December 29, 2010

Holiday Time

So I this is what I sent out to my family for the holidays, and I decided it was good for everyone.  So read on.....

Happy Holidays.
The new year isn't here yet so this isn't late. 
So I'll fill y'all in on what I have been up to in Austin
I worked at a restaurant downtown for the first couple of months I was here.
While working there I remembered how much I am not into working in a restaurant or with food in general.
So I got a job working with a couple of Welders and contractors.
I enjoy the time in the shop and on the job site.  Not a lot of stress and really cool people to work with
I also worked for a local soap company, wrapping their bars of soap.  They are SOuth Austin People (
It is all natural and organic. Its better than Dr. Bronners!!
I helped out another local company this holiday season, they are Zhi Tea. (
This is a organic loose leaf tea company that is nationwide.  
I pack and label all the tea and pack and ship all of the orders.
I wasn't really into tea before this job but they really have great tea.
I also work every Saturday at the Farmers Market downtown 
I'm cooking pizza for a friend of mine who just started his own Mobile Pizza Catering company. 
Its very good. All local products. Wood fired oven on a trailer. Its a great job only 4-5 hours and I'm outdoors just cooking off pizza.  
I try to keep jobs now that don't have a lot of stress involved to them.  
So that's what I have been doing for work

Now for my downtime

I ride my bike everywhere

I got a 84 Schwinn World Sport 10 speed about 3 months ago for $100 on Craigslist. The lady had no idea what a deal she was giving me.  The thing sat in her basement for the pass 10 yrs so its in great shape.  I still have the Trike.  I plan on selling in this coming year. 
 I miss the life on the road but know that I couldn't continue on the way I had before.  That thing was just way to much weight and my and my body is hurting because of it.  I have never been in so much consistent discomfort in my entire life.  

I have dated a couple of ladies but am still looking for the perfect one for me.  

I live on a acre of land on the east side of Austin.  The guy who owns the land (Moody Andrews) lives in his house in the back and I rent one of four rooms that he has in the house in the front of the property.  The guy next door is cool and leaves the gate open to his land so Coop has 2 acres to roam about.  Moody also has a full music studio on the land so I am learning to play the drums I have been at it for just over a month and I think I am doing very good.  

I have dreams of starting up something of my own here in Austin and have the friends and contacts to do so.
I just need to get my life in order to be able to do something positive.  

I have been very homesick and lonely this holiday season.
I miss IA and NYC very much and am planning on going to NYC in May for the 5 boro bike tour.  That's 41 miles thru all 5 boros in one day. I did it a couple yrs ago and really want to do it again.  I am also planning on taking a month off this summer and pedaling up to IA for Ragbri and see Tyler come home.  

Coop is doing well.  He likes living out here.  I think I might have to get him a pup friend soon.  I miss the time that we got to spend together riding around the US. He was thrilled to spend the day out in the cold on Christmas day when we rode around downtown handing out Peanut Butter sandwiches and Hot Tea.  I love my dog.  
I have Attached a Photo that my friend Azure put together.  Its formatted at 8x10 or 16x20  You can have it printed out to hang up or just laugh at it and forget about it.  I was going to print them and send them until I did the math.  
Its all about me a Coop.  
 Well that's all 
 Remember you always have a place to stay in Austin
 I miss you all greatly.
 And am still trying to make you proud of me
 Happy Holidays 
Sean and Fat boy

October 23, 2010


We're staying in Austin TX for a couple years now. Too many great opertunities and people here to move on.  Thanks so much to all the people who have followed along.  I might start a new blog to share about what we are doing here, but who the hell cares.

May 2, 2010


A cooperative (also co-operative; often referred to as a co-op or coop) is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit.[1] Cooperatives are defined by the International Co-operative Alliance's Statement on the Co-operative Identity as autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprises.[2] A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or who work at it.

That is what I love about Austin. A lot of great ideas going on and people getting together to make something bigger and better. This is what big business should comprise of, not all that big Corporate crap that is running to ruin this great country founded on freedom. They take away that freedom of being able to own your own business. But here in Austin, the little blue dot in a huge red state, they want to have their own thing. There are a lot of great ideas in this city and people are getting together to make something bigger and better for their community.

On Saturday was the Yellow Bike Project grand reopeing. Brooks and I headed up that way, I had the Trike loaded up with some t-shirts to sell, but no pup. The days here are already getting close to the 90º mark, and that big black dog can't take it. I feel bad not to be able to take my best friend with me everywhere, and it doesn't really show the whole picture of what this journey is about with him not with me. But we have been spending nights running around, although I can't take him on any of the Social Rides because he just freaks out with all the bikes around. We are working on that. When we got to YBP new shop on Weberville Rd. there was a mass of people and bikes. I pulled up and started chating with the folks around. I went inside to check out the stuff. The whole idea behind YBP is great. You have to volunteer about 12 hours at the shop helping others, cleaning up bikes, parts, and the shop. Once you have your hours you can build two bikes. The first is a Yellow Bike. Now these yellow bikes are destined for greatness. All the materials used to make Yellow Bikes are all used parts. They are taking bikes that are destined for the landfill and recycling them into Yellow Bikes slowing waste and giving back to the comunity. A Yellow bike is painted bright yellow and left around the city. The hope is to flood the streets with them and so if you need to run to the store or to a meeting you can grab an always unlocked Yellow Bike and leave it for the next person. And the second bike you build is for you. And they will teach you how to do all of it, then you get to teach others. Co-op.

I have met so many people here so far. I have talked about Brian with Spokiz, he is helping me while I help him. He had made "I ATX" t-shirts. He sold a lot but still has a couple boxes left and he is in Cali on biz, so I have been loading them up in the trike and pedaling around to all the functions that take place all the time here in this hyper-active city, trying to sell them. We are both making money and we are getting our ideas out there together. I also am also now a rep for his Sunglasses, Spokiz (spoke eyes). These are great sunglasses and I advise all of you to go to his website and order yours today.

There is another great idea out here called Flash Bak, these are the best personal safety system out there. It's the brightest LED lighting system that I have seen and you can clip it onto anything. It's good for anyone who shares the road with cars not just cyclist. The great thing about them is its hard to look past. I remember a couple times when I have been driving at night and you barely see the small flashing light that is on a seat post. Driving at night you tend to get tunnel vision and look past it. But these lights are so bright and flash at different beats that you can't miss them.

I am enjoying my time here. I hope to be able to stay till Oct. before taking off west. I am going to have to get a jobby job soon to be able to pay for things. It has already started to hit the 100º mark and we are only in mid May! Cooper is sick of staying in all day but he is adjusting. If you live in Austin and know of some work to be done send me a text or email please, I can and will pretty do anything at this time.

Till next time
Love and Licks
Sean and Cooper

April 20, 2010


I tell people that in NYC you can find pretty much anything at anytime, but in ATX you really can find anything! I have been to a Roller Derby bike ride, Tall bike Joust, Bike polo, group rides big and small, Dog days, Hot-Rods, Globetrotters, Uni-cycle football, Barton Springs, Eeyore's Birthday and so much more. I have seen this beautiful city in so many lights, at different times and from all angles and its just breathtaking. Don't get me wrong, NYC is an amazing sight to see, and I suggest to everyone I meet that they go there. But its a different thing, NYC is 22.7 sq miles, that's 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles at the widest point. Now cram close to 2 million people, animals and a bunch of huge buildings on that small slab of earth and you have New York City. That's what's amazing about driving in to NYC is knowing its all comprised of flesh, fur, and concrete!

Driving around Austin is just so visually appealing. From the people, the buildings,the area itself is pretty retro in ways. The city has a big campaign Keep Austin Beautiful. The KAB has the idea that everyone should do their part to keep their city and communities clean and beautiful. And the people agree and support KAB. This city has a real since of CO-OP. Everyone has great ideas and skills and want to get together with one another and make something bigger happen with a real pride in working within the community. It's my kinda place.

Hunting for a job has been a little rough. I really don't want to go back to the kitchen. I don't think it would be fair to Cooper, not spending that much time with him. That's why I have never had a pet before Coop. I never had the time to take care of him. But if I don't find a job soon I won't be able to put food in his bowl and that definitely is not fair. And if I go back to the kitchen it will help me want to leave come fall time, because I really like it here and think it is going to be hard for me to push on.

