Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Once again around the sun

More or less every year I slap the same Walt Whitman prose on here.  It talks about questioning yourself and whats around you, of letting yourself go to explore, to learn, to live.  It talks about, without saying it, that if you LIVE your life, you will be an example and a poem upon others who see you.  Other things it doesn't say is that there are moments, times, days, weeks, months, or years where things aren't that great.  Your life may have taken a turn you didn't intend, or you have allowed yourself to follow a darker path.

One year ago I was slogging my way across Texas on my bicycle.  At that time, the weather wasn't nice, the slog had been going on for 3 weeks, and I was newly again a solo bike tourer.  At that time, while if I sat and tried, I could have said, "Boy, things aren't very good right now".  But I didn't.  One, because they weren't, and two, because the good/bad lives inside our minds and hearts, and there was no way that while bike touring across the land, or any land, my mind or heart would say that things weren't good.  Again, moments are tough, but those moments pass to let in the light.

I now again find myself in a situation and place where I can (and am) telling myself that things aren't good.  Like a mouse, I made grand plans, and we all know that the plans of mice and men are set to fail.  Being on bike tour, having no plans was the best  but it seems I havent been able to apply that to the non-bike touring life.  Two weeks into my bike tour I thought about giving up and heading back to Burlington.  I though I was undertaking something way too much for me, the weather was bad, and I was sleeping on concrete in the middle of depressing Michigan. I kept going and never looked back.  It's during our lowest, darkest, hardest moments that we see within ourselves of what we are capable of doing, of how we are the sole guide that can lead ourselves out of the caves of despair we sometimes lead ourselves into.

I'm not on bike tour, I'm not thru hiking a major trail.  I'm in a place I dont necessarily want to be, working a job I dont necessarily want to work at, living a life I now no longer want to be leading.  It's all to easy to give up and wallow in the mud.  Odds are at least for a small time I will.  But its the ability to pick yourself up, to wash off the dirt, and get back on track that matters.  So while I start this new year not where I want to be, I'll be working on making sure that a year from now, I will be.


“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Set Sail

As the earth continues it's seemingly endless and fast orbit around the star we call the sun, the human animals on earth are preparing for one of our strangest holidays, Thanksgiving.  As an animal species that likes to think highly of itself, it's funny how we go about showing our intelligence and our trait we call humanness.  On this upcoming holiday, which some people call Turkey Day, we do not give thanks.  We do not sit as a community or family and share our thanks for our lives, the planet for supporting us, for the tides of life that coarse all across the rocks and swim in the oceans.  Instead, we kill animals (after crafting them to grow abnormally large and treat them with torture for their brief "lives") so they can be on our tables and we can make ourselves fat and get tired and then the next day spend money on useless things so we can fill the void of our lives create by our own way of life.

“A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.”

Yet another of the millions of videos showing how great humans are:
http://youtu.be/PRxNj3bbqyc

We can sit in the port our entire lives, sheltered from the waves of life and never know what is beyond the horizon.  And when the storms come and crash into us, we can cry that we had no idea it was coming, and we can rebuild our ship stronger and with a heavier anchor, waiting for the next storm to come.

Set sail.  Set sail.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Bingle Marches On

Hello long waiting Binglers.  I dont have much time only to say I'm stretching my thin blogging already to a shared blog with me and Emily, you can find it over at http://nycheartbeats.blogspot.com/, we'll be taling about our different perspectives on the streets, eats and our shared heartbeats in NYC!

Till next time I post here or there, keep pedaling

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Start spreading the news

Since the creation of the Bingleverse, there have been but a handful of events so magnanimous that they deserved their own blog post.  Hulk Hogan pinning Andre the Giant, Superman regaining his powers and crushing the hand of General Zod, My semi truthful book about Cape Verde.  These are the sorts of things that shake the foundation upon which we stand.  And so, yet once again the structure will be reduced to rubble and ashes.  For behold! I here fore to announce that I and Emily will be retuning unto the city that did shape me, New York City.

I have spoken to Bloomberg who personally assures me a tinker tape parade, I have waited long enough.  Our move will commence rather post haste as my "new" job begins July 1st, in the year 2012.  I'm leaving the mineral business for the trash business, the mountains for the sky scrappers, the biking for the biking.  In all times in life, when you make a change, you leave behind one thing for something else, sometimes known often unknown.  and its this adventure, this sense of being the one's in control of our lives that we are seeking and will always seek.

