Trip Summary

Day 52: 2929 miles completed, 8 states, 7 flat tires, 4 flat mattresses, 40 new friends and Bruce #1, 8 rest days

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Today is May 1, 2013; Jeff’s 50th birthday and two days after we completed our cross country bicycle journey after 52 days. “Re-entry” has been a bit surreal. In a half-awake state during the night, I thought I was in our tent. When I went to get dressed this morning, it was as if I did not recognize my own clothes in my closet, I had forgotten all about half of them. I had decided to get back on the bike as soon as we got home and settled, but getting on the single bike after riding the tandem felt so unfamiliar and unsteady, I had to step off and really make myself get back on. I did get back on and did not ride far, but just enough to gain some confidence (with the constant mantra in my head, “You’ve biked across the country, you can do this!”).

The trip was an amazing experience. Every part of the country we biked through was beautiful; some places you had to search a little more, but we were never left unrewarded. The mountains were difficult right off the bat, but the downhills were thrilling. The deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas were dry and desolate, but offered a unique, almost other-worldly landscape of cacti of all shapes and sizes with some like the prickly pear with the irony of the most beautiful blooming flowers among the harsh thorns.

The Texas hill country began to give us our first glimpses of green grass, full grown leafy trees and the most gorgeous wildflowers. We finally began to see creeks and rivers that actually contained water in Louisiana and Mississippi where they were spared the horrible unending drought that Texas has endured.  We had the most wonderful conversations with local residents every time we pulled up on our tandem at any gas station across the south. The beauty of Dauphin Island, AL, was a welcome day off and entering the lush and humid west Florida we felt as if we were being let in on a secret and serene landscape that visitors to larger cities like Orlando and Daytona Beach never get to see.

Hitting the limits of the historic St Augustine and making it to the Holy Grail of St Augustine Beach is hard to put into words, but we all rode to the beach together as a group just as we had started off from San Diego’s Dog Beach 52 days earlier and in much more favorable weather conditions. We all took our bikes into the tide and lifted them up to the sky in triumph among laughs and tears and hugs and champagne.

Along the way, we met so many good people. Some areas had been hit hard by the economy, either recent or decades ago, harsh weather or even progress that made highways that passed by their towns or towns that were unfortunate enough to be caught up in the immigration debate merely because of their location and are fighting small “wars” daily that most of us never hear about. The trip solidified my belief that most people are good. Some towns that had very little to offer gave us their goodwill and we took it appreciatively. We listened to stories of history and legends. We talked to US Border Patrol agents who seem to be trying to plug a flood with a Band-Aid, yet are upbeat and professional and respectful. We heard and tasted the local flavor of Cajun country in Louisiana.

There was Ms Pritchard from Greensville, FL, who came to talk to us about growing up black in the south during segregation, as well as some inside stories of her childhood friend, “RC,” better known as Ray Charles. Ms Pritchard went to college after raising 5 children and completed her Master’s degree against all odds. She taught school and retired at age 72, served as mayor of her city for several years and is still involved in civic organizations. She was instrumental in getting a lovely memorial statue commissioned in Greenville of Ray Charles.
It was our honor to meet her!


There were times my resolve was tested in the most unexpected ways; though it is my belief that times of adversity always end up teaching you something important. There was the day we began our ride in 34-degree weather and even with 2 pairs of gloves and wind pants and shoe covers on, my hands and feet were so cold, I pedaled with tears of pain and frustration rolling down my cheeks. It made me sympathize more with people who have no choice but to live on the streets and how they must endure the extremes of cold and heat and here I was with a choice about it and it helped me deal with it more constructively.

There were also the many dogs we saw. I do not want to indict an entire area of the country, but there seemed to be an overabundance of loose dogs in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I saw way too many female dogs who showed the telltale underbelly of having recently given birth and with the number of dogs running at large, it made me wish there was a better campaign to educate owners and make it easier for them to get dogs spayed and neutered. There was the inevitable outcome of this problem made sickeningly clear when we rode up on a young dog panting on the center line of a country road in Mamou, Louisiana, and then we saw why; he was lying vigil close by a fallen companion who was obviously deceased. As I said, it was the saddest sight I ever hope to have to witness. After trying in vane to locate and call a local humane society or animal control, I again rode away with tears in my eyes. I wish people had a better appreciation for how important animals are and maybe they would treat them with more respect and humanity.

