Spartans Forever

Monday, March 25, 2013

Closing This Adventure Out

We left Liberty with very gray skies.  All morning long it seemed like it wanted to rain but just couldn't do it.  There was mist which slowly turned to heavier mist then drops and about ten miles from home turned to real rain for a short time.  Our northern relatives kept saying they would rather ride in the rain then 80 degrees (like 80 is hot).  We made excellent time and arrived in Baytown in time to celebrate at our neighborhood restaurant with margaritas in addition to lunch.
After cleaning up, unloading the bikes, and Michigan State basketball, we headed out for birthday dinner.
 Today was a perfect end to a great adventure.
After a day of rest, Janie and John headed north to Michigan probably through a snow storm.  Makes me appreciate Texas.

Some Random Thoughts:
The flowers were beautiful; wisteria, azalea, camellia.  Supposedly it is not a good year for azaleas, but they were still beautiful.
Judging from the dirt trucks on the rode we are still moving this earth around.  Also, judging from the logging trucks the building business must be booming.
The most popular vehicle on the road is a white pickup.
The most dangerous thing about riding a bike is not the possibility of being hit it is the danger of being struck by the stuff flying off vehicles, tire tread, stuff out of pickup beds, logs off from logging trucks, etc.
We had five flat tires, one broken mirror, and one case of chiggers, darn nature stops!
The best thing about traveling by bicycle is the people you meet along the way!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Night

Tonight we are in Liberty, TX  as we bring this adventure to a close.  We will arrive home in Baytown on my 70th birthday.  Perfect!  The last two days have been relaxed with wonderful leisurely breakfasts, the best of the trip.  Today as we tried to start riding I had a flat.  I lead the pack with 2,  Doug 1, and Janie one in the garage before starting out..  My latest flat was caused by a bit of wire no bigger than a whisker.
Today, we rode by an area that John has worried about since we were here before. He had been told that there was a pit bull along the route that loves cyclists legs.  About a week ago he bought an air horn in preparation for this animal.  Low and behold the dog was a "no show".
Two events that were not fun today was being yelled at for being on the road and as a result being called "dumb asses".  The other was really tragic.  We came upon an accident, where we think that at least one person possibly two lost their lives.  Being caught up in accident traffic was a first for us in all of our riding.  Hope it is the last.
My thoughts are really disjointed as I write this while watching Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown.
I have not been taking many pictures lately be John is so much better than me and he will share.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We woke up this A.M. to the worst weather of the trip, cold and rainy. However, the weatherman was very accurate about the clearing time and the day turned out to be wonderful. We rode on roads with rolling hills, good surfaces, and the wind at our back. On route 190 we did ride with an unnatural occurrence, the shoulder was smoother than the road. We, also, came to two construction areas. One had the bridge out, but Doug and John asked if we could get through. This was a bridge over a culvert not a river. So we ended up slogging through the mud to get around. Some in our group thought this was much better than riding a couple extra miles. The other was also a bridge, but it had one lane open for a dry passage. The remainder of the day went without incidence. We arrived at our motel in Kirbyville,TX. in time for cocktail hour with snacks, don't know how to spell the hors word. It was fancy snacks. Notice we are in Kirbyville, TX. A highlight of our day was crossing the State line. We are nearing the end of this adventure.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Return to Deridder

With our casino winnings in our pocket we headed to breakfast. To our surprise there was a cafe in town that served breakfast. As we have so often found the food was cheap and good, along with interesting conversation with the locals. We learned that what we had been hearing that to us sounded like gun shots were booms to frighten the birds out of the rice fields. Evidently they like to eat the seed. With fuel in our belly and wind at our back we, for us, sailed over the rolling hills into Deridder. Upon arriving here we have now completed 600 miles. As we are now on a leisure ride we had a casual lunch followed by an afternoon nap. Life is good!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Oberlin, LA.

We are treating ourselves to a leisurely return to Baytown. We hadn't planned to spend over an hour at lunch, but we had stopped at a local cafe that was bustling mainly with take out orders. The food was great and cheap, but slow and once again the people fun. We are now in Oberlin a town of about 2000. We inquired where the best restaurant was in town. The reply was "we are a small town", which means we do not have a restaurant. "However, the casino four miles down the road has several restaurants and I will drive your there". We did not hesitate. I, for one, am not a casino person but I sure do like to eat. So off we went. We had a fun dinner and then decided we should play $10.00 at the the quarter slots. I came away with $24.00. So it was a lucky day from start to finish.

