Gulf Shores, AL
Tomorrow we cross into Florida marking our last state in this cross-country ride. Woohoo.
Gulf Shores, AL
Since I went to sleep at 9:30 PM, I of course woke up early, but stayed in the tent till 9 AM when I was pretty hungry. Leftover enchiladas with a couple of fried eggs hit the spot. It was a chilly and rainy day, so the beach was out of the question. Tim, Jim, and Patrick went to the movies while Mel, Bill, Jackie, and I watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil followed by Inside Man…both pretty good movies. Oh, Mary has a friend who lives in Fairhope, so she spent the time with them. After movies, I made pita pizza for dinner, did laundry, and am now in the tent at 9 PM. Overall a pretty relaxing day.
Tomorrow we cross into Florida marking our last state in this cross-country ride. Woohoo.
Mobile - Gulf Shores, AL
I stayed up too late playing on the computer and watching TV. SInce I had internet access I was looking at AirBnB’s for the end of the trip but didn’t book any. I woke up at 6:30 AM thinking that I better book before the places I found weren’t available, so I didn’t get the 8-9 hours of sleep I like to get. I figured Patrick will pick up our stuff and since Tim and I are riding alone today, we can lay back down a bit after. Patrick showed up right at 8 AM and since we were up and dressed we went to breakfast in the lobby. When we returned to the room around 8:30 AM, there was no way we were going back to bed, so we finished getting ready and were on the road by 9 AM.
I was at first worried about riding along some of these roads in Mobile, but then I realized it was Saturday morning, so the traffic was very light. The route took us through an old, historic district of Mobile and we came across this incredible Victorian house, The Kate Shepard House built in 1897.
While checking out the house we met a local cyclist, Marshall McLeod. He is 77 and is in better shape than we are even after riding 2,300 miles across the country.
After 15 miles we were finally able to cross the Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridge over the Mobile River.
No, we didn’t just cross into Alabama, but there wasn’t a “Welcome to Alabama” sign, so when we saw this sign we had to stop and take a photo.
Another cool thing this route took us by is the Battleship Memorial Park where the USS Alabama is permanently docked as a museum.
It is pretty nice riding along some water:
We were finally on the “Eastern Shore” of Mobile Bay when we got on the Eastern Shore Trail. This trail took us on a boardwalk called alligator alley, where we actually saw a huge alligator:
We were kind of excited to see that there was a bicycle trail, although, after we left the boardwalk area the trail became pretty much a sidewalk…blah. We arrived in Daphne, Alabama and there were some pretty cool street sculptures. Check out this bicycle themed one:
It has been a while since we went to a brewery on this trip. Finally, Fairhope Brewing Company:
After a sandwich and a beer, we were back on the road pedaling south with a pretty good headwind. We finally turned east for a bit which was a relief, plus, there was an actual bicycle path that went for about 3 miles…nice.
We made it to Gulf Shores, and just 4 miles short of the RV park when we stopped into brewery number 2 for the day, Big Beach Brewing Company. It is pretty crazy that we are here at a brewery that we frequent when we rent the condo on Perdido Key. It is like we are home, but not really since we are just passing through.
We finally arrived at the RV park just after 6 PM in time for dinner (pork chops, sweet potatoes, and salad. We were all in our tents around 8:30 PM. I played with my phone a bit and decided I was too tired to do the blog and went to sleep at 9:30 PM. It is now the next day (a down day) and I am doing the blog as I do the laundry at 8:30 PM. The dryer finally stopped just as I am typing this last paragraph, so until tomorrow….
Big Biloxi Campground, MS - Mobile, AL
I slept really well last night and woke up just before the 6:45 AM alarm. We are leaving a bit earlier today since we have more climbing that we have had in a while. Right at 8:30 AM we were all ready to go. The first 60 miles of the ride was really nice, with back roads that were smooth and light on traffic. Here are a few of the photos Mary took of the scenery today. She and Jim even saw an alligator as we crossed over a swampy looking river.
Just before mile 57 we crossed over into Alabama. Unfortunately there was no "Welcome to Alabama" sign on our route. We continued on to our first stop in Alabama:
After a 1 mile ride on a rocky, closed, under construction road we arrived at the RV park, but they don't allow tents. So, Mel, Bill, Tim, and I continued 5 miles east to check into our hotel for the night. We decided to eat out tonight, so the 4 of us walked to a Thai place down the road then returned to the room around 8 PM.