So Binglers, start spreading the news, we're leaving not today, but soon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Criss Cross Applesauce North American Bicycle Tour: Complete!


Not all bicycle tours start the same way. Some are planned to the T, some are undertaken helter skelter, and some are in between. The same can be said with the path trodden during our life. Some of us hold the railing making sure not to stray, some never step foot in anther’s footprints, and some of us take frequent forays into the woods to see what else is out there.

My bicycle tour was a foray into the unknown, with a few known's. I left Burlington this past May knowing that one day in September, I should be in Portland to meet Chris. What I didn’t' know was how the journey would be, where it would take me along the way or what would befall me on the other side. I spent four months traversing the northern section of the country, cycling past the great lakes, touching each. I crossed the great rivers and into the great plains, with rolling grasslands stretching farther than my eye could see. The earth gave way at the Badlands and then boiled in the Black Hills, and finally exploded into the sky at the Rocky mountains. I touched the sky in Colorado, and descended into a world unknown to me, the northwest. The high arid desert, the grand valleys with snow capped peaks often in view. Through glacial lakes and gouged valleys into Canada to follow along the younger Rockies and back down into the Cascade wilderness of Washington. Near the end of my four months I beheld the wild and craggy Pacific coast.

With friends I cycled south along the Pacific coast, a route hailed the world over, and rightly so. A contrast cacophony of sweeping, inspiring views greeted us at nearly every turn, hills and switch backing downhills, we made our way to San Francisco where me and Chris continued onward.

The next three months me and Chris crossed through California, the Sierra Nevadas and into a sparse world of the deserts of the southwestern North America. Full moon rides through Death Valley, hurricane winds in Utah, barren landscapes of dazzling mosaics piled high upon each other, the rocks and earth seemingly playing an endless game of king of the mountain. With each protrusion of rock, an equal if not greater gash was to be found, the rivers digging deep into the earth, the Grand Canyon and smaller cousins. We zigged and zagged through the southwest, breathing in the fresh air, the slow uncluttered life of those we meet along the way. And as the ice and snow began to fall, we entered Texas.

I soldered onward, solo again, across Texas taking in the various landscapes the state displayed. Deserts, hills, farms and finally the Gulf of Mexico. The bayous, marshes, swamps and foreign culture of Louisiana and the deep south opened up before me as the last of any hills gave way to cypress, magnolia and mangrove. I followed ancient paths north through Mississippi before heading eastward once again though Alabama and Georgia, where once again hills gave way to the flat prairie, springs, and citrus of Florida. And then, at the start of March, I saw the Atlantic ocean and sighed, knowing that somehow, I had made it, and I sighed, not knowing what was next.

My legs, my heart, and of course Eddy all guided me across the earth for 10 months, leading me on a course that was written in the trees and the wind, in the smiles of those who were bewildered, of the helping hands, in the rain and and sun, the starry nights, chilly mornings, breakdowns and jubilation. And now, finally, my path (and my heart) is leading somewhere once again, to Asheville, North Carolina. To live in the mountains and the forests, where music and art and beer make a tasty stew, and the single most amazing person I've ever been lucky enough to know and love resides too.




So, 15,216 miles cycled, 336 days chugging along the paved roads of North America, and a new path to explore. Thank you to all who have guided me along, to readers of this blog, to the countless multitude who gave me shelter, food, help, advice, someone to talk with. The people I meet and shared with on this trip were just as varied and spectacular as the landscapes I saw. To those I biked with for a day, for weeks, for months. One can cycle solo, but only with a support crew. To Bingler's big and small, I sincerely, warmly and with love, say thank you. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Interlude: Everglades National Park

Throughout my time cycling through the United States and visiting areas nationally protected, there has only been one that I visited without Eddy.  That being Mt. Rainier in Washington.  I now add to the already bloated list Everglades National Park.  I visited the park with my Parents.  We originally were going to bike there and stealth camp along the way, but like the best laid plans of mice and men, this didn't happen.  Either way, I was there and took pictures.  The Everglades are being killed by civilization as the water is only now trickling down to southern Florida when it once flowed like flowing water.  Irrigation, canals, reservoirs are all stealing the blood of the glades.  The animals and environment pay dearly, and the efforts to restore or protect all take as the foundation that canals and irrigation and reservoirs must always continue.  but I digress...