There was the yellow lab pup that almost went unnoticed as I went behind a store to get a better look at a horse and colt standing near a fence. The pup was sleeping under an RV that had obviously been parked for the winter. No home or owner were anywhere in sight. The pup came out happily when she saw me and was stopped by the end of her 4 foot rope tether. The rope was not tight and she did wear a collar that also fit her comfortably. I was able to spend a little time with her and return her affection before I had to leave but I still think about her and hope someone just tied her there temporarily and that she has someone who loves her. She was a good and healthy weight, had a good coat and clear eyes and obviously was used to people, so those were good signs that someone, though not taking care of her the way I would do it, was caring for her.

Riding this bike journey was supposed to raise needed funds for Custom Canines and specifically to raise enough funds to get all the puppies trained and placed for the children currently on the waiting list for an autism service dog so that they would not have to wait any longer than was reasonably necessary. Any of us who have done this training have seen the amazing symbiotic relationship between dogs and children and how much good can come from this.

I believe things happen for a reason and there was a reason we were compelled to take this journey.

We disappointingly did not meet our goal of raising $30,000 for Custom Canines,but we did spread their message to a whole new group of good folks and maybe some generous corporate sponsor will be compelled to help this worthy organization. Our hearts were always warmed to see fellow riders with the Pedal 4 Paws jersey on or the staff wearing their P4P t-shirts that Bubba made sure they all had, and we have wonderful photos of family sporting these same t-shirts, and we are still taking orders.

We are looking forward to meeting our new puppy in training eventually,but for now are getting our own dog Monte settled in after his extended vacation at Jeff’s parents’ house. Like a child after spending time with more indulgent grandparents, Monte is having a reality check being back home with different rules! We are incredibly grateful he was able to stay with family who loved him like he was their own while we were away.

Not sure where the journey will take us, but we have some wonderful memories, learned a lot about ourselves and hope we did some good for Custom Canines. We will be blogging about our new puppy when we get him/her. We hope to see y’all down the road!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 52: Mission Accomplished

Long day, not riding – ceremonies and packing, more tomorrow …

We will have plenty of time at the airports.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 51: Almost There

The ride from High Springs to Palatka was our last real day of riding. The long day yesterday made today’s eighty miles a little tougher – back to back long rides. We biked most of the route on tree lined roads and trails that created a canopy shielding us from the wind and sun.

Like the Tour de France our last day will be an easy riding day, only forty-three miles with plenty of pomp and circumstance. The festivities begin a mile from the ocean where our group will assemble and ride the last mile together. We will be led by our elder statesman, Lee (71).

Our thoughts off the bike have turned to packing and returning home as opposed to weather forecasts and mileage. Hoping for a good night’s sleep as mattress issues continue to plague us. We received a brand new mattress which proceeded to deflate. Fortunately the crew was able to replace the replacement with another brand new mattress - 10pm no testing.

Highlights: one rider saw an alligator in the wild, we saw turtles nesting and one crossing the road, each member of a pace line ran over a white object in the road that the leader failed to point out.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 50: Funny Business

Today we said good-bye to our tents; we will not need them any longer. They have been our personal space and refuge from cold and rain and darkness for 49 nights. Farewell Kelty #T7! 

Today we pedaled 86 miles’ our 2nd longest day of the trip, to High Springs, FL. Bubba said it best about the scenery, “Texas has nothing on north Florida when it comes to wildflowers.” So true, the picture does not do justice to the vibrant pinks, fuscias, lavender and purple and every shade in between of wild phlox that grew in huge patches along the road side.

On our way to our camp, we made a stop at 9:30 AM at Dixie Grille for the “best bread pudding around,” although it might have been a bit too early for that much bourbon in their famous sticky sauce!

