Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Jerome: "I'm stronger now, on the bike, than I've ever been."

The trip is winding down, and we're growing ever closer to our finish line. I'm excited to follow through on my word to finish this blog, so here's a catch up on where we've been.

Day fitty fow:
Well, I won last night at the casino. Unfortunately, not quite enough to get to Japan, so I'll keep riding.

Walked in with nothing, walked out with $18. I'll gladly take a casino's money

We left Baton Rouge this morning somewhat begrudgingly due to the cool hotel connected to the casino. The bikes don't ride themselves, unfortunately, so we started adventuring through the city. Not far into it, we got to check out "Death Valley"

LSU tigers stadium. Some call it a coliseum

I think at some point during this day, when we stopped at a gas station, some lady came up to me and said, "boy, is you just made of all muscle?!" She had to make my head bigger than it already was. I almost said, "naw, it's all fat," but I noticed she was a little bigger so I just shut my fat mouth. I thought this whole ride was a 'training' ride, but I didn't realize it only just started today.

I guess the previous 2,800 miles didn't count.

Just because of that, we got pissed and decided to skip out on a couple miles.

If it would have been closed, we would have had to swim. You don't want to go anywhere near Missipissi water if you don't have to.

Jerome hadn't been on a ferry in a while, I think it had been a while for me too, so this was a fun alternate to the route.

He wasn't crying, there was just river spray on his face

It was a pretty cool ride today, we came across all sorts of buildings:

Some where getting taken back by nature

Some had a history of exploiting African slave labor.

Some even spit out black smoke and smelled strangely of spaghettios.

But one thing was for sure, the churches reigned supreme in the cool building category.

Jesus was to scale, the building was massive.

We finished off today in Donaldsonville, LA. Can't honestly remember anything about this place.

Day 55:
Hey, it's always a good omen when you start the day with one of these.

Even though there was no shoulder at all, and I exclusively thought I was going to die by getting run over, I loved every second of it.

Bridges never disappoint on the view, either.

The views always best from the top. Life lessons learned on the road.

I think I remember the day being pretty tranquil after that. It was a little longer of a day because we wanted to get to New Orleans today, so there was plenty to see on the way in.

You can't tell from the picture, but this bridge is massive. Do you care? Probably not

There is a lot of history in the south, and it's really starting to show as we get closer to New Orleans.

Another one of those slavery depots. I think they call them plantations

As always, traffic gets exponentially worse as you get closer to a big city, so it was nice to see a paved bike trail.

You can pave 30 miles of bike trails, but you can't make a single fucking person ride a bike.

EDIT: This is a draft I had written and forgotten about. As of today, 5/30/18, I'm going to start finishing this shitty blog, whether it kills me, or mildly inconveniences my Netflix binging schedule. I'll be back with a few more stories to finally finish this thing off!!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

After finally getting out of Texas (fucking Texas) and being chased by more dogs than I care to keep track of, it's time to update this blog. Finding good WiFi is truly a luxury down south.

Day 43:
Today we left Bastrop. I honestly can't remember anything about this town. The cool part about today was riding through two state parks, Bastrop and Buescher State Parks.

It cost $6 for two of us to ride through the two parks. Thanks Obama.

There were plenty of steep climbs through the park, enough to wear out 65-year-old legs and residual hangover Kevin, so we called it early and stayed in La Grange (French for "The Grunge"). Oh yeah, I started noticing a bunch of these along the way today.

Pence for president, Trump for transphobia.

Day cuatro cuatro:
We left "The Grunge" and went back into Artsy-Fartsy-ville, Texas. The route was peppered with small towns and plenty to look at.

We almost swapped out for the tandem, Jerome said he didn't want to sniff my farts all day.

I don't know why, but Texas has more of these artsy towns than I've seen anywhere else.

ConOCo. Read between the lowered case letters.

I ain't lion, this place is fuckin weird.

I guess this person really likes punktry music?

One of the towns we went through was called Gay Hill. I imagined a bunch of fancy houses and Prada stores on a hill. I was sorely disappointed.

Just an old gay sign.

We finished off the day in Navasota. According to our series of maps, we were now 4/7 of the way done! We're getting ready to be done with this ride.

Day 45:
Today we rode into the "big thicket". The story goes something about people running and hiding in this impenetrable forest blah blah blah civil war blah blah bushwhackers. I'm paraphrasing Jerome. Basically it's a thick ass forest.

It was pretty cool riding through actual walls of trees.

Somewhere along the way I found the smartest family bonding activity I've ever seen.

"Pool Cemetery": drop the kids off to hang out with Grandma for the day!

I'm just imagining kids swimming through a cesspool of dead bodies. Thankfully it was exactly that, they just didn't allow any pictures taken. But, I digress. Somewhere along the way we rode through a small town called:

The residents get mad when you mispronounce it.

