January 25, 2010

Causeway Camping

After doing some work around Charles' house we got on the road around noon. As we made our way west towards Mobile. I needed to stop off at the post office to send something back to my mom. Then I swung by a bike shop to get a tune up. I then made my way into Spanish Fort AL. It used to be a spanish fort so what do most forts like to have? Elevation!! So that means big hills. Going west into Spanish Fort it took me close to 45 min to climb the hill. With a couple of minute long breaks to catch my breath and take in the views. Once we reached to top we flew down the hill in less than a minute. We hit a all time top speed of 36 mph.!!! At the bottom of the hill is Meaher State Park. It is at the beginning of a 9 mile long causeway that leads into Mobile. As you may know, we don't have a lot of money. The day I got to Meaher State Park I had $11 to my name, $10 short of the fee needed to stay there. I asked if there was anyway I could do some work to earn my site. The girl at the booth quickly informed me that they aren't allowed to do such a thing. She had already made up her mind and there wasn't anything that I could say to change it. So we moved on out. Across the road was a state owned fish hatchary, we made our way up there to see if there would be a spot to set up for the night. We made our to the way back and layed low till the sun was close to setting. Just as I was about to start putting up the tent one of the employees came back to tell us that the park was closed and we needed to move on. I explained the whole situation and he said his boss had noticed us going back there and not coming out so he said to get us out of there. This was the first time that I have been denied a spot to stay. The sun was out of the sky and all that gave evidence to the huge ball of fire was a rapidly shrinking strip of orange colur on the horizion. Now with no place to camp, no daylight to pedal in, a huge hill I wasn't going to climb just to backtrack and a 9 mile causeway ahead of us, a decision needed to be made. Forward progress is everything. So west is where I went. If you look at the map you can see that going into Mobile you have two choices.

1. I10 bridge that is about 9 miles long over the water, and illeagel for bikes.
2. Highway 90 which has a huge bike friendly shoulder.

As you go down highway 90 the land below tapers off into the water and it doesn't give any option for a safe dry secluded camping spot. So I was forced to camp at the boat launch. This is the first time I have been completely exposed and that close to a major road. But I had no choice. That night I didn't sleep so well and got up early in the AM to get to it. I started making my way into Mobile at around 9 AM and that is when the Magic of Mobile really began!

January 24, 2010

Moving Right Along....