With our days together drawing to an end,we seem to find more reasons to laugh together. Tonight at dessert time, Mickey (“Snowflake”) provided the comic relief. It is usually Bubba pulling a fast one on one of us, but tonight the only person who could get away with it pummeled her dear one with a plate full of whipped cream! Ever the detective, Bubba caught on a split second before the dairy smash as he saw 1 too many cell phone camera
pointed his way! Unfortunately, Bubba was able to return the prank on Mickey, and the picture is now one of my favorites and will make me smile every time I see it for many days to come! We love you guys!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 49: Real Rest Day

Since we rode twenty miles on the last rest day, we have been on our bike for 16 straight days. A true rest day was prescribed. I only bikes a quarter mile around camp to perform a cursory check on the installation of the new saddle. The rest of the day was spent reading, chatting, and napping.

Lisa hitched a ride to Valdosta, Georgia, the closest movie theater, with some fellow cyclists for a movie (42) and pizza. That means Lisa has been in 9 states this trip and Jeff has been in 8.

Tonight will be our last night sleeping in a tent Truly on the home stretch.

We had the honor of hearing from a special guest tonight, Ms Elesta Pritchard, 83 years young, and born and raised in Greenville, FL. She was a school teacher in Greenville for 38 years, and was mayor of her town for many, many years and is still active in her community government.

She is a proud but soft spoken black woman who shared with us many stories of the civil rights movement that she saw oftentimes too first hand. Her own life story is memorable enough, putting herself through college AFTER her 5 children were born, even though this meant long bus rides and switching buses daily. She even went on to get her master’s degree and retired after she was in her 70s.

To top this off, she was a childhood playmate to none other than Greenville’s famous son, Ray Charles, to her he will always be “RC.” She told us little known facts about him that only a childhood friend would know.

Thank you Ms Pritchard for sharing your time with us! You are a remarkable woman!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 48: Biking to Madison

That is Madison, Florida.
It was a short day due to a snafu yesterday; only 55 miles today. That combined with a hotel stay and having lost an hour, as we entered the Eastern time zone, resulted in a late start from Tallahassee. At this point we savor every luxury: towels, bed, air conditioning/heat, short walk to private bathroom, multiple electric outlets, and refrigerator. We didn’t depart until 8:15.

Although rain threatened all day, we managed to complete the hilly ride to Greenville, FL (home of Ray Charles) and a flat, fast, wind-aided ride into Madison, FL without any precipitation.

In celebration of Madison County’s favorite son, we watched the movie “Ray” before bed. Long film, I didn’t get to bed until after eleven. We have a rest day tomorrow!

A quick review of our bike this afternoon revealed an issue. My favorite seat was damaged or worn. The leather was torn and was potentially the cause or at least a contributing factor to some irritations. Thankfully I wwas able to reinstall the seat that we began the ride on as I was forced to discard my “old friend”, Selle Italia ti. We have spent many hours together and traveled thousands of miles.

This evening’s meal was provided by our hosts for the next two nights. The baptist church arranged a potluck dinner. Southern fried chicken, perfectly prepared, was accompanied by every Southern comfort food imaginable with peach cobbler for dessert. After dinner a guest shared some history of Madison County and we were each asked to tell our reason for riding and our favorite part of the trip. Impromptu my reply was satisfactory, but after further thought, the best part of this experience has been gaining an appreciation for living simply and living in the moment.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 47: Extra Special

So today starts out like any normal day; wake up, get raedy, eat breakfast, and get on the bike. We’re excited because it’s a short day and we get to stay in a hotel tonight.

Fast forward to noon, we are less than a mile from the hotel, and we stop to have breakfast for lunch at The Waffle House, deciding to splurge on the extra calories since we are so close to the end. We get to the hotel with our bloated stomachs ready to hit the pool and lounge around all afternoon…

Then we see the faces of the 3 riders who arrived before us–and then they tell us why they look so glum…we have been routed to the wrong hotel; the one we are registered at is across Tallahassee, or approx 20 more miles by bike…and did I mention Tallahassee is very hilly? It is.

