TRIP 2014

Update #02 - January 24
Pascagoula, Mississippi
532.34 miles (851.74 KM)

The past two weeks have been pretty good. The ride has been okay but the weather hasn't been cooperative. I only had a few days when I was able to ride jacketless. The other days have been either cold or wet. Today is an off day because the afternoon temperature is only going to be in the low 40s (F). I should be crossing into Louisiana Monday (January 27th). I still plan to stop to check out the United Methodist Sager-Brown Disaster Relief Center in Baldwin, Louisiana. I'm surprised that I'm not the only cross-country cyclist out this time of year. Since heading West out of Perry, Florida, I've seen six cross-country cyclists. The first one was from Switzerland.

January 11 : Chiefland to Cross City - 21.23 miles (33.97 KM)

I was surprised that I was able to get some rest. I wasn't able to use my computer much last night. The operation system was acting up. The screen resolution was really weird and I couldn't get it fixed.

I woke up around 5 am. There was a pretty good free breakfast. I headed out around 8:15 am. The sky was a little overcast and it was a little windy. According to the weather report, there was going to be a major storm coming through the area. I was only going to ride to Cross City. I hoped to get there before the storm hit.

I stayed on US 98 instead of riding on the rails to trails bike path. I got into Cross City a little before noon. I stopped at the motel where I had stayed at before. The owners were from Poland. The lady allowed me to check in early instead of having me check in at 2 pm. She also gave me a 10% discount on the room.

The thunderstorm hit around 4:30 pm. The rain came down really hard. The storm was fast moving and there was a tornado watch. I ventured out before dark to go to the nearest grocery store to get a few things.

I was really having problems with my laptop. I couldn't use a lot of the programs that I normally use. I tried doing a system restore and it didn't work. When I did a restart, the computer wouldn't even boot up. There was a strange message that said a dll file was missing.

January 12 : Cross City to Perry - 49.32 miles (78.91 KM)

I was surprised that I was able to get some rest. It was really hard not having my computer. I left the motel around 8:15 am. I was torn about either staying in town to go to a church even though I would have about a two hour wait or head out of town and hope that I would find a church on the way to Perry. I opted to head out to Perry.

The ride went okay but there wasn't hardly anything along the way. This was a really remote area. I didn't get into the next town till around 1:10 pm. After a short break at a gas station, I headed out again. The rest of the ride to Perry went okay. I got into Perry about 4 pm. I stopped at a McD for a hamburger.

I rode into the downtown area and found my way to the First Baptist Church. I had about an hour wait before people started showing up for choir practice. Instead of an evening service, there was going to be a bible study in the fellowship hall. People started showing up before 6 pm. I met the assistant pastor before the service. He was quite happy and he sat next with me. I met the head pastor also. I was able to share toward the end of the study. After the study, the assistant pastor loaded Alice in back of his truck and took me to the Hampton Inn. The church had an account. I wouldn't have been able to ride to the motel because the rear tire was going soft. When I got into my room, I replaced the tube.

I checked the phone book and found out that there was a computer repair shop near the downtown area. I need to at least stay in town tomorrow to get the computer fixed. I really need to have a computer.

January 13 : Perry to Perry - 6.23 miles (9.97 KM)

I had a pretty good night. I spent some time in the motel's business center on the internet. I was able to get some rest. There was a really good free breakfast.

I left the motel around 9 am. I rode to the computer store
24-7 Tech near the downtown area. The owner Jason told me that he would have to run a diagnostic. It would probably take about six or seven hours and would cost $40. If it was a simple repair, there wouldn't be an extra charge. If the operating system was completely corrupted and couldn't be fixed, he would have to wipe the hard drive and install a new operating system. This would cost $80. A data backup and restore would cost $160.

From the computer store, I rode into the downtown area to check out the churches. I stopped at the First Methodist Church. A lady told me that the pastor had to go to Tallehassee to do a funeral. He might be back around 2:30 pm. She told me that I should connect with a minister who runs a coffee house in the old railroad station. The pastor there told me that his church didn't have any funds available but he would try and connect with his pastor buddies in town.

I rode over to the library and waited till around 2 pm. Around 2:30 pm, I went to the Methodist church. The secretary told me that the pastor wouldn't be in because he had to do some hospital visits. I didn't have much of a choice but to go back to motel row on US 98 and get a room. I stopped at the Budget Host Inn. They had rooms in the low $40s. Around 5:30 pm, it rained really hard. I got a call from the computer store telling me that they would have to do a system restore with a new operating system put in.

