TRIP 2014

Update #04 - February 14
Cleveland, Texas
1,164.83 miles (1,863.73 KM)

My intention once in Texas was to ride to San Antonio and then on to the Austin and Bryan - College Station areas before swinging Northeast back into Louisiana. I wasn't able to make connections for places to stay in those areas and didn't have any ministries in mind to check out. Because of these things, I decided to cut down my trip in Texas. The real reason to ride to Texas was to have someplace to ride while the weather got warm enough again so I could head back North. Hopefully, the colder part of Winter has gone by.

February 06 : Crowley, LA to Eunice, LA - 25.63 miles (41.01 KM)

I had a pretty good night at the motel. I got about 5 hrs of sleep. There was a pretty good free breakfast with waffles. I left the motel a little before 8 am because I was concerned about the weather. The weather report said that there was a 40% chance of freezing rain or sleet. The temperature was going to be just in the upper 30s or low 40s and with the 10-15 mph wind coming from the North the windchill was going to be in the low 30s.

It was a slow ride because of the wind I only averaged between 5 and 7 mph (8 and 11 kmph). There was some sleet. The pellets stung and I had to wear my sunglasses to protect my eyes. Along the way, I passed quite a few fields that had been flooded for crawfish. I was surprised that there were a couple of the guys in the fields harvesting the crawfish. The boats are flat-bottomed and they use dual wheel rear drive units to push them through the water instead of using propellers. The boats had roofs on them. In the sky, I was surprised at seeing several large flocks of geese heading back north. About five miles (8 km) South of Eunice, I rode through several large flocks of sparrows. Each flock must have had several thousand birds. They settled on the roadway but scattered into the air whenever they got disturbed by a vehicle. The sparrows covered about a half mile long area.

I got into the downtown Eunice around 11 am. I saw a bank sign that said the temperature was just 33 degrees. The windchill must have been in the 20s.

I found my way over to the First Baptist Church. On a few of my previous stops in town, I had a good reception at the church. I locked up Alice and went inside. On my way to the office, this older guy called out from his office to see what I needed. He didn't get out of his desk chair. He didn't explain his situation with the church. The room was quite empty so I didn't think that he was the pastor (according to the church website, the guy wasn't part of the ministerial staff). There was another guy in the room but he didn't turn around to look at me. The guy behind the desk, told me that there wasn't much that the church could do for me. He told me that there had been a shelter in town but it had closed a year ago. The guy told me that I should check out this ministry, Word Ministries, that was housed in the old Walmart building near the Western edge of town. Word Ministries used to operate Trinity Mission, which used to be the men's shelter that the guy told me about.

I rode over to check out Word Ministries. There wasn't an office. This black guy met me at the door. He told me that there wasn't a minister that I could talk to. From there, I followed some signs and located the United Methodist church. The parsonage was next door. I got to briefly talk with the minister but he told me that he couldn't help me because he was getting ready to leave to New Orleans. He suggested that I go over to St Anthony of Padau Catholic Church. I talked with the secretary. She told me that the priest was coming back from a funeral in Opelousas and would be available after 1 pm.

I rode over to Wendys that was across the street from Word Ministries. I got some a small cup of chili and some fries. After lunch, I tried to connect with a friend of mine in Florida who had offered to occasionally help me with a motel room when I was in a pinch. I rode back to the Catholic Church. Rev Romero was finishing up his lunch so I got to talk with the deacon. He told me that he didn't know what the priest could do for me. There was a ministerial association in town but they didn't help people with motel rooms. It turns out that one person had trashed a motel room and had caused about $3K in damages. I did get to talk with the priest after about a twenty minute wait but he didn't really know where I could stay because there wasn't a good place at the church. There was a school at the church. As I was finishing up my conversation with the priest, I got a call from my friend in Florida and he arranged for a room for me at a local motel.

I am glad that I'm inside tonight. The overnight temperature is going to be 29 and the high tomorrow is going to be in the mid 40s. Starting Saturday, the high is going to be between the upper 50s and the low 60s.

February 07 : Eunice, LA to Kinder, LA - 32.32 miles (51.71 KM)

I had a pretty good night at the motel. I got about 5 hrs of sleep. There was a pretty good free breakfast with biscuits and gravy, and scrambled eggs. I left the motel a little before 8 am. The temperature was in the upper 30s. The ride West went okay because for a change I had a tailwind to push me along.

I got into Kinder around 11:30 am. I checked out the Bible Church, First Baptist Church, and Catholic Church. I didn't find anybody around them. I went to McDs for lunch. After lunch, I went back to the Catholic Church and waited in front of a building where I thought the parish office was. I waited about a half hour before a lady coming out of the church told me that the parish office was actually in the rectory around the block behind the Bible Church. When I got the office, there was a sign on the door saying that the office was closed and the priest was away.