We are given the route sheets for the next day, which will lead us right past the hotel we want (the hotel where all are luggage is) and start out as a group of 5 determined cyclists. Jeff and I are still carrying the extra weight of the large gooey waffle we consumed but we make it in about an hour plus some. The staff hurriedly raced before us and put down arrow markers for each turn. The final turn had a personal message to me:

Thanks Ed, but I think I’ll pass!

And then a message for all of us:

Today’s short 56 miles turned into 76; but the bright side is tomorrow’s 74 miles will now be 55!
It was not the staff’s fault for the error. When Bubba visited last year as he was mapping out the route, he visited both Best Western hotels making note of the surrounding landmarks; however, when he called to make the reservation later,he asked the person on the phone if they were the BW on Hwy 90, answer: yes; Is there a Waffle House just down the street, answer again was yes; and is there a Wal Mart very close by, all yeses; only problem was if you ask the front desk clerk at this hotel those same questions, you will also get a yes because they have the exact landmarks! We all made it here in good time and we have 20 miles of our route done for tomorrow already.

P.S. Check out Lisa’s Facebook page to learn about the other little surprise the staff dealt with at the start of the day. Sounds like we almost had another tour mascot besides Dusty!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 46: Rainbows and Unicorns

Add another 68 miles to our total. The route took us through small towns separated by miles of pine trees. Most people connect beaches with Florida, I have always remembered the mile upon mile of pines that line the roads when driving or biking through the state. Our riding day started about 7:15 and we were at camp a little after 1:00 and that included two sag stops and lunch. It is getting easier. We have bicycled approximately 2500 miles thus far with only five riding days left. One week from today we will be sleeping in our own bed – bittersweet.

Each day after we reach camp the first objective is to hydrate and then shower. Then we congregate around the beverage filled coolers waiting for our chef prepared snacks. Focus quickly turns to the next day’s weather. Other than terrain, weather is the most important variable to differentiate the day’s difficulty. Today was another wonderful day: 55 degrees with overcast skies when we left camp. Throughout the day clouds disappeared and the temperature reached 85 after we had settled in at camp. The next two riding days look to be similar and also include an unfavorable wind.

While our posts seem to paint a rosy picture, it is not all rainbows and unicorns. The other day I was ready to quit and return home. I just wasn’t having fun. My two ingredients for happy cycling on this trip are sufficient nourishment and plenty of sleep. Food has never been a problem as we will both probably return home carrying a couple extra pounds and that is not counting all the clothing that Bubba provided. Hopefully it will be rearranged.

This weekend, sleep was an issue; I needed to re-inflate our mattress Friday and Saturday nights at one in the morning. This probably impacted our fellow campers also. It was just one of those times where all the daily challenges reached critical mass.

It would be great and unexpected if everyday was rainbows and unicorns, but reality is that every day includes something that tests your resolve or provides a challenge. Every day includes inconveniences like waiting in line for a toasted bagel, frogs singing all night, or not having hot water for your shower. Most days present a situation that tests you or makes you uncomfortable: it’s too cold, it’s raining, that climb is too steep, bridges are scary, my legs are sore, waking up on the ground, or another headwind. These cause us to question our cycling and coping ability. Can we do this?

There are some instances where a combination of these challenges cause us to question our objective and sanity. Why are we doing this? These are the times that we all rely on a combination of inner strength and support from others. It would be easier to load up the bike, jump in the sag vehicle, and get a ride to camp; no one else would ever know. But we would.

There are no shortcuts to reaching the pot of gold at the end of YOUR rainbow.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 45 – Recovery Day

So after a long hard day yesterday, what we really needed was a recovery day. That is exactly what we go – only 56 miles of riding.  After 44 days, finding it difficult to know what to talk about today. I think that’s not too bad after 45 days to have 1 day that is uneventful. 

After the long ride yesterday, I treated myself finally to a massage from Michelle who has been traveling with us temporarily. It was right before I went to bed, and money well spent!

We traveled with hwy 90 today, so straight and no turns, so it was kind of boring — no disrespect intended; it is kind of what you make it. We had a great local lunch at Simply Good BBQ. Thank goodness it was a short day–amazing that we now call a 56-mile day short.

