200 meters to campsite was straight up hill! And I mean like a wall straight up! Makes me nervous about Tennessee and Virginia…Was in lowest gear and it was tough! Ok. Tired and sore. Gonna go lay down now. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lousiana Here They Come!

Well it looks like the little Verizon dude couldn’t keep up with our trio today. They made it to Merryville, LA but no Verizon service. Jack, Chuck and Sharon rode about 52 miles and the weather and roads were good. Jack will catch you all up tomorrow on the trip, but they made camp and were about to get some dinner and then head off to bed. I just want to say a special thank you to Sharon and Chuck for making this journey with Jack. It takes some pretty special people to undertake something this big and I think they really are! Can't wait to see what adventures tomorrow brings them!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day Two

What a fantastic day! Bill, Chuck, Sharon and I rode 61 miles, met some new friends, saw some great scenery and got a little closer to New York City. Today went very smoothly and I was surprised that I found myself relaxed and simply enjoying the ride even though we had to make more numerous stops because of the intense heat. And let me tell you... the one thing I overlooked in changing to a recumbent trike is how much closer you are to the asphalt. About 1300hrs when that ole Sun gets the pavement nice and hot it radiates up and I'm only about 6" above it. It's not too terribly bad while I'm moving it's when I have to stop at road intersections and the like that it feels like I'm sitting atop the cook stove! The next thing I overlooked was packing lightly. First thing this morning I jettisoned a major portion of my chow box and, the chow box itself! I reconfigured the load putting all the chow in the bottom of the dry bag and the camp gear atop it. The dry bag closed up nicely and the camp chair strapped atop it. I then tied a guy wire to the sign for stability and viola! Much more travel friendly.

We started out this morning with a hearty and delicious breakfast at Tarkington's. The service was friendly and we felt very welcome. Thank you so much to the Tarkington's and their staff for seeing us off this morning. When we left I felt like a roley poley and thought for sure I wouldn't eat for another 2 days... until about noon and then it was Ham Sandwich? Uh, heck yeah! ...and a brownie and 3 cokes and a liter of water. The day started off wonderfully cool from the previous nights rain. There was a dry and cool breeze from the NE and we just cruised on up the road enjoying the wonderful riding weather. Fifteen miles out we stopped for a break and spoke with folks at the Citgo just South of Batson.

We then got to ride on some brand-spakin'-pourin'-it-as-we're-ridin'-it pavement. It was like TXDOT was rolling out a brand new carpet for us and it was smooth and straight and cool with the trees shading the roadway. Motorists of all sorts were waving and giving thumbs-up and honking (good honking, not bad honking). As we were getting closer to Saratoga the ole quick silver began to climb with a bit more enthusiasm and the water bottles were drained quite rapidly and we got into some long rolling hills. Coming into Saratoga I spotted a petrol station but for some weird and inexplicable and stupid reason I thought "we'll stop at the next one." Well, let me tell ya... there isn't a next one in Saratoga, TX! So, about 10 miles up the road I was beginning to feel the heat and needed a break. I spotted a really pretty and very old live oak with a nice driveway under it and figured there couldn't be a more perfect spot. As we pulled up I saw the front of the house and a large POW-MIA flag and my intuition peaked again. Soon a gentleman appeared upon the porch and asked if we would like to come in and cool off. Enter Big Thicket Gun Runner, Bennie House. Bennie is a Vietnam Era Air Force Veteran and Class 3 arms dealer, and, a very likable fellow. He, his wife and boy were very nice and invited us in to cool off, get some cold water and use the facilities. We talked for quite some time then we took some pictures and exchanged tokens before we pedaled on down the road. I really like Bennie and hope good fortune for him and his family. They have a beautiful home and are genuinely nice Texas folks.

Seven miles further up the road we were in Kountze and stopped at the Brookshire Bros. for a deli lunch and refill on the H2O. Here we met some of the local retired fellas who happen to enjoy gathering here for the complimentary coffee and the companionship. Three of these old-timers were Veterans! One from WWI and 2 from the Korean War, which, by the way, is technically still going on though we are at a standstill. We ate cold sandwiches, fruit salads and Bill shared his brownie with me. We discussed truck driving and good roads with the fellas and they explained that after Silsbee we would happen upon Evadale, which the locals call "EvilSmale" because of the paper mill there and the odor it gives off from paper production. When asked what that smell is they answer simply "money." We topped off with a bag of ice and about 2 gallons of cold water from the soda fountain and headed on down the road.