....Or at least I'm trying to. After my stay in Niceville, Kim took me to her friends Brenda and Steve's house in Red Bank where my ride was waiting to get a tune up. Their neighbor, Jurgen the German, is a pretty handy guy and volunteered to help me replace the rear differential. For us to do this, the brake hub, both tires, and the axle had to come off. Much easier than the original! Once we switched some things out and replaced it, we had to make a couple of alterations due to the fact that the frame had moved a bit from the load.
After it was all done and back together, we sat down to a hot meal and I told them more of my adventure. It was still pretty cold, so Coop and I stayed an extra day, but I was able to get things done as far as re-packing and putting on the new sign. I also called the companies that make my rear lights and front lights. I don't know if the cold temps got to them, but they weren't working, so both companies sent me out new ones to a post office a week away for no charge.
I got to it on Tuesday, and also encountered more hills and headwind. I was planning on getting to Kim's brother's house by Wednesday night, but as I was moving down highway 90, this truck pulled over and a tall dude stepped out. He asked where I was headed, and I told him, "Ten thousand miles around the U.S." His only response was, "You're kidding." Once I assured him that I don't joke about such things, he asked if I was hungry, and I was. He led me back to his house, and we threw some chicken on the grill. Then we sat down and he told me that he and his girlfriend have been sailing around the Caribbean for a couple months now. Kinda doing the same as me, but on water. That was the reason he stopped. He said if he wasn't doing this trip himself he would have just kept on driving.
Now what I'm about to tell you here, people, is important. So listen up. Stop and talk to people. If you're driving and you see someone walking or riding a bike, and they have bags with them, most likely they are on the move and don't have anyone or anywhere to call home. Now that I have been in the South, I have seen people on the move due to no work and homelessness. I choose to live like this—they didn't. I stop and talk to every one of them, and give them food and water. It's the least I can do. People have been generous with me, so I need to pass that on. I'm not saying you have to invite them into your home, but stop and talk with them for five minutes and try to help them, whether it's with food, money, a prayer, or even trying to line them up with shelter at a church or community center. We are all humans, and all require basic things like love and compassion. People get so involved with their everyday lives. You really can't spare five minutes to talk to someone? Slow down in everyday, people—on the road, in your car, or just life in general. Think about what they're going through. Granted there are some crazy people out there, but if you have any common sense, you'll know that it still doesn't hurt to pull over to say hello and hand them five dollars or some food.
So that's why Matt stopped. We got to talking that night and he said something about sushi. I informed him that I used to work at Morimoto on the sushi bar, and he was excited to gather his friends and get down. Phone calls were made and arrangements arranged. I took a shower and grabbed my knife kit, and we headed to the piers. As we were making our way down there we stopped at his friend Tom's house. Tom saw life on the same level as Matt and myself, and we had a good conversation. During this conversation, pretty much everyone backed out of the sushi night. Matt was pretty upset about it. I, on the other hand, am somewhat used to it living in NYC, where everyone says yes only to say they can't later. People tend to overbook themselves. But what I have come to realize is that most of the time they cancel plans to sit at home and watch TV or be on the computer. People, don't pass up real human interaction for an artificial one. It makes you stupid, boring, and just plain lazy. . . So after our talk with Tom, we headed over to a couple's house for tacos, and I was just fine with that. They had a bulldog pup who was a maniac. That dog cracked me up.
It was good to spend time with them, and to share stories. That night I slept in one of the two giant RVs that are parked at Matt's parents' house. His mom trains dogs for agility courses, and so she goes to a lot of shows with up to five dogs with her. She is from the same town in England that Matt and I both happen to have been born in! The next morning we got back on the road and made it to Joe's house that evening. Joe lives out in the country and has a couple dogs, a couple horses, some chickens, and some guinea hens. He also has a huge gun safe with close to fifteen rifles and four handguns. It was supposed to rain all day Saturday, so Coop and I got comfy for a couple days of eating, drinking, and card playing. I spent a lot of time talking with Debbie—she's a good ol' country gal. She looks sweet but she'll knock ya into place without a second thought. She was kinda amazed about what I was doing, and told me that if she could, she would leave all this behind and head to the Caribbean. It was nice talking with her. She has a real kind heart and a sweet smile.
After the rain passed and it dried up some on Monday, Coop and I got back to it. We made it west of Milton, FL and camped on a disc golf course. By the time I got everything set up and both of us fed, I didn't have time to play, so I worked on my short game for a bit before going to bed. That night I started to get a pain below my ribs, and my hips and knees started to ache. I just chalked it up to road soreness and got to moving the next day. We were going down 90, headed toward where I-10 crosses over 90 close to the Alabama border when the pain in my gut was making it really hard to keep pedaling. We pulled into this large field that didn't seem to belong to anyone, and I lay down in the grass to take a nap. It was around one. A couple hours later I woke to the urge to relieve myself, and dashed to the bushes. Not again! It seems I was sick again. So I set up the tent and crawled inside. This time it was more like the flu than the last. I was weak, sore, had a fever, sweats, and all that other unpleasant stuff. During the night my fever got so bad I was having hallucinations and bad dreams. A few times I woke up from one to find Cooper with his head laying on me, just watching me. He would lick the sweat from my forehead. He really looked after me. I love my dog and he loves me.
The next morn I still didn't feel so hot, but the weather was just too nice not to ride. It was supposed to rain that afternoon, and I wanted to get some miles down before that came. We made our way into Alabama. When we got into the town of Seminole, the drops started to fall from the sky. I stopped in front of a fire station that had an awning, and we waited for the rain to stop for about four hours. In the meantime, Rusty stopped by to say hi and told me that later on, he and his wife would return to give me shelter. His wife was a pastor at a church across the street. They put me up, and I got a good night's sleep in a dry church. It's a good thing, too, because it dumped over five inches that night.
The next day I waited a bit for the clouds to move on out, and then we got to it. The road was filled with more hills and headwind. In trying to skip out on some of this, I took a road that I thought would be better, and ended up on a dirt road. With the new ride it was no problem, but if I would have been on the original, I would have had to turn around, and I hate backtracking. But it worked out that we came across Cooper's Lake. It's a public pay-to-fish lake that has been around for over thirty years. We stopped in and took a walk around. When we returned to the ride, there was a gentleman and his dog there waiting for us. We got to talking, and he invited us to stay at his place. It was on our way, and just the right amount of distance to close out the day. After we pulled up to Charles' house, he showed us the spare room and we got settled in. I took a bath, which was great. He has a huge tub that I was able to stretch out in and soak my sore body. After the bath I started laundry and had some fried fish that Charles had caught that day. We talked, and he told me he had seen Into the Wild, and that's what inspired him to stop and talk to me. He said he watched that movie three times in a row. He also told me that if he hadn't seen that movie, he wouldn't have stopped to talk. He would have just kept on moving. So it all goes back to what I was saying before: You gotta stop and talk to these people and find out what they are up to. Also, step outside and take a look around. It's an amazing place, and full of life in every way. Well, I'm gonna rake some leaves for Charles and head into Mobile today. Y'all be good. 

