Alabama… couple things you don’t realize about it until you have been away for a little while… Humidity. Even when its “not bad” its bad… Mountains. Alabama mountains, don’t notice them until you are on a bicycle… Accents. They are thicker than I remembered… Hospitality. Better than I remembered… Biking. Riding on a two lane road while rednecks do everything in their power to claim the road as “their territory.” No wait a minute… that is exactly how I remember it. (Poor things are just confused, bless their heart.)
We made it to Birmingham, Alabama… “The Magic City.” To this day I have never seen a rabbit pulled out of a hat anywhere near here. For our purposes however, this is “The 75% City“… We have ridden our bicycles 3,000 miles from Seattle, WA to arrive here. We have 1,000 miles remaining to reach our final destination of Key West, FL. Checklist: Finish the hills of Alabama, make our way through the tall pines of southern Georgia, and cruise 500 miles down Florida’s eastern coast.
Before I forget… I feel like I need to answer this very frequent inquiry about my health. I know you are all deeply worried about this subject. I would like to clear up these worries and inform all my friends, family, and followers that… here is what you have all expressed so much concern about… my butt will survive… It has seen better days and saddle soars are no laughing matter, but rest assured, I will return it to its home in Alabama in one piece.
Sometimes people ask us the difference between this Sea2Key adventure versus the Appalachian Trail. I had discussed this in a previous blog but I remembered one thing I didn’t discuss… using my electronics. This might seem confusing at first; let me explain. On the trail if I wanted to take a picture, I simply pulled my camera out and took a picture and kept walking. If I wanted to change a song on my iPod, I pulled my iPod out of my pocket and changed it. If someone called me, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and talked while I walked.
Well… its pretty much the same thing on the bike… Except for the fact that I’m going 20 mph on a bicycle with cars passing me instead of walking 2 mph through the woods. So there I am listening to my iPod, trying to take a picture, when someone calls me… Next I am attempting to put my camera up, pause my iPod, and get out my phone… only to miss the call and become forced to go through my phone to call back the culprit of my turmoil. All the while, I’m getting buzzed by 18 wheelers… I know, I know; I could pull over and do this whole shuffle on the side of the road but that’s alot of lost momentum… you understand.
My crew comes from all over the country including Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, California, and Ohio. With these blogs, I last left you at the entrance to the Southeastern United States. Since then, I have definitely introduced strangers to a strange land… Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. At one point in Mississippi, Squeeze informs me that he has never felt so out of his element in the United States. This intrigues me. We definitely do things a little bit different down here. That being said… Here are some comical, cool, crazy stories from the road…
We got kicked out of a park we were going to sleep in for peeing on a tree… (you gotta go somewhere when you live outside). So we pressed on, riding in the rain, until we found a good bridge to get our first “sleeping under a bridge” experience of this adventure. Once you get past the sound of a semi truck going 65 mph 9 feet above your head… bridges are a very quaint place to spend the evening.
Cows are an animal we pass frequently while riding along. They usually give us absolutely no attention. However, that was not the case this one particular morning… There was a 6 mile stretch of cattle ranch after cattle ranch in which the cows reacted quite differently. When we came into their vision, it was if they had seen zombies approaching them. We passed approximately 7 separate groups of cows that would go into a full-fledged terrified sprint across the field. They obviously had a very traumatizing cyclist experience at some point… or maybe it was just the beards…
We met “The Dancing Queen of Paris.” Substantially famous on You Tube. But when you look her up, don’t expect to see the Eiffel Tower in the background… You might however notice the Dollar General of Paris, Arkansas.
Dardanelle, AR. Home of the Dardanelle High School Sand Lizards. We were fortunate enough to attend their homecoming football game. I heard one of my favorite quotes of the trip from the commentator… “Several Sand Lizards on the tackle.” We also received an invitation to the Dardanelle High School Class of 91’ Reunion. Talk about sticking out like sore thumbs. But as soon as the DJ started, we fit right in.
