Monday, December 21, 2009

Louisiana - the "Big Easy"

Heading west enabled us to leave the snow that we experienced in New Mexico and Texas, however, we were faced with another challenge...the torrential rains! By Dec. 15, Louisiana had hit the record for the most rain in a month, 22.24 inches, and they still had 15 days of the month to go! We were in Raceland, 40 miles east of New Orleans, and we had to wait out a rain storm that brought down 8 inches of rain during the night and that next morning. (You can see the flooding in the pictures.) Because of the wet conditions our only chance to camp was if we had a raft.

We made it to New Orleans and we were greeted by Ward's cousin, Russ Carll, and his wife, Angela. We stayed in their quaint B&B in the French Quarter, 1 block from Bourbon Street. So, of course they had to show us some N'awlins culture. After enjoying some crawfish bisque and oysters we listened to some fantastic jazz music!

We were also able to learn more about their culture by visiting the grade schools and talking to the children through our Pedaling For Pencils program. We were so impressed with the structure and support that these schools provided to these poverty stricken kids. As a result, you could see the respect that the kids gave the staff. We were also very intrigued that every child knew what year they would be going to college per staff encouragement.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Good Ole Southern Hospitality

We experienced the Texan Southern Hospitality that you always hear about. Marty and Gary Summerall hosted us one night in Corsicana. They have a beautiful B&B and have had Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman stay there in the past. Marty was originally from Mississippi and put on the southern charm.

We spent 2 nights in Houston with Malte and Courtney Bruegmann. Malte was an exchange student from Germany that stayed with Ward in 1991. They put on the ritz and Malte even took us on our first helicopter ride around Houston. All I can say was incredible.

Paul and Monica Lucas from Bedford were very gracious to put us up for 3 nights and store our bikes and bags as we took a trip to the midwest to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our families. Paul is also a biker that has cyled across the U.S. in the past and has ridden RAGBRAI (7 day bicycle ride across Iowa) 5 times. He is the Rotary District Governor Elect in that area.

Mark and Eileen Morton from Muleshoe put us up one night and fed us jumbalya and chili that was literally worth $400 a pound. Their passion is to go to other countries and to hunt exotic animals. They bring the meat home to eat, display the hides around the house and mount the heads in their grand room. I felt like I was in a zoo.

Not shown but also wonderful hosts have been Steve and Sandra Burda, and Darrel and Betty Branhagen. We found Steve and Sandra through warm showers (a biker hospitality org). Steve is also an avid cyclist and they were kind enough to watch the Packer/Dallas game that Sunday afternoon. Sorry Steve, the Packers won!

We knew Darrel and Betty from the RAGBRAI. They had gone with us (Decorah Bicycles) many years and Darrel is originally from Decorah. They invited their bicycle club over to their house that tonight and we had a fun talk with all of them.

Thanks Texas for showing us what you are made of.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oil wells, cotton fields and windmills. Where's Waylon, Willie and the boys?

As we cycled down into the lower elevations we entered warmer and more humid climates. We welcomed them. However, along our route we encountered many shredded tires on the shoulder of the road. Not so bad in a car but your demon on a bike. The tiny wires were the cause of many flats and frustration! Also, campgrounds were difficult to find so free camping was frequently our only option which meant days without a shower (4 days at one point). Towns were far apart so lunch tended to be anywhere you could find a descent place out of the wind and away from the goat heads (tiny thorns).

It was easy to figure out what state you were in. Not necessarily by the southern drawl or the cowboys with their pickups. Nor by traveling through the home towns of Waylon Jennings (Littlefield) and Buddy Holly. But, by the vast fields of wheat and cotton interspersed with oil rigs and windmills. And, don't forget that hometown southern cooking. Yes, we are in Texas.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Thought New Mexico was Suppose to Be Warm!

Silly us. We assumed New Mexico was going to be warm just because it was in the South. We forgot to consider elevation. Boy were we in for a surprise as we had to wait out a 2 day winter storm. We ended up biking in 20-30 degree weather before it warmed up again. It also helped that we took a turn South.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Great Grand Canyon Pics.

We have so many great Grand Canyon photos. We can only show you a few on the blog but please go to our photo gallery where you will see a story.