Till next time,
Love and licks
Sean and Coop

January 9, 2010

Media coverage

I don't seek out media attention, I focus on the road, but if someone wants to ask some questions, take some pictures and put them in the paper or on the news I'm not going to stop them. It helps get the word out there. I want people to follow along and live this adventure with me. I'm not seeking out fame.

So here is a link to our first news paper article.

January 7, 2010

Bringing 09 to a close

We stayed at Reed Bingham for 3 nights, before pushing on toward the west. After a couple days on the road I came down with a bug of sorts. It affected my gut the most. We had been moving along Highway 37 on a cold windy afternoon when I got a rumble in my belly telling me I needed to make a pit stop and relieve myself. It turned out it was more when I threw up, I knew something wasn't good. I sat around waiting to see what was to happen and it just got worse so I set up the tent and got inside around 1pm. I bundled up and slipped into the sleeping bag and tried to sweat it out. I would wake and scrabble outside when I needed to. This is going to be pretty direct but I want you all to know this is not all cherry pie and beautiful skies. There are going to be times when it just plain sucks and this is one of those moments. So work with me here people, think back to the last time you had the stomach flu or any kind of sickness where a toilet is used often. Your laying in your soft warm bed with extra blankets and pillows. Watching T.V. and taking naps. Hopefully you have someone who is there to take care of you, bring you hot tea, soup, drawing hot baths for you to soak in and just to comfort and pamper you. And when the urge comes you jump out of bed and dash to the toilet to sit or kneel and relieve yourself. Now image all those comforts gone. You live in a tent and have to undo 3 zippers to get out of your tent just to step out to around 30F chilly night air. And hopefully you have enough time to put on your shoes and move as far away as possible from you tent before you spew the grossness from your body. That is what its like for me and it sucks, but it is all part of the adventure!
The next day I was feeling better and got back on the road just before noon. I needed to get on the road even if I wasn't 100%. I made my way into Camilla, I used a phone book at a gas station to see about cheap hotels. I found one that was low rent and accepted dogs. On my way to the Camilla Inn and Suites we rode past a BBQ spot. I pulled up, not wanting to cook anything and needing some protein and hot food in my belly. The spot was KEBO BBQ, and Kebo himself was working the window when I walked up to place my order. I got a pork and beef sandwich with some fries, and a big sweet tea. Kebo came out with a big ol bone for Coop and sat with me while I ate and talked to me about my journey. He used to be a trucker in that area awhile back and informed me of different towns and roads. He told me to stop by in the morning and he would have some extra staff meal for me before I got back on the road. I got to the hotel right around sun down and checked in. After unpacking everything I jumped right in the shower and didn't get out for close to an hour. Then I curled up with my pooch and got a much needed good nights sleep in a warm bed.
The following morning after loading up we headed down to KEBOs. He was a man of his word and much more. I was given breakfast, coffee, chicken wings and sausage for lunch, some snacks for Coop and I, and some extra layers of clothes to keep me warm. The whole staff came out to say hi and get in on a group photo. While I was eating Kebo and his wonderful wife Virginia talked to me about my journey and a local reported pulled up to do some reporting. He had gotten a couple of phone calls about my existence in their town. We sat down and I informed him of what it is all about to me. The article made front page of two different papers in the area. Here is the link; http://thepelhamjournal.com/content.aspx?module=ContentItem&ID=162141&MemberID=1324 Thanks everyone in Camilla, you live true the southern hospitality definition.
Once I pushed out of Camilla, I decided to head to Florida. I wasn't planning on going that far south but with the unseasonal cold weather that was moving in I decided to get as south as possible. So I got on 91 south and headed to Donalsonville, GA. I rolled in to this town around 3 in the afternoon and rode past a laundromat. I needed to wash some cloths but more importantly I needed to wash my sleeping bag. I hadn't washed it yet and 3 months of farting in it was not smelling so good!!! Once my laundry was done it was dark. I made my way over to a couple of churches that were next to each other and set up between them. It was New Years Eve that night and after I had got the tent set up, everything unpacked and the ride covered, it was 6pm and the Methodist church to the left of us stated sounding off the bells to say a new hour was here. Great, all night getting woken up on the hour with the bells!! But luckily after 10 they stopped. I decided to go to sleep after that. Not much partying can happen in a tent with a dog so nightie night we went. But I knew when the New Year was there because the local fire station across the street brought out all the trucks and sounded all the sirens for the entire minute of midnight. That scared both of us big time. Coop tried clawing his way out to get whoever. I was thinking we where surrounded by the local cops and we where going to jail!! After that it quieted down. The next morning I went over to the fire station and met Tony and CJ the fireman on 24 hour duty. I asked to use their restroom to freshen up