I will be taking part in my first moonlight ride on 4/27. The ride begins at midnight and goes till sunrise cruising around ATX by the moonlight. I am excited for this and plan on filming and taking as many pictures as possible. I will be updating my ATX pictures a lot and trying to keep you informed of my goings on here. But if I fall into some sort of routine with a regular job there isn't going to be to much exciting stuff to tell you about. But please check in from time to time I will be doing a lot of work on the other pages and product reviews. There are some great things that are being made here locally in Austin that I think you all will like and want to purchase. So stay in touch and the adventure is not over, its in full swing!

Love and Licks from ATX
Sean and Cooper

April 10, 2010


....but Austin has taken the #1 position. I have only been here for a week, but the idea of living that this city has is great. The people are so cool and laid back; everyone has a hello to throw our way and good vibes to put out. This city is full of bikers, dogs, pretty ladies, and cool dudes. The bar and restaurant scene down here is huge. People believe in the whole "Mom and Pop" idea: totally against corporate America for the most part.

On Monday we ran around to get some stuff done. I had to go to Ozone Bike Dept. to pick up the external hard drive that Bob and Lori had picked up for me. I also needed to get the plates that connected my new Keen Commuter sandals to my SPD pedals. We stopped by Home Slice to get some pizza. I am a pizza junkie, and I miss the convenience of getting a slice at George's before hitting the streets of NYC. We sat down at a table and ordered a large pie. They claim to be a NY-style pizzeria, and they came close. But the pizza needed to be just a bit bigger to get that one-of-a-kind slice size. Granted, you could fold it in half like a taco, but it just wasn't the same. Afterward we went out to the mall to go to the Apple store to have some questions answered about my aging PowerBook G4. On our arrival I learned that I needed to make an appointment to see a Genius. So we headed back to the house to chill out.

Brian and Chris had emailed me on Friday before I arrived and let us know we were welcome to stay with them. They have a spare bedroom and bathroom for us. When we arrived on Sunday, Brian told me of his friend Bill who was moving out of Austin to go to the New York / Connecticut area in a month's time. Now, Bill had had his replacement move into his place a month early while he rode out the last month at his place. Well, it seems the replacement had some issues with Bill, and even tried to fight him a couple of times. Bill isn't that kind of guy. He is really laid back and chill. Anyway, he didn't want to spend his last month in this great city in an environment like that, so he asked Brian and Chris if he could stay with them. They, being nice people, said sure, but told him he would have to take the couch until we left. He was fine with that, and happy just to get out of the situation he was in. So on Monday, Bill was coming in with some of his things. I felt bad because we had the room and Bill had given them money for his share of a month's rent, and here we were staying for free. I had planned on staying for only a week, but the more I thought of everything that I needed to get ready for the desert, I realized that I would probably be here for a couple of weeks. I felt bad. I decided that if another offer came around to stay somewhere, then I would take it to be fair to Bill, Brian, and Chris.

So on Monday night, the four of us hit the town. We went downtown to The Jackalope for all-night Happy Hour. Then we went over to Lovejoy's in hopes of getting in on free pool table night, but the chalkboard was filled with names of hustlers and sharks, so we just drank. We had a blast, and met loads of people.
There are a couple of them I want to share with ya:

First we met this couple on the streets going from one bar to the next, selling drawings. Their character is Stitchlip. Its a cat drawn in a very interesting cartoon style. They have T-shirts, hats, stickers, posters, and even dog shirts! Check out their work and story at

Another dude I sat and talked with was Shannon with 3rd Millennium Chess. It's pretty cool—he has taken a chessboard and made it into a cylinder so you have to play from both sides. It is going to change the game of chess for the better. I wish I knew how to play, because it would have been interesting to sit with him and get down. You can check it out and order yours today at

On Tuesday we all woke up a little slow. We got some breakfast burritos and sat around relaxing. Coop gets rested a lot faster than I do. When we stop I don't want to do much of anything that is going to involve my legs. I don't even like walking around. But he was a little keyed up, so I took him over to the field and had him chase some tennis balls. Within ten minutes his tongue was hanging to the ground in a heavy pant. How is this dog going to make it in the desert? How does any dog or animal make it in the desert? It gets hot down here—last summer they had over a hundred days that were over a 100ºF! By my calculations it will take us about two more months to get to southern California. That's two months of no air conditioning. Granted there is shade, but sometimes Coop can't cool down all the way unless we are inside with some AC or if it's night out. I really need to figure this all out. So Tuesday was pretty unproductive other than uploading all the pics that I had from Mobile to Austin.

On Wednesday it was calling for rain which was good for us. The clouds gave us a shade from the sun. I needed to go and check out some stuff around town and just see what this city is made of. We made our way down Congress St. heading towards downtown area over the lake. We hit the ped bridge and spotted a group of cyclist on the bridge. I stopped to see what was going down and talk to these guys about what I was doing. I met Brian from Spokiz Eye Wear. These things are great. 'The 1Uhnighed is the first ever, truly hinge-less sunglass in the WORLD! That is right you are seeing the sunglass REVOLUTION in action. This model is the first ever introduced by TEAM Spokiz and is great for us big headed people. You know us with wide heads that get the pressure headaches and annoying rubbing behind the ears from NORMAL sunglass. Thanks to SpokiZ you are now free to move without worry or headaches or slipping sunglasses ever again!!!' These things are so light and have no pressure points you forget your wearing them. They are great with everything. No more slipping off and dropping to the ground or water. Check out the website and order yours today. Tell them that Sean and Cooper sent ya!!
After that we rolled over the bridge and cruised around downtown, man there are some gnarly hills here. I stopped by REI and exchanged my tent and pants. I wanted to upgrade on the tent and pick up some more stuff but was unable to do so because I'm broke!! I went outside and met Dave and Yoni, Dave owns a pedicab company here in Austin and Yoni works with him. We chatted about people to get into contact with and Yoni is interested in doing a article and photo shoot on us. After that I went over to Mellow Johnny's. This is Lance Armstrongs bike shop. It has a nice Cafe, workout room, fitting room, showers, lots of gear and bikes. Its a great shop if you have a shitload of money, but for me it wasn't my kinda shop. As I pedaled away from the high end shop I turned the corner and smelled some good food. It was a taco shop and I had a couple bucks so I decided to get a taco. As I pulled up Brian Spokiz came out and said he wanted to buy me lunch. I went in and ordered and sat down with most of the guys I had met earlier on the bridge. I sat across from Brooks Goldsmith he is a web designer here in Austin. He also has a rental property that he rents out for the non stop festivals that take place in this super active town. He asked me where I was staying and I told him of the situation I was in. He asked if I wanted to stay at the house. It is a fully furnished 3 br house with a fenced in backyard and a garage. I said that I couldn't afford it and he told me we could stay free of charge. "Holy crap that is great" I had been worried about the living situation at Brian and Chris's house with Bill sleeping on the couch and paying his share of rent. I called Brian and ran it by him, I was worried I would offend them. He understood and was cool with it. After lunch Brooks and I cruised by the house to check it out and to get the keys. What a nice place. I left the trike there and Chris came and picked me and Coop up on her way home from work. When we got home I packed up our stuff and I washed the sheets that Cooper had slobbered all over. That night Brian, Chris and I went to the Alamo Ritz movie theater to see Master Pancake Theater showing Bloodsport. Its the same principal as Mystery Science Theater. But they show movies that you know, its live, and there is lots of swearing. My kinda place. I shot beer out my nose a couple times and my face hurt from laughing so much. Afterwards we went to Jackalopes to met up with some friends of theirs.
The next day Brian and I loaded up all of our gear and headed over to the new crib. I got settled in and and unpacked. That night there was a huge group social ride around Austin. I decided to take the pup and trike to it and show these people how we do things. We met up with the 200+ riders around sunset and got to it. I wasn't prepared for the hills. I didn't eat enough that day so my legs got gassed right away we fell behind and I was having a hell of a time keeping Coop calm. Coop and I spend 99% of our time on the road by ourselves. So when we ride with other cyclist he freaks out. He wants to be the pack leader so when he is on the ground he is pulling so hard to get going that he wears himself out right away, but will keep going. He would run himself into the ground if I let him. I put him up in the back and all he does is shift from side to side in the back whimpering and whining to get out and back on the road. Image riding a bike with a 70 child behind you and they are throwing their body weight from side to side. Every movement he makes I feel. We pulled up the the half way spot and rested for less than 5 min before they got back on the road. I decided that that was enough. I was exhausted and Cooper was freaking out. I went home and passed out.
The next day Brooks hooked me up with one of his bikes and we went for a ride. We ran into Randell and he had heard about us being in town. He also commented on the fact that we didn't finish the ride the night before. I guess people where taking shit on me about not understanding my gears. Screw you. I understand my gears and think that the fact that I have pedaled 3,5oo miles is enough to say I have some experience. Anyone that thinks what I am doing is easy or thinks that I am doing something wrong, please come and show me how to do it, and then you will see what I do everyday. ASSHOLES!! OK sorry just needed to get that out there. We cruised around for the day checking out this and that. That night Brian and I went over to the SOAP house. SOAP stands for South Austin People. They make homemade organic soaps and lotions. They have the same philosophy as Dr. Bronners. Keep it natural, keep it organic and keep it clean. They hooked me up with some samples, and a plate of BBQ brisket. After that I headed over to G&S lounge to meet up with Brian and Chris for some beers. I had also gotten into contact with an old high school friend that has lived in Austin for 8 yrs now. Rachel and I swam, went to school, and church together. I hadn't really talked to her since graduation and was excited on seeing her again. She was already there when we arrived and I gave her a big hug and we all went outside to drink and talk. Rachel and I fell right back into. We used to hang out all the time back in the day and we were really close the last couple of years of HS. I missed her bluntness and no nonsense ways. We hung out there for a couple and then we all headed over to Bender. We continued our conversations about Cedar Falls. It was cool hanging out with people from my hometown. This is the first time I have stayed somewhere that has transplants from CF. It was good for Chris too, she doesn't have a lot of girlfriends down here in Austin so Rachel and her hit it off. After we shut down the bar, Rachel came back to the house to meet Cooper and to talk a little more. I crashed out happy to have the hometown hommies in my corner.