January 14 : Perry to Perry - 6.12 miles (9.79 KM)

I didn't get much sleep. I was concerned about the computer. Also, the blackout curtains were too small for the windows. A lot of light came into the room. It was raining when I walked to the office to get some breakfast. I was really disappointed when there wasn't anything. The sign said that there would be but the owners from India hadn't set out anything.

I waited till around 9:30 am to ride back into the downtown area. I went back to the Methodist Church. I had about a ten minute wait before the pastor showed up. Rev Townsend was pretty friendly. He offered to get me a room at the Days Inn. I was able to check in early.

Around 9 pm, I got a call from Jason at the computer store. He worked two extra hours after closing to get the computer fixed.

January 15 : Perry to Perry - 10.32 miles (16.51 KM)

I got a lot more sleep than last night. There was a pretty good hot breakfast. I waited till around 9:30 am before heading over to the computer store. Jason told me that he installed Windows Vista Home instead of Windows XP because XP wouldn't be supported after April 8. Windows Vista is going to be supported till around 2017.

I rode over to the Perry newspaper to get interviewed. I rode over to check out the First Presbyterian church. It wasn't listed at the address in the phone book. There was a Baptist church instead. It was too late to try and make it anywhere going west on US 98 towards Appalachicola. I opted to get a room at another motel. The room was a little run down but there was a modem right outside the door. I spent most of the day trying to get used to the new operating system and install some software that I had on the computer before it's crash.

January 16 : Perry to Panacea - 61.23 miles (97.97 KM)

I got a lot more sleep than last night. The temperature was only going to be in the 50s so I doubled up the layers. I got on the road a little after 8 am. About 13 miles (21 km) out of Perry, I met a guy, Rolf, from Switzerland who was finishing up a cross-country tour. He was ending his trip in Daytona Beach, Florida.

By noon, I had gotten in almost 30 miles (48 km). I got into Medart around 3 pm. I stopped to get a few things at the Dollar General. Usually I stop in Sopchoppy but I wanted to stay on US 98. I opted to stop in Panacea instead. There was to be a motel there.

About a couple miles out of Panacea, this guy in a truck stopped me. The guy was a pastor. He told me that the motel was probably closed. He told me to go to his place which was a rehab center for recently released inmates. He knew of another minister who had a single wide trailer that I could stay in. I rode over to the center. I had a good bowl of chili. I got into a long conversation with another guy there. He was a sunday school teacher at a baptist church but went to Tallehassee to attend an Anglican Church.

Around 5:30 pm, the other pastor showed up. He took me to the Full Gospel Assembly church. Next to the church was a single wide trailer that would be my home for the night. The trailer was furnished but the gas was turned off. Some space heaters had to be found for me.

January 17 : Panacea to Apalachicola - 52.24 miles (83.58 KM)

I got a lot more sleep than last night. I got on the road around 8 am. The temperature was a little around freezing. The high was only going to be in the 50s. The ride to Carrabelle went okay. A couple miles out of Carrabelle, I met up with a local guy who was riding a Vision recumbent. He told me that there was some kind of festival in Apalachila. Because of this, I didn't know whether I was going to find a motel room. I was able to get around 30 miles (48 km) in by noon.

I stopped in Eastport for a short break. I was able to ride most of the way across the long bridge between Eastport and Apalachicola. I got into Apalachicola around 3 pm. I went over to the office of the Episcopal church to see if my rector friend was there. She wasn't. I stopped at the Methodist church. The pastor offered to get me a room at the Rancho motel. There were quite a few rooms there.

January 18 : Apalachicola to Panama City - 64.47 miles (103.15 KM)

I got a lot more sleep than last night. I got on the road around 8 am. The ride to Port St Joe went really well. I got into Port St Joe around 11 a.m. I opted to stop at BK to get an early lunch. The ride north went okay. I got almost 31 miles (50 km) in by noon. I got to the outskirts of Mexico Beach around 12:40 am. I crossed into the Central Time Zone so I gained an hour. I had a good ride into Panama City. I opted to stop at a motel a couple of miles before the bridge to Panama City Beach.

January 19 : Panama City to Fort Walton Beach - 64.52 miles (103.23 KM)

I got a lot more sleep than last night. I got on the road around 8:15 am after I got my $5 key deposit back. I didn't get far down the road when the rear tire went flat. It didn't take very long to put in a new innertube. On the way to the bridge across the bay, I rode passed several motels that had lower rates but I had some earlier problems with these.