At Silsbee we stopped at the CVS on Bus 96 and Sharon picked up some aerosol sunblock, I a large Gatorade and Bill used the facilities. We talked with some more folks and then started for the road when I noticed Sharon's front right tire seemed a bit low. Sure enough, it had a piece of glass in it and the Mr. Toughy got caught sleeping on the job. I figured if she had used Mrs. Toughy she wouldn't have gotten the flat. ;o) Sharon, being an experienced and professional flat-fixer-person had it repaired in nothing flat (no pun intended) and we were ready to continue much to Chuck's displeasure as he was enjoying the warm concrete on his backside!

The closer we got to EvilSmale the more I began to wonder about my plan to rough it in the river bottom for the night. Hot, tired and sweaty-stinky I would much rather have some place with a hose that I could use to wash off with. Well, as luck would have it my wishes would soon come to fruition. Lois and Doug had borrowed Sharon's SUV for a run to Dallas relating to a trampoline and Britney Spears... I kid you not. Anyway, they brought the vehicle to EvilSmale for Sharon and Chuck to use on our ride. When they got to town they stopped in the parking lot of the central baptist church to wait for us. When we arrived we began speaking to some local folks who were decorating the church for a wedding. Everybody mentioned that we were going to look for a place to camp in the river bottom and that we were not very excited about it. So, somebody fetched the Associate Pastor, Scott Loar, and he offered that we stay the night at the church utilizing the sunday school rooms for rooms and there are restrooms and air conditioning. Well, you ain't gotta ask me twice, brother! That was the best offer I had heard all day and it was very much appreciated. So we stowed our gear and headed down to Chuck's BBQ for a bite to eat... again! (I'm gonna get fatter instead of skinnier on this trip!)

Bill loaded his bike in Doug's & Lois' van and headed back home at this time. I will miss riding with Bill in the days to come as I really enjoy the Colonel's company. Bill, thank you for dinner and the hotel room. Enjoy the ride and I'll see you in about a month!

Chuck's is located on the corner of 96&105 in Evadale and hoo-ee, as Justin Wilson used to say. That was some mighty fine Texas BBQ! Chuck started serving his brand of BBQ out of a small tool shed on 26JUN2006 and later opened the small and very clean place he has now. I would venture to say that Mrs. Chuck put the finishing touches on the place it it is quaint and friendly and clean and just really nice. Couple that with some fantastic BBQ and you got a winning ticket every time.

We then stopped and picked up and ice chest, a bag of ice and my magic morning elixir, which I have been without for 2 mornings now... orange juice and mountain dew! Ah, nectar of the gods! I couldn't wait 'til morning and poured me a small glass. I downed it faster than I liked to and now wait patiently for my morning alarm as I bring y'all up to date with our day's mission.

Tomorrow we head for Louisiana. I imagine it will continue to be hot but, then again, we have managed to miss all the rain, travel some exceptionally nice roadways and meat some really nice Texans. I will try and post some pictures in days to come. I am operating off of a Verizon "Air Card" for internet service and am limited to 5 gig per month. When I get to an area with free wifi I'll load the pics for all to see.

I am hearing a high-pitched rattling in my right brake caliper (the one that's mounted upside down). Everything seems tight but that rattling is rather irritating as it is the only noise emanating from the terratrike. On the other hand, I'm super happy with the performance of the terratrike and it is very well built. Riding chip seal pavement today on HWY96 at 14 and the only noise was the brake/brake pad rattle. Anyway, anybody familiar with the Avid 7 mechanical brakes? Let me know if there is a fix for this by dropping a comment below. And thanks for the help!

Lastly, c'mon guys and gals! We've only got 2 followers on our blog! We have got to do better than that. Please pass this blog along to your friends, family, co-workers, dog sitters, grocery sackers, etc. Let's see if we can't boost our numbers before we get out of Louisiana. HOOAH!