and sat with them for a bit to warm up. The temp has been on a big drop and I really don't get up and moving on as early as I would like. I had planned on moving on that day. But the clouds made it look like it was going to be a wet one so we spent another day and night there between the churches. The next morn Tony got off work and went home and cooked me up some breakfast and brought it over to me as I was breaking down the tent. He told me to go over to the fire house and eat and warm up before moving on. When I went over there I met a couple more guys and the Chief. As I ate they stepped outside to look at the ride and noticed that my break pad had lost one of the two bolts that hold it in place and told me where the local hardware store was. I talked to them awhile longer, mostly with Will Owen a local who had lived there his whole life. Donalsonville isn't that big and we got talking about music and he told me some of the bands he liked and I was truly surprised. I imagined him being into country music because that's all they play on the radios around there but it was me still being close minded to everyday people. He even sent my mom a message on facebook telling her that he had met me. She really enjoyed that.
So here it is a new year. And I'm making my way to the 10th state in 3 months. Rested, clean sleeping bag, and rapidly dropping temps. It kinda sucks riding in the cold. This month marks the 1 year anniversary of me thinking up this idea. I planned this trip for 10 months before leaving. One of the things to plan was the weather, this part of the country wasn't supposed to be this cold yet. No part of the country is supposed to be as cold as it has been. Records are being set all over the US with new lows. Once we got into FL it gets pretty desolate, not a lot of towns to speak of. The first night in the Sunshine state it got down to around 20F. I was cold as soon as the sun went down and didn't warm up till noon the following day, I have a 3 season tent and winter is the season it is lacking. That night I was sure that I needed to find some kind of shelter to stay in. Something to get me out of this cold wind. At the end of the day I came across a EMS station and emergency shelter. I knocked on the door and asked Mickey the dude working if I could set up in his bay with the emergency trucks. He said sure and opened up the big bay doors and let us in. It was good to be out of the elements. We talked as I got stuff unpacked and he offered up a couch in the office once he figured out I wasn't some crazy dude who was going to kill him and feed him to Coop. We went inside and plopped down on the couch and talked and watched some TV while Coop snored away curled up on the sofa.
That night I talked to Kim. She lives about 60 miles from where I was and offered up a ride and a place to stay for the week while this cold weather was around. We made all the arrangements and planed on meeting halfway in Ponce De Leon FL. The next morn I got to and encountered some big ol hills. Once I got off highway 2 and headed south on 81, I made it up a huge hill and stopped at the top to catch my breath and text Kim. We had stopped right in front of this guys house and Coop was going around peeing on his mailbox post and some weeds along side the shoulder. This guy pulls up and tells me to "get your dog off my property! What the hell do you think your doing, that dogs gonna shit all over my yard!" I told him "hold on bub, he isn't gonna crap all over your yard all he's doing is killing some weeds in your ditch." He said " if ya don't get that F@$king dog off my property I'm gonna shoot him" Way over the line there. That is my son he is threatening to shoot. I told him he wasn't going to do any such thing and if he didn't watch his mouth we were going to have some problems. He retorted that if "you don't get you ass moving off my property, I'm going to go in the house and get my gun. You f@#king Yankee get a haircut and get a job." That's it. My New York mentality came spewing out at him " what kinda redneck are you? Why don't you have that gun in you truck?' then it was followed by a bunch of trash talking that would make me look bad to you all so I'll keep that to myself. We got the hell out of there and whenever I heard a car behind us I would look over my shoulder to make sure it wasn't him coming to get us.
Once I met up with Kim and her friend Brenda we loaded the ride into Brenda's truck and went back to her place. I left the ride there and loaded up what we would need for the week at Kim's in her SUV. Then Kim drove me to Opp AL to the post office where I needed to pick up some packages that where waiting for me. I got the new part from Main Street with instructions and pictures on how to replace it, Brenda's neighbor is a pretty handy guy and is going to help us on Sunday replace it. I also had gotten some biz cards printed up from Vista Print I got 500 for $5 so now I am legit! And my brother John had made a new sign for the back of the ride with all our info on it so people will know what its all about without stopping to talk to me, he also threw in some food for me and Coop. On our way down to Niceville FL we passed a guy who was walking from TX to Southern FL. I had Kim pull over and I talked to him and gave him some beef jerky and trail mix that my bro had sent. Karma.
Now we are resting up in Niceville in a warm house with lots of food and no worries. I plan on rolling out on Monday or Tuesday after we get the ride road worthy again. I plan on taking highway 90 all the way to TX staying pretty close to the gulf most of the way. So if any of you know anyone tell them I'm rolling thru and to hop on their bikes and ride with us for a bit.