See them all at picasaweb.google.com/bingleadventure

Monday, March 5, 2012

Phase 3: Complete


The thing with phases are the same thing with each day on a bike tour. Where you start is so different from where you end. So with the ending of Phase 3, lets take a look back to where we came from, where are, and where we're going. And by we I mean me.

Way back in Texas, the humble beginnings of Phase 3 began. With snow flurries, ice, and overcast skies, I did find myself in Alpine, Texas. Chris' girlfriend Brittany came to join the bike tour with Chris and Phase 3 did begin. I ventured forth solo to Big Bend, my last national park so far, and headed across the get expanse of Texas. Rain, fogs, winds, and slogs great and small were in the cards for Texas, along with hills, music, new years, Gulf of Mexicos, and one of the worst places in America, Port Arthur. WOOF!

And then, finally, after more than a month, I entered Louisiana. Through marshes and swamps, more rain and winds, I finally  made it to New Orleans to meet up with friends. A week of debauchery, or at least one night, and I was on my way around lake Pontchartrain and back towards Baton Rouge for a last minute friend visit before heading north into Mississippi and the Natchez Trace Parkway. A week on the parkway and I had forgotten all about the fact that the rest of the south wasn't a low traffic highway where cars go way around you and there are free campgrounds all over. Mississippi and into Alabama, as loyal Binglers will recall, was not for the faint of the bicycle tourer's heart.

Crossing Alabama, in the back waters, the pine forest, and hills and dogs and I made it to Georgia along the Chattahoochee river. I followed the river more or less, passing through the diminishing hills, through state parks and down toward the pan handle of Florida. Sunless skies greeted me in the Sunshine state.

From the capital to the coast, I rode through the prairies, the forests, the flats, the Okeechobee lake. A few days ago I biked to the Atlantic, not only declaring Phase 3 complete, but also my second cross country bike ride. Me and Chris left the Pacific Ocean in Morro Bay, California on October 6, 2011 and I saw the Atlantic Ocean on March 1, 2012, 6,482 miles.

Phase 3 was 3,643 miles from Alpine, TX to Boca Raton, FL. My total mileage thus is 14,947.6 miles. It has been 10 months since leaving Burlington, VT. But what every Bingler is asking, if Phase 3 has ended, doesn't that mean.... YES, PHASE 4!!!!

Phase 4, or the final phase as it's called on the street, will of course begin in Boca Raton, Florida and will conclude not so far away in Asheville, North Carolina. It's a shade under 1,000 miles and will mark the official conclusion of this bicycle tour. I have already been in contact with the Mayor of Asheville and finally, a tinker tape parade will be awaiting my heroic entry into the fair city nestled in the mountains. Long and long have I awaited the glory, gold and free buffet that should be awarded me. Long and long I say.

Stats galore will be revealed then, and not a moment sooner. Also, pictures of the elephants and albino black crows that will be on display for my parade will be posted. It's been a long strange trip and I have loved almost every moment. I'll be sad when I hang up my touring wheels, but they won't get too dusty I'm sure. I look forward to learning the landscape of the Appalachians by bicycle and by foot.

Well, until Phase 4 starts and I actually have stuff to say about biking, keep pedaling

Friday, March 2, 2012

Another moment



I tramp a perpetual journey;
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff
      cut from the woods;
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair;—
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange;
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a
      knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents
      and the public road.

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
     You must travel it for yourself.


I am reminded today that this day is another day upon the wondrous circle of life and death, and that we all continue perpetually on.  Pausing at times to reflect, we sometimes tack stock of where we are and judge.  But perhaps, on those days, those moments when we look, perhaps there is another way of seeing ourselves, our small life.  

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I
         know it. 

I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe,
         and am not contain'd between my hat and boots, 
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and
         fathomless as myself, 
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be
         slighted, 
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the
         mothers of mothers, 
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
For me children and the begetters of children.

Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be 
         shaken away. 