Tomorrow we ride to the beach. We have all been looking forward to seeing the Gulf for a while now, so it will be a treat. The official bicycle route takes a ferry to cross Mobile Bay, but since I am crazy and want to have continuous tire tread from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, Tim and I are riding around the bay. It is an extra 13 miles or so, but there are a couple of breweries along the route. Patrick will be here around 8 AM to get our luggage, so it's time to finish up the blog and get some sleep.
Poplarville - Big Biloxi Campground, MS
Last night was a bit warmer than the night before, so I was able to sleep pretty well. In the morning, the humidity must have been 100% since the tent and our sleeping bags were wet. At least the temperature was high 50s, so it was bearable.
We left a little after 9 AM. No one was in too much of a hurry since we only have around 40 miles today. The roads today were beautiful; low traffic and great scenery.
Our first break was in front of a church around the 16 miles point…there was shade and benches to sit on…perfect for a roadside stop. Our next and last stop was a gas station around the 31 mile point in McHenry. Attached to the gas station was O’Neal’s. On there sign it said “Home of the ‘Best’ Shrimp Po-Boy.”
Of course we had to see if this was true, so Tim and I shared a shrimp Po-Boy. It really was delicious.
After a small fiasco in the parking lot of Mel and Bill tipping over on the tandem, we were back on the road for the last 11 miles of the day. More great roads and great scenery.
When we were about 3 miles out from the campground, Patrick passed us going the other direction. Of course he turned around and rode back to the campground with us…what a nice surprise! We arrived at the campsite just before 1:30 PM. How nice to have the whole afternoon to relax.
And bonus…my good friend Julie, who lives near Biloxi, came to the campground to visit with us for a few hours. It was great seeing her and a great visit.
We ate dinner earlier than usual (chicken and tofu stir fry) leaving us time to was “The Last of the Mohicans.” As usual, we were in our tent around 8 PM. Tomorrow we have 70 miles, but more climbing than we have had for a while, so it was decided to get an earlier start at 8:30 AM. I would usually complain about starting before 9 AM, but since we are staying in a hotel tomorrow, it is good to check-in earlier and have more time to enjoy the room.
Amite City, LA - Poplarville, MS
It is always easy to get up and ride after a zero day, today was no exception. Although, it was pretty chilly in the morning, so getting out of the sleeping bag wasn’t the most fun. As planned, we started out right at 9 AM and rode the first 3 miles together. This is where I have to ride an extra 5 mile round-trip to ride to the church where Patrick picked us up 2 days ago. Everyone thought I was crazy except for Tim, who expected it, and waited at the 3 mile point as I rode to the church and back.
We figured we could catch up with the rest of the group at the first rest stop in Franklinton. Tim and I were going great until he got a flat tire just 3 miles out from the stop. It took us 15 minutes to get back on the road. By the time we arrived in Franklinton, the rest of the group was pretty much done with their break and decided to hit the road before we were really ready. By the way, today’s route stays on Louisiana Highway 10 for most of the day, so it is pretty easy to navigate.
Anyway, after a bit more time, Tim and I were again in pursuit mode. We arrived at the second stop not too long after the rest arrived. They found a gas station just before town that had a nice picnic bench to sit at…bonus!
After lunch we were excited to get back on the road since we will be crossing into Mississippi in just 5 more miles. 5 states down, 3 to go!
We pulled into the RV park in Poplarville right around 3:30 PM. Mel and I prepared vegetarian enchiladas, Mel prepared Mexican quinoa, and Jim cooked the taco meat for the Mexican feast we had for dinner. YUM!
Tomorrow is a short day (around 40 miles), so we will start out at 9 AM. Since it is only 8 PM and I am already in the tent, there shouldn’t be any problem waking up in the morning.
Amite City, LA
A well deserved day off after riding the last 5 days in a row. I slept in till around 9 AM, had some breakfast, and fixed my flat tire from yesterday. Today, Jackie's sister Cathy flew down for the day from Michigan, so we took her on one of our famous grocery shopping trips along with Patrick, Jackie, and Jim. After shopping we went to the gas station for PoBoy sandwiches to take back to the RV park for lunch. Why are the best PoBoys made in gas stations? We then played some games while Jim prepared the ribs for dinner tonight. After dinner we said goodbye to Cathy and just after 8 PM retired to our beds.
