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.

So I had skipped this little bit of the trip.

Once I had woken up on the boat launch after getting kicked out of MS. I broke down camp and headed back into that awful state. I had to get pics of the fire department. After snapping a few I retraced my path to LA. Stopping off at the gas station right before the boarder. I got some coffee and a banana. When I stepped out of the store someone asked "what are you doing here?" I looked at him and recognized him from the night before, he was one of the county officials that was present for my deportation from MS. I told him I came back to take some pics. He asked "what for?" And I told him "I'm putting them up on the blog so everyone will know how you have treated me." He looked stunned and said "oh". I replied "next time you might want to think about how you treat strangers that are passing thru" With that said we made our way back into LA. We headed west on 190 and made our way into Slidell, LA. We stopped off and picked up some supplies. It was about 3 in the afternoon and I stopped off at the Police Station to ask if there was a safe spot in town for me to camp. He said not really and told me to keep heading west out of the city and find something out there. Before I pushed on I went across the street to the Fire Department. I have come to realize that the water from the FD is better than most taps in town. I guess they run the water more so it doesn't have that well taste to it. While filling up my water jug I got to talking to one of the Fireman and he told me about the Tammany Trace Bike Trail. It's about 30 miles long and is all car free. Most sections you can't even hear the cars. By the time I reached the Trail Head of the bike super highway, it was getting dark. I found a spot in the bushes out of sight and set up. As I was getting everything put together a guy walked up to say hello. His name was Butch and he lived off the trail. We started chatting and he told me how he wanted to get out and do the same thing. But he was going to support himself my selling nicknacs. The dad from Happy Days has that commercial about junk and stuff in a warehouse that you can sell. So his idea is to pack it up and go to nursing homes and retirement communities and sell his goods to them. Its a good idea and wish him luck. The next day we had rain in the forecast for the afternoon. We had about 12 miles to get to Fontainebleau State Park. Butch met up with us as we were making moves and said he wanted to ride with us to the State Park. As we rode he gave me the history of the area and the trail. We would encounter trail rangers and they all would tell me dogs are not allowed on the trail. This blew my mind that the community would allow such a ridiculous idea, not being able to take your dog on a nature trail. I explained each time what we are doing and how nice it is not to have cars around. And they agreed as long as I kept in up in the back. Once they were out of sight, I would harness Coop and let him walk along side. Its just to nice not to let him enjoy the car free trail. Once we arrived at the State Park, I went inside to see about work for a site. I only had $5 to my name at the time and needed another $10 to camp. The park ranger said he couldn't help, but a couple more miles up the trail in Mandaville there is a place called "The Samaritan Center" he said that they would be able to help me some how. I made my way in and found the building. I went inside and a nice young lady asked "how can I help you?" I explained what I was doing and the predicament I was in and told her I wasn't sure if they could help. She said sure and we sat down to talk about it. After some questions she wrote a check for a one night stay at the park. I was grateful but a little ashamed. I choose to live this way and this place is here to help those who don't have a choice. But I did need a place to camp, a shower and do some laundry. I made my way back to the State Park and got my site. As I made my way into the camp ground it started to rain. I rushed to the site and quickly set up the tent and unloaded what we would need. I wasn't able to really look at the lay of the land and within a hour we where in a small pond. That has been the biggest problem down here is finding a safe, dry spot. As soon as the rain let up I moved the tent up on the asphalt drive and strung out the rainfly with bungee cords, and climbed back in as it started to dump again. At about midnight it stopped and Coop and I climbed out to stretch and eat our super late dinner. The following day some of the campers came by to chat and see what we where all about. Some people donated some money to us and I had just enough for another night at the state park. Everything was soaked and I needed to dry it all out. That afternoon and night Coop and I hung out in the Laundry Room and I tried to work on the blog. But every 15 minutes or so someone would come in and I would chat with them. People would return with treats for Coop and food for me. One of the people who came in was Janet. Her and her friend Alex are pedaling around the south east. They started in Oct in GA and have zigzaged about GA, FL, AL, MS, and LA. on their way into TX. This is their Journal. Check it out.