Saturday was a big day. I loaded up Coop and Brooks and I headed downtown to check out this and that. We started off over on South Congress at the Austin Glass Art shop. The weekend had brought in the Hot Rods and Rat Rods. They where parked and cruising up and down Congress. Brian had set up his T-shirts and Spokiz glasses at the little bizarre that was happening next to the glass shop. We hung out there for a min and then got moving across the lake. We went to the farmers market downtown and hung out with the SOAP guys and gals. Right next to that there was a huge Crawfish boil going on but it was $15 to get in and Coop wasn't allowed. Brooks broke out on his own and Coop and I headed up to 45th st to check out the 1st annual Dog Day Afternoon going on in Triangle park. This city is dog friendly big time, and they love active dogs. So Coop was a crowd pleaser there. After watching the wiener dog races we headed back home to eat and rest up. Later that night I took the trike out without Coop I was planning on riding around taking pics of all the hot rods. I met up with Brian over by the Glass shop and we made our way out. People had been tailgating all along the Congress strip watching and driving these classic muscle cars. So when we worked our way into traffic it was pretty hairy, cars where burning out and revving their engines. We decided to get out of that exhaust filled madhouse and head east. Brian took me on some brutal hills. We split up on the way home and I decided to kill myself by finding the hilliest way home and pushed my self to haul up these hills. Main Street has sent me a new Mega Range gear that is going to help me but I haven't gotten a chance to put it on yet. I just turned up the radio and turned off my mind and just kept moving my feet by the time I rolled into the garage I had done 36 miles that day and was soaked with sweat. I took and shower and passed out.

On Sunday I had scored a job taking Fan Photos at the Harlem Globetrotters game. I haven't seen the Globetrotters in like 20 yrs and they are better than ever. They put on one hell of a show. I shot over 1000 pics and got to watch a lot of the game.

I have decided to stay in Austin. I was planning on pushing on next wk and getting to Seattle for the winter. I was going to go there and work for my old boss that has the pet cremation biz in NYC and Seattle. Hibernate, get fat, and save some money. But this town has way more to offer and I would rather deal with the TX heat than a Seattle winter. So when I got home on Sun I looked online for a place to stay and a job to get. Rachel came over to take me out to dinner and while we were hanging out she offered me a room at her place. She has lived by herself for 5 yrs or so and said she wouldn't mind having a roommate for 5 months or so. This will save me a load of money and it will be nice staying with someone I know. We just have to make sure her cat Roma and Cooper are going to get along. So for the next wk or so I will be staying at Brooks place and taking Cooper over there to get to know them. I hope this all works out and I'm sure if I stay positive it will be positive.

I'm not done with this adventure. I am just taking a much needed break to rest and reorganize, this city has a lot of people that support us and want to be apart of this idea of mine so by the time I roll out in the fall we will be bigger and stronger. So stay in touch I will be still posting our goings on.

Till next time
Love and licks from Austin
Sean and Cooper

April 6, 2010

Pushing to Austin

Okay, this is gonna be quick: detail points only.

We rolled out of the park and got moving. I was rested and determined to make it to Austin in good time. The hills were more of a gradual climb all day, with wind at a minimum. I just used the Texas atlas that I had gotten from Bob Strange and picked out my route every night for the following day. One thing Bob told me to do was hit up Brenham, TX—the home of Blue Bell Creameries. For the past week we have been getting up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to get as many miles done before noon in order to avoid the heat. We got to Blue Bell at about lunchtime and had a picnic, and then I went in to get some ice cream to cool us down. I got rocky road and Cooper got peaches and homemade vanilla. We talked to some folks and rested, and that afternoon we did a couple more hours.

On Friday we were a couple days away from Austin and moving down highway 290 when we got waved down by a couple who wanted to talk. I told them about what we were doing, and explained about all the stuff on the blog. I mentioned I had fallen behind on the photos due to the fact that my external hard drive was on the fritz. Bob and Lori asked how they could get a new one to me. I was shocked that they wanted to buy me a new hard drive. These things aren't cheap: over $100. I told them of a bike shop I was planning on going to in Austin, and they dropped it off there for me. Thanks so much, Bob and Lori Marsh.

On Sunday morning I couldn't sleep at all, so we got on the road very early. We had to do 38 miles that day to make it to Brian's and Chris's place. They are originally from my hometown, and we know some of the same people. When they heard about me coming into Austin, they contacted me to let me know we were welcome to stay with them during our time there. The temperature at six o'clock that morning was 67ºF, and the humidity was 10,000%! I was soaked about ten minutes into the ride. The hills leading into Austin made themselves known, but I was adamant on making it to Austin by early afternoon. Things tried to stop me: flat tires, headwinds, hills, and rain. By noon I had done 33 of the 38 miles, had two flat tires, and was exhausted. I was so excited to get to Brian's and Chris's house, and I thought the last 5 miles would take me just over an hour. . . . Three hours later, I pulled up to the house. Brian came out, and we talked while I unloaded everything and sorted all the laundry we had to do. Then we took Coop out back and gave him a much-needed bath. I showered, and we hung out and caught up with the goings on of mutual friends.

Now I am planning on riding around this great city. I have to go to REI to exchange gear and get some new stuff. I have some gear work to do before I continue on to the hills and desert. I'll post more about Austin while I am here. And also, I am uploading pics while I write.

Till next time,
Love and Licks,
Sean and Coop

March 31, 2010

The Country of TEXAS

Howdy. We made it into Texas. After beating it out of DeRidder, LA at around noon, I knew we would be pushing it to make it to Texas and find camping before it got dark. Luckily the wind was at a minimum that day, and I was rested up and ready to hit the 13th state of our journey. The sun was setting as I approached the Sabine River that serves as the Louisiana-Texas border. When I got to the bridge I could see the oh so familiar giant green sign that reads "Welcome to Texas." What a great feeling—I have made it to the largest state. I have so many ideas of what I will encounter and see in this huge state. Some good, some bad.