I was able to ride across the bridge over the bay. I was making some good time even though there was a bit of a headwind. I tried to take some pictures but the camera fritzed out. Since I was riding passed a Walmart, I decided to just get a refund instead of an exchange. This took a while because there was only one lady in customer service. I had to wait to be seen, go to electronics to find the camera, and then get back in line to wait to see the lady again. I was given a gift card instead of cash. I went and bought a new innertube.

I was hoping to find a church. I had ridden by a Church of Chr-st but I knew of a Methodist Church that had a community center shaped like the Ark. I got to the church about 5 minutes before 11 am. There was nobody around. It looked like the church hadn't been used in a while. There was a sign in the door saying that the service was going to be in the Ark but there wasn't nobody around it either.

It was a couple mile ride before I got to another church. It was the Gulf Shores Presbyterian Church. I got to the church around 11:15 am. People were leaving the church. The service had started at 10:15 am. I went inside to see if the pastor was around. It was a lady. She was wearing a football jersey of the Denver Broncos. They were in the playoffs to see if they would go to the Superbowl. I had about a 15 minute wait because she was talking to the people leaving. Most of the people were snowbirds from up north. She wasn't really friendly towards me. She kind of passed me off to another ministry but she didn't know if they were open on Sundays or not. She did invite me to have an apple fritter but when I got to the fellowship hall all there was crumbs and broken pieces of donuts. It was a waste of my time to stop.

I rode passed the Laguna Beach Christian Retreat Center. I was thinking about stopping there like I did back in December 2012 but there wasn't anybody around. I stopped at a grocery store for a break. When I got back on US 98, I decided to stay on it instead of getting off at CR 30A and ride through Seaside. There was a bike lane most of the way to Destin. About six miles down the road, I saw another cross-country cyclist heading East but I wasn't able to get over there to talk to him because I was on a divided highway. He was pulling a two wheeled trailer that had a large basket.

The ride to Destin went really well. In some places, I was cruising at 11 mph. I got through San Destin a little before dusk. I stopped at a Walmart so I could get another headlight. I'm keeping one of the flashlights on the space bar. I was hoping to find a church to go to in Destin along US 98 but the only church that I rode passed was an Episcopal Church. I crossed the bridge over to Oskaloosa Island in the dark. There was a good paved shoulder on Oskaloosa Island. I walked over the second bridge to Fort Walton Bridge.

I got into Fort Walton Bridge around 6:30 pm. I was thinking about trying to get to the First Baptist Church in Mary Esther but I decided against it because I didn't know if there was going to be a service and when it started. I had stopped and stayed in a Sunday school classroom there several times. I opted to stop at a motel that had rates in the upper $30.

I'm looking at just riding to Gulf Breeze tomorrow instead of trying to get through Pensacola before dark. Doing this would have me cross into Alabama Tuesday and possibly staying in Gulf Shores that night. I'm looking at taking the ferry from Ft Morgan Wednesday and taking it to Dauphin Island. I'm looking at just stopping on Dauphin Island and possibly attending the Wednesday night service at the Baptist church and see if I could spend the night in their retreat center.

January 20 : Fort Walton Beach to Gulf Breeze - 35.04 miles (56.06 KM)

The night would have been better if I hadn't seen that roach. It was pretty big and it was crawling on top of the night stand next to me. I wasn't able to kill it. It crawled under the phone and then it disappeared. I looked around things and I couldn't find it. I didn't see any other roaches.

I went to sleep around 11 pm and I woke up around 5 am. I was surprised at how much sleep I had got. There has been a shift in the frequency and intensity of the tinnitus in my ears. The sounds are not as loud as they had been and it is more manageable. I think that it is stress related.

There wasn't any breakfast. I left the motel around 8 am. I only had one coat on. The high was supposed to get up into the low 60s. I rode through Mary Esther. About 3.5 miles from the motel, I rode passed the First Baptist Church that I had stopped at before. It was good that I had stopped at a motel because I would have probably missed the evening service. The church sign said that it had started at 6 pm.

There was some road construction through the Hulbert Air Force Base. I got about 28 miles (45 km) in by noon even though there was some road construction. The traffic lanes had been paved but there were sections of road grinding.