It was nice to see other travelers. We shared stories and found out we are both big fans of We are both excited to meet these two. After the chat one of the camp host came in and said dogs aren't allowed in the Laundry room. I explained to the dude we live in a tent and are trying to stay dry and warm for a bit. He wasn't hearing it and booted us out. As we made our way back to the tent Chris and Bill stopped me and invited us in for a glass of wine and some snacks. They both are rubber tramps and meet on the road and met up now and again. They wanted to hear of my adventure and they told me more about Katrina. I went back to the tent with a warm feeling from the wine and friendship and slept like a baby.

The next morning we got up early. Coop really stunk and someone had given us some dog shampoo. So we got into the showers, and cleaned him up. The great thing about most State Parks is they always have a Handicap shower with the shower head on the hose. This makes it really easy to clean him up. After his shower I got cleaned up and we headed back to the tent to pack up. When I stepped out I was approached by the park ranger I had met the first day in the office. He asked why I had Cooper in the shower house. I told him that I can't leave him in the tent because he will tear it up trying to get out, and if I leave him tied up outside he will bark and throw a fit and wake everyone up. He said he didn't care and said that some people had told him I was Panhandling around the campground. I was blown away by this. I don't beg or ask for anything. The nerve of some people. I said whatever and walked away.

I broke down the tent, packed up and got the hell out of there. We got back on the trail and headed west I needed to stop off at the Library and do some typing. On the way into town I stopped to talk to Earl. He works on oil drill platforms as a wielder in the gulf and we got to chatting about tour cycling. After our conversation I went to the Library and started clacking the keys. About 20 minutes later Earl tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to step outside. He had went home and packed up a bunch of canned Chicken, Turkey, Tuna, Salmon, and Sardines. It totaled about 8 lbs. of goods. I was happy for the food but that was a lot of goods. After that we got back on the trail. We met up with a daughter, father ride. I can't remember her name but she is in her senior year at UMass and her dad is Hal. I stopped and talked to them for a second and then they took off down the trail. After a bit we made our way into Abita Springs. The name seemed so familiar to me. As we made our way thru this town I heard someone yell my name. I looked around and saw Hal sitting outside Abita Brewery with his daughter. I said hello and he asked if I wanted a beer. I said sure and we pulled up. This is why I recognized the name I have had this beer in NYC. I sat down and Hal got me a beer. We chatted and talked about all sorts of stuff. After a couple pints, we all got back on the road. Not to far down the line I found a good camping spot and sit up for the night.

The next day we made our way towards Hammond LA. I stopped off at the FD to fill up on water, and chatted with a couple of brave guys. They sent some muffins with me and lots of good lucks. As I got into Hammond a couple asked me to pull over to talk. Richard and Lanee Landry were very excited to meet us. Richard was cyclist back in the day and the two of them have 6 dogs so they were all about us. We talked and they informed me that they are in the movie making biz. They said they would call ahead to Baton Rouge to the news media and let them know I was on my way in. I said thanks for the help and got to getting. That night as I was looking about for my resting stop a red BMW pulled over and stopped me. Shane Mutter, was also a cyclist and wanted to hear my story. We exchange info and he got going on the interstate and we made our way down to road. I found a church a couple miles down the road with a huge yard. I set up and turned on my phone, I had a text from Shane asking where it was I camping, he wanted to stop by in the morning and drop some stuff off to us, and wanted to know if I needed anything else. I feel weird when people ask if I need anything, I don't like asking for anything. He assured me he wanted to help and would get anything I needed. So I asked for a half dozen hookers and a gallon of Jameson. Kidding, I asked for a bag of dog food and that's all we needed. In the morning Shane pulled up and brought us a big bag of dog food, 2 gallons of water and a bunch of travel sized soaps, shampoo, and other personal hygiene products. We talked some more as I packed up and Shane told me how excited he was to meet me. He really digs what we are doing. He took off to work and we made our way towards Baton Rouge.
So thanks to everyone that I met in the LA. Now that have been in AL, MS, and LA. I now see them as AL and LA as legs and MS is where the sun don't shine!

Till next time
Love and Licks
Sean and Cooper.