Tonight is supposed to get down into the 40's, plus we have just over 60 miles to ride tomorrow, so we aren't leaving until 9 AM. After a great day of resting, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Morganza - Amite City, LA
Lots of people that stay / live in this RV park leave early in the morning. I was awoken pretty regularly starting at 5 AM by engines starting and people yelling. The alarm went off at 7 AM because we have a long day today and are starting out at 8:30 AM. Not that the alarm woke me because I had been up for a while.
As planned, we were on the road just after 8:30 AM. Two cool milestones today...one, we will be passing the 2,000 mile point, and second, we will be crossing the Mississippi River around mile 15. Patrick met us there to take some photos, which is pretty cool. We crossed on the John James Audubon Bridge.
Today's route took us on some really nice backroads in Louisiana:
Tim and I were riding in front when I looked back and noticed no one was there. I checked my phone and had a message that someone had a flat. We were only 2 miles from our scheduled lunch stop, so we continued on. Mary showed up pretty soon and said that she continued while Bill and Mel turned back to help Jackie with her flat. About 30 minutes later everyone else showed up and we were back on the road shortly after.
Our next stop was a Dollar General only 19 miles from the end. After a short break, Bill and Mel took off a few minutes before the rest. As we were about to leave, Jim noticed he had a flat. Seems to be one of those days, but at least he is able to change it in the Dollar General parking lot and not the side of the road.
To save us about 5 miles of riding today, Patrick is going to meet us at a church on the route and transport us to the RV park which is over 5 miles south (off the route). The next day we ride is a shorter day, so we can ride the 5 miles back to the church, or Patrick will transport us back. We arrived to Patrick around 4:30 PM. Mary, Jackie, and Jim decided to ride to the RV Park. As the rest of the bicycles were being loaded on the truck, I noticed my rear tire was flat. Yep...one of those days for sure. Again, luckily I made it t the truck and can change it at the the RV park instead of the side of the road.
We got to the RV park and set up camp. Well, most of us did. Mary's brother is meeting us here and taking her away to a hotel for a couple of nights...lucky her. Gerard showed up soon after with beer (I think he knows us), so we sat around and talked and drank for a bit until we were all motivated by our stomachs to shower and get ready for dinner. Since it was a long day and Mary's brother is visiting, we decided to go out for dinner. We went to The Boston Restaurant in Amite City. It wound up being pretty good. We returned to the RV park around 9:30 PM and everyone went straight to their beds / tents / hotels.
Tomorrow is an off day, so no alarms will be set tonight. I plan on sleeping in till the heat of the sun wakes me.
Chicot State Park - Morganza, LA
Last night was the warmest night we have had since this trip started. I don’t think the temperature went below the 50s. This made for a pleasant 61 degrees when we started out at 9:15 AM this morning.
Today is another pretty easy route with no climbs and under 70 miles. With the route being flat, we decided to take the first break at mile 23, although a couple of people did use a bathroom at mile 14 because it was available. After the 23 mile break, we went another 19 mile in Simmesport. This was a very needed break since the road we were on (Louisiana State Route 1) was extremely bumpy. There were cracks on the shoulder as well as the road with grass growing though them. We rode 8 miles on this road and it was exhausting. By the time I made it to Simmesport my shoulders ached from all the bumps.
The remaining 23 miles is on this same road, so we considered alternate routes. When I asked the worker at the gas station he said that the road changes for the better as soon as we cross the bridge over the Atchfalaya RIver. Awesome deal. After a 35 minute break we were back on the bumpy road and crossed the river. The bridge was the only hill we had to climb all day.
After the crossing the shoulder and road improved, as promised, and we felt like we were home free. There was a bit of a cross / head wind to deal with, but it wasn’t too bad.
We stopped one more time in Batchelor at an Exxon station that had a very cool taxidermy alligator inside that made for a cool picture:
We now had only 8 miles to the RV park. Most of the ride was over a levee that was interesting since to the left of us it was completely flooded. This was expected after all the rain in the midwest lately. We made it to the RV park around 3 PM. A pretty short day all-in-all.
I walked to the nearby store and was delighted to see that they sold margaritas and daiquiris to go. This is definitely a Louisiana-only specialty. I chose the margarita and after having a shower and getting dressed I returned for the mango daiquiri. I was glad I did. The daiquiri was delicious. We had a great dinner of spaghetti and meatballs/black beans with Jackie’s famous fresh baked bread. Oh, Mary had a friend visit and take her out to dinner, so she missed out on this wonderful meal, but there are leftovers.
