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TRIP 2007

Update #02 - February 17th
Americus, Georgia
841 miles (1345 KM) since Jan 01st



It has been nearly six weeks since the first update was posted for the year. One of the main reasons for this was that the AC adaptor for the laptop burnt out. A very good friend in Texas who gave me my laptop went out and bought me a new AC adaptor and had it shipped to my friend's house in Americus where I am staying. The other main reason was that there was no library along the way that would allow me to edit my website by FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

I wasn't planning to ride as far up the Pacific Coast as I had. I tried quite a few times to find a place in essence to winter out for a month or two but I wasn't able to. There wasn't a compassionate minister that would take the time to really listen to me and try and help.

Usually, I was just able to stay in one place maybe a night or two. Trying to find someplace out of the weather each night was a bit of a struggle. I had to make sure that I got in town before three p.m. in hopes that I might find a minister at the church. Mondays and Fridays were the hardest days to try and connect with a minister since they either was in the office only in the morning or not at all for their day off. Usually, I had to maybe stop at three churches before I would find a minister willing to let me roll out my sleeping bag on the floor of a Sunday school classroom, nursery, or fellowship hall. Along the way northward from Watsonville, California, I stayed eight nights in churches.

I was kind of stuck in my heading northward. There was really no way that I could turn around and head south. This was either due to the really hard terrain that I had gone through or the face that I didn't want to repeat trying to find places to stay in the towns that I had already stayed in. The terrain was by far some of the interesting that I had ridden through. There was almost three hundred miles of riding cliff side overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A lot of these miles were up and down hills with long stretches of switchbacks and having no shoulder to ride out of the traffic. Some of the curves were blind curves where the drivers being me wouldn't know that I was in front of them until they got right on top of me. There were a couple of really close calls. The two hardest stretches were from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco and from Tomales to Fort Bragg, California.

The only thing good about the ride northward was the fact that the weather was mild without any storms. I did have one wet and miserable night in my tent at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park south of Eureka, California. There were just four days that were overcast. The main problem was that it was cold. During the day, the temperature barely made it into the high 50's and at night the temperature dropped down into the low 30's. I was kind of worried that the farther that I got up the Pacific Coast there was always the chance that the weather would turn for the worse and I would really get stuck.

I spent eight nights in my tent. These nights were not pleasant because the temperature dropped close to freezing. I tried very hard to stay warm. If it wasn't for the fact that I had a sleeping bag liner and a space blanket I might have froze a couple of times. I did have seven motel rooms donated and there was a night at a KOA campground in a donated Comfort Kabin in the Waldport, Oregon area. The cabin had almost all of the comforts of a motel room except that you had to provide your own bedding and there was no bathroom. There was electricity, a small wall heater, cable TV, and a small mini-fridge. I stayed at two hostels along the way. One of them was at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse south of Half Moon Bay, CA. I didn't get much sleep that night since I shared the room with an elderly man who really had a loud snoring problem.

I was really concerned about my money situation. I had very little money in my wallet. The thing that kept me going was a Visa Gift card that another good friend in Georgia sent me right before Christmas. I tried to really make it stretch only using it to buy groceries and maybe an occasional hot meal at a fast food restaurant. The only problem with the card was that not all of the stores honored the card as well as they would have a regular credit card. My food supply in my pannier was getting smaller and smaller. I was quite grateful when some needed supplies were bought for me.

The really hardest part of the trip was the bad reaction that I got from the ministers that I came in contact with along the way. There were a couple who really took the effort to help me out but for the most part I was treated just like a homeless transient who was bumming along the coast. It didn't matter what kind of credentials I was carrying or if I had letters of reference or not. As soon as they heard that I was traveling by bicycle the minister's hearts seemed to be hardened. I was getting really burnt out by all of the excuses I was given on why I could stay on church property (the insurance wouldn't allow it, nobody would be around to babysat me, the church trustees voted against it, etc.)

I remember one Sunday night in particular in Bandon, Oregon where I had hoped to find some fellowship and maybe find a place inside for the night. The one church that I had hoped to maybe stay at was closed down several years ago when the pastor moved away. The church had a really large heart for compassion because even though the congregation was around two dozen people they still provided to the community a clothes closet, food pantry, and a temporary place for somebody to stay for a few nights.