March 6, 2010


2560 Government St.
Baton Rouge, L.A.

The past couple of days have been very stressful. Mostly due to the unruly traffic that has been screaming up from behind on this shoulderless road labeled highway 190. These people behind the wheel of some of the biggest, loudest pickup trucks try to push me and the oncoming traffic right off the road, they have succeeded twice in the past 3 days. This road 190 is at a gradual climb, most people in a car don't realize it, but when your hauling 700+ lbs into the wind you feel it with every turn of the pedals. Coop has a sore paw, and has been on the DL for 3 days now. Last week we had a trail for a couple of days so he got to run a lot and I am afraid we might of over done it on him. I should of known better not to let him run so much, but it was so nice to be able to cruise without the presence or even the sound of cars. So I don't mind hauling him too, and he seems to know he needs the rest.
I have met a lot of people over these 3 days and they have put the media in touch with me. This is the first time a TV news station has done anything on us, and both channel 2 and 9 did a piece. Channel 9 did one on Friday evening when I was about 15 miles from BR. Allan Tumey does of a piece geared towards travel. It will be online on Monday so I'll link it then. As far as channel 2 goes, they some how had heard about me and a young lady contacted me on Facebook and wanted to set something up. I said sure and asked if she knew of a good bike shop that would be able to help me and my Trike. She suggested Mid City Bikes, this isn't the first time I have heard this name before. The last couple of day as I have neared BR I have encountered some folks on bikes or people who are really into the bike life. Most of them that where familiar with the area had suggested Mid City Bikes. I had called Travis the owner and only employee and asked if it would be cool if I stopped in and got some help, and had Channel 2 met me there for the interview. He said sure he was eager to hear more of my adventure. So I got directions and headed in.
As I pulled up to the big yellow building across from the Texaco station on Gov't St. I saw a perfect parking spot right in front of Chopper Style Tricycle and next to the old school Thai style Rickshaw, with the seat for the passenger up front, and the operator sits behind them. I strolled in and I was greeted with a "hello Rickshaw Man." Travis had looked at the blog and seen what we where all about. He stopped what he was doing and came outside to check it all out. We talked about what I needed and he said no problem. He was more than happy to help. He stepped back in the shop and put one of his cronies on the job of helping me out. We added some bar extensions for a more comfy hand position, and a half link for the saggin chain, and he stocked me up on some spare tubes, spare tire, patch kit, and a spare half link. As we finished up Rob Krieger from Channel 2 showed up for the interview. He was very excited about what we are doing. We decided to angle this interview towards the kindness of this trip. What some people don't get is I survive day to day from the kindness of strangers. When I left NYC I had about $500 to my name that ran out pretty fast due to the fact that I had to get stuff that I needed once I left. I had planned to stop off and work here and there doing whatever needed to be done to make a honest buck. But I have been able to get by with what people decide to share with me. Like I have said over and over, I only ask for water and directions. I don't beg or panhandle, I'm not a mooch or a freeloader. People who have met me and some who have never met me have donated money to us via Paypal. A couple bucks here and there go along way when you shop at Dollar General! And because Travis believes in what we are doing he helped me out by giving me the parts and materials needed to make my ride more comfortable. And he is also putting us up for the night.
Travis Hans has been at this location for just over a year now. He has one hell of a shop. When we walked in to the left of us was about half a dozen road bikes and other motor type bikes. To the right of me is a stage with 2 sets of turn tables and a 8 piece drum set. This place was a music store before he moved in and he decided to keep the stage so him and his friends could spin records or beat on the skins when ever they needed to. He has all sorts of cruisers around the shop. A great section of road bikes and BMX. The greatest thing about this shop is whats going on in the back. See Travis and a couple of very good friends have been making their own line of BMX bikes and plan on starting on some road bike frames soon. He has a TIG welder, a huge Mill and a massive Lathe. All used to make his bikes and fix yours. The Mid City BMX line is strong, light, and fun to ride. Travis is here 6 days a wk from 10am-6pm, but if you have a problem give him a call and if he is still around he'll unlock the door and give ya a hand. Travis was more than happy to give us a hand keeping up with the notion that this nation is a kind and giving one that is being proved to me everyday of this amazing trip.

