TRIP 2011

Update #22 - September 05th
Spartanburg, South Carolina
5,242.75 miles (8,388.40 KM)

My time at the Red Cross Emergency Shelter at the Roanoke Roads Baptist Church outside of Wilson, North Carolina was short (38 hours between Friday night, August 26th, and Sunday morning, August 28th) but it was hard. At the height of the hurricane Saturday afternoon, there were at least 180 people at the church. Over two-thirds of the evacuees were hispanics. Not too many of them spoke English. There were at least a half dozen Red Cross staff on a rotating basis, between one and seven police officers (rotating through every hour or so), occasional members of FEMA and the Salvation Army, and then me.

I was the odd person out. Some of the Red Cross staff welcomed me as a volunteer while others treated me as an evacuee. There were not that many Causcasian evacuees there at the shelter. There was a local guy who was temporarily homeless and a group of college students from Romania who were on a work-exchange program. Being hearing impaired, I do not handle loud noises very well. Along with this, I am very light and noise sensitive at night. I also need my space because I have a slight problem with "Ochlophobia". It's not that I have a fear of crowds but I can suffer from "sensory overload". I am a bit of an introvert. I can work around a lot of people as long as I have a way to escape for short periods of time to center myself again but there wasn't really any place to escape at the church because all of the people. The first night, I spent outside in my tent. I pitched the tent on a narrow porch in an alcove but there were no downspouts to direct the rain from the church roof so the tent got splattered.

I got through Friday night okay but the inside of the tent did get a little wet. The sleeping pad got wet on the bottom and the sleeping bag got a little damp at the bottom. I packed up the sleeping bag and took it inside the church and left everything else in the tent. I was hoping to sleep in the tent Saturday night but the tent was just too wet inside. It took me five trips in the rain to get all of my gear inside the church and I had to pack up the sleeping pad and tent wet. I found a place down a hallway that wasn't being used much and I made a niche for myself. There wasn't any cots available so I used one of the First Aid blue sleeping mats and blankets. I was very surprised that I was able to fall asleep and I slept for about five hours.

The only two good things other than making a couple of new friends was getting interviewed by a reporter from Slate Magazine and a reporter from the local newspaper "The Wilson Times" . Here is the
LINK to the article on the Slate Magazine website. The section about me is in the middle of the article. Here is the LINK to the article on the Wilson Times website. The section about me is at the bottom.

I woke up a couple of hours before daybreak on Sunday morning and at first light I had Alice all loaded up to head out. There wasn't a need for me to stay longer because after the rain and wind died down last night about have of the evacuees had left to go back to their homes. The first thing that I did after leaving the church was head off to a laundromat five miles away to get all of the wet stuff washed and dried. My towel must have weighed at least six pounds (3 KG) from all of the rain water that it had soaked up. It took longer than expected to get everything washed, dried, and packed up because the laundromat was crowded so I didn't make it a church Sunday morning but I was able to get to a church service in Benson, North Carolina Sunday night.

Monday (August 29th), I had to change my route again because I had to find a bike shop. Sometime yesterday, I hit some storm debris hard and two spokes broke on the new rear wheel that I had bought in Utica, New York. I found a great bike shop
Hawley's Bicycle World on Raeford Road in the western section of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Kenny Green, the service manager, got right on the rear wheel. It was lucky for me that the rim didn't get very much out of true. When I get to Shreveport, I am going to have the rear wheel respoked with stronger sprokes. The neatest thing that happened was that one of the regular customers, Marty, who was having his racing bike tuned up offered to pay for the spoke repair and also pay for a new front tire and rear inner tube. The front tire had almost 3,900 miles (6,240 KM) on it and the tread was getting really thin. Alice was back on the road in less than two hours. I ended the day in Raeford, North Carolina.

Habitat For Humanity of Scotland County and St Luke's United Methodist Church in Laurinburg, North Carolina were my hosts Tuesday (August 30th). Because of the possible Hurricane Katia, I had to change my route again. I opted to head almost straight west across the northern edge of South Carolina to Spartanburg where I have friends with the Fuller Center For Housing Of Spartanburg .

I didn't make it all the way to Spartanburg on my own power though. On Friday (September 03rd) I got run off the road between Rock Hill and Chester, South Carolina and one of the spokes on the rear wheel popped again. On Saturday (September 04th), I got almost 12 miles (19 KM) out of Chester when I had to stop and change the inner tube in the rear wheel. I was disappointed that I found out that several inches of the sidewall on one side of the rear tire was going bad. There was no way to ride the remaining 31 mile (50 KM) to Spartanburg. One of the customers at the gas station - restaurant that I had stopped at offered to take me all the way to my friend's house in Spartanburg. Saturday afternoon, the broken rear spoke was quickly repaired and a new rear tire bought at
Bike Worx in Southeast Spartanburg.

Currently, I am on a slight holding pattern waiting out any hard rain from the remnant of Tropical Storm Lee to come through the area. As I have mentioned in these past couple of updates, I have decided that this year's mission trip was going to be more of service to others instead of just riding. Last night, I did some much needed technical support on the Fuller Center desktop computer to get it running better. I'm not going for high number of miles. If I ride just 6,000 or 7,000 miles (9,600 Kilometers to 11,200 Kilometers). this year that will be okay. My plans will be returning to Shreveport, Louisiana and volunteering with the
Fuller Center For Housing of NW Louisiana in Shreveport again.

I will possibly be there from late September or early October of this year to possibly March or April of next year. Shreveport will become my new homebase. Between Spartanburg, South Carolina and Shreveport, Louisiana, I might be making a side trip to Americus, Georgia and possibly stopovers in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama to check out the recovery effort after the late April tornadoes that struck these two Alabama cities.

I will keep everybody abreast through upcoming updates. Usually, I try and add a new update every two weeks along the way so the next one will be around September 19th, 2011.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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