Ville Platte

We arrived at the Best Western, an upgrade from the Sportsman, in Ville Platte, LA. late afternoon. We had started out the day with the wind working for us, the rest if the day not so much. We did get caught in a brief heavy down pour. Quiet frankly, we were not smart. We depended on technology when we should have just simply looked out the window. Sometimes days on a bike does something to the brain cells! But all in all it was a great day on the bike. Pretty scenery with enough trees to block the wind. We had a great leisurely Mexican dinner with a jumbo margarita to go with it to celebrate achieving 500 miles on the road. Last night with our Best Western upgrade I could not get on the internet, The Sportsman had come through for me. The problem was not the margarita.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sportsman Motel

 Our Room
Beside Our Room

On The Way Home

Today, we began our way back to Baytown.  The day was pretty uneventful except for the fact that the wind actually worked for us .  We are currently in Simmesport, LA. staying at the Sportsman Motel.  Hope to post some pictures.  This is a motel that we would never stop at except on a bike as there is not another motel within 50 miles of here.  This is our third stay here.  The plumbing is a little weird, the furnishings a little strange, and we assume the electric has to meet some kind of code.  However, it is clean and the service is most gracious.  In what other motel can you stay and order dinner in the associated convenience store and have it delivered to your room.  I had a delicious  grilled chicken salad with 2 wonderful rolls. I had trouble eating it all. It  cost $4.99

Friday, March 15, 2013

Arrival in St, Francisville

We arrived in St.Francisville on day six after day five with white caps on the rice fields.  We spent our day riding into the cause of those white caps.  'nuf said about that day!
Day six was a fun day with beautiful riding conditions through really pretty country.  We started our day crossing the Atchafalaya River and finished the day crossing the Mississippi River.  We are staying at the Butler Greenwood Plantation which has been in the same family since the 1790s. The plantation is operated by the seventh and eighth generation while the ninth generation is arriving. The house has 100% original furnishings and eight separate cottages for guests. We started the day with a tour of this plantation house and then hopped on our bikes to visit Mr.Imahara's Botanical Garden.  This garden is a long time dream of Walter Imahara a retired nurseryman and landscaper, a planter who can not stop planting,  A dream that evidently is not shared by his wife,  Walter and his sister Lily operate the garden. The garden is very different from any garden anywhere with nine cascading ponds, azaleas, camellias, crape myrtles, palm trees, magnolias, and more.  Seeing one man's dream was wonderful, after learning about the family history.  The Imahara family was a family or nine children who had been in the Japanese Relocation Camps during WWII.  The family lost everything from this experience, but went on to prosper.  The nine ponds are to symbolize the nine brothers and sisters in Walter's family.
From here we went to the Magnolia Cafe for lunch where we had muffuletta sandwiches.  Then on to Grace Episcopal Church to seek out Commander Hart's grave.  The story of his death and burial is very interesting.  I need to do some genealogy studies to see if he could be a famous relative.
We then went to the Rosedown Plantation with all of it's gardens and stories.  On the way back from there we thought we were purchasing a whole crawfish dinner, turned out to be only crawfish.  So we sat on the deck sucking crawfish and drinking beer.  Perfect end to a great day.  Tomorrow, we turn around and head home.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 4

We felt fortunate when we started out that the predicted 33 degree tenps did not happen.  We left in a balmy  43 degrees.  The skies were beautiful and sunny with very light winds.  We encountered rolling hills for the first 35 miles and then the terrain flattened out to what I had advertised the ride to be, flatter than a fritter.  Janie reminded me that my fritter was lumpy.  Then we came to the fritter flat terrain through rice fields for the remainder of the day.
The highlight of our day was a rest stop at the East Beauregard Parish Volunteer fire house.  It was open and we were invited in.  We talked with a very nice Parish employee, I never heard his name or position.  We were able to use the restroom.  He seemed quite surprised when I went back to get my camera to photograph the  restroom.  In the restroom was a lovely wreath about 4-5 feet in diameter.  Never have I seen this in a restroom.  Also, the TP was in a cute little basket.  I made the statement that they must have some women on the squad.  Come to find out the Chief is a women.
This was a wonderful riding day!  Lessens in layering are paying off.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Learning Lessons