Big thanks to Google Maps for always keeping things spicy. This is basically how we navigate on a daily basis. Very easy to use, always knows where you are, and usually comes up with some top-notch routes. This one particular day, the route was especially interesting. I take a right onto a back road following the directions provided by the fantastic map program. Boo Boo stops me and points out a “Dead End” sign. I study the map and decide it must just be and outdated sign because Google Maps tells me that the road does not end. We are feeling a little frisky at this point so we decide to take the road. Beautiful little country road… until it starts getting sketchy. It started with a house that had numerous signs saying “No Turnaround In Driveway… Or Else.” Next came a pair of pit bulls that came after us like we were going to be lunch. They were stopped short by their chains that allowed their chomping teeth to make it inches from the road. Then comes the end of the road… Kind of. It came to an unkempt 4×4 trail leading dead into the woods… I know, I know. Turn around right? Well Google Maps told me to trust it and press on… So we did. After a mile or so of trails, creek crossings, and passing what appeared to be a meth lab hidden in the woods; we pulled out onto a bike path in an upper class neighborhood.
I’m back in mosquito land. One night in Arkansas they were so bad that I only allowed one body part to be out of my sleeping bag and have contact with the outside world… my nostrils. They were still so persistent that every minute or so I would have to blow one out of my nose that was trying to find a place to have some dinner. How do you go to sleep in that situation you ask? You reach a point where you get too tired to care anymore.
Witnessed another great BooBooisms. You might remember these from my last blog. We arrive at my friend Addison’s house in Memphis. She offers us something to drink:
Addison: “We have juice, soft drinks, and milk.”
Boo Boo: “I’ll have a milk… is it chocolate milk?”
Addison: “No, sorry”
Boo Boo: “Alright never mind then.”
One day we were disagreeing on which route to take to get to a certain city. When both parties realized the other wasn’t going to budge on their opinion, we decided to flip a coin. When we realized we didn’t have any money, we flipped a driver’s license. It’s called being resourceful folks.
After a long day of riding (79 miles), we find out that it is supposed to get below freezing that night and frost over. Upon going to a couple of places and asking a few people where we can possibly get out of the cold, we find our answer… “Yall can just go sleep in the jail.” And that’s just what we did. Turns out they let anyone sleep in the Tishomingo County Mississippi Courthouse. Janitors woke us up in the morning and we headed on down the road.
Second run in with Google Maps: We make a turn to find a sign that says “Bridge Out In 14 miles.” We run into a slight dilemma here: trust Google Maps or possibly have to ride 28 miles roundtrip to get back to where we were… Trust Google Maps. We do just that and ride over this spooky abandoned bridge that is shut down to car traffic.
While I was taking the crew on a tour of my hometown, we stop by my old high school. As we are riding through the parking lot, we get stopped and questioned by a very concerned teacher. She informs us that we were on school property. I tell her my story; my hometown, my old school, biking across America, my friends I’m taking on a tour of the town… she wasn’t having it and asked us to leave before she called the police… Maybe it’s the beards…
You know what really grinds my gears? When people in our group call a Coke “pop.” Michigan bet me that I wouldn’t say “pop” over the microphone at our band’s homecoming show in Florence. As much as it hurt me inside, I couldn’t lose a bet. “Could somebody grab me a pop from the bar?” I can’t begin to describe the looks I received from the crowd…
We got interviewed by my local news and newspaper. Turns out our group isn’t what I would call “stellar” at participating in an interview… There are certain things they are going to put in the paper and certain things that are better to just be left for these blogs.
Reporter: “How amazing is a shower when you finally get one?”
Squeeze: “Well the only reason I really like getting a shower is so I can go out to the local bar, hit on women, and not smell like body odor.”
That will round it up for now folks. Hope my stories tickled your travel writing fancies. 3,000 miles down
1,000 to go. No telling what’s going to happen next… you best stay tuned. Get out there… Adventure! You know you want to…
Create your own adventures.