Tell next time
love and licks
Sean and Coop

January 6, 2010

Reed Bingham State Park Pictures.

So for Christmas we stayed at Reed Bingham State Park in Georgia.
This was our campsite we had power, shower, and washer and dryer!

For us to stay there we had to do some work they gave me a Gator to drive around.
I guess it goes about 20 mph so Coop and I spent most of the time racing. He won most times.

He got distracted by an Armadillo on the side of the road he ran up to it and it curled up into a ball. He was excited that a ball had appeared in front of him so he picked it up in his mouth.

Then it straightened up and he dropped it and it ran into this hole. He chased after it and barked and whined at the hole.

After scooping out fire pits, picking up branches and busting up the piers this is where we dumped everything to burn later.

After the work was done Meagan showed me the animals they had there at the park that where rescues that they take care of and show to people.
This is Abby she is a Virgina Possum

This is me staring down Big Girl
she's a Burmese Python

Big Girl is over 10 ft. long and could easily eat Cooper!

This is Bunny Foo Foo. She is a Pixxi Frog and she has a protective wax skin on during the cold months.

This is Leroy. He is an American Alligator that was rescued after taking Boat Prop to the face.
He lost his top lip, left front foot and the end of his tail. But he still can survive with assistance. I asked what they are going to do with him once he gets to his full size of over 12 ft and they said they think about that when the time comes!

This is Kurb. He is a Black Throat Monitor. That is Meagan holding him and all the other animals. She wants to hike the AT. I hope that I have inspired her to grab hold of her dream and go for it.

This is Killer. He is a Green Iguana. And needs a serious Manicure!

Blue. the Australian Blue Tongne Skink

Redfoot the Redfoot Tortoise.

Coop checking out Red

Coop and Fergi the African Spur Tortoise

Happy Holidays
Love and Licks
Sean and Coop

January 5, 2010

Tis the season....