The day started out bright and sunny.  One problem the temperature was 43F.  We rode most all morning into a wind from the NW of 15 - 20 miles per hour.  Very chilly requiring as many clothes that I could comfortably move in.  As the day warmed up to the high 50s, with the wind at our backs, the clothes were stripped off, then back on again as we approached DeRidder where the thermometer read 46 and that was before the sun went down.  The lesson was in layering.  The last ride we did the temps were 95 to 105.  We learned nothing about layering.
We entered DeRidder looking forward to a motel and dinner.  One problem, out of 5 motels in town we were able to get rooms at the  5th one we called, which at time of check-in they only had a couple of rooms left.  Who would have guessed that motels in small towns would be full on Monday night. It seems that they are all booked by contractual workers.  We had reservations for the 1st two nights but had wanted to have more flexability so no more reservations until St.Francisville.  Lesson learned, make reservations.  We called ahead for tomorrow night and  got the last 2 rooms.  Crazy!
Tomorrow morning predicted to be 33.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Strangers Helping Strangers

The day started out with threatening skies and a promise of a rainy day, but we had to go.  The advantage of a self contained trip is suppose to be if the weather is not cooperating you don't have to go.  However, we have reservations at a plantation in St, Francisville.  It seems that at the time we would probably be there their biggest festival and fund raiser of the year is happening.  It is the Audoubon Pilgrimage.  Without reservations there will be no room at the in.  So we started out.  Fortunately, when the heavens opened up we were near a quick stop,  The manager had no problem with us camping out there for an hour or so.  When the rains slowed, we took off.  Each of our rain gear seemed to be adequate for each of us.  It really was a stroke of luck that we found shelter.  Sheltered spots were few and far between on today's ride.
Our next helpful person happened at lunch.  Well, this was not so helpful but the person really meant well.  We have found  on our cycling adventures that people always want to give you route advice.  Of course these people really know the area but have no idea about bikes.
After lunch we took off again down a road, which turned out to be the wrong direction.  A man who had been filling his truck saw what we were doing and came down the road after us, because the only place this road was going was to the oil fields.  He asked where we were going and steered us in the right direction.  He then turned around and went the direction he was sending us.  For those of you who don't know roads to oil fields are not good and particularly bad in wet weather.
The next rather colorful person to help us was Ricky.  Some of us were stopped along the road waiting for Doug to deal with a flat.  He offered to go get Doug, water, overnight lodging in the community church if needed.  When we did not need these things he offered to go up the road and have relatives restrain their dog (all or part  pit bull).  He said the dog liked legs.  We like ours too.  So he was very pleased that he could do something for us.
We also learned some local history in Batson.  This town during the 30s had 80,000 people.  Today probably not 500.  Some of the structures we passed I believe were remnants of that era.
Today's ride was really remote through the Big Thicket National Preserve.  Tomorrow we will enter Louisiana.  Looking forward to a crawfish boil dinner tomorrow night.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Day 1 Complete

toWe are nicely settled into our motel while the wind is still howling outside.  We rode about 50 miles  working out a few kinks and adapting to the added weight of the bike.  The day was cloudy with temps in the low 70s.  As the day went on the wind became stronger and stronger.  It was basically a side wind that just whomped you, then swirled around and whomped you some more.  That being said we just as happy to call it a day on the bike.  One of the highlights of the day was our coffee break at Trinity River Refuge. We had hoped to see gators, but it was probably too chilly for them. Tomorrow the weather should be interesting, windy, storms, 20 degree temperature drop. We will see what happens.

Friday, March 8, 2013

On The Bike Again

Blog followers we are back (I don't know if we still have blog followers).   With fairly little attention to bike or body , we have our panniers packed and on the bikes for an early morning take off.  Probably the number one question we were asked on our Border to Border bike ride was "what cause are you riding for?".  We do not ride for  causes.  We ride for events or mile stones.  This time we are riding from our driveway in Baytown, Texas to St. Francisville, LA.  The intention is to ride at least 700 miles for my 70th birthday while our last ride was to commemorate my 50th high school class reunion. The distance to St. Francisville should be about 400 miles and of course it is 400 miles back.  So we should easily make our goal.  Joining us on this latest adventure is my sister Janie and her husband John.   It should be great fun as these transplanted  yankees and true yankees esperience mainly rural Louisianna.

P.S.  It is amazing how much room I have in my panniers without camping and cooking gear!