About 4 miles (6 km) out of Gulf Breeze, the rear tire went soft. I went across the highway and got on the bike trail. I checked the inside of the rear tire but I couldn't find anything sticking up. I put in the new innertube that I had bought yesterday. I got into Gulf Breeze around 3:30 pm. It was too late to try and get across the five mile long bridge before dark into Pensacola. I stopped at the first motel that I had come across. If my memory is correct, I had stayed there before. I paid a little more than what I had hoped to. The internet signal was very weak. I wished that the room was closer to the office.

I'll be riding through Pensacola tomorrow and cross into Alabama.

January 21 : Gulf Breeze, FL to Gulf Shores, AL - 41.96 miles (67.14 KM)

The night would have been better if the room would have been in better shape. The room was worn down. This was the case of a motel operated by a guy from India. At least, there wasn't any roaches. The curtain wasn't hanged right. You couldn't get any hot water in the bathroom sink because the faucet knob just spun around. There was a kitchenette that looked like it hadn't cleaned in a while.

I woke up early before 5 am. I left the motel around 7:40 a.m. There was a lot of wind coming from the Northwest. I had to ride most of the way to the bridge over the Pensacola Bay via the sidewalk because of the traffic. This was rush hour. The wind was too strong on the bridge so I had to walk it. I didn't find much road manna. At the West end of the bridge, there was a fishing pier. In the parking lot, there were several people looking at a guy with a bicycle that was pulling a big trailor with a lot of things on it. What was kind of interesting was that there was a small dog sitting on a platform behind the bicycle seat. I couldn't get over there to check it out.

The ride through Pensacola went okay. I rode through the downtown area and I was able to ride over the bridge over Lakewood Bay on FL 292. The ride along FL 292 went okay. In Perdido Key, I stopped at a thrift store run by a Methodist church. The store was pretty good but I didn't find anything that I needed. At a gas station in Perdido Key, a guy slipped me $5. Before crossing over the high bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway Canal to Gulf Beach, I stopped for some lunch at a BK. Because of the wind, I only made 23 miles (37 km) by noon time.

Right after going through the Perdido Beach State Park, I crossed into Alabama. The ride West was a little slower because the wind. I was able to ride across the last high bridge of the day. I met another cross-country lady. She was heading East. She told me that she had started in New Hartford, CT. She didn't tell me how long she was out and what route she took. Instead of riding all the way back, she was heading up to Northern Georgia to start hiking the Appalachian Trail even though there was still snow in the mountains. A minute after the lady left, this guy stopped to talk to me. He told me that he was planning to take a tour this year. He was also a member of Warm Showers.

The ride into Gulf Shores went okay. I found my way over to the Holiday Inn Express where a friend had gotten me a reservation. The room was sort of like a suite. It had akitchenette, a separate living room with sofa and coffee, and the room had two televisions. The big plus for me was that there was a guest laundry.

I'm about 22 miles (35 km) away from the toll ferry in Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island. The strong winds should be dying down tonight so the ferry should be running. The wind tomorrow is supposed to be under 16 mph. The temperature tomorrow is only going to be in the low 40s (F) instead of being in the 60s (F) today. I'm not sure whether I'll stop for the day on Dauphin Island or keep riding to Bayou La Batre.

January 22 : Gulf Shores to Bayou La Batre - 42.74 miles (68.34 KM)

I had a pretty good night. I tried to get to bed early instead of staying up late. I still woke up a little before 5 am. My bioclock is stuck on Eastern Standard Time. There was a pretty good hot breakfast with machine made pancakes. I doubled up on my breakfast because I didn't think that I wanted to stop somewhere in the cold to have something to eat out of my food pannier. I layered up because the temperature was just in the 30s (F).

I left the motel hotel around 8 am. It was a short ride to AL 180. I had a 22 mile (35 km) ride to the ferry landing at Fort Morgan. I was the first person there. I had about an hour's wait for the 11:40 am ferry. There was eight cars that showed up for the ferry. I talked for a little bit with the people in the first car who were from Maryland. While I was waiting for the ferry, I checked out the tube that I had replaced yesterday. I found a pinhole leak. Being that I was with a bicycle, I was considered a pedestrian and I was the first one on the ferry. The toll for pedestrians was $5. It wasn't five minutes later when the guy who took my money gave me my money back. The lady who I talked to paid for my toll. The ride across the Mobile Bay was okay but it was really cold for me since there wasn't a lounge for passengers to get out of the weather. We got to the ferry landing on Dauphin Island around 12:20 pm. I was the last person off.