Well, off to bed now. Tomorrow is a short ride at only 50 miles. Hopefully that will give us time to check out some local history and culture. Let us see what tomorrow brings.

Enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day One In The Bag!


First off, a shout out to Durrett Motor Company and Lee Weed for the digital camera, equipment and support! Your support is greatly appreciated and will help in the success of this mission.

Our test ride to Brazos Bend State Park went well. We learned a few things and came home smarter and more prepared for this mission. It was really hot and humid and even with sunscreen on I still burnt the tops of my legs and my nose! I learned that 60 miles per day while pulling 60 pounds (or more) of gear is about all I want to do on any given day! I also learned that BBSP has a serious raccoon problem. I mean, once the sun set that place was covered up with little masked bandits! They searched each campsite methodically examining every single piece of strange material in the hopes that it would be edible. I had my food locker strapped to the trailer until I got tired of chasing off raccoons every 20 minutes and brought it into the tent only to wake up to one of the little buggers standing up weaving back & forth while peering into the tent. I chased it off only to have him return 20 minutes later with a gang of his thieving buddies. When I shined my light out of the tent at him there were at least 30 sets of eyeballs shining back at me! This went on until about 0400hrs when they seemed to head off either for better scavenging grounds or the safety of their little lairs!

Today came off almost without a hitch. My good friend Benson (see photo on left of page) joined me for the ride to San Jacinto Battlegrounds. Nobody showed at Sun & Ski except a Fox News cameraman which was a nice surprise. We did an interview and shot some footage and then headed down the road. We picked up my friend Doc Elena at Bay Area Cycling which was another pleasant surprise as she hurt her knee a week or so ago. We picked up Sharon, Chuck and Bill at Bike Barn and it was nice to see and ride with Bill again.

We pedaled over to San Jacinto without incident and had workers in the refineries whistling and clapping while motorists waved, honked and cheered. Texas State Parks needs to work on their training program a little bit as when we arrived at the entry point the young lady on duty wanted to charge us each a $1.00 entry fee even with disabled license plates and the relative special needs of our little entourage. I showed my ID and indicated the disabled license plates on our chase truck (my chevy colorado) and asked if it was not TPWD policy that Disabled Veterans are allowed in with no access fee. (I know, you're thinking it's only a dollar and the park requires maintenance etc... well, I'm just a stickler for the rules). She called somebody else who also insisted on the entrance fee so, we paid and continued on our way. I hit the latrine to evacuate my morning mountain dew and grabbed a can of coke from the vending machine (the old snack bar and gift shop no longer exists).

About the time I was getting back to the group Fox news arrived and, low and behold, didn't pay an entrance fee... Hmmm? We had a very nice chat with the news guys and shot some more footage, which is posted below for y'all to view once you finish reading this.

About 2 miles past the ferry landing Chuck's bottom bracket/crankset failed. He tightened it up but it cut loose again at IH10. He shuffled his bike into the Texaco and Sharon called David to come fix the problem. It turns out the bottom bracket that was replaced this past Monday was the wrong one and David had to take Chuck and his bike back to his house for repair. We continued on through Crosby and then on to Dayton and finally Liberty. Later Chuck rode to my house and Theresa brought him to Liberty via truck.

Upon their arrival we all went to Tarkington's for some chow. The place was very clean and friendly and the food was of good quality and quite tasty. I had steak & shrimp with a potato and salad. I topped it off with an irresistible homemade coconut cream pie and washed it all down with a sprite. We visited for a bit with Marc Tarkington and his wife and staff about the trip and Marc invited us in for a free breakfast to get us started in the morning. Thank you very much, Marc! We will definitely be taking you up on your offer.

I found that I have a little too much weight on the top of the trailer and while cruising downhill it sways causing the entire trike to sway... very exciting! I will move the chow to the bottom of the B.O.B. dry bag and jettison as much as I think I can do without over the next few days. I can always re-stock later in the journey. I was told today that most cross-country riders carry very little food instead spending most of the trip searching for it much like a Geo cache! I don't know. I'm thinking I would rather have some chow with me but, I can understand the weight dilemma.

Thus my day ends. Let us see what tomorrow brings.

Enjoy the Ride!

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