So thanks to Travis, Rob from Channel 2, Allan from 9, all the people I met at or around the Hammond LA. You all know who you are. I wish I could give a personal shout out to all the people I encounter everyday, but I have honestly talked to thousands of people in the past 5 months. Wow that in itself blows me away!! So thanks to everyone we have ever met and have never met but follow us.

Here are some links for you viewing pleasure.

Channel 2 WBRZ News

Channel 9 WAFB News 'Tumey's Travels' Its under March 9th.

Mid City Bikes

This one is of the building of a Mid City BMX Bike, and then it being rode around Baton Rouge. Its posted on Vimeo, a great site.

Till next time
Love and Licks
Sean and Cooper

March 5, 2010


There is a new post in the works right now. I have been stopping everyday at a library to work on it for an hour. It takes me awhile to put all my thoughts into words. Please be patient with me. Right now I am about 30 miles east of Baton Rouge LA. It has been a slow up hill battle to get to the river basin of the lower Mississippi. Keep checking the next couple of days for a update.

Love and licks
Sean and Coop

March 2, 2010


We took off from Mobile on Saturday, February 20. My foot was still sore but I was able to pedal without too much discomfort. We had one last lunch at MELLOW MUSHROOM with Bucky, Todd, and Brad. After we ate, we made our way west on 90. There were more hills than I thought there would be. We made it to a huge cemetery that night—Lawn Haven. It's about ten miles from the Mississippi–Alabama border. There was rain in the forecast for the night. We made our way back into the thick of it all, trying to find a good hiding spot. We hadn't been on the move for four weeks, now so we were trying to get back into the groove of things.

I set up the tent and elevated my foot. The hills that day had put a lot of pressure on the toe joints that were still sore. The following day we took it easy. It rained on and off so we were able to get out and throw the tennis ball around this huge graveyard, and I did some rearranging with the rig. I've grown to enjoy the game of Tetris that this thing has become.

The following day we made our way into Mississippi. As we crossed into this unknown state, I was encountered by a couple of cars while we had pulled off the road to take a break. The first car had a couple of guys that were interested in the rig. They were trying to design their own to use around the shop and town. They asked questions and took some pictures. Then a little red pickup truck pulls up and Charles jumps out to say hello. He had ridden from Florida up to Massachusetts back in the ’80s, and he was interested in my travels. We talked for a bit, and then he asked if I would like some lunch. He informed me of a casino right over the bridge in Biloxi, which was about eight miles down the road. I told him it would take me just over an hour to get there, so he took off to run some errands and we took off down the shoulder.