This reminded me of an old joke; what do the families of Louisiana do around Halloween time? Pump kin. When I first heard it, I thought the punchline was "pump Ken" and some poor guy named Ken just got ravaged by every family in Louisiana every Halloween. When my sisters heard that explanation, they ran with it. That joke is now a family heirloom. Moving on, we finished off the day staying in the only motel in Shepherd, TX. Not bad, but not great either.

Day 46:
I think during this day I started noticing two things as we got closer to the border of Louisiana; more swampiness and more povertyness.

Can't afford to pay for your house? Cut it in half and leave it on the side of the road.

Somehow we were still riding through the tree walls. It was really cool to see that there are still places that haven't been leveled to build parking lots (yet).

So far no Sasquatch sightings.

It was really fun going over actual rivers, not just dried up washes.

No Loch Ness Monster sightings either.

Nothing very eventful on today's ride. We did meet with a rider from Belgium named Johan (sorry if I misspelled your name). We went out to eat with him and got to compare notes on the ride. The place we went to had this sign on the outside:

If it was the other way around, my guess is this would be a strip club with a shitty buffet.

We laid our heads down in a nice motel on the side of the highway in Silsbee, TX. Tomorrow, Louisiana.

Day 47:
More river crossings today. Oh, and look, we get to ride on the side of the highway again today!

Whenever a semi passes us in the right lane, we get blasted by a rush of wind... Or is that adrenaline?

And we went over one of my favorite creeks so far.

Thickety Creek, driven over by many trickety trucks.

And finally, just like that, we were rolling through the last town in Texas, Bon Weir. We were given one last chance to buy some plywood, too.

Bon Wier, TX. French for, "you're weird, Texas."

I can't explain how excruciating it was after a while, not seeing any new states for weeks. Texas is massive. It felt so good to finally see this sign.

Fuck off, Texas. Don't bother writing.

Yes! Fucking finally! Louisiana! I've been looking forward to this for so long! Oh, I guess I forgot this state sometimes has bad weather.

Jerome making haste to evacuate before the next hurricane blows through.

We've actually gotten lucky with great weather so far. Another thing I noticed, though, was that poverty is very real down here. For instance, don't want to pay for trash removal and don't want to drive to the dump? Create one in your own backyard!

Had to think twice about taking one of those couches.

Louisiana is much different from Texas. We don't have counties to go through anymore, they're called "parishes". We also keep getting reminded to be good Christian men.

Jerome continues to read a passage every night, followed by a shrill, high pitched "YEYEYEYEYE".

We stayed in De Ridder on this night. The only thing I 'member is getting so much food at the restaurant that we had to bring half the meal back to the hotel. Well, I finished, because for some good awful reason my mom ingrained into my head that I have to clean my plate, but I spent the rest of the night fighting off the pukes. We left Jerome's half for the maid. Hopefully she enjoyed the left over Mexican with a side of herpes.

Day 48:
I feel like that old internet meme, "day 48: they still don't realize I'm not a cyclist." We left DeRidder (French for "fuck off, bike riders!" I'm learning a lot of French this trip.) and ventured towards Oberlin. I don't think it was a very eventful day. At least that's what my pictures are telling me.

Lots of trees. Keep 'em coming!

The route is taking us deeper and deeper into swampiness. I'm keeping a keen eye out for gators.

Brown water. Could the... Could the foot poison travel this far?

There were tons of those thick woods on this route, it was a little strange to see an area that was clear cut.

FernGully, anyone...?

Always the keen eye for gators

Is that a gator in the shape of a log?! Nope, it's a log in the shape of a log...

Finished off the day in Oberlin, at the Oberlin Inn (come on, you fucked up your chance at the OberlInn). We got to eat at a spoooooooky restaurant tonight.

No one was in the restaurant because they were at Saturday night mass. Why weren't we at Mass? Because we've come to terms that we're going to hell.

Yep, not much else about that day. Oh yeah, never stay at the Oberlin Inn unless you absolutely have to. I'll leave it at that.

Day 49:
We got on the road and ventured back into the woods.

The trees are growing closer. I hope they don't find out I wipe my butt with their carcasses...

And once again, not much new stuff to take pictures of. Maybe this dead tree?

Trees are so metal. Their offspring grow out of their rotting carcasses.

We are constantly reminded of our location, lest we forget we're in the south.

The south will rise again!!

I get the feeling this ride is a lot more friendly being a 'cis white male' (such a scumbag). We rolled through a really cool small town called Mamou. My friend told me the only thing worth checking out in this town is Fred's Lounge. Every Saturday they open it from 7:30am-2:00pm. Mainly geriatrics dance to live Cajun music and get drunk all morning. It's only open on Saturdays. We got there on Sunday. God hates me.

At least I got a picture of it. Someday I'll meet you, Tante Sue.

We are also constantly reminded of the consistent poverty in this beautiful state.

Anything can be recycled if you try. One man's trash is another man's less trashy trash.