Perhaps on this day we let go of our self judgments, our negative thoughts, the constraints
we place on ourselves and those imposed upon us.  We are not these selves we hold on to
so dearly after all.  So on this day I will take the time to just be.  Aware that I am here, in life,
amongst all the wondrous creatures and beauty that we have the miracle to behold.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's always sunny in Florida

No, its not. My first four days in fact were overcast, gray days with either rain or the threat of it lingering around like a slow leak. My first impressions, that oh so important impression, were not glowing of the state I have heard so much about. Things like: Its sunny. Its warm. Its long. There are so many oranges they even grow on trees. Thankfully, some of these things are true.

I began, strangely, in the capital. Tallahassee, a fun word to say yet hard to spell correctly, was my first introduction to the state and while I didn’t see much of the capital part, I did cruise through the university and along bike lanes, not only in town, but on the highway leading into the city. Yes, that’s not a typo, bike lanes ON A HIGHWAY. Oh my god, was Florida trying to lay some smack down on the rest of the south? Perhaps it was a fluke. I would soon find out having to take a major highway out of town to my next stop in Perry.

A shoulder. A three foot, consistent, no rumble strip, shoulder. The entire way. No changes between counties, no suddenly deciding to no longer have a shoulder. In fact, every once in a while there was a bike symbol on the ground, on the highway. And every street has a sign. Either Florida DOT is ubber competent or so many other states just put the oof in woof. I like to think its both.

Grey skies followed me as I rounded the curve and began my slow descent down the peninsula, cycling on my first Florida rail trail, the Nature Coast trail. Its about 35 miles in length though I only took about 25 of it, partly to Fanning Springs. I stayed with a wonderful warmshower host who clearly loved having cyclists come and stay, and took an au natural dip in the Fanning Springs, um, springs. A bit further down the path at the end and I continued south to make the connection to another rail trail, the Withlacoochee, this one running for 46 miles. The state is riddled with rail trails, and with highways that all have consistent, adequate shoulders for biking. Its hard to stress enough how wonderful, relieving and respectful it is to not have shoulders that are barely 2 feet wide with all of it taken up with a rumble strip in the middle. Of course, Florida highways often suffer from SRS (straight road syndrome), so lets not get carried away.


After spending a night stealth camping in Fort Copper State Park, even though I wanted to pay but there wasn't anyone who wanted to take my money, I finished the last 20 miles of the trail and was spit onto a highway south. Of course, as mentioned above, there was a shoulder, and when the shoulder ends as the road comes into a city, as they always do, there has ALWAYS been a sidewalk, often well maintained, to take its place. Hey, that's a lot of commas.

One week later....

Ahh, conclusions, so quick to jump to them. Yes, it seems Florida tried its best to disprove my earlier statements about it's bikability. With the towns of Lakeland, Okeechobee, and Lake Wales being horrible places to cycle. Disjointed shoulders which make walking trying, and biking difficult due to a lack of shoulders often when sidewalks are present, and of course, the endless traffic. And then, somewhere along highway 60, I finally found the bad shoulder in Florida. A few feet wide with a roaming rumble strip right down the middle. Brought a tear reminding me of Alabama and Mississippi.

Regardless, it was suns out guns out weather, burning my skin for the first time in a long time. I cycled the Nature Coast trail, the Withlacoochee Trail (46 miles), and the horribly signed and under repair Okeechobee trail. Diagonally I went through the long peninsula, passing through lakes and prairies. I spent a night at the Hitchhiker Doom Motel in Yeehaw Junction. Yes, Yeehaw Junction, before making my way to the large freshwater lake at Okeechobee, and two days later surprised my mom at Ihop in Boca Raton. While I still haven't seen the Atlantic Ocean, I more or less consider it done that I have gone, yet again, across the country. This time, from west to east.



Stay tuned for the Phase 3 wrap-up which will hopefully have some good stats, the much anticipated Phase 4 announcement, and some loving photos of Eddy. As always, see all the photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/bingleadventure and keep pedaling.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Georgia: A West side Story

Ahh, Georgia.  My first impression of this state was that it wasn't another state, namely Alabama.  Not to be too hard on Alabama, but biking in Georgia was certainly better.  Even the dogs were easier to yell at.  I spent only a few days in the western part of Georgia, but I done liked what I saw, and so Georgia will be one of the few states that I'll cycle in twice, joining states such as Utah and Wyoming, oh so long ago.  