The shoulders down here are pretty wide and smooth. But this stretch was pretty chewed up, so it took me close to two hours to get to the bridge. (There are some pretty huge, long bridges down here in the gulf.) We made our way up with no problem. Once at the top, I snapped some pictures. There was a huge amount of smoke in the air that day due to some controlled burning at a state park just north of us. I loaded Cooper up in the ride to prepare for our descent. As we started rolling, we were forced to ride through a huge pile of glass. I knew right away I was going to get a flat and sure enough the bike started to pull to the right. I came to a stop and took a looksee at the damage. I decided there was enough air in the tire to make it slowly down the bridge. But the joints in the bridge had other ideas. The first one my chain fell off, the second one I lost my sunglasses, and the third gave out a clunk on the rim. So we came to a stop and walked it down the rest of the way. As we got to the end of the bridge I spotted Charles on the corner waiting for me. He helped me push it up the hill to the Valet area and they directed me to the corner no charge. We got Coop put up with a couple treats and a bowl of water. We went inside to get our grub on. This was the perfect spot to take a cyclist to, all you can eat buffet. I loaded up 4 plates of protein, carbs, calories, and fat. Everything you gals try to avoid! As we ate we talked about his trip back in the '80s, and how he has the itch to "get out there one last time." I assured him that if he got out there it wouldn't be the last time. I can't see myself not doing this again. Granted I am going to take some time off the rest up, but it would be nice to do again. Hopefully with some other people, or maybe a family. After our meal we headed outside to get the tire changed. When we walked up to the rig, Coop was curled up taking a snooze. This is such a great dog. Granted he can be a bit of a spaz at times, but he doesn't bark hardly at all unless its needed. He listens for the most part, but when I do tell him to come he sometimes takes his sweet ass time about it sniffing and peeing as he zigzags his way back to me. But he is very well behaved and chill. I love that dog so much and couldn't imagine doing this trip without him. On the other side of the bridge there is a huge parking lot and a elevated patch of grass under a big oak tree. Charles came over and let me use his jack so I didn't have to unload everything. His dog was with him in the truck. So while we worked on the tire and talked about him going with his dog on the road the pups got to run around and play. After everything was running smooth and I made a mental note to find a half link for my saggin chain. Charles took off and I put up the tent and we had dinner. Well Coop had dinner I was stuffed so I had a snickers. It rained that night so the following day it took awhile to dry out the tent.
All along the gulf of MS there is a beach path the runs inches from the white fine sand that you can only find in the gulf. They rake the beaches down here once a week section by section. That's gotta cost. So this pathway is nice and wide, smooth and flat. They have new piers along them. One of the piers shot out about 40 yds over the water so we went down to take a look. While we where down there a guy came by on his bike to say hi. His name is Johnny, and he is a window washer and covers about 300 miles a wk all on his bike. He has a couple buckets up front and the pole along the top bar of the frame. We got to taking about the bike path and the new piers, he said its really the only thing being done down here right now. He said after Katrina its been a slow rebuild for most of the gulf. This part of the gulf got demolished by the winds. New Orleans got flooded. There is still pieces of people lives hanging in the trees and tangled in the bushes. He explained that the people of the gulf of MS are defeated. That's why they are kinda stand offish and bitter. After our chat I made my way west. We had been moving along for sometime now just going about 5 mph when I decided to take a break. My foot is doing much better but if I'm on the pedals for too long all the blood rushes to it and it begins to throb so I laid on one of the benches that are scattered along the beach path and put my foot up. While I laid there I let my mind wander to all the places I've been, the things I've seen and the people I have met. I have been on the road for 5 months now. I have gone about 2,700 miles, in about 2 1/2 months. I was in Mobile for a month and have stayed here and there for about a month and a half worth of time. But by my calculations that I did before I left I should be getting into New Mexico about now. So I am a little behind, and I think this might take longer than a year to complete which means I will be most likely pedaling in the snow in Pennsylvania. All part of the adventure. So here I am laying on the bench resting my foot and taking in some of that good 'ol vitamin D when I hear "how ya doing?" I sit up and block westward sun from my eyes to see a great site. Here was George from Tallahassee on a road bike with a trailer on his homeward leg of his trip east. I jumped up and excitedly introduced myself to the man. We admired each others rides as we told each other our routes. He was amazed at the Tricycle Tank that I have been pedaling about, and I was envious of his light weight and sleek mode of transportation. We talked for a bit and decided to call it a early day and find a good camping spot for the night and hang out. I suggested the beach as a good place to camp but he informed me he needed trees due to he fact he sleeps in a Hammock every night. I was blown away by this. I was excited to see his complete setup and pick his brain for tips and helpful advice. We made our way back towards the east where I had noticed a grove of trees in