After taking some pics of the state line, we headed up just a little ways and saw a road leading back toward the river. We took it back a ways to get away from the sounds of the road, and to ensure that no one would see us. I got the tent set up and gathered wood for a fire. Before making it into Texas, I had stopped in the last town in Louisiana and gotten a 24-oz. can of Bud to celebrate the new state. So I built a huge fire, made some dinner, listened to the river run by, and enjoyed the beer in the moment. I have been having a great time, but I feel that there is more to be done. I just wasn't sure at that moment what exactly it was. All I knew is that it would come to me soon.

The next morning we got moving. In Texas they have the normal state highways, then off of those you find the Farm to Market (FM) roads. These roads have no shoulder, but a lot less traffic and sometimes no lane lines. Off of those are the county roads—most of which are red dirt or gravel—and off of those are ranch roads, which lead to houses or pastures for the farmers. I have decided to take the direct FM roads to get where I need to go. I was battling some big hills that day, and there was yet another storm moving in on us. As I neared Spurger, TX, we rode by a house with a guy working out front. I had seen his truck that was parked in the driveway pass us a few times that morning. As we got near his driveway, he called out and waved us over. I pulled in and met Jared Ernst.

He asked what we were up to, and when I told him of our big adventure, he asked if I was hungry. Being that it was lunchtime, I sure was. We went inside and he said to help myself to whatever was in the fridge. As I cooked up an egg, bologna, and cheese sandwich, he told me he had just gotten back to shore after being out on the oil rigs in the gulf for two months. He has been a commercial diver for these rigs for five years now. He does welding, fabricating, and any repairs needed, all underwater. He let me try on his 35-pound helmet and told me how one day in Fort Wayne, Indiana, while working as a commercial roofer, he decided his job sucked and that he wanted to get paid doing something he loved. That's how he ended up where he is now.

When we stepped outside after lunch I noticed some cows on his land, so I asked about them. He said, "Eventually I want to get a full blooded breed of Sanaga Trugas Cows and take the calves we get and give them to the kids at the 4H school up here so they have something to do. The kids that are underprivileged that can't afford a cow or can't take care of them. My wife and I have the land and the facilities for it. We are going to let them come do it here and let them keep the profits." Wow. That is amazing. He and his wife have put a lot of money and time into this cow idea. And it is all for the benefit of the underprivileged kids. That's kindness. After a quick much needed shower, I got back on the road to try to get some pavement behind us before the storm moved in. I noticed a road that would be somewhat of a shortcut by a couple miles and give us a better chance of finding a good camping spot for the storm, or so I thought. The spot was great, it was big tree field with new trees planted. The road leading back to it was dirt and the spot where we set up the tent was high ground on completely hidden from the road. We set up the tent as the drops started to fall. It rained on and off that evening and night.
The next morning we woke up to a muddy road leading to a muddy road. I decided we would wait out the morning and let the sun dry up some of this mess. I packed everything up slowly and we tried to make our way out afternoon. As I tried to make my way down the muddy road about 50 yards to the road, I got stuck. I tried pushing, pulling, kicking, and screaming, but it wasn't moving. So I had to unload all of the heavy stuff which is pretty much everything! Pedal down thru the mud to the road and then walk everything piece by piece back to the rig and reload it. It took over an hour to do and by the time we got to moving the sun was high and hot in the sky. I made my way toward Woodville TX. in attempt to get on a road with a shoulder and hopefully flatter. As I connected with Highway 190 I saw some big huge hills in the very near future. These are some of the biggest hills and wind that we have encounter yet. I have gotten over all of them but it is getting harder and harder to do so. We went about 5 miles and I saw a paved road that was heading back south. I decided to take it to try to avoid the monster hills that are on this major roadway. Traffic has always been a trying issue with us. But here is TX it is stressful. The posted speed limit is anywhere from 60 to 70 mph, but most everyone does 10 to 20 over that. And they drive these big 'ol dually diesel burning pickup trucks that come screaming up behind you. It is nerve racking and I had to get away from it. So south we went on FM 256. The road was paved for about 5 miles then I saw the dreaded sign "Pavement Ends" oh no. I had just come up and down some big rollers, and really didn't want to turn around. If I had been on the original rig I wouldn't of had a choice but with the Pedi-truck from Main Street, it wasn't really a problem. So we made our way south on this road made of red clay. I was amazed at how quiet it got the further down this path we went. As we got to the hot part of the day I tried to find a spot of shade to have a nap and wait out the heat. We found a nice spot with a breeze and layed down to rest. Coop stirred and started to growl soon after and I wondered what could be getting him riled up. Then I heard the familiar sounds of horses. I held on to his collar as the trail ride passed us by. There was a couple of covered wagons and people of all ages on horses of all sizes. After the nap and temperature drop we got back on the road. As we came to an intersection I looked at my map trying to figure our next move. Go east to get to a paved road soon or head west and pick my way along the dirt roads and hope not to get stuck or have to back track. As I pondered my choices a truck rolls by real slow and the guy driving asked "whats up bud?" I asked him for advice and he climbed out of his truck and we started chatting. He told me it was his day off and he was over at a neighbors and was heading home to wait for his kids to get off the bus. He told me to come over to his place and look at a Texas Atlas that he has. I followed him to his property and made my way down the dirt driveway to his house. His kids had just gotten home and they all introduced themselves and asked me questions. Bob went inside to help his little girl with something and Brice gave me the tour of the 40 some acres his dad owned. He took me down to the pond and told me stories of the little adventures he has had growing up here in Texas. He was a character. When we got down to the pond he showed me the boat his dad had gotten them so they could do some fishing. His big bro Chase showed up on a 4 runner with some poles and tackle and his sister Ammie and his dad joined a couple minutes later. While the kids tried to catch that nights dinner, Bob and I talked of the adventure and raising kids today in this semi-messed up society. We understood each other and shared the same opinions. After no luck at the fish the kids headed up to the house to say hello to their mom and Bob and I headed over to his Neighbours house. We pulled up to see Joe walking to the garage with a rifle in hand, I turned to Bob and asked if everything was cool. He said that everyone in TX has guns and Joe is a rifle man. This state was founded on a land rush. So people down here are inherently over protective of their property and everything on it. They shoot first and ask questions second. We sat down to chat with Joe and drink and couple of cold ones. Joe asked if I needed anything and I told him I was fine he called his wife and told her to make up some sandwiches and snacks and pack it up with a couple pairs of socks. We got to talking and Bob asked if I need a lift down the road. He said that the next 20 some miles west there are some huge hills and it would make it easier to get a hitch thru them. Knowing I am behind and tired of the hills I accepted. Me did some measuring and decided we would need a trailer. Luckily Bob had one that was just the right size. We decided I would camp out next to the pond and we would load it up in the morn and get moving. I slept good that night knowing I was going to get some help over the hills.
We loaded it up got some coffee and hit the road he took me down some serious back roads and told me about the area and how the pine tree farmers are wiping out all other trees to plant the fast growing high demand pines. We talk of PresBo and his ideas for this country. We chatted about all sorts of stuff when all the sudden I read the sign for New Waverly TX. "Whoa. I am getting a package here from my good friend Todd. We gotta stop. We did some 70 plus miles!" We had gotten lost in our conversation that we didn't realize how far we had gotten. We pulled into a parking lot and unloaded the rig with some help from passerbyers. Said our goodbyes, good lucks and thank yous. I went to the post office and got the package that had arrived that morning and made my way west towards the west side of Sam Houston National Forest. What a beautiful forest! The hill weren't to bad but the traffic was crazy that Saturday afternoon. I went about 10 miles to the Lake Stubblefield camp area and pulled into the packed camp ground to find out they were filled up, but there was room at the overflow area and it was free and I could use the showers there. I made my way over to the overflow area and pulled into the large field. the perimeter was full of bug tents and cars. I saw a spot for enough room for my trike, tent and dog. I pulled up and before I could unload Coop we where surrounded by our neighbours wondering who the hell we where. I was given beer and invites to hangout. I unloaded everything and stood the trike on end. I had to adjust my gearing and derailleurs. After that we went over to the other campground and took a shower. These shower house sucked. It only had one shower and I had to hold the button the entire time to keep the lukewarm water drizzling on me. We got back to the site and I loaded up things and talked to more people. The people to he left of us had a small village set up. There was 5 large 8 person tents and a huge kitchen area. This group from Houston do it up when they camp. I went back and forth between my neighbors chatting with everyone. I ended up getting pretty drunk and helped for about 10 min in the cooking of a cow head for barbaco tacos the next day. I slept under the stars that night more like passed out.
The next morning I crawled out of the tent and did damage assessment. I had thrown up out of the back of the tent sometime during the night so I needed to clean up the splatter off. I strolled over to the Houston Village and looked for things of mine left behind from the night before. I checked on the Cow head and found out Matt had stayed up til 7am keeping the hot logs loaded for the 39 lbs head. He didn't stay around to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Unfortunate he didn't do a great job at distributing the heat so only one side cooked to the point of tender, shredded beef that is babacoa. So when I was chosen to clean it up due to my culinary back ground I didn't realize it till I got to the other side. So they ate the done meat and gave me the rest to finish cooking. I was planning on staying for another night or two and Shane was heading out that afternoon to do some more camping. He was on spring break and had never been to the National forest. After everyone packed up and said goodbye we had the area to ourselves. I gathered up wood from the all the other sites and waited for my friends arrival. I took the meat that I had finished and mixed it up with a bunch of leftovers the Village people had left for me. When Shaneo showed up after getting lost for awhile, we ate and got to drinking.
The next day we went for a couple hikes and road into town to get some more ice and beer. On the way back to the campground we saw some cyclist working their way east. We pulled over and talked to them. I don't think they thought to much of me due to the fact that I was driving Shanes Kia. We talked about what each party has seen and encountered and tried to hand out tips for routes and things to see. I told them they had to make it to Fred's Lounge in Mamou LA on a sat to take in the Cajun music. They told me I would love Austin and Austin would love me. As we talked another solo cyclist stopped by that was heading west. He is a English Teacher in NYC and is doing a spring break ride. He does close to 80 miles a day and stays in Hotels and grades papers. He does it more for the cardio aspect of it more than the freedom that we have chosen to live. After Shane had given the three riders his info we went back to the camp area to relax.
The next day I packed it up and said a final goodbye to Shane. I hope to meet up with the West family again if it be in Pine Prairie or where ever I decide to live. I wanted to get to Austin within a week and got to moving.