I spent several cold days in Columbus, enjoying the river walk, going to a local hockey game (the Columbus Cottonmouths gave up 2 shorthanded goals to lose the game 2-0.  Pathetic.), got interviewed by the local tv station about couchsurfing, got treated to the nines by the local bike shop, got hair all over from St. Bernards, and just chilled out.  Chilling out is something I have needed/wanted more and more.  Now don't get me wrong, I love bicycle touring.  I love the adventure of life. I can also admit that I set an very unsustainable pace.  Biking the way I bike, which is hard and long, is great but makes me realize that a one year limit comes into play.  I love to bike and have biked my heart out for the past 9 1/2 months, and I wouldn't change any of it.  But the miles I have done in under a year most do in 2 years, meaning that I'm a bit weary.  Anywho, Georgia.



I more or less followed the Chattahoochee river which forms the boundary between Alabama and Georgia south of Columbus.  My first day out was along the river walk and into Fort Benning which I got lost in for about an hour.  After talking to what appeared to be the same person several times, or perhaps everyone there wears the same camouflage outfit, I finally got myself to a highway.  My day ended at the Providence Canyon State Park, a little mini Arizona almost.  The next day, amidst more clouds, I continued on the lazy highways of Georgia, peach less but still nice.  I eventually found myself at Kolomoki Mounds State Park, which contains several Native mounds similar to those I saw along the Natchez Trace.  I had an amazing stealth camping in one of the group house sites that should have been locked...but wasn't.  


A mixed cloudy/sunny day followed after heavy fog and I found myself cycling along a highway, with a shoulder, so bewildered that I just followed it where ever it did go.  It went to Bainbridge, which was good cause that's where I wanted to go.  The next day I was unceremoniously in Florida.  No state sign welcomed me, nor sun.  Only a list of the many hazards that i might encounter whilst in the state.  My favorites are housekeeping (a silent killer) and confined spaces.  woof.


Still no sun in the sunshine state, but my fingers are crossed that one of these days it'll show it's smiling face.  For now, I'm a panhandling kind of guy, making my way south towards the Atlantic ocean, and the #1 destination of many bicycle tourists in Florida, Boca Raton.  



If you want to send me mail you can send me mail in Boca Raton, just email me for the address.  Till then, enjoy the pictures at picasaweb.google.com/bingleadventure and keep pedaling, at least for a little bit longer.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Biking in Bama

There comes a time in many a bicycle tourers life when they most stop, scratch their heads, and wonder why oh why. I found myself in this very situation often over the past week as I cycled through Alabama. In fact, I had a few titles I thought I would go with, like Bad Bama Biking or Sweet Biking Alabama, or Hey, Alabama, Why?? Clearly, confusion mists the airs of cycling in Alabama.

We all know that a Bingler moves forward Bingle by Bingle, but this is usually done with the aid of the free road maps that states give out like kittens. For 19 states, these maps have given me the keys to unlocking the landscape, the beauty, the people, the nooks and crannies of the land. Not in Bama. My 20th state, and I was forced to do something I hadn't done for my entire time on the road, rely 100% on internet directions. Let us explain.

The highways in Alabama are 100% disrespectful of any type of movement that is not a motor vehicle. The drivers themselves were just as courteous as they have been in every other state, with the occasional cowboy. No, the roads were deadly to a cyclist. The highways I normally would take, the secondary highways, in Alabama were 4 or 2 lanes, which is fine, but none had a shoulder. Oh, but sometimes they did. That's right, for maybe a mile or two, in random places, the DOT decided to put a shoulder, often at the start of a highway where I would think about getting on, to lure me into the death trap that awaited. Shame on Alabama DOT for their inconsistent road design and inability to have a useable shoulder on their highways.


So, being forced onto back roads, I found the other side of Bama. The quiet forested hills that I rolled up and down as I made my way eastward, from Tuscaloosa, to Prattville, to Montgomery, to Opelika. These country roads were little trafficked, scenic and full of unleashed dogs. At one point, I think I had all the dogs of an entire country barking for my blood. I even had a pig come after me. I also found another shortcoming of the DOT, their seeming inability to have road signs up indicating the name/number of a road. Often I came to an intersection and had no idea what road it was, if I needed to turn or not. I stopped to check mailboxes for addresses, stopped by every yocal to see just where I was.

At times I enjoyed my biking in Alabama, at times I was frustrated by the state, the dogs, the lack of signs. But, as has been the case, I stayed with warm wonderful people and saw the land and people of a place I never would have if it weren't for my trusty Eddy.

