. . . to New Orleans by New Year's Eve. After pushing on out of Savannah—thanks again to Noel and Corey for putting me up!—I made my way west. Finally, a new direction! I pedaled through Fort Stewart, GA. Highway 144 is the road that passes right through the middle of it all. I got to the border of said fort around noontime on Monday, and there was no gate guard to speak of. This is a big military base, and there is a huge armored vehicle regiment there, so a lot of it was just woods and tank paths.
As I was nearing the end of the day, I saw that there was a campground there on the base, so I followed the signs and made my way a couple miles off of 144 to the area. As I pulled up to the camp office, I was notified by the lady working there that we were not allowed to camp on the base. I was thinking it was only for military personnel and vets. When I told her that I had served five years protecting this country of ours—despite what my current appearance might imply—she said that wasn't the issue. The issue was Cooper. “Oh, you don't allow dogs?” I asked. “No, we allow dogs. Just not pit bulls.” “What? He's the nicest dog there is. We won't be any trouble; we just need a spot in the way back to set up and sleep.” “Sorry,” was her response. So we turned it around and pushed on back to 144.
When we hit the road, I noticed a couple of soldiers standing at the edge of the road that led back to the rifle range. I went over to them to find out how much farther it was to the end of the base, and to inquire about their backgrounds. We had only been talking a couple minutes when this sergeant came storming our way. He informed me that I need to leave the immediate area due to the fact that it was restricted. Where I stood, I was on the main public road; where they stood was on the dirt road that led to the range. Me, being me, told him, “I'm not in your immediate area. I'm in my area.” He didn't like that, and told me again to “vacate the area, now!” I threw out my best “Hoo-rah!” and hollered, “Yes, Sarrrrgeeent!” and made my way down the road.
A short time later an MP pulled me over and asked for my ID. When I handed him my passport, he asked if that was it. What better piece of ID does one need? When asked where I was going, I pointed west and said, “That way.” He didn't care too much for my obvious and vague responses, and informed me that he had seen me a couple of hours ago at the entrance of the base, which was eighteen miles back. He was wondering why I was still here. I told him that I only go about seven miles per hour. He started to argue the fact, and I said, “Seven miles per hour. That's fourteen miles in two hours. That's about where we are right now, correct?” I had him, and he knew it, but he still tried. That's when I fired back, “Look here, bub. I served five years in the Army as an 88L, 8th Trans Co, 24th Batt. 8 Brigade, and I have never been on a military installation that didn't have a gate guard post–9/11. I'm a vet and I live in a free country, and if I choose to ride my trike with my dog, and you have an open base, then so be it. That's what I'm gonna do. So unless there's anything else you got to say, I'll get back to getting on.” He handed me my passport and didn't say a word.
About an hour later I was still on this base, and in need of a spot for the night. I made my way back into the woods and set up for the night with no problems. The next morning, we headed out to get out of this not-so-restricted area. Around ten or so, the MP pulled up behind me and followed me for about a half mile. I looked back and shook my head in disbelief, and he passed me by without a word.
After making my way out, I came across a taxidermy place. Always intrigued and never questioned, I stopped in to gather some info. The girl who worked there explained all the ins and outs of the operation, and was very informative. She said, “It's not gross to do, but the smell can get to ya!”
After the quick lesson, we pushed on, and it was then that I decided to free myself. Free myself from this time table that I have established. When I left Savannah, I had said 40 miles a day for the next 17. I did 44 that first day and was exhausted. I slept from about 6 that night until 7 the next morning, without even eating dinner. The next day there were a lot more rolling hills that hadn't been present on the coast. Now I have made it south to the warmer weather; granted it has been wet, but that will pass soon. As I write this on Wednesday, December 16th, I have been on the road for 87 days, and gone 1,493 miles. I have been off the road, staying places for a total of 35 days. So I have pedaled those miles in 52 days worth of riding. Granted, I have stopped and spent time with people, but I haven't really stopped to talk to anyone else besides that. So after my conversation with the Taxidermist, I decided to slow down and take it all in. I have never spent any time down here, and I don't want to rush through it.
Yesterday afternoon I stopped at a gas station and got my hands on a Georgia state map to figure out my way west while keeping a little bit south. While I was there, a man by the name of Kerry started to chat with me and said that his brother lived about 8 miles down the road. He gave his bro a call to see if I could pitch my tent under his pines, and his brother told me to stop on by so he could talk with me to make sure I wasn't a crazy!
About an hour later I pulled up to meet Kasey, Vicky, and their son Jagger. They asked me the usual questions, and were more than happy to give me a spot in the soft needles of their pines. They asked if I needed anything, and I assured them they had given me too much already. The next morning we woke to find Kerry waiting for us with some snacks and some more questions. We talked about politics, religion, family, and just life in general. He was really happy that he and his family could help us out. On her way out to work, Vicky stopped out to give me some ham and a Christmas card, and to say her goodbyes. It feels good to meet people and share a moment in their lives. So here I am in Georgia, free from all and just making my way west.
Till next time,
Love and licks,
Sean and Coop