Not much else happened on that ride. We ended up in Ville Platte. I think we were both feeling a little mentally drained, so we spent the next day off the bike, getting to know Ville Platte a little better. Also, this is how Jerome watches football.

If you get close enough, you can smell the sweat.

Day fitty:
We woke up to a guest on the window!

Jerome wanted to keep this guy, too, but it would have just turned into a mummy along the way. He has always had a strange fascination with mummification.

Today we took a stroll through Ville Platte to grab a late lunch. We saw some interesting stuff.

"It's also against the law to be on my god damn LAWN! GET OFF MY LAWN!!"

It seems like people are either rich or poor here. Not much middle class. This rich person had a big tree in their yard!

Jerome said it might be over 200 years old. I didn't have a banana for scale.

This poor person had a stairway to nothing.

Just in case you feel like banging your head against the ceiling.

The hike into downtown Ville Platte was sketchy. I haven't felt unsafe very often on this ride. Today was one of those days, though. After getting back home (weird that we call hotels home now), we pretty much just lounged around and got ready for another day on the road tomorrow.

Day 51:
Back on the bike. The day started out going through Chicot State Park.

Don't ask me how to pronounce that.

We may or may not have gotten a little lost in here, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

I was waiting for a T-Rex or velociraptor to show up around every corner.

Anyone remember that show Swamp Thing? I imagine he was conceived here.

Want a romantic getaway? You know where to go (if you're a swamp monster).

We slowly started creeping back into civilization, got to see some cool old stuff.

If I had to guess, I'd say this is where gators are manufactured.

And sometimes we'd see some strangely suspicious signs as we rolled through small Bumblefuck towns.

Grown folks club? Sounds more like a group of retired people trying to con 30-somethings into hanging out with them.

Steven Gauthier... Or Jabba the Hutt? You decide. (I'm going to hell, I know)

And as usual, nature was in the process of doing some cool shit.

Old telephone line, or new vine growth line? You decide.

And we finally settled with the town of Simmesport for the overnight town.

The town limit sign of Simmesport was thought to be a member of ISIS... Until they filled it full of bullet holes.

Unfortunately, this was sort of a low point for us. We both felt a little depressed staying in this sort of junky hotel. The first few times you stay in a crappy motel, you just sort of tough through it. But after enough motels with dead bugs all over and weird tasting water, you get a little worn down. But at least it was a roof over our heads and a bed to sleep in. It sounds like a first world problem when I write it out, and it honestly is. No more complaining about that!

Day 52:
One of the first things we did today was ride across a huge bridge over the great Atchafalaya River.

I love bridges

I love Atchumbawumba rivers

We've been noticing a lot of lumber trucks hauling trees around. Somewhere along the route we found out where they were storing them. There were huge piles of these logs with massive sprinklers keeping them moist (everyone's favorite word).

Someone should tell them this isn't how you grow trees.

Something I've personally never seen before; tons and tons of sugar cane fields littered the route on today's ride.

Every truck that rolled by smelled of sweetness.

I've also never seen raised graves before. Apparently you can't bury people around here because the water table is so high.

Lots of clusters of graves in seemingly random places.

After a while we found ourselves crossing another long yet much more narrow bridge.

Any semblance of a shoulder was littered with debris. Had a couple close calls on this one.

We finished off in New Roads today. Hopefully the name is a harbinger of what's to come, the roads had been pretty rough until this point. Oh yeah, shout out to my Colorado peeps:

I don't partake, but I support the holiday of April 20th.

Day 53:
The first thing I noticed this morning was how cool nature is... Again.

Dead grasshopper? Tear it's body apart and use it as fuel to make new babies. Ants are awesome.

And again, fascinating nature along the way.

These vines are slowly consuming these trees. Killing them softly?

Not too far into the ride we got to cross another bad ass bridge across the most famous river in America!

I probably haven't said this before, but I fucking love bridges.

The Missipissi River. I can never spell that right.

Jerome hitchhiked (again!) half way across the bridge because he got a flat tire and some guy felt bad for him trying to change it on the busy bridge. I think he just got lazy and let the air out of his tire. We rode in to the outskirts of Baton Rouge and stopped at a casino/restaurant/gas station for a meal.

I thought we were walking into a strip club at first with the one way windows and the name.

We got back on the highway after a surprisingly good meal of "hamburger steak" and mashed potatoes. To my surprise I was greeted with a royal treat on the shoulder I was riding on!

The perfect chance to catch some Z's before finishing the final 10 miles into Baton Rouge. Semi Jake braking lulls me to sleep.

We finally made it close to our destination when I noticed we were in the heart of Baton Rouge.

Plenty of career opportunities here to raise a family on. A move to Louisiana may be in my future.

We're staying in a casino tonight with a complimentary $10 to gamble with. If I make it big, don't expect me to finish this blog or ride, I'm heading straight to Japan.