And so, pulling into Columbus, Georgia, I breathe a sigh of relief to be in a state where they have recommended bike routes, and the coastal plain beckons at my feet, along with warmer weather. A shout out to Ride on Bikes, the amazing people there helped me out to with radical kindness. I head south towards Florida, the end of my south and eastern progression. Florida has been on my mind for a long time, with parents and family, and the only way to go is north, it's a transition time, the beginning of the end. Slowly, it seems spring will be coming, and before I know it, I will have been cycling through the land for a year. When I left Vermont, so little did I know. I know just as little, but this life I've lead, the times, moments of elation, the hills and screaming winds, the grueling climbs, the friends come and gone, it's been beyond what I can describe.

For now, I'll enjoy the rivers of Georgia, the rail trails of Florida, the coasts, wild and free, the warmth and sun, and the ever open road ahead.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tracing the (shoulderless) South

Stereotypes are funny, because sometimes we don’t even know just how they got there in the first place. I suppose I have a stereotype in my head of the “South”. I figured everyone would say “ I do declare” before they went ahead and said something, I thought I would call everyone Governor (for some strange British reason), the girls would all be Belles and lemonade would be sweating on every porch I passed. I'm happy to say, that while this all may exist in the south, it's not the south I saw. I saw bayou, swamps and marshes in Louisiana, the enigma that is New Orleans, the north shore area, the forests of Mississippi, with it's rolling hills, pine forests and endless streams and rivers. So far, the south has been far different than I would have thought.


When I left New Orleans, there is a really large lake that made it hard to get to Mandeville, on the north shore of the lake, where I wanted to go. So, I had to go around, way around, lake Pontchartrain. But it was nice and I got to ride the entirety of the Tammany Trace, the only rail trail in the state. It went for about 30 something miles, from the factory town of Slidell, into Mandeville, north past the Abita Brewery and ending in Covington. I stopped half way in Mandeville to visit an old friend, saw a bald eagle, cypress strewn beach, art in a wine store, poured my own beer from a tap, played some cool games like Pigs and LittleBigPlanet, and made my way, via Hammond, to the state capitol in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge turned out to be what other cities have turned out to be: only as good as the host. I stayed with an intrepid warmshower host and THE bicycle advocate in town. I was able to navigate the streets, often with my host, through idyllic residential streets and got a taste of the city I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. “Its not where you are but who you're with that really matters” it's been said. I also had a good friend visit me, as I missed him n New Orleans. Sadly, a cyclist was killed during my stay and another injured by a drunk driver. Too many take driving for granted, forgetting that its a privilege and that it can often be a dangerous means of transportation. Baton Rouge, while slowly improving, was like many other towns I have passed through where the infrastructure gives no respect to the actual people living there. No sidewalks, or broken bad ones if they exist. No thought about how anyone can travel by any mode other than a motor vehicle. Thankfully cities have people like Mark, my warmshower host, fighting the good fight.

Leaving Baton Rouge, I enjoyed the Exxon polluted “scenic” highway out of town before getting on smaller country roads towards Jackson, where I stayed two nights to let some of the rain pass by. My warmshower hosts were amazing hosts, having put people and groups up for over 11 years!! They love it and it shows. And then my time in Louisiana came to an end as I made my way to the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway, in Natchez, Mississippi.


Severe storms and tornadoes were my welcome committee. A night escaping the thunder and lighting, a morning with dark clouds still high in the sky, and I started at milepost 0 of the Natchez Trace Parkway. The parkway extends 444 miles from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN following more or less the old Natchez Trace route used by natives, traders, Kaintucks, and many others. It was a postal route, a corridor used during the civil war, traders up the Mississippi would float down, sell their goods and boat and walk back along the trace. It's a well worn path, that has seen it's share of history. Now, it's a top bike route thanks to it's low traffic, no trucks, free campgrounds, relative flatness (thankfully there are some hills to keep me interested) and nice scenery all along the trace.

I spent 6 days meandering along the parkway, passing through the heart of the state and the capital, Jackson, winding my way northeast towards Alabama. If it weren't so called winter, I would go all the way to Nashville, but it's darn cold up dar in the foothills. Instead, I left the Trace after staying at a bicycle only campground and headed towards the distant shores of Alabama, where the crimson tide does roll.