Not knowing if there were any more churches in town, I went over to the police station to see if somebody there might know how I could connect with a minister in town. I talked with the chief of police. He told me that most of the ministers in town were part time and the Catholic priest was the only full time. The chief made a few calls and he told me that I should go to "The Grace Church" Southwest of the town. Somebody should be around there about 5 pm. Before I left the station, the chief told me that if I didn't connect with somebody by 5 pm he would allow me to stay in one of the cells but they wouldn't lock me in for the night.

On the way to the church, I rode passed a motel that had a sign outside that said $39 for a room. I got to the church around 1:30 pm. I hunkered down in front for about a 3.5 hour wait. After about a 2.5 hour wait, I got really chilled. There were a couple of phone numbers on the door of the church so I called one. The secretary answered. She told me that the pastor was actually out of town and she didn't think that anybody was going to come by the church. Before the secretary ended the conversation with me, she told me that I should try another church "Grace Church" on the Northern edge of town.

Before leaving the church, I checked my checking account statement book and the money in my wallet to see if I could afford a room. I thought that I could but it would really bite into any funds I would need for an emergency. When I got to the motel, I saw that the advertised rate was only for Sunday through Thursday. I was surprised that the motel had increased rates on Friday and Saturday but there was a casino North of town. There was no way that I could afford a room there.

I rushed through town because it was after 4 pm. On the way to the Grace Church, I did a brief stop at the Methodist church because I saw a car in front. Nobody answered my knock. I think that the person who parked there was at the funeral parlor next door. A funeral was going on. A little further down the road, I saw that there was a truck in front of the Pentocostal church. I talked with the pastor. He told me that he couldn't help me because the church had gotten burnt by too many scammers who wanted money and then went to the casino to gamble or they trashed the motel rooms. I asked if there was a way if I could stay in one of the church buildings but the pastor told me that I couldn't stay by myself and he didn't want to stay with me.

As I was nearing the Grace Church, I saw a car going behind the church and driving to a house. I thought that the house might be where the pastor lived. The car was actually owned by a nice elderly lady, Mrs Powers. She was there to pick up her two grandsons who was being babysat by the young lady who lived in the house. The boy's parents went to the church. Mrs Powers went to another church. The young lady told Mrs Powers and me that her pastor was out of town. She did tell us that there was another motel about 3/4 mile (1.2 km) South of the motel with the rate sign that I might be able to afford. Mrs Powers surprised me by telling me that she would go to the motel and pay for the room for me. I quickly made my way to the Smart Rooms Inn. Mrs Powers was waiting for me with the key. Before she left, she asked me if I had any money for me to eat on. I told her that I would possibly just have a cold meal from my food pannier. Instead, Mrs Powers offered to go out to a nearby restaurant and get me a takeout meal of a quarter pound hamburger and some fries.

I'm changing my plans in getting into Texas. I was planning to ride on US 190 to DeQuincy, Lousiana tomorrow and then cross into Texas between Starks, Louisiana and Deweyville, Texas. After DeQuincy, US 190 ended and the road became LA 12. From Deweyville, I was planning to ride through Vidor, Texas and then on to Beumont. I checked out my mapping software on my computer and I found out that this wouldn't work. In Vidor, Texas, TX 12 ended when it joined I-10. There were frontage roads but they ended right before the Neches River near Beumont. Instead, I'll be heading Southwest to Iota and then getting back on US 90 to Lake Charles. I'm planning to ride through the Lake Charles area and trying to ride to Vinton. I've stopped at the United Methodist Church in Vinton quite a few times and the pastor who was there at the time always let me stay in one of the church buildings. Beyond Vinton, I'm going to have to try and get a short ride to get into Texas East of Orange because US 90 joins I-10 before it crosses the bridge over the Sabine River. From Orange, I'll be heading Southwest through Bridge City to Port Arthur and then swinging Northwest to Beaumont.

February 08 : Kinder, LA to Iowa, LA - 20.66 miles (33.06 KM)

I had a pretty good night at the motel. I got about 5 hrs of sleep. I left the motel a little before 8 am. It wasn't that cold and there wasn't any wind. My plan for today was to head Southwest to Lake Charles, get through the Lake Charles area, and then end the day in Vinton but this didn't happen.