Tomorrow’s ride is 84 miles, so we are planning on starting at 8:30 AM. That means an alarm is going off at 6:45 AM. Luckily we are in the tent just after 8 PM, so we have plenty of time to get a good night sleep. Until tomorrow…
DeRidder - Chicot State Park, LA
As expected, I had a great night sleep in the hotel room. The alarm went off at 7:15 AM which made me mad since I was sleeping so well. Patrick wasn’t going until 8:30 AM, so it seemed that we had plenty of time since we didn’t have to break camp.
Bill and Mel decided to take today off. Bill needs a day for his back to heal and Mel needs one more day after fighting this crazy virus that has attacked us all. It is kind of sad since after all this time, this is the first day that Bill has missed, but he has to listen to his body and allow it to heal.
Patrick picked up our gear from the hotel at 8:30 AM and we arrived at the RV park shortly after. We were all fed, sunscreened, butt-buttered, and ready to ride before 9:30 AM. It was a beautiful morning with partly sunny skies and a perfect temperature right in the mid 50’s.
Today’s route seems pretty easy with under 70 miles and pretty flat. The first town is around 30 miles, so we have to take a roadside stop around 16 miles. I found a closed fruit stand that had some benches, so it was a perfect place to get off the bicycle and have a quick snack.
16 miles later we were in Elizabeth, LA at a gas station / restaurant / gun shop / hardware store. As Jackie said, “All they need is an alter for church and you would never have to leave this place.” The next stop was another quick on the side of the road.
We now had only 20 miles to go, but since we hadn’t had a water or bathroom for 17 miles, we stopped at a store only 10 miles from the end. This store wound up being a gas station / butcher shop / hardware store. It is amazing how many different things they can put under one roof out here. We now had only 10 miles to go and were quite motivated since a friend of Mary’s had arrived at the campsite and had promised to bring some good beer with him.
45 minuets later we arrived at the campsite and as promised, James had arrived. He brought some really good local beer, so we all hung out, drinking great beer, eating snacks, and having great conversation. A few hours later, leftovers were served. We did a pretty good job at cleaning out the fridge.
Tomorrow is a day similar to today. We plan on leaving around 9 AM, so alarm is set for 7:15 AM. Not too bad considering it is now only 9:30 PM and I am ready for bed after this blog is done. With that said…goodnight.
Silsbee, TX - DeRidder, LA
As soon as we woke up Tim said that he wasn't riding today, I don't blame him since he was pretty bad off yesterday, and one more rest day is probably what he needs. The big surprise this morning is that Mel spent the night sick and isn't riding either. Bill shopped around for a back seater, but no one was willing, so he set up Patrick's bicycle to ride. It was a semi-sweet start of the day when only 5 of the 7 group members were hitting the road.
The ride today is a bit longer than yesterday, but just as flat. There are towns conveniently located at around 15, 30, and 45 miles making for perfect distances for breaks. The wind is calm, the weather is perfect, and as you can see by the assent and decent numbers above, it is a flat day.
One more thing is making today amazing. We are leaving Texas! We have been riding in Texas since 1 March, 22 days ago. Although Texas was beautiful, we are all ready to move on. Here we are at our last rest stop in Texas:
Before we hit the Louisiana border, we stopped at the Welcome to Texas sign since there wasn't a sign to greet us when we crossed over in El Paso. It's never too late.
We crossed the Sabine River and entered Louisiana. Woohoo! Four states down and four to go. We are actually getting there.
Shortly after entering Louisiana, we left the highway and turned onto a nice country road. It wasn't the smoothest road surface, but we only saw two cars for the entire 8 miles we were on it. Hopefully this is just a taste of the road we will be riding through Louisiana.
Well, most of us were enjoying the ride. Bill wasn't feeling 100%. His back was bothering him and he didn't really feel comfortable riding Patrick's bicycle and not having Mel on his back. However, he was a trooper and continued riding.
The RV park in town doesn't allow tents, so Bill, Mel, Tim, and I are staying at the Quality Inn in town. Since the hotel was 1 mile before the RV park, Bill and I peeled off and went directly to the motel. Once there, it wasn't too hard of a decision to not go to the RV Park for dinner and just eat local. Since Mel wasn't feeling well, Tim and I were on our own, so we ventured across the street to the Mexican restaurant. We ordered the shrimp fajitas for two and was amazed when this was delivered to our table:
After dinner, we did laundry because we could, watched TV, and I caught up on the blog which I have now at 11:30 PM finally done. Patrick picks us up at 8:30 AM tomorrow morning, so I better get some sleep. Tomorrow is our first complete day in Louisiana.