Till next time
Love and Licks
Sean and Coop.

March 21, 2010

The West family.... the best, but Shane won't let me rest! I got on the road out of Chicot around noontime on Monday. I needed to go about 15 miles to Pine Prairie, LA to get some things at the post office. Spenco gloves sent me a new pair of gloves, and Keen shoes sent me a new pair of cycling sandals. It was a hilly ride and I got into town before 3. I swung by the post office and only the gloves had arrived. I went by city hall to find out about camping, and as they checked into it, I talked to Mona and Allison about my trip. They were pretty amazed at how I have chosen to live these past 6 months. They contacted a church that had a nice-sized lot that I could camp at.

I made my way over to the church and found the lot. When I pulled up I decided not to set up the tent first thing. Instead I strung up the hammock between two polls and relaxed with a book. Not much later a white Kia pulled up, and a guy and his daughter walked my way. He asked if I'm on some kind of journey, and I told him yep. He told me that about 5 years back, he and his son Dayne had walked 500 miles in Spain for 30 straight days. He asked if I was planning on sleeping there in the lot. When I told him yes, he pointed across the street and said he had a shed with a bed in his backyard that we could stay in. I said sure, thinking how much earlier I could get on the road if I didn't have to wait for the tent to dry out, and have to pack up all that stuff. I walked over to the house so he could show me the setup before he had to go and coach the baseball team. He showed me the shed and called his wife Nanci outside to meet me. She wasn't surprised that her husband had brought home a man on the road. I gave her my card so she could read about who we were. Shane and his daughter Maddie went to the baseball game and Coop and I got settled in.

A little while later, Nanci, her oldest daughter Branigan, and grandson Parker, came out to the shed with some coffee and an invitation to take a shower and do some laundry. I needed to do laundry, so I gathered up my smelly clothes and headed in. After I got the clothes working, I sat with the two ladies and the energetic lad and talked some more about being on the road. Branigan had to go to work, so Nanci and I chatted about this and that. She is a real sweet lady, very easy to talk to, and she made me feel welcome in her home. After Shane got home from the baseball game, Nanci went out to get food for dinner. Shane and I sat around and he told me of the trip he and his son went on to Spain. It sounded like a great experience for both, especially Dayne. Being only 14 at the time must have been an eye-opening experience for him. Nanci got back with food and beer, and started in on making dinner. While she was cooking up some tasty eats, Shane ran me over to his friend Wesley's house. Wes had also taken his son on the Spanish trip with Shane and Dayne, so he got down on what it was that I was getting into.

After the chat we headed back to the house. Nanci had made some stuffed Cornish hens, which in turn made me stuffed! We sat around the fire and I talked to the kids, family, and all the people that stopped by to see the bearded stranger who was in their town till about midnight. Pine Prairie only has about 1,000 people, so it got around pretty quick that I was there. This was the first family I have stayed with whose youngest child is 16, so they understood more of what I was talking about, which is not living the "status quo" life, but stepping outside and really getting into it all. To really live in it and not just pass through.

When I say "in it" I mean life, not the thing I was doing back in NYC—grinding it out, living paycheck to paycheck, if I was lucky. I was depressed, drunk, high, and just mean and bitter. Getting my kicks at being a dick. I knew then that it wasn't how I was supposed to be. It was when I was talking with my good friend Pierre that I realized I needed to let go of all the everyday stress that we let ourselves live just because that is what mainstream society is pushing into the mushed-out, media-drowned brains that we have forgotten how to use. I guess I can't bitch about it if I am asking you to sit in front of your computer and read my rants and recaps of my big adventure, but I honestly wouldn't be pissed if some of you stopped reading my blog because I got to you. Because I got you out to go live "in it." To see something new and unknown everyday. To see what this country of ours is made of—it's a combination of everything. It's the people and what role they play on the ebb and flow of our society. You see what mankind is doing to help and destroy this land and the entire earth. I have met all sorts of people: cabinetmakers, jewelers, army soldiers, photographers, bartenders, accountants, surfers, bums, drunks, dopeheads, cops, crooks, and politicians, and I have only done a quarter of this country. As for nature, I have seen the most beautiful and inspiring sights. I have been in some of the craziest weather in history, seen things that I can't capture on film, nor would I want to, because it wouldn't be just, and because some things I am keeping for myself on this trip.

Karma is an amazing thing. This is true, and it took a few weeks for me to put that all together. I was guarded at first, and still had worries and fears. But once I let go and stayed positive, things have been great. I let go of the worries that money can bring. And to be honest, that's really all I need right now to survive. Everything that I carry I can survive this trip with, but its the money that feeds us. And sometimes we don't have money, but we still manage to eat without ever asking for it. That's Karma. Positive thoughts bring positive results. Pierre has amazing Karma. He can think about grabbing the perfect hitch. Oh, Pierre is somewhat of a leather tramp so he thumbs for rides sometimes. So he'll think about the perfect hitch, and within minutes it pulls up. That guy is made for living in it.

So I told Dayne, Maddie, and a couple of their friends to thank their dad and mom for letting them experience life the way they have, and to keep on getting out there and seeing it all. Before we turned in, Shane and Nanci asked if I wouldn't mind staying one more night. Shane and his family wanted to hear more about our adventure and to get to know us. I was honored. I went to bed happy, exhausted, drunk, and glad that I stuck to my feelings of not setting up the tent in the lot across the street.

The next morning Shane got me up and ran me around. First we stopped by the post office to see if my shoes had arrived, but they hadn't. Then we went over to the high school. It was spring sports team photo day. Shane is an adaptive PE teacher at three different schools in the area. He's an assistant baseball coach, and also coaches the golf team for Pine Prairie High School. After that we went to one of the other schools so he could check up on something. As we made our way there, Shane filled me in on the Cajun history of that area. Mamou, LA is the Cajun music capital. So he spent the day turning the radio dial to all the local stations to fill my ears with this one-of-a-kind sound. One thing I forgot to say about Shane is that he is a musician. He has a rough speaking voice from all the years of talking so much and yelling at his sports kids, but when he picks up his guitar and sings a song, it's something special. I can see that he would be a fun and entertaining act to witness.