We are at a nice campground in DeFuniak Springs, where the campground hosts will be providing dinner and breakfast for us, plus a local country music singer as entertainment tonight.

The photo above is from a farm along the route, quite amazing carving! We talked to a local gentleman at a gas station who was 86 years young, had lived in the area all his life and never learned to ride a bike, so he just thought our bike ride was amazing! As we were talking, Duane rode by on his recumbent and our new friend let out a laugh.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 44: Ferry Long Day

Our day started with a four mile ferry ride from Dauphin Island to Port Morgan. The ferry left at 8am, so we didn’t start riding until 9am. Normally this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but we had 86 miles to ride and of course the wind was in our face as we disembarked.

The scenery was magnificent: oil platforms, civil war forts, barges, pelicans gliding along the ferry, sand dunes, gulf waters, and that was only the first 20 miles.

About mile 35 we left Alabama, where we only cycled for two half days probably 60 miles, and crossed into our eighth and final state, Florida. Only 7 cycling days left.

Everyone, myself included, are exhausted after the long day. The last rider pulled in just as we were finishing dinner at 7:30. After a brief meeting to discuss tomorrow’s ride and accommodations, the group retreated to our tents to recharge.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 43: Island Rest

Our first scheduled non-riding rest day after ten straight days on the bike. And what do we do? We cleaned up the bike, lubricated the chain, and then we pedaled from one end of the island to the other. The main road on Dauphin Island is about eight miles from East to West. Heading West, the pace was leisurely. Then we turned back toward home into the wind.

Our objective was to find a snoball stand, but could not find one open; may be too early in the season yet, although there were ones in LA. Oh well! We got back to camp with the bike, had lunch, then headed out on foot. We visited Fort Gaines (“damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”). Then we stopped by the Dauphin Island aquarium and took photos of some captive sting rays, but it was Discovery Day, so a lot of people were there. We decided to get out of the crowd and came back to unwind properly before our 84 mile day tomorrow.

We will start out with a ferry ride off the island, and then begin the 84 miles and cross over into Florida, our final state!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 42: Wet Riding/Camping

 It was bound to happen. After forty-one nearly perfect days of bicycle riding, we had our first dose of wet riding. The rain started at 4:30 and hasn’t stopped yet. Only one brief respite around noon when we ran into a dollar store for dry socks and plastic bags and then a big lunch at the Preacher’s Cafe.
We all waited around this morning until nearly 8:30 and then decided it was not going to let up and took off in a Mississippi downpour. About 5 minutes later, despite multiple layers and rain gear, we were soaked through, and we still had 60 miles to ride.

The good news is we did cross another state line into Alabama, and from what we saw it is a beautiful state. This is state #7, only Florida remains. After 10 days of straight riding with no days off, we are camping on Dauphin Island tonight with a day off tomorrow and a sunny day forecast. The temp should be in the mid 70s, so we hope to explore the area, along with a good dose of usual day off relaxing.

 We were hoping to have raised more funds for Custom Canines ( during these 52 days cross country by bike. Our goal was to raise $30,000. With that, we hoped to be able to fund the basic needs, training and equipment for at least all the service dogs for children on our autism service dog waiting list, so they would not have to wait more than 12 months for a placement of their dog. We still spread the word with every town we enter.

 We have had some interest, handed out numerous Custom Canines fliers and may still get some press from a TV station in Tallahasee next week, but we are far from our goal and that is disappointing. We are looking forward to start out a new puppy in training when we return home. It has been a while since we have had a new puppy around, so hopefully some kind breeder will donate a roly-poly English lab with a sweet an calm personality for our pet dog Monte to mentor again.

On a different note, one thing we have been reminded of recently is that the evil people who are responsible for the brutality in Boston are in the minority; there are so, so many more wonderful people who show acts of kindness and compassion to complete strangers on a daily basis, I have seen living proof of this over these 42 days!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 41: Mississippi Flat

We got out of camp early and then …

Ten miles into the 72 miles we heard a loud pop that sounded like a gunshot. As I looked around, Lisa said “That was us.” Our rear tire, which I have been meaning to replace for the last week, had a catastrophic failure. To make matters worse the two tubes that we were carrying (brand new) had holes. We were delayed for at least thirty minutes. Thank goodness for Chandler coming to the rescue and we had to borrow a tube from Bruce2, which we will repay.