a good spot. We pulled in and set up our respective camps. I kept a eye on his progress of setting up and was truly impressed in his setup. Huge rain fly over his double sling hammock encased in a bug net. He had modified his mummy style sleeping bag to have room to bend his knees and had it secured at both ends to prevent slippage. He didn't have a good pair of wool socks, and I had an extra pair to spare and threw them his way, and in return he gave me a hammock that he had been carrying and not using. He told me it makes a great swing seat at the end of the long day. I don't have a seat other than my bike seat so I am looking forward to using it instead of sitting on the ground. That night for dinner we each made something from our food supply and split it between the two of us. I made a tomato sauce with sardines in a hot tomato sauce, over mini shells. He made a mushroom and kelp soup with buckwheat noddles. I had never thought of going to a Asian market to get food. A lot of the dry goods are dehydrated veg and fish and all sorts of nutritious stuff. We sat around the fire sharing stories until it was time to tuck in.
The next morning I got up early and fed the pooch. George got up and asked if I wanted pancakes? "Hell yeah bub. I'll make the coffee!" He pulled out a cast iron sizzle platter, like the ones at Applebees that the Fajitas come on and got out some pancake batter. He asked if I had any instant oatmeal and I did. So he mixed in a couple packs for flavor and texture. We made a fire and I got to boiling water as he heated up the cast iron skillet. We both have travel french presses for coffee and the pancakes where great. After a filling breakfast we broke down camp. Bucky and Todd where meeting up with me that morning to ride with me for a day to Bay St. Louis. Just as we had finished packing up Bucky and Todd pulled up. I made introductions and we swapped rides for a minute to see what it was like. We said our goodbyes and he headed east and I headed west. I wish we could of been going the same way and spend some days together. Hopefully soon I will find someone who is on the same path going the same direction as me. The 3 of us set out in that westerly way that I am headed and road along the beach path all the way to the bridges stopping here and there to take a break and take it in. As we approached the first bridge we were happy to see a good sized bike lane on the side. As we got to the beginning of it I noticed that it was barely going to be wide enough for us. As I made the slow ride up the bridge I cringed because on the edges of the path it was littered with broken beer bottles, and because it was so tight I wasn't able to avoid it to well and could hear my back tire running over it. When we reached the top I stopped to take some pics. Bucky and Todd had gotten to the top a couple of minuets before me and as I was snapping pics they slowly started to creep forward. I turned to them and jokingly asked "are you rushing my adventure? You guys wanted to ride with me and this is what I do. I go slow and stop a lot!!" They laughed and we got to moving on. We came down the bridge and my chain popped off again. At the bottom I got off and put it back on and crossed the street, as I came up the ramp to the sidewalk that lead to the bridge bike lane it popped off again. I keep stopping at these bike shops and either they are out of business or don't have a half link for that chain. After I had got it back on we made our way up the bridge. This one was newer due to the fact that Katrina had claimed the original one as hers. So the new one had a much wider and litter free bike lane. What a sight from the top. We made our way down into Bay St. Louis and decided to head downtown to find a place to eat. We rode thru town asking where a good place would be to eat to whoever we saw. People kept saying to head over to Benigno's. Always ask a local for where the good stuff is. We parked out front and went inside and sat at the table by the window so Coop could keep and eye on me. People are amazed at how well behaved he is and how he just sits there and watches me wherever I go. But I have learned to park up front so he won't bark for his dad. We got the menu and some Sweet Tea, I didn't know what to get so many great choices. Po-boys, Muffaletta, Fried Sweet Potatoes, Fried Pickles and so much more. I love Muffaletta and haven't had one in over a year I'm sure. So I ordered a Cat Fish Po-boy for there with a order of fried Pickles and got a 1/4 Muffaletta to go for my dinner that night. While Todd, Bucky and I ate, Todd got a text from Lindsey she was on her way back from New Orleans on a biz trip and wanted to see where we were. He gave her directions and she was on her way. When the waitress came over she said her mom had read something about me somewhere in the paper a couple months ago. Its amazing how people are starting to hear about us before we get there. Lindsey showed up right as we where getting done with our lunch, we were all stuffed and having to get back on the bikes. The Fontenot family that owns this great eatery asked if I would bring Cooper in for a group picture under there sign that hung on the wall. They are planing on putting peoples pictures on the tables and we will be the first as soon as I can send it to them. (Its on the way as soon as I can down load it!) I said my goodbyes to Todd and Bucky, I will miss all my new friends that I have made on the road but I would have to say I'll miss Bucky the most. If it wasn't for his open mindedness and great personality I would of never stayed in mobile for 4 wks. Thanks again Mobile and mostly you Buck! The guys headed back the 13 miles they had ridden with me that day to Bucky's car trying to beat the rain that was moving in. Lindsey had time to kill and wanted to talk about a trip she is planing on taking with her daughter Ella in a month or so. She was my forward