He drove me around all the small Cajun towns and pointed out places. One of them was Fred's Lounge, which has been around for 50-plus years, but now they are only open from 8 a.m. till about 2 p.m. on Saturdays. They pack it full, sell a lot of booze, and play some great music. I wish I could haver experienced that. We drove by where Nanci teaches Pre-K and then went and got some boudin for lunch. This is a sausage made of rice and whatever else—mostly pork—encased in pork intestine. Boudin is rapidly becoming a known food item around the world from this region, just like jambalaya, gumbo, and dirty rice. It's really good with some Louisiana hot sauce, cheese Doritos, and a Dr. Pepper! After that, Shane ran me back because he had some students he had to check on that afternoon.

When we got back I tried to lay down and nap, but Coop wasn't having it; he wanted to play and mess around. We were in the shed with the door open. Dayne had parked his truck close to the shed the night before, and was making his way out to move it. I didn't hear him, but Coop did, and he set off after him. He chased Dayne around the truck, and Dayne had to jump over the side and dive into the bed to avoid getting a chunk bitten out of his ass. I went out to settle Coop down and laugh at Dayne. I told him if he wouldn't have been sneaking around like a little ninja, Coop wouldn't have taken off after him. Coop was just protecting us and our stuff. What a good boy.

Later that night we went to the high school baseball game. I stood in the dugout with the boys and snapped some pics. After the hometown got defeated, we headed back to get some food and then head back out. Shane was determined to find some local live music. I wasn't too worried about it, and thought it would be hard on a Tuesday, which was the day before St. Patrick's. But he insisted. I was moving slow that day because the week before had consisted of a lot of hilly and windy days, so my legs and feet where hurting. Nanci noticed and asked if I was okay, and I assured her I was fine. It's just that when I stop for a day or two it catches up to my legs, and it's hard to walk. She was concerned and voiced this to Shane, but he insisted I was fine and we were going. I agreed, knowing the night wouldn't be anything I couldn't handle.

We drove around and didn't find a thing. I was thinking we could call it a night, when Shane pulled into a driveway I didn't recognize. We got out of the car and walked up to the back of the house to the sound of some blaring country music. Here was Darell, a native with a Cajun accent, who works on an oil platform—two weeks on, two weeks off. He was outside enjoying the night air, the sounds of his favorite songs, and a couple of cold beers. Shane introduced us and told him what I was doing. Upon hearing this he ran inside and told his wife, who was sick with a cold, to come out and meet me. She came out and sat and listened to my tail. After the hour or so of conversation, she asked if I would like to stop by in the morning before I left and have some breakfast with them. I said sure, and Shane said he would drive! We headed home, then Shane and I talked some more and finally went to bed.

The next morning, Nanci woke me up before heading out the door for work. She handed me a cup of coffee, way too much money, and gave me a big hug. She thanked me for staying, and I said they deserved all the thanks. When she left I set down the mug of coffee and smashed my face into the pillow, trying to regain the dream I was having. Not too long after, Shane came busting in telling me we needed to go eat. I rubbed my eyes and threw on my shoes, and we headed over. Katie had done it up: eggs, sausage, biscuits, and gravy. I chowed down and they asked more questions that they had thought of since our first meeting. They decided to stop by to see everything in real life.

When we got back to the house it was nearing noon, and I hadn't even gotten close to packing this thing up. Remember, I don't ask for anything, but I really needed some actual rest. So I may have hinted and steered the conversation with Shane into him offering up one more night. But I did offer to cook dinner for them, and he burst out: "RIBS!" He took off to work and I went back to sleep. I gave Nanci the shopping list, and waited for her to come home so I could get this meal going. Now pretty much everyone knew I was in town, so that evening, relatives, friends young and old, and everyone else stopped by to say hello or give us some gear or money. Dinner was good. I made ribs with my variation of BBQ sauce, a roasted spicy sweet potato mash, sauteed mushrooms with bacon, and roasted mixed vegetables. No one in the family—with the exception of Dayne—likes sweet potato, but they all loved my mash. Afterward we all sat around the fire and talked for just a while. Then we turned in early, and I passed out before my head hit the pillow.

The next morning, Nanci didn't wake me, but I got up and knew I had to get moving. I packed it all up and said my goodbyes to Dayne and Shane. Shane mentioned meeting up with me on Friday or Saturday to camp out one night. I was happy to hear it. We got on the road and made our way to Oakdale. It was about 20 miles or so, and we made good time even with the hills. As we got west of the small town, we went over a good-sized creek bridge. As we crossed it I noticed that there were some old stone picnic tables set up below, over by the water. I decided this was going to be the spot for the night. I had stopped in Oakdale and picked up some screens to make Cooper a sun shade. So with the space and a nice spot to work, I made a pretty useless thing. That night I made a nice fire and cooked up some tasty grub.

The next day I got back to it. It was a hot and windy day, and this giant bonnet I had made for Cooper was catching some big winds. But it was keeping the sun off him and keeping him cool. As I made my way west that afternoon I needed some water. It is few and far between the towns around here. I had stopped in Elizabeth, LA at the Pit Stop to get a quick snack, and they hooked me up with some free boudin—fried and steamed—and one of their T-shirts. I should have got water there like I had planned to, but when I came out to the ride there was already a crowd, and I ended up talking for an hour.

I got back to it without that much water. So when I saw some people in a truck outside of a trailer, I stopped to see about their taps. He said sure, and took me inside to fill up. Chris and I talked as the water bags filled. and I asked what was around for camping. He told me about a church with a lot of land not too far down the road. Said it shouldn't be a problem at all. So we made our way and followed the signs for the church, and he was right: the land here was plentiful. I went to the church and found the maintenance guy. I told him what the deal was, and asked if it would be a problem to sleep on the land. He said no, go right ahead.

I made my way back to the trees and turned on my phone. I got a text from Shane saying he wanted to meet up. I called him back and he asked where I was. I told him and he said he would be on his way. He was bringing some frozen gumbo, and told me to cook up some rice to go with it. I gave him directions and got to setting up camp. I situated the tent side by side with the ride, and put the tarp up between them to block the wind from blowing the fire around. Then I gathered up wood for the entire night of cooking and beer drinking. I made rice and waited for my friend's arrival. He called to let me know he was on his way, and at the same time a truck pulled up and a couple of guys walked my way. I got off the phone and started talking to the guys who seemed curious and harmless toward what I was doing. After a couple minutes of Q&A they told me I couldn't camp there. They were really sorry, but the church was having some mother-daughter thing there and the moms were freaking out about me being on the grounds. So I had to move on. Real Christlike people. They told me I could go back a couple of bridges and camp out under the second one. Fun. I packed it up real quick. I still had plenty of light left to break down, move, and set back up if I hurried. As I was heading toward the main road, Shane drove up. I quickly told him what happened and what the plan was. He followed me to the super great spot and we worked our way back from the bridge, trying to get secluded. No chance that was happening. We were only 20 yards or so from the road, with a row of trees hiding us. We got set up, made some great gumbo, and drank and talked a lot.

The next morning we slowly packed it up as we talked some more. Shane is a good guy. He has a ton of energy and is nonstop gogogogogo. I had a blast with him and his family; they all fit together nicely. I wish I would have gotten a family photo of them as I had planned, but the time just flew by. As we said our goodbyes and gave a good hug, he got back into his Kia and made his way out. And got STUCK!!! HAHHAHAAAHHAA!! Silly Kia. He started trying to get out slinging mud everywhere and digging himself in deeper. I called Nanci and had her call Dayne to call me back because Shane's phone had died! He went to the road and ran down to the houses to see if anyone was able to pull him out. While I was on the phone with Dayne, a truck drove by and saw Shane waving and he honked. He kept on moving. Shane came over and we prepared to wait for Dayne, when all the sudden here comes that truck again. It pulled down to where we were. It was Chris, the guy I had gotten water from the day before. He drove by, saw that we were stuck, went home, got a tow strap, and returned to save the day. They hooked them up and got to towing. Mud was flying everywhere, engines were screaming to the redline. It was a great way to start the morning. Once everything was in the clear we said our thank-yous and goodbyes, and got to getting on. I needed to get to a campground or some sort of shelter because another storm and cold front was moving in. I made it to DeRidder and found an RV park and campground right away. I paid the man $10 and set up the tent, ate, took a shower, and climbed into the tent just as the rain started to fall. I dozed on and off that afternoon, evening, and night.