About 6 miles (10 km) South of the motel, the rear tire went flat. I thought that I was just going to replace the inner tube but that wasn't the case. There was a hole in the tread of the tire. I don't know how it happened. I glued on two patches on the inside of the tire to cover the hole. The extra thick thorn proof tube was damaged beyond repair so I put in the thorn resistant tube that I had bought in Franklin. As soon as I started to inflate the tube, I noticed that the hole was getting bigger. I didn't feel comfortable inflating the tire beyond 30 psi. Being that the tire wasn't inflated to it's minimum psi, I didn't feel comfortable riding it. I was at least 24 miles (38 km) away from Lake Charles. I was hoping to maybe find a new tire possibly at a Walmart.

While I was putting the wheel back on Alice, these two guys in a pickup truck stopped by to see if I was okay. They were actually going North on US 165 and had just turned around to check me out. They had just come from Lake Charles. I wasn't sure how I was going to get to Lake Charles. I could try to hitchhike or walk. I tried to get a ride but the traffic just moved over to the inner lane. Really hard to hitchhike on a divided four-lane highway. After about ten minutes, I started to walk. I walked about two miles and then I tried to hitchhike again. No luck this time. I started to walk again. I got into Fenton and stopped at a gas station for a short break but no trucks stopped in for gas. I repeated the walk/ hitchhike routine about 3 more times and I got to I-10. I was hoping that there were some gas stations at this junction but there wasn't. My legs were really getting sore.

Along the way, I did have a neat encounter with some wildlife. In a water filled ditch, I spotted a group of muskrats swinmming. There were five of them. I stopped to watch them for a few minutes. There was a mother muskrat that had a little one following her around.

About a mile passed the interstate, I hit the outskirts of the small town of Iowa. I stopped at a funeral parlor for a short break. I stopped to sit down on a ledge behind the sign. This was a bit of a mistake because the muscles in back of my right leg started to cramp up. I was able to hobble down a couple of blocks to a gas station where I stopped to get something to drink.

It was almost 4 pm when I started into the downtown area to see if I could find a church. It was too late to try and head out to Lake Charles and I was pretty sure that there wouldn't be a place for me to camp out between Iowa and Lake Charles. The temperature was going to be in the 40s.

I saw a car near the back of the First Baptist Church. I thought it was the pastor but it was the secretary. She called the pastor who lived next door. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night, the pastor offered to get me a room at one of the two motels North of the interstate. There wasn't a first floor room available so I had to carry everything up the stairs to the second floor. It took me four trips to get everything upstairs into my room.

Tomorrow morning, I've got about a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) walk back to the church. Sunday school is at 9 am and the service starts at 10 am.

February 09 : Iowa, LA to Sulphur, LA - 34.11 miles (54.58 KM)

I had a pretty good night at the motel. I got about 5 hrs of sleep. There was an okay breakfast. I left the motel a little after 8 am and I headed back to the First Baptist Church. When I got there, there was a new tire and tube waiting for me. The husband of the lady who I met at the church last night was one of the deacons of the church. He had gone out to a Walmart in Lake Charles to get it for me. I went outside and quickly put them on Alice. I missed a few minutes of one of the men's sunday school classes. Towards the end of the class, I got to share for a few minutes. Nothing really happened after the service. Since I had some short days during the week, I didn't ask the pastor if I could stay in the church for the rest of the day.

I headed out to Lake Charles a little after 11 am. The ride to Lake Charles went okay. Before heading North to Moss Point, I stopped for some lunch. The ride North to Moss Point went okay. I made it across the two long bridges okay. At Moss Point, I got on LA 378 to Westlake. The ride to Westlake went okay.

On the outskirts of Westlake, I didn't have any idea on how to use local roads to get to US 90. I got a bit confused around the area where the oil refineries were around. I got on I-10 for about a mile and a half (2.4 km) and then I got off at the US 90 exit. The ride along US 90 went okay. Traffic was pretty light.

I got into Sulphur around 4 pm. I didn't feel like riding to Vinton and see if the minister at the United Methodist Church was around. I thought that it would be best to stop and see if I could find a church that might have an evening service. I found the First Baptist Church. They had a 5 pm service. Not too many people showed up for the service. There was a praise band but they made the service feel like it was a stage show. There was this one guy who had an electric guitar but he had his amplifier up so loud that it drowned out the vocals in a few places. After the service, the minister allowed me to stay in one of the sunday school classes connected to the fellowship hall for the night. The church has allowed other people to stay in the church in this area before.

I'm about 7 miles away from Vinton. There is supposed to be rain tonight and tomorrow. If I feel that tomorrow is going to be a washout, I'll just go on to Vinton and see if I can stay at the Methodist church. I don't want to see if I could get a ride in the rain to get me into Texas over the I-10 Sabine River Bridge to Orange, Texas.