There seem to bean inordinate amount of unrestrained dogs in Louisiana and Mississippi–or dogs that have a lot of pent-up energy. They all come bounding out of every corner of their yard as soon as we ride by and the chase is on! If we see them in time, I give my best “Marlene” voice (anyone from Custom Canines know what I fondly mean!) and most times it works. I did use my water bottle and sprayed one particularly tenacious mixed breed of some sort, which also seemed to work. Most dogs are just out for the chase game and most likely not out to make a meal of us, so it usually does not worry me much.

The rest of the day, aside from finding no Diet Coke in the camp cooler or the SAG cooler, turned out OK. I have offered on multiple occasions to pay Bubba to keep DC in the cooler, which he refuses to take, and during the day if I need some, there normally is a gas station or mini mart on the route. Not the case today in rural Mississippi, but I survived without getting a migraine, so that was a relief.

Tomorrow, we ride into Dauphin Island, AL, for 2 days. Forecast is for rain most of the day tomorrow and cooler temps in the low 60s. Hopefully some sunshine on our day off. but not much control over that. We have a nice camp spot tonight, so we hope for a quiet, storm-free night.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 40: Logs and Dogs

As we depart Louisiana, our ride through the state will be remembered for the continuous stream of logging trucks that passed us and being chased by every dog in Louisiana. Most of the trucks gave us plenty of room, but a few provided an uneasy side draft. Most of the dogs were only interested in a game of chase, but a few unfriendly and overly aggressive ones received a squirt of water to the face, which surprised them and gave us time to get away.

The first encounter with canines in Mississippi was of the friendly nature. A young dog followed us a half mile down the road, looking for attention and a few pets. I had to sound mean and strict in order for him to leave us and return home – even then it took a while for him to get the message. A mile later Lisa spotted a miniature horse and donkey in a field and decided that we needed to make new friends today.

The ride was short, only 45 miles, so we had time to socialize.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 39: Comfort Zone

As our time begins to draw to a close in about 2 weeks, I was thinking of individual comfort zones. It is really amazing how it changes. Before the trip, I wondered how I would sleep and shower with multiple people; now it is just another part of the day, though ear plugs are a must to sleep and an eye mask would not hurt. You can get used to taking cold showers, 5-minute showers and spending the whole day without any makeup and without brushing your hair–and everybody understands and could care less! 

Those are really minor things. I have also had time to contemplate what we have accomplished, or what I have accomplished. Jeff has always been an athlete his entire life and played rugby and ran marathons and done lots of biking and running. I think an athlete knows how to push through things that feel uncomfortable. Non-athletes, such as myself get used to avoiding discomfort; i.e, when you are tired out, you stop; when you are hungry, you eat; when the weight seems too heavy, you put it down.

However, I think I have learned that my comfort level can be pushed further than I ever thought it could and I can keep on going. I still am not used to people looking at me either with amazement or like I am crazy when they hear I am biking across the country; I think either reaction is meant to be a compliment to my ability or at least my attempt. I am amazed everyday that I finish another day! I can now say with confidence that I will finish this goal of biking coast to coast–and if I can do it anyone can, but I would definitely advise you go with Bubba. He told me from day 1,before I ever sent in my entry that he would take care of me and he has. His staff and crew make every day enjoyable!

Jeff told me on my last birthday that I was not over the hill yet, but we would get there together, and boy have we…hill after hill after hill and a couple of very low times thrown in along the way to test our (my) resolve! Nobody said it would be easy. It is nice to be able to accomplish this together, and I believe it has actually made us feel younger and stronger.

We are not done yet, but we will be soon, and like we have tried to do with every day that preceded this, we are trying to savor every new experience and sight so that we can relive it in our memory for many years to come.