The next day it was cold and windy. The high was only 37. So I paid another $10 to stay. This had better be it for the cold weather. I am getting sick and tired of being cold in the tent. I want to send some of my cold weather gear back to NYC so I'm not lugging it about. I really need to drop some weight on this thing. So I spent a majority of my time in the tent. Luckily the guy next door, Stewart, let me use his extension cord so I was able to run power to the tent and get on the computer. Every campground has Wi-Fi. The gentleman on the other side of me invited me in for coffee and chicken. We talked for over an hour and I ate about six pieces of chicken. Thanks.

So here I am Monday morning, sitting in the tent and finishing this up. I plan on pushing hard for the next two weeks to get to Austin. I hope to stay there for a week if I can find the spot. I will be going to the REI store and exchanging some things that have gotten worn down, and getting some other stuff I am going to need for the desert. I'm excited for the heat, the stars, the loneliness, and the quiet. Cooper's breath is horrible. He's having a yawning fit right now and blowing it right in my face. I was talking to a very good friend of mine in NYC last night and she thinks this trip is going to take me at least 18 months. Wow, that's a lot of pedaling. We'll see. That's all for now. We'll be sleeping in TX tonight.

Till next time,
Love and Licks,
Sean and Coop

March 13, 2010

Time with Janet and Alex

So after I left Jeremys house. I headed towards the ferry. On the way there I met up with Janet and Alex, We waited for the ferry together to cross the Mississippi. The fog was thick that morning but the temps let us know that it was going to a hot one. Once we crossed the Mississippi we split up I needed to head into New Roads LA to pick up a spare tire and a couple of other things. Things on the West side of the Mississippi are different. It seems more green and lush. LA is a very friendly state. We rode for the day by ourselves. I didn't spend to much time in New Roads and was hoping to catch up with the two cyclist. We had talked of a possible camping spot before we split up and by the time I trudged up the Levee I saw their tent set up and Janet sitting at the picnic table. I rolled down and said hello. They had told the lady that I was coming, so we were able to split the cost between the three of us. As I set up we discussed what to do for dinner. We heard that down the Levee a bit was a bar restaurant that has a Steak night every Thursday. $20 for a huge Rib-eye and a couple sides. I thought about it and I haven't had a steak yet on this trip and was craving what was being talked about. I got cleaned up and got Coop situated in the tent. I can leave the bottom part unzipped for him and hook him up the the 20 foot lead and he can come in and out of the tent as he pleases. We headed down to the riverside eatery and order up some monster steaks. We sat outside on the deck and watched the sun set and talked of our time on the road. As we sat there I thought back to all the things I have seen and all the sunsets I have watched and it just makes me giggle with joy, living this way is incredible. I encourage all of you to try it sometime. Janet still wants to keep moving, but Alex is ready for this to wind down and get back to a "normal" life. They have been together for 6 years now and I wonder how this is going to be for their relationship. The people at the restaurant where all local and would come and ask us where we were from. The owner of the place asked if on his next newspaper ad he can put that I cycled over 3,000 miles to have his steak! We headed back to the camp and crawled in to sleep.
During the night a cold front moved in. The temps didn't drop to much but the wind picked up something fierce. So when I stepped out of the tent that morning I was blasted in the face by 15 mph winds. We all looked at each other wondering what the days ride would be like. We packed up and got to moving. We stayed pretty close to the Levee and on the Mississippi River Trail for awhile. And with every meandering turn of river road we seemed to have the wind in our faces. By lunch time I was pretty frustrated with it all. We had a discussion on what we would prefer, rain or wind. As much as I don't like to get wet I would take the rain over that wind any day. This thing is so wide that it felt like I was pedaling up hill all day. We made it to Simmesport LA that day and set up in a park at the edge of town. I made dinner for them because they picked up the tab on the Steaks. I threw a big 'ol pot of goodness together and we got down on a great meal.
The next morning we met even more wind in our faces. We have been sticking to the ACA route and I have really enjoyed the ride on the almost carless route. The only thing about it that I don't like is its indirectness. From point A to B on their maps takes about 30 miles or so, with my route of state highways with more cars it takes 15-20 miles to go from A to B. The fact that I am trying to do 10,000 miles I need to be as direct as possible. Its been nice riding with these two people they do about the same distance and speed as me and are very easy going. I can still see that I have some anger issues at times with things that are out of my control, such as wind, traffic, and a whining dog. That evening as the sun started to set we were having troubles trying to find a spot to camp. There was just enough houses and farms around to make it difficult to find a safe and secure spot to lay our heads. Finally we spotted a good area and made our way back. I had to get some help pushing this thing thru the mud, but we were hidden and off private property. We set up away from each other and made our own dinners. I have never rode with others before for multiple days so I'm not sure if this is normal. I feel that they were a little irritated with me, because all day I was bitching about the wind and was pushing every little spot I saw on them to stop for the night. I guess I don't realize how hard it is to pedal this thing until I am riding with others that make it look so easy. Sometimes I wish I could shrink Coop like that cowboy kid in Willy Wonka, and get a road bike. But then it wouldn't be called Rickshaw USA!
The next morning we woke to day light savings time. I have now been thur two savings times and 1 time zone change. We trudged our way thru the swamp back to the road and went for what seemed like a nice Sunday ride. The weather was great. 60 some, crisp clear blue sky, nice breeze keeping us cool, and the roads we where on were deserted. Everyday we have rode together someone new takes the lead. The First day it was Janet. She sets a nice pace and is very aware what is going on the road. The next day was Alex, he was more up front of the group and Janet stayed close behind me. They figured it was easier for a car or semi to pass us first and Alex next. He is a good navigator and plays the roll of forward observer, even pointing out a turtle on the side of the road that we all stopped and took a look at. I climbed up the levee and took some pictures and noticed the turtle path that he had dozed into the 8 inch tall grass. Its these things that most of you are missing, I'm not getting on you at all, I just wish you could all be here and see it with me. I have taken a lot of pictures but I am having problems with my external hard drive and need to call the company about it, next rain day. So now Sunday was my day to lead, we didn't ever discuss this leading thing it just kinda happened that way. So some of the day we were able to all ride side by side down these great county roads. Louisiana is a beautiful state. On the east side of the Mississippi and toward the gulf it is very swampy and in the swamp is dead trees. That's how we know where there is going to be good camping at now is by where there is live trees. So on the west side of the Miss it is very green, there is still dead trees in swamps but farther apart. I bet this place is pretty in the early summer right after the leaves come in and its not to hot yet. When a car would approach I would move to the front position and they would fall in behind me sometimes side by side or in a line. For the most part it was a easy ride. There was a 3 mile stretch on 21 that had no shoulder to speak of and had too much traffic for our liking. So I put it to the pedals and we did about 12 mph up a slight grade just to get off this stressful road. I think I surprised them on how much I could push this thing. Once I took off I looked back to see them struggling to keep up but once they where behind me the stayed with me. We pushed hard up this hill and it felt great leading the pack. As soon as we made our turn off this crazy road we slowed it back down to our Sunday ride pace. We turned down a nice long straight road that went thru the Crawdad fields. As we made our way we came across some people in the ditch. I stopped to see what the situation was and they pulled up a couple of their netted baskets for catching these delicious little critters. They spoke with a accent you can only find down here in Cajun country. I looked at the water in the field and the water in the ditch and I don't think I would want to eat something out of that ditch water but I might be wrong, they might be great. We were heading to Chicot State Park. The reason this is a area for a state park is because of the hills that it is made up of. No farming or Crawdad fields could be here. So as our days ride was coming to a end we were pushed to climb these hills. I had Alex and Janet get in front of me due to the fact a no legged man could walk up these hills faster than I can pedal up them. Once we arrived at he park office they went inside to claim our spot and I stayed with the pup, trying to get feeling back into my burning legs. Once they came out we made our way back to our camp site not knowing what hills lied ahead for us. It was a roller coaster of hills, up and down with some curves. As we approached the last hill I was putting some serious pressure on the pedals when all the sudden the chain snapped. This is a first for me and if it wouldn't of been for Alex I would of been stuck at the bottom of that hill fixing my chain but he was able to help me get it up over the hill and I coasted into our campsite. I was able to change out the busted links and get this thing back to operational condition. We collaborated on dinner that night and we all got a shower.
I plan on taking off this morning and keep moving. The weather is to nice not to push on. They are taking a couple days rest before they take off on their homeward stretch to Houston. I am only 100 miles from the LA, TX boarder and am excited to make it to the big state. I have decided that we will start doing some early morning riding now that it is getting hot out. I hope to get on the road by 4 am and pedal till about noon before stopping for the day. I thought of this because when I lived in Phoenix AZ for a summer I was framing houses and we would get to work at like 3 am and get done around noon to avoid the hot weather. I have got some reflective tape to put on the back plus all my lights so hopefully this will be enough for the cars to see me and not hit me.
It has been fun riding with this great couple and hope to met up with more riders along my travels. I wish them all the best and thank them for all the great memories. I hope that someday when I do this again I can bring along a special someone!