From the ferry landing to the main part of the town was about a mile and a half. I stopped at a Circle K for a light lunch across the street from the Baptist Church. As I was finishing up the meal, I saw a car pulling up to the parsonage of the church. It was the pastor and his family coming home from shopping. I went over there to talk to him to see if there was a Wednesday night service and also to see if I could spend the night in their retreat center. I had done this before year's ago. The pastor told me that they had their evening service on Thursdays . I wouldn't be able to spend the night in the retreat center. There had been some policy changes and because of their insurance they only allow groups to use the facilities. The pastor did mention Matthew 25 but he told me that he couldn't do anything about it. He told me that he had passed off on some other individuals who had asked to stay. The pastor is trying to serve two masters (Adonai and Man/Insurance). He did mention that if I wanted to stay on the island there was a campground near the ferry landing. The temperature was going to get down into the upper 20s (F) and I wanted to finds someplace inside to spend the night.

I was pretty well able to ride across the four mile (6 km) long bridge and causeway to the mainland. About nine miles (14 km) out of Dauphin Island, I met up with another cycle tourist. The guy told me that he had been out since last October and had ridden about 9,000 miles (14,400 km) so far. He was doing some kind of modified loop around the country was was now heading to the Florida Keys. His goal for tonight was the campground on Dauphin Island.

About a couple of miles out of Bayou La Batre, the rear tire went soft again. This was the third time that I had to fix a flat in the past five days. I checked the inside of the rear tire and I couldn't find anything stickin up. When I get to Pascagoula, MS, I'm going to have to stop at the Walmart and see if I could get a thornproof tube and some flat sealant along with some more patches.

I got into Bayou La Batre around 4:10 pm. It was too late to try and head out any farther before it got dark. I stopped at the First Baptist Church in the Northern section of the town. The pastor gave me permission to spend the night in one of the Sunday school classrooms. The classroom has a thermostat so I could get the room warm. There was a six pm Bible study and prayer service in the fellowship hall. The pastor introduced me and I got to share for a few minutes. This was my second speaking engagement at a church this year.

January 23 : Bayou La Batre, AL to Pascagoula, MS - 30.20 miles (48.32 KM)

I had a pretty good night. Around 8:30 pm, I did have a scare when the janitor came in to turn off an outside light. The room was pretty warm and I just slept on top of my sleeping pad. I did have access to some snacks. I watched some new movies on my laptop. My bioclock woke me up before 5:00 a.m. Around 6:30 am, I ventured outside to go to the restroom and get cleaned up.

I left the church a little after 7 am. The outside temperature was in the upper 30s (F). The high was going to be somewhere in the low 60s (F). The ride to Grand Bay went okay. From Grand Bay, there was just a four mile (6 km) ride to the MS State Line. From the state line, it was about a ten mile (16 km) ride into Pascagoula.

It was around 10:45 pm when I got into Pascagoula. It was going to get down into the low 20s tonight. Tomorrow, the temperature is going just to be in the low 40s (F). I didn't feel like trying to go on. I decided to see if I could connect with a minister to see if I could find some place inside for the night.

I stopped at the First Baptist Church. I talked to the secretary. She took my letter of reference from my friend with the South Carolina Baptist Association into the pastor's office. I was hoping that the pastor would see me but the secretary told me that there was nothing that the church could do for me. There was a suggestion that I go to the local Salvation Army shelter.

I went across the street to the Episcopal Church. I had some familiarity with the rector. He had helped me out on one of my previous trips through the area. The rector had retired back in October and the new rector wasn't going to be installed until next month.

I rode into the downtown area to see what churches were in the area. I stopped at the First United Methodist Church. Rev Fisher was quite friendly. He offered to help me out with a place to stay. Being that it was going to be really cold tomorrow, he offered to pay for tomorrow night as well. There were a couple of motels near the downtown area but Rev Fisher didn't feel comfortable putting me in one of them. We did check out one motel but it was pretty well full with workers coming into the area to close down an automobile assembly plant. I had passed a couple of motels coming into town. Rev Fisher met me at the Studio 6. He got me a room on the lower level. The room is a studio with a kitchenette. Before he left, Rev Fisher slipped me $40 so that I could either go to the nearby fast food places for my meals or go to a nearby Walmart. I walked over to the Walmart so I could get some groceries.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between January 31st and February 07th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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