.....Here I am in Reed Bingham State Park, east of Moultrie, GA, spending Christmas in the woods. This is not my first, nor will it be my last, Christmas away from family and loved ones. When I was 20 years old I was in Kuwait from September '99 to August 2000. We were prepositioned for the whole Y2K meltdown that was to take place that New Year's. I remember calling my folks' house from the duty phone that Christmas (night for me, morning for them). I only had like 10 minutes to talk on the phone, so the conversations were very short. I remember talking to my sister Suzanne first, and she got the crying machine rolling—from there on out, as the phone would get passed to the next person, they would eventually start to cry. It was a sad moment during that time spent over there in the sand. I have spent the holidays with friends that I consider family in VA, NY, CT, and IL. But this is a first for me, to be in the woods with my best friend, Cooper. I have no problem whatsoever spending the holidays like this.

This whole week leading up to Christmas has been great. First, last week I was at the right place at the right time. I stopped in the town of Baxley. I had to send a package to a very dear friend in NY to be sure she got it before the holidays. By the time I was finished at the post office, it was getting to be about that time from what the sun was telling me. Now Baxley, I'm guessing here, is about 8,000 or so. So for me to get far enough out of town to find camping I would be riding in the dark. When presented with such things, I have to improvise, so I looked for a city park. I wasn't able to locate one, but what I did see was a church with a good size backyard. So I pulled in to inquire about using an area of their lawn for my trike and tent. The woman working said she needed to call the pastor to check, and a couple minutes later she came outside to inform us that they "couldn't help out, but try the big church at the end of the road." Wow. Never would I have imagined one church pawning me off on another.

So I rode to the big church at the end of the road to see if there was any grass to be had. When I pulled up and stepped inside, I met Wanda. She greeted me with a big smile and a nice southern "What can I do for ya?" I told her the issue and she led me outside, pointed me in the direction of their boy scout building, and said I could set up right next to it. Then she invited me to the children's holiday program followed by chili and hot dogs. I said that I was in, and thanked her over and over. I got everything set up, feed Coop, covered the ride, and was sending out some e-mails when Wanda came over to the tent, right before six. "Sean, I'm sorry but we can't let you camp here tonight. When I said something to one of the trustees, he said we couldn't be liable." "Okay" was my response. I said I could find somewhere else, no worries. She said, "No, we got you a room for the night at a motel just a couple blocks from here, but we hope you'll come back for the chili and hot dogs." I was shocked. This was amazing. I never thought I would ever stay in a "Ho-tel, Mo-tel, Holiday Inn!" during this entire trip. I got to breaking down everything as I wanted to get to the room, unload everything, take a shower, and get back to try to catch part of the children's holiday program. Coop took the bed and I was out the door. Clean, lightweight, and heading for some kids and chili. Unfortunately I took too long of a shower and missed the program, but was just in time to get some food. As I approached the table, a big fresh pot of chili was coming out. I got a nice hot serving and a hot dog, and joined Wanda and her daughter, husband, and another couple at a table and got to telling them about my trip. They were full of questions and interested about the people I had met and the things I had seen. After a couple more bowls of chili and a handful of hot dogs, washed down with a nice big glass of sweeeeeeet tea, the party was coming to a close. We headed outside and I showed off my ride. They handed me a collection they had taken up between them, and with hugs and "Good lucks," they sent me on my way. That night I took another shower and watched to TV before going to sleep.

The next day I headed to Hazelhurst to see about getting a couple of fuel cans. The sporting goods store didn't carry them but "shor nuff" the local Super Walmart had them. I'm not a big fan of Walmart, but pretty much every small town I have gone through has one, and as I make my way through these random towns, I notice that all the small specialty shops that were locally owned and operated are out of business due to the fact Walmart is your one-stop shopping experience. Granted, the super Walmart can probably employ over half of the people affected by this, but the wages suck and your working for the man instead of living your dream. So I only got what I needed: three small fuel cans for my stove, and that's it. I'm not feeding this monster if I can help it, and I won't take the option of being able to camp for the night on their property no questions asked.