observer and drove 5 miles ahead to check on a State Park that I heard might be closed. She came back to me after I had gone a couple of miles and informed me that it was. There was a storm on the way in so I didn't want to sleep on the beach. But there is still a bunch of empty lots from houses that had been destroyed that never got rebuilt so I found a good one that would hide us from people and the wind. I set up everything and got into Lindsey jeep and she told me her idea. Ella will be going into K next year and so Lindsey wants to spend this spring and summer driving around the US and taking her to all the places a child should be taken. It brought back memories of my childhood when my grandparents from OK would take my sister and I on a trip somewhere in the US. We stayed in motels and had a cooler with lunch meat and snacks for the time in the car and my grandpa always drove, and my sister Vanessa and I would fight in the back. They taught me a lot about the US as a child and I thank them for putting this in me to want to go and see it. So I gave her as much advice as I could but she seemed to already know most of what I was getting at. I think they are going to have a blast and look forward to reading about their adventures on the blog she will be doing. Good Luck Gals!! As the rain started to fall we said our goodbyes, I'm glad I got to meet Lindsey and Ella, they make quite a team.
The rain came and went before sunrise and we got a move as soon as we were all dried up. I needed to go just under 30 miles that day to get to the LA state line. The ride was quite now that I was off the gulf and there was more hills in the days pedal. I didn't make it to the state line but did make it to PERLINGTON MS. Now the reason this is in caps is because they are the ones who kicked me out of the state. So we pull into this small community about a hour or so before sunset. I rode down the only paved road they have and saw a Fire Department, next to that was the community center with a wedding reception going on, and a couple blocks down was the church. The community center was out due to the reception, and I don't like to camp at churches on Saturday nights because the last thing these people need to see before going to pray is we crawling out of my tent and scratching my butt. So the Fire Department it was. I have stayed on many FD, PD and even hospital lawns before. This is considered a safe haven for road travelers. So I banged on the door and no answer, everything else was fenced off so I set up on the grass out front no more that 15 yards from the main road. I got the tent up Coop and I fed and crawled in to read. About an hour after sundown 3 cop cars and 4 POVs pulled up. I put on my shoes and was getting out of the tent as they all approached. Coop was barking like a mad dog and I told the lead cop "he'll keep barking till he gets to smell you and then he'll calm down, you gonna let him smell ya?" "Fine but if that dog bites anyone out here I put a bullet in his head." was his response. Not 'I'll shoot him' but "I'll put a bullet in his head." So right there I knew I had to walk softly with this crowd. They asked me what I was doing so I handed them my card with my info along with my ID and the cop stepped off to call in the numbers that goes with my name. I showed the rest of the group the sign on the back and explained of my travels, making sure to include some of the places that I have stayed like FD, PD and so on. My name came back clean and a couple of them stepped off to talk. One guy seemed interested in my travels so I answered some of his questions. I was thinking I was gonna be ok, when they two coppers came back to inform me I need to move on. "Why" I asked. They said it was "state property and that I was trespassing." I told them I and other travelers see it as a safe haven, and from some where in the back of the group I heard"Home land Security" "Give me a break" I hollered. I then said "I'm not vandalizing the place, I'm picking up my trash, I'm not building a fire, and I didn't take a dump on your doorstep. When I leave in the morning you won't even be able to tell I was here." They said no good. "Fine, I'll go down to the church then." "No your not welcome here in this community so you might as well get moving on over to Lowezanne." was his response "Your kicking me out of the state?!?" I asked. "Yes sir." My New York mentality flew out of my mouth. "So your telling me I have to load up this giant tricycle and pedal down a shoulderless road over shoulderless bridges in the dark in a state that is known for running down cyclist with their trucks?" "Yes sir, there is a boat launch about 3 miles from here you can camp at." I started swearing and saying how messed up it was. When one of them tossed out the "calm down or I'll arrest you." I literally bit my tongue on that one. I asked if they were going to give us an escort over the bridges and his response was "you have enough lights on the back of this thing you'll be fine. YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! What a bunch of backwoods hillbilly assholes. So that's what we did. It was scary and the cars where flying by. We made it to the boat launch and set it up again. The whole night people would pull off there to pee or make a phone call. One truck even backed up right next to the tent and they had sex. I rolled a cig and stepped out to mess with them but he didn't miss a stroke and she threw up a wave.
So that's how we got kicked out of the state of Mississippi. If you would like to let Senator Thad Cochran know how you feel about it follow this link to his contact page and send him a message . That put a real sour taste in my mouth and if it wasn't for Casino Charles, Johnny on the pier, pancake George, the ride with my friends and the great lunch, I would say the hell with MS. But its all about the adventure.

Till next time
love and licks
Sean and Cooper