Tomorrow, we cross another border into the state of Mississippi. Tonight we rest in Franklinton, LA.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 38: What a Difference a Day Makes

Our accommodations change every evening. Last night was an armory that we shared with thirty others. Tonight we got a room to ourselves at a bed & breakfast. We were very appreciative because only the couples got their own room at this location. And we were given the suite: private bath, bedroom, and sitting area. We did have to share our bathroom for post-ride showers. A small price to pay  


Our ride was short, only 36 miles, so we took time out to visit Audubon Memorial State Park and Oakley Plantation in St Francisville, LA. The most interesting fact was that John James Audubon, famous naturalist/painter and namesake for the National Audubon Society, killed his subjects and posed them for his paintings.

A little over five miles into our ride we crossed another milestone, the Mighty Mississippi. We are now back on the “right side of the river and headed toward the Atlantic Ocean. As far as bridges goes, this was not a hard one for me to cross. My phobia did not kick in due to the wide shoulder and high guardrail.

Note: we have completed 2,123 miles so far

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 37: New Roads

After a 3-hr group dinner last night in Deridder,LA,the skies turned stormy overnight,and we awoke to thunderstorms, but procrastination proved to be a good thing as the rains stopped by around 7:45, and we were on our way.

I wish we could say the ride was not as turbulent as the storms the previous night, but the were rough in a lot of places. Bubba’s crew made the very wise decision to shuttle us over about 7 miles of a bridge over the Atchafalaya River where no shoulder was available and the traffic was moving too rapidly to be safe. We were all very appreciative!

When we rode into New Roads, the roads smoothed out and it is located on False River Lake, which is a picturesque environment. The street was lined with Spanish moss covered trees and respectful traffic. It made up for the day that seemed a bit chaotic.

We are sleeping tonight in a LA National Guard Armory. On a side note,Bubba and some staff went exploring after dinner and stopped at a snowball stand, wearing their Pedal 4 Paws t-shirts and the owner very excitedly said she had heard of Custom Canines and Bubba gave her all the information and the website, so we are so appreciative and hope she goes to the website and finds out more. It always warms our heart to spread the word about CCSDA. Thanks Bubba, Mickey, Ed and Joyce!!

Note: the entire ride was completed under 39 feet of elevation.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 36: Crawfish Capital

We rode 65 miles through crawfish country. Again the route was flat, the altitude oscillated between 50 and 200 feet above sea level. The fields we passed were filled water for crawfish or rice. They alternate the two as the crawfish feed on the remnants of the rice harvest.

One of our sag stops was at a donut shop in Oberlin, LA. By the time we got there, only three donuts remained, but plenty of a local delicacy, pigs in a blanket. While resting, a local bicycle ride of cruisers rode by.

As we approached Mamou, there was a puppy sitting in the middle of the road. When we got closer we saw what must have been his companion lying by the side of the road, a victim of a traffic accident. The puppy moved over to him as we rode past. It was a sad situation, but nothing we could do.

Our first stop once we arrived in Mamou was Fred’s for cajun music. By the time we got there, shortly after noon, the place was hopping. From the looks of things most of the patrons had started early.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 35: Cajun Country

We have finally made our way through Texas and into Louisiana.

The ride was 72 miles and the profile looked to have some serious hills. However, we began our ride at 30 feet above sea level and our altitude never got over 170 feet, so it was flat and we had favorable winds. A very pleasant day, not easy, just nice as we crossed many creeks and passed by farms. The only blemish was the portions where trees had been harvested – clear cut.

After entering Louisiana, we stopped in Merryville for lunch, bypassing the suggested lunch stop in Bon Weir, TX with their boudin balls. With only a few choices we had fried chicken at Fausto’s. It was the best fried chicken that we had ever eaten and Lisa loved their fried apple pie – similar to McDonald’s before they got “healthy”.

Only four more states to pedal through until we reach the Pacific Ocean. We celebrated leaving Texas. I meant we celebrated entering Louisiana with a Cajun dinner at Presley’s BBQ. Fried pickles were served as an appetizer. It didn’t sound very good to me either, but dipped in some ranch dressing – yummy. Not having any real barbecue in Texas, we opted for the ribs with sweet potato fries (the best) and fried okra. As a final course and to prepare for tomorrow, we all shared Ed’s boiled crawfish.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 34: Texas Citizenship

Not sure what the residency requirements for Texas are, but after 19 days we must be close to being able to qualify as a resident. One more full day today, and then we make our way across the Louisiana border on Friday.