The next couple of days where pretty uneventful, mostly consisting of narrow shoulders, people driving too fast while talking on their cellphones, and sleeping in some random pine groves. These pine groves are pretty interesting. They are mostly used for the harvesting of "pine straw"—dead pine needles. They can sell them at $5 for a bundle the size of two big handfuls of the stuff. To me it makes a good, soft bed and great tinder for my fires.

Now for the next five or so states. I don't know anyone. There are no planned-out stops, so showers are becoming farther and farther apart. The great thing about state parks is, let's say you come by one in the afternoon and are not planning on stopping for the night. You can ask to just use the showers because you are traveling, and 99 percent of the time they will say yes. No fee. This happened to me at General Coffee State Park in Coffee County, which is west of Bacon County . . . really! The park rangers were all pretty curious about the ride, the idea, and of course, Coop. So after a few minutes of chit-chat, they said to head on down to the campground and help myself. What they didn't tell me was that it was a mile and a half to the campground, and it was a roller coaster of a road. So we took off down the first hill, and Coop was already down for the run. We hit the first climb and started pushing those pedals round and round. So by the time I got down there, showered, and made my way back, I was in a full sweat coming back out of there!

A couple days later I was heading down 135 trying to hit 76 south of Willachoochee headed towards Nashville. The sun was heading down and we were low on water. We came across a huge machine shed kinda out in the middle of no where. There was a guy outside unloading his truck we rolled up and asked if we could fill up on water and he said sure. As I was filling up on water, which was from a deep well I have come to realize where the good water is its better to get it out in the sticks from a house, church, farm or whatever than to get it in the towns due to the fact they have a water tower which makes the water taste like rusty hard-boiled eggs. Really it does and it makes the food taste that way too. No bueno. So as I was filling up this guy Mike started in on the usual questions. He is a welder so he was pretty interested in the construction of the whole thing. Well as it always does one thing led to another and he offered up some land there at his work shop to set up the tent. He has his own little fish pond in the corner and a picnic table sitting right next to it. Perfect spot. He brought over the bottom half of a barrel for a fire pit and some small pieces of lumber for me to burn. After I got set up and made a fire he came over and sat with me. We didn't talk to much we just looked at the fire and the stars and that was just fine. He knew enough of what I was doing and it was a nice silent moment with a lot shared. The next morning he came back with hot egg sandwich, pbj sandwich, and some homemade cookies. We talked some more about my trip and different things he was working on to make ends meet. As I was loading up I showed him a cracked sleeve on my axle he told me to sit tight and he would do a temporary fix till I got to AL to get the part that Main Street was sending me. After the fix up we shook hands and said our good byes and happy holidays and I was on the move.

When I rolled into Nashville it was lunch time, and I came across this get together outside a Auto body shop and saw that they had the grill fired up and tables set up. I rolled in and asked if they had burgers and dogs for sale. They told me not for sale but to help myself. I went over and got a bite to eat and a couple hot dogs for Coop. As I stuffed my face they asked where I slept and I informed them that I had stayed out at Mike's and they knew the guy and gave him a call. He laughed when he heard I was there. They had also called the local paper and a reporter showed up. She asked a lot of questions and was kinda scared of Coop. He just wanted more hot dogs!!! After the interview and some pictures we continued on to our pine grove site that night.

The following day Christmas Eve we only had to ride 12 miles or so to Reed Bingham State park. When we arrived, I went into the office and met Meagan and Chet. Chet is the Head Ranger there and one of the guys at the body shop had told me he knew him and said he was a real good guy, and he was right because when we arrived I only had $15 on me and was sure I didn't have much more in my account. So he suggested that I could do a couple hours of work around the campground and that would cover the camp fee. I was more than happy to do some work, granted I have peddled over 1,500 miles but that's pretty mundane. So I set up and got to it, scooping out fire pits, picking up branches and busting up old piers.

For dinner tonight I dined on some food that I had gotten from Top-hat. I had beef with potatoes and a mushroom cream sauce. And for Christmas dinner I think I'm going to have the Paniolo BBQ Pork with Coconut rice. YUM YUM!!! But I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone out there. To the one I have known before this trip, to the ones that I have met so far on this adventure, and to the ones I still haven't met. Thank you everyone for standing behind me and for all the support you give.

Love and Licks
Sean and Cooper