Till next time
Love and Licks
Sean and Cooper

March 10, 2010

Rolling out of Baton Rouge

So I spent Sunday rolling around BR checking out this and that. I met up with the BR Bike Polo team to watch a couple games. I took some pics but had to leave because Coop was going nuts not being able to chase the Polo ball. We headed over to LSU campus and took in this historic school. It was a beautiful day and lots of people were out enjoying the weather. People had seen the news cast and would yell out at us. "GOOD LUCK, WAY TO GO, CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH, AND CAN I PET COOPER." It is strange to me, I never planned on this being a big deal. I started this blog for my friends, family and all the people I will meet. But now people all over the country are hearing about us and even some people overseas have even started following us.
That night Travis hosted a Vegan potluck dinner. Travis has been a Vegan for sometime now and wants to sometime open up his own Vegan Cajun restaurant. He had been feeding me all weekend and I think he is on to a great start. After everyone departed we did a little work on the chain and talked about what gear I had. I have never done any sort of tour cycling before. I am prepared for living outdoors and surviving, but as far as the bike thing goes I'm a rookie. He was shocked to hear that I didn't a patch kit, spare tire and only carried one replacement tube. He hooked me up with all sorts of stuff I would need. He asked what way I was planning on taking out of town. I told him I was planning on hitting up the 190 bridge and keep heading. He sat down in front of the computer and showed me the route I was planning on taking both the bridges didn't have shoulders and are huge. He also pointed out where 90 and I 10 hooked up for about 30 mile for the swamp bridge. He convinced me I needed to head north to St. Francisville and grab the ferry. I took his advice, he hadn't steered me wrong yet, so I packed up all my new gear and headed out. As I headed north on 61 people would stop me to talk about seeing me on the news and wanting to meet us. It really slowed us down getting out of town and trying to get some road behind us. The forecast for the next 3 days was not dry at all so I really wanted to go. We made it to Zackary LA and I saw a sign for a water ski school. I figured that I would be able to work my way back and find a good spot to camp. As I rode down the winding road I came to the ski school I pulled up and asked one of the guys working on a boat about some kind of dry camping spot he might know about. He talked it over with one of his coworkers and they decided I could camp under the big building that housed 20 some boats. I sit up the tent between two huge Master Craft boats and strung out the rainfly to the trailers. We slept good and stayed dry during the nightly showers.
The next morning I talked to Andy about the weather. He said it looked like the cell had moved on and I should be dry for the day. I only had 15 miles to go to get to St Francisville to catch the ferry. I was able to pack up quickly because we were dry and we got to moving. Spring is here. The birds chirping, the humidity in the air, and the thunder rolling in the distance. It turns out the weather changes about every hour down here, so the storm made its way in. It took us about 5 hours to go that last 15 miles, because we would stop and take shelter and cover the ride whenever it would start up. Once we got to St Francisville we made our way to the ferry. Before we got to far, a city truck pulled up and asked us to pull over, a couple of big 'ol boys stepped out and said they had seen us on the news. They asked what are plan was, I said I needed to figure out if I should camp on this side of river or the other. Butch told me I should camp in the Gazebo in the town park, I asked if it would be a problem, so he put in a call to make sure. We got the ok and we headed over there. I had asked John where the dollar store was and he asked what I needed I said just some more Ramen. He told me to go get set up and they would go for me. I did as I was told and they showed up with a dozen packs of Ramen, 6 cans of tuna and a couple cans of dog food. I thank them for the gifts and they took off. After we had got the tent tied up under the Gazebo and truck pulled up and a guy and his two daughters walked up to us. Jeremy had told his daughter Kelsie and Katherine about seeing us on the news and that he had seen us in the park. They were excited to met us and get a picture. After I explained our planned route, Jeremy said if I was in town another night I was more than welcome to stay with him and his family. I said if I'm around I'm in. He gave me his info and said goodnight. I had strung up the Hammock that I had gotten from Pancake George between the pillars around the Gazebo and was reading a book when 3 high school seniors came strolling thru the park. They saw us and came up to question us on what we were doing. I explained to them of my plan and they where really intrigued on how we survived everyday. We chatted for a bit more and said our goodbyes. I got back in the Hammock and was reading when about 30 minutes later they came back with a sack full of goods they had raided from one of their parents house. Sleeve of crackers, some soda, cheese slices, and some leftover rice and meat. I thank them over and over and it made me happy to know these high school kids had kindness in their hearts. It scares me sometimes when I see these kids now a days who are just punks. The stuff they get away with my parents would of strung me up for doing. I went to bed that night with hopeful thoughts of our nations future.
In the morning I woke to find a guy sitting on a picnic table not to far away, once we stepped out of the tent he came over and said hello and plugged in his laptop. He is a writer and is getting ready to head north for the summer and work on some of his stories. We talked a bit and I found out he lives a lot like me. In a tent and just getting by on kindness. I got to packing up and decided that I had to much Ramen and Tuna so I packed him up some and gave it to him. He was really grateful for the food and thanked us over and over. I assured him its the least I can do to keep the karma going. He headed over to the library and we finished packing up. I needed to head over to the library and do some typing. I got to sit down for a hour or so and got things down. After some typing I had worked up an appetite and headed over to the Magnolia Cafe. As we parked out front I looked up and saw Janet standing on the porch waving our way. It seems that Janet and Alex had been in town a couple days and are planning on catching the Ferry in the morning so I plan on meeting up with them. When we stepped outside Alex pointed out a tear that I had in my back tire. Good thing I had gotten the spare from Travis. I headed over to the auto shop and borrowed their jack and changed out the tire. After the change out I got the call from Jeremy, he met up with us on one of his three choppers and led us back to his house. Kelsie was outside waiting for our arrival, I pulled up and started unloading what was needed for a shower and needed to be washed. We gave Coop a bath outside and he was not happy with it or me at all, he avoided me for a good half hour afterwards. Before we went inside Jeremy helped me adjust my back brake, I had put some wear on the pads and needed to remove a shim to bring the pad closer to the disc. Now I can stop on a dime and was ready for a shower. With laundry done, Coop clean, me clean, both feed and relaxing in this great home. Thanks Jeremy, Angela, Katherine, and Kelsie. Your a great family and hope we see each other again.
So my plan now is take the ferry and will be staying north of the swamps I will be going into TX around DeRidder LA, right about where Jasper TX is. This is the eastern most point of TX and with the new bicycle route on Google Maps it comes out to be about 1,000 miles from the East of TX to the West of TX via Austin. That's gonna be about a month worth of pedalling. I am looking forward to it but need to get thur the dessert out west before it gets to hot for my dog.

Till next time
Love and Licks
Sean And Cooper.