There were not too many churches in town. The main church was the First Baptist Church. A sign out front said "Love G-D, Love Others" in reference to the two great commandments. I had hopes that because of this I might be able to stay in the Fellowship Hall that was in a separate building. There wasn't going to be an evening service but the pastor was around helping some congregation members get some supplies. I went over to the pastor and introduced myself and also should him some of the clippings that I carry about my ministry and a letter of reference.

The pastor told me that he was quite pleased to meet me. When I asked him about whether it would be possible to sleep inside the fellowship hall, he balked. He told me that during the summer the church is bombarded with people going up and down the coast stopping at the church for some help. The trustees told him that nobody would be allowed to sleep on church property.

He did offer to let me sleep under an open-air car port. They were predicting temperatures close to freezing during the night with possible frost in the morning. There was no way that I could sleep outside in my tent. Before leaving to see if there were any other churches in town, I mentioned to the pastor that the church might as well take down the size in front of the church since they did not want to treat others as they would want to be treated themselves.

I went to the police station to see if they knew of any other churches in the area that might have an evening service. I was told about a small Church of Christ nearby. When I got there around 5 p.m., there was a sign that said that there would be an evening service around 6:30 p.m. There was a car in the parking lot already but I didn't see any lights on inside the church.

Around 6:20 p.m. nobody showed up. Just a minute before 6:30, this guy came out of the back of the church to the car. When I asked him if there was going to be a service, he told me know. I found out that this was the pastor. He was in his early twenties. When I told him of my need, he didn't take any time to hesitate. He told me that it would be alright for me to stay in the church for the night and he even told me that the best room would be the nursery and anything that I could find in the kitchen to eat I could have. This is how the First Baptist Minister should have acted if he really believed in doing what the church sign said.

The ride up the Coast came to an abrupt end in Lincoln City, Oregon. I was being hosted by one of the members of the Warm Showers Cycling Association. Their son and his wife and come by to stay over for the night. They had ridden across the country by bicycle last summer. I hadn't gotten very much sleep that night so I had hoped to maybe stay over for another night. I was told that it wouldn't be possible for me to stay over since they had all plans to go away for the night. My host's son, Matt, came up with a radical plan. He told me that it would be really dangerous for me to go any farther up the coast. I was around 100 miles away from the Columbia River and about 180 miles away from Portland. I knew that when I got to Portland, I would have to find someplace to stay put for a while.

Matt's plan was to get me on a Greyhound bus and get back to Georgia. While I got dressed and got my things together, he got on the internet and prepaid for a bus ticket to Macon, Georgia, which was around 70 miles away from Americus. Greyhound bus service to Americus had shut down several years ago. We quickly got my bike stowed on a bike carrier and my gear stowed in the back seat of his car and we were off to Salem.

Matt had called around and found a bike shop that could dissemble the bike and pack it in a box. When we got to the bike shop, we quickly got everything that needed to be shipped into the store. They had a box available but it would have been too big for me to try and transport on the bus. Arrangements would have to be made to have it shipped at a later date. From the bike shop, we went to the bus station to pick up the ticket. A bus would be heading south to Los Angeles, California around 8:00 p.m. It would be about a four hour wait in the bus station for the bus to leave. Before Matt had to leave, he told me not to worry about paying him back for the bus ticket, getting the bike packed up, and possibly also being shipped back to Georgia.

The ride across the country wasn't that pleasant. It was a ninety hour ride with 60 hours of it being cramped into a small space with 53 other people. The ride took five buses and 11 drivers. Some of the drivers were downright rude. One driver actually accused me of smoking in the restroom since I took a little longer time than what he thought I would need. I don't know how anybody got any sleep because of all of the motion, the lights, and the noise from the bus and the other passengers with all of their loud talking, the cell phones going off, and off course a cranky baby or two thrown into the mix. I was only able to grab brief snatches of sleep between all of the stops and if and when the seat next to me was empty. I was so glad to finally get off the bus Wednesday morning in Cordele, which was about thirty miles away from Americus.

I have been staying for the last nine days with my close friend, Richard. I've known him for almost 12 years and whenever I get back into Americus I stay with him. Last Tuesday, I learned that everything got arranged for my bicycle and gear to be shipped across country by DHL Shipping. They charged half of what UPS would have wanted. I should be getting my bike next Tuesday. I plan to stay in Americus till the first of March. From Americus, I'm looking at heading down to Central Florida to see if I could help out with the rebuilding after the series of tornados that destroyed almost 2000 homes along a 70 mile stretch to the East Coast.

I'll try and post an update as often as I can if my plans change. The next update should be posted between February 25th and March 02nd.




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