February 10 : Sulphur, LA to Vinton, LA - 14.11 miles (22.58 KM)

I had a pretty good night at the church. Even with venetian blinds in the windows, I was able to get some rest. I woke up around 6 am. I got on the internet via ethernet. A little after 7 am, the janitor came in to make some coffee. He told me that there was going to be a homeschool group using this part of the church starting around 8 am. I quickly got cleaned up and packed up Alice.

It was a little before 8 am when I left the church. The parking lot was wet from the rain last night and there were puddles. I walked Alice to US 90. I didn't get a block down the road when this police car with flashing lights pulled up behind me. He told me that they had gotten a report about a suspicious person on a bicycle leaving the First Baptist Church. It must have been one of the two ladies who saw me leave the church. I told the officer that I had permission to stay in the church overnight but he needed to hear it from the pastor. The dispatcher called the church office and the pastor was contacted. I was able to get back on the road in about twenty minutes.

I wasn't sure how far I wanted to get to today. It was cold and nasty outside. The temperature had to have been in the low 50s and the sky was quite overcast. There had been some fog in the area but it had lightened up some. I wasn't too excited in trying to get a ride across the Sabine River bridge on I-10. There was a 50% chance for more rain during the afternoon.

I got into Vinton around 10 am. I stopped at a grocery store to get a few things. I decided to try and quit for the day. Instead of going across the railroad track to see if somebody was around the Methodist church, I decided to see if there was somebody at the First Baptist church because I had seen some cars near it. I found the pastor in his office. He gave me permission to stay in the church overnight. I'll be staying in one of the sunday school classes used by the youth. There is a small sofa but it'stoo short to sleep on. One of the guys who was doing something to the front doors of the church went into the church attic and got me an army cot that the Red Cross had left behind. The church had been used as a Red Cross shelter.

Before the two guys left, one of the guys set the alarm system. He shouldn't have done that because there were motion detectors around the church and I accidently set off the one in the fellowship hall. One of the town's police came to check it out but I didn't see the police officer. The pastor had to disarm the alarm system. Not enough guys showed up for the deacon's meeting for them to have a quorum to do church business so the pastor asked me to share what I was doing with the guys present.

The church is really in to doing compassion ministries. There is a small food pantry. Some of the ladies of the church had gotten together and made some sleeping mats for homeless people that they had crocheted out of yarn made out of plastic shopping bags.

I'm about five miles (8 km) away from where US 90 joins I-10 and about 8 miles away (13 km) from the Sabine River and the Texas state line.

February 11 : Vinton, LA to China, TX - 59.14 miles (94.62 KM)

I had a pretty good night at the church. It was good that I was inside because it really rained hard during the night. The pastor came by to the church around 7:50 am to let me out of the church. I am glad that I took the time to layer up because it was really cold. It must have been close to freezing and it is supposed to only get into the low 40s in the afternoon.

It was a short ride to Toomey and I-10. I stopped at the truckstop and waited to see if anybody would stop there that was going into Texas. Nobody showed up. After about a half hour, I decided to go over to the interchange and see if I could get a ride that way. The third truck that passed me stopped and backed up and the two guys in the truck offered to take me into Texas. Instead of dropping me off at the Texas Visitor Center they dropped me off at the next exit, which was Bus 90 W.

I followed Bus 90 W into downtown Orange and then I got on TX 87 going South. The ride to Bridge City went okay. I was able to ride up the first bridge into Bridge City. At the high bridge over the Neches River, I crossed over the divided 4-lane highway and walked up the bridge against the traffic. The bridge for the Northboud traffic was a lot newer and there were two wide shoulders. I watched some dredging going on of the river. The river is part of the intercoastal waterway and there was some barge traffic. Once over the top hump, I was able to ride Alice down off the bridge.

Instead of going clear into Port Arthur and then finding my way into Beaumont, I headed North through the town of Groves and rode through the town of Nederland. Along the way, I stopped at a Wendys for lunch. In Beaumont near Lamar University, I hit some road closure because of construction so I started a zig-zag route through the city in hopes that I would land back on US 90 West of the downtown area. I was really surprised that this happened and I had found my way to US 90.

There were no churches along the way so I decided to see if I could make it the next town of China about 10 miles (16 km) away. It was a little after 4 pm when I headed to China. I pushed the miles in as fast as I could. I hit some chip sealing along the way and in most places there was a really narrow shoulder. About 5 miles (8 km) out of China it started to rain.