The thunderstorms, as predicted, battered our tents all night long with strong winds, loud claps of thunder and heavy rain–not to mention the temperature plummeted into the lower 40s. We woke up at 6 and started throwing on layers and as much waterproof gear as we could find. Bubba said the forecast showed the rain ending by 9 AM. We made a group decision to hold off starting until around 9.

When the rain decided to show mercy on us, we took off. Not far into the ride the sun peaked out. I raised my face toward the sun, eyes closed and said out loud “Thank you,” and I meant it with every fiber of my being!

We took off layers the rest of the morning and enjoyed a glorious sunny day, with not so much as a drop of raining falling on us. We did 72 miles today and arrived in Silsbee, TX. Low predicted to be mid 40s tonight but no rain. We now start a stretch of days of indoor overnights.
Cajun country, here we come…crawfish beware!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 33: Racing the Rain

I woke up this morning and turned my head the wrong way. I must have pulled a muscle in my neck. Thankfully we had a short 45 mile day scheduled. Even with low mileage we left as early as possible because thunderstorms were forecast for noon and 3pm. There were a few pockets of mist as we made our way to Coldspring, TX. The skies were overcast and we observed banks of dark rain clouds as we rode through Sam Houston National Forest. We raced the rain to camp; we won and stopped for lunch at The Hop.

A newspaper reporter for the Houston Community Papers stopped by camp in the afternoon. She started her interview with a few of us, but probably talked to half of the group. We were able to share Custom Canines info and the article will be available at "" this week.
Almost one hour after our post-ride showers, storm clouds approached from the distance and appeared to be moving past. The temperature dropped 15 degrees as the wind changed from the South to West before the skies let loose. Things would have been difficult, but Bubba arranged for us to use the clubhouse at the RV Park we are staying. Coincidence or karma, the facilities for inclement weather and timings of rest days have been most fortuitous.

It has been raining all afternoon and into the evening, so we will be turning in early. It is very cold (42 projected) since the front moved through. Quite a change from last night (70). Sleeping with socks, sweatshirt, and stocking cap.

The rain is supposed to continue all night, but let up just in time for our scheduled start time at 7 am.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 32: Mexican Hill Ranch – Rest Day

It feels like a Saturday. Today is our day off of biking, and we are relaxing at Mexican Hill Ranch in Richards, TX. The owners, Ernie and Doris Bazan, are about the nicest people you will meet, and their ranch is immaculate. We are camping in tents, but they offer cabin-like room accommodations also and they cater to Harley riders as well as Trek riders!

They raise some cattle, horses,a couple donkeys and a number of water fowl and chickens. Doris is known to be a caretaker to animals; apparently even the animals know this because 1 day last year in Feb a tiny calf came wandering to their property, only 24 hours old or so. Doris scooped it up and then went looking for mama, but tragically found mama had died giving birth to the little calf, so the rancher who owned the mama said Doris might just as well keep the calf. We met “Bonnie” today, a big, healthy cow who is almost ready to start having a calf of her own. 

We are trying mentally to prepare for now 10 days of biking before another break. Only 44 miles tomorrow but thunderstorms are predicted in the afternoon, so we all hope to be in camp by the time any rain starts to fall.

 Rest days always give us time to reflect on the people who have helped us, so thank you to the Petry family for watching over our house and checking in on things, getting our mail, etc., and being all around good. Thanks also to Mom and

Dad Arndt for opening up your home to Monte. We miss him a lot, but it is reassuring to know he is in good hands.

Thank You to everyone who has supported Custom Canines by purchasing t-shirts or bike jerseys or sponsoring miles or spreading the word about Pedal 4 Paws; we are so very grateful, and I know Nicole and everyone at Custom Canines appreciates you too!

We appreciate all of your encouragement. It keeps us focused and motivated.