Photos: (They did not download in the order that I had wanted them to. Down scroll and start with the last picture. I am explaining them from the last photo to the first.)

(Last to first)
#5. We are heading out on our hike down the South Kaibob Trail to the canyon floor.
#4. Harry Lum asking if we could please pick him up on the way up the trail in 2 days.
#3. We made it to the bottom of the canyon and we are setting up camp at the Bight Angel Campground. We will stay here for 2 nights.
#2. We met the caravan of mules that came down the canyon that morning to deliver goods to the Phanton Ranch.
#1. We did a 12 mile hike on the canyon floor to the Ribbons Waterfall which is shown in the previous blog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

more photos from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon

From Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon

Our Pacific coast ride was great as we met many other cyclists doing some of the same route as us. Nick was super kind to get us through Los Angeles without any problems and then we were invited to stay at his home. Also, Mary Dillon joined for 3 days along the ride. We met her in Peru last year.

A bicycle ride through the United State Marine Corps Camp Pendleton, was very nice as we new that our son, Ross, was in the final preparations for his Iraq/Afghanistan deployment.

A few nights of rest at Aunt Maria's and Uncle Maury's was good for our spirits. We even took in a Padres Game with my cousins, Linda and Caesar.

The route to Phoenix was very close to a very busy border with Mexico. The Border Patrol seemed to be working constantly to keep the illegals from entering. The border fence was very close and quite impressive. Sort of like the Great Wall of China.

Seeing my Godmother, Lorraine, was a real treat in Phoenix. We also enjoyed staying with Jacky's cousin, Judi.

Our next stop was the Grand Canyon. Kay and Harry, Denise and Anna Marie joined us for 30 miles of hiking (with packs) into and out of the Canyon, as well as to the Ribbons Waterfall on the Canyon floor. We camped at the bottom for 2 nights. Sore muscles and toes are being mended before we head for New Mexico.

Friday, September 4, 2009

coastal travel

a few photos along the coast

Golden Gate Bridge

After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with fellow cyclists Snappy and Missy and Buckaroo.

Vancouver to San Fransisco

Making it to Vancouver was a real treat. David and Alice treated us like royalty. Meat and vegetables were only outdone by platters of sushi. A great walk up Grouse Mountain and we were tested for climbing fitness.

Entering in Washington was a real treat because food prices came down drastically. We are now eating fruit and vegetables.

We have cycled the coast of Washington, Oregon and now California. Highway 101 or highway 1.

Camping at the hiker/biker sites has helped us meet many other cyclists doing some of the same things we are doing. The redwood trees of California are unbelievable. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge was a another goal achieved.

Friday, August 21, 2009

We Survived the Bears, Now we Have to Survive the Fires

After 9 bear encounters (while bicycling) we thought we were in the clear. What laid around the corner?? Forest Fires! One day there were 700+ forest fires burning. Our planned route soon had closed roads and evacuated towns. The ash in the air gave you headaches and sore throats. We were forced to change our route from Whistler to the Fraser Canyon.

The canyon itself was quite a sight to see. Initially it was a desert with temps of 106 degrees. After 75 miles it changed to a rain forest. We welcomed the cooler temps. After the canyon we met some friends and went to Vancouver to their home. They were bound and determined to spoil us and they did. Alice and Dave made Vancouver very memorable with one last hurrah before we ended our foreign travel.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mile Post 0 of the Alaskan Highway

We've finally hit Mile Post 0 of the Alaskan Highway in Dawson Creek. We have cycled 1650 miles from Anchorage in 30 days and still have 650 miles before we reach Vancouver! This is a big, vast country! We are ready to hit more populated areas where food and water are more dependable.

The terrain is beautiful but after seeing it day after day for 7-8 hours on the bike (70-90+ miles a day), it is starting to become monotonous. The Canadian Mountains and the heat (which is now reaching 100+ degrees) are challenging. It is definitly toughening us up. All in all we are really enjoying it and loving all the friendly people that we are meeting along the way.

Photos of: sunset in northern BC, Ward catching fish for supper, sign for chains on tires (never a good sign for cyclists) and the Mile Post 0 sign.