TRIP 2005

Update #01 - January 17th
Americus, Georgia - 613 miles (981 KM)

No matter how much wishing and hoping that you do things have the tendency to not go the way that you wished them to. There always seems to be bumps in the road. I was really looking forward to some time off the road especially now that it's Winter. I was hoping to be off the road for about two months. Last year was hard both physically and mentally.

My stay in the Benson, North Carolina area almost lasted two weeks. My hosts, Kathy and Luke, were nice to me and they went out of their way in getting me some new things like clothes (especially a warm winter jacket). They were pretty quiet people and I tried to help them as much as I could.

The unforseen problem was that there were some family issues that I didn't really know about. Luke's mother had some very serious health issues and this was putting some stress on Luke. There was some concern that this would be the last Christmas that Luke would have her with him. Also, there was some concerns about a younger brother.

The Sunday before Christmas, Luke asked me to find someplace else to stay. Luke apologized to me that he couldn't take somebody else coming into his life at the time. I was hoping to be able to stay for at least two more days because a couple of days earlier a friend of the family, who was a minister at a small country church, had made the offer to help me out with a place to stay but he couldn't do anything till Tuesday. We got my things together and I was taken to a motel in nearby Dunn. I had the money to pay for the motel room but Kathy surprised me by paying for it. She also gave me some money so that I could repair the rear derailleur cable on the recumbent.

Tuesday morning, Joe (the minister), came to the motel to take me to Clayton (outside of Raleigh). He was renting a room from a friend and he told me that the room would be available to me for as long as I needed it. The only problem was that it wouldn't be available to me until Jan. 6th. Joe was also a chaplain with the Army Reserves and he was getting ready to go to North Carolina for four months of training.

The apartment was quite small. It was a tight fit for three adult guys and a cat. There wasn't a sofa to sleep on so I had to stretch out my sleeping bag on the living room floor. I tried to make a go of it but it wasn't working out. Joe and the apartment owner, Steve, had odd hours and they came in quite late. I tried to sleep but it came in brief periods. I am a light sleeper and I was having problems trying to deal with the noise from the refrigerator, which was around ten feet away, and the light coming from the big living room window that was covered only by a venetian blind. I tried using a sleep mask but it kept slipping off my face. Also, I tried an over-the-counter sleep aid but it only made me a little woozy instead of drowsy.

I lasted ten nights there. Friday, Dec. 31st, I knew that I couldn't last any longer there so I asked Steve if he would me to a motel in nearby Smithfield since he had access to a truck. It would have probably been better for me to have left earlier in the week but it snowed the Sunday after Christmas. The snow stayed on the ground for three days and it didn't get warm till Friday anyway. Before we parted company, Steve surprised me with a pretty big "Green Handshake". That night I was able to have the first real night's sleep in a week. I didn't hear any New Year's Eve celebrations.

I knew that the direction that I had to go to was south. I have some friends back in Americus, Georgia and I knew that I could stay with one in particular for a week or two at a time. I've known Richard since 1995 when I first started as a volunteer at the headquarters of Habitat for Humanity. He's got a two-bedroom house and I've stayed with him several times over the past couple of years.

Most of the way south, I was really surprised with temperatures in the sixties and seventies. This was at least fifteen to twenty degrees above normal. For the 13 day ride to Americus, I traveled mostly on roads that I never cycled along. By far, the hardest roads to ride along were in South Carolina since there was no shoulder to ride along.

I made stops for the night in Clinton and Whiteville, North Carolina; Conway, Georgetown, Monks Corner, Cottageville, and Hampton, South Carolina; Sylvania, Millen, Wrightsville, Cochran, and Cordele, Georgia. Churches in Whiteville, North Carolina; Monks Corner and Hampton, South Carolina; Millen and Cochran, Georgia were gracious in helping me out with motel rooms. I stayed in churches in Conway and Cottageville, South Carolina; and Wrightsville, Georgia. One of the nicest churches was in Cottageville, South Carolina. The police in Sylvania, Georgia helped me out with a motel room for the night.

Along the way, I even got the chance to speak at a church. I met the pastor at the Methodist Church in Sylvania, Georgia before the Sunday school hour and he invited me to speak to two Sunday school classes. This was the first church for the year. I'm not sure I'll be able to top sixty churches, which is the number of churches that I spoke at last year.

I arrived in Americus on the 13th. I'll probably be here through the rest of this week. I'm still not sure where I'll be going to. I was hoping to find someplace where I could stop and stay for a few weeks. One of the places where I was looking into was in the Wauchula, Florida area. I was in Wauchula right after Hurricane Charley hit last Fall and I helped the American Red Cross with the recovery effort. I found out that there was a volunteer center started by a local Baptist church and operated by Mennonites. The volunteer center sends out crews to help the local residents rebuild their hurricane damaged homes. I sent an email to them to see if they needed any help but I got a response back from them stating that they are full and will be for the next couple of months. Knowing this, the other volunteer center in Arcadia is probably filled also for the next couple of months too.

With this in mind, I'll probably be heading West. I do not think that I'll try and make it across to the West Coast this year. There is a possibility that I might head down to either Pensacola, Florida or the Gulf Coast of Alabama to see how the rebuilding effort is going after Hurricane Ivan.

I'll try and post and update as often as I can if my plans change.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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