I got into China a little before dark. I found the First Baptist and the Methodist churches. The Methodist minister lived across the street from his church. I was hoping to maybe be able to stay in the fellowship hall but the minister passed me off. He told me that I should try the Catholic church, which was back on US 90 passed the railroad tracks.

There wasn't anybody at the Baptist church. I stopped at the house across the street to see if they might know how to contact the Baptist pastor. The lady who answered the door went to the church. She tried to contact the pastor but all she could do is to leave messages for him. I decided to go to the Catholic church. I found some people having a meeting in the church hall. The priest didn't leave on the church grounds. One of the ladies slipped me $30 and a guy slipped me $20. One of the guys didn't think that I could get permission to stay on the church grounds so he offered me the chance to stay in the office of his grass farm. The office is heated and there is a restroom and washer and dryer for the migrant workers working on the farm.

I'm thinking about just riding to Liberty tomorrow. I've decided to not ride to San Antonio. I'm going to go to Austin instead and use that as my turning point.

February 12 : China, TX to Liberty, TX - 34.62 miles (55.39 KM)

I had a pretty good night. It was good being in a warm room and having access to a washer and dryer. The lights in the main part of the building were left on and the office had a couple of windows looking into the main part of the building. I covered up most of one window with a large painting. I had to use my sleep mask to fall asleep. I slept till around 4:30 am because I needed to go to the restroom. It was a real shock to the system having to go to the unheated restroom. I quickly did my business and rushed to the office to get back into my sleeping bag for a couple more hours.

Around 6 am, the workers started to arrive to sign in. There was a biometric scanner timeclock in the office. I quickly got dressed and packed up Alice.

It was a little after 7 am when I headed out. It was quite cool and it was really dreary. The ride to Liberty went okay. I stopped a couple of times at gas stations along the way and to get some hot chocolate. The sky cleared out and the sun was quite visible around 10:30 am so I had to used my sunglasses. By noon, I made around 26 miles.

I got into Liberty a little a little after noon. Afterwards, I went around town to check out the churches. I stopped at the UMC. I had a much better reception than last night. The pastor invited me to stay with him and his wife in the parsonage. There was a family meal at the church at 6 pm. Alice was left in the fellowship hall for the night.

February 13 : Liberty, TX to Cleveland, TX - 66.14 miles (105.82 KM)

I had a pretty good night at the parsonage. I got about 6 hrs of sleep. Before going back to the church so that I could get Alice, we stopped at a McDs for breakfast. It was around 7:50 am when I left the church. The temperature was in the upper 30s but they were calling for temps in the low 60s in the afternoon.

I had a pretty good ride to Dayton. In Dayton, I headed North a little bit and then I headed West on FM 1960. FM 1960 was pretty good. There was a wide smooth shoulder most of the way to Humble. About 8 miles (13 km) out of Dayton, I met another cross-country cyclist. He was from the Devil's Lake, South Dakota and had started from San Diego five weeks ago. He was going to St. Augustine, FL. What was so different was that he barely had any gear with him. The guy told me that he basically moteled it most of the way but he did say that he slept in an occasional fire station or library.

The guy told me that he had an awful time getting through the Houston Metroplex area. With this in mind, I was questioning how far I wanted to ride in Texas. From where I was, I would have to ride through the Houston Metroplex area to get to either Austin, Bryan-College Station, or San Antonio. I wasn't able to connect with anybody in either of these four places and I didn't know of any ministries in these areas that I wanted to check out. Because of these things, I decided that when I get to Northeast Houston (Humble), I would use that as a turning point and start on the next leg that would take me to possibly Tupelo, MS.

There was a long bridge to get across. I got about 24 miles (38 km) in by noontime. For lunch, I stopped at a gas station that had a Church's Chicken. When I got to US 59, I decided to use that as a turning point and I would start my trip to possibly Tupelo, MS. There were frontage roads most of the way. There was a tailwind to push me along. In some places, I was cruising around 13 mph (21 lmph).

About 5 miles (8 km) out of Cleveland, the frontage roads ended at Midline. I followed a road that I thought was going to parallel US 59 but it went way Northwest. When I got to TX 105, I had to cycle at least 5 miles to get me back to US 59 at the Southern edge of Cleveland. I got into Cleveland a little after 5 pm. I checked out a couple churches but I didn't see anybody around them. It took a while to find the police station, which was about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) East of the downtown area.

I talked with a couple of nice lady police officers in the communications department. One of the ladies contacted a local church and there was an offer to get me a room at the Motel 6 near US 59.

I'm going to try and follow US 59 to Livingston tomorrow morning and then I'll get on US 190 to Woodville. Tomorrow the temperature in the afternoon might be into the lower 70s.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between February 21st and February 28th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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