TRIP 2014

Update #21 - September 07th
McDonough, Georgia
Trip : 228.79 miles (366.06 km)
Year: 8,312.74 miles (13,300.38 km)

The first week of Mission Trip 44 went okay. The only problems during the days have been high heat and afternoon thunderstorms. The first leg will take me back up to Sabula, Iowa on the Mississippi River. I'm estimating that it should take me at least 24 days to ride the 1,000 plus miles (1,600+ kilometers).

September 02 : Lexington, SC to Liberty Hill, SC : 65.02 miles (104.34 km)

First day of Mission Trip 44. I didn't get much sleep. I woke up early and I just waited for daylight. Around 7:20 am, I took everything outside to load up Alice. It was already in the eighties. The high was going to be in the middle nineties. My friend wanted me to stay around till after 8 am but there was no guarantee that she was going to get up.

I decided to head out around 7:30 am. Every minute that I waited around was a minute not on the road. I wanted to try and get into Saluda by noon. There were just two lanes in this section of US 1 and lot of traffic so I walked up the hill into the downtown area and through it where GA 378 split off from US 1. The ride along GA 378 went okay but there were some rolling hills and rumble strips. I rode along the Southern edge of Lake Murray. I got the first twenty miles in by 9:30 am. I was really happy when I crossed into Saluda County because there were no more rumble strips.

I got into Saluda around 12:20 pm. I stopped for something to eat. After lunch, I stopped at the Methodist church to see if there was somebody around. The secretary was in the office but the pastor was out. I checked out a couple of the other churches in the downtown area but there were nobody around them. I wasn't really sure if I should try and go on to McCormick. There was the serious chance of thunderstorms. I had to ride through the Sumter National Forest. I decided to go on and try and make it to McCormick.

Around 3 pm, the sky got dark and the wind started to blow. I had almost enough time to stop and get my jacket on before the rain started. I left Alice near the road and I went down an embankment to try and get some cover in some trees. The rain lasted about 20 minutes. There was some intense lightning. As soon as the rain ended, I headed out again. I got about four miles down the road when the rain started up again. This time it was much harder. I ducked into some woods using a logging road. I went really far into the woods so I could use the trees as a windbreak because the rain came down in sheets. About 15 minutes into the storm, a large tree about thirty feet away from me fell down with a loud thud. The tree stand was pretty old and there were a couple of more dead trees and large branches where I was that could become widow makers. There was a lot of lightning and thunder. The storm lasted for about an hour. I had about 13 miles (21 km) to get into McCormick. About eight miles (13 km) out of McCormick, I rode passed a young tree farm. It was around 6:30 pm and I didn't think that I could make it into McCormick before dark. There weren't any no trespassing signs so I decided to duck in and find a place to camp out. There was tall grass but it wasn't wet. I went in about 50 feet from the road and I found a place to camp out in a spot where the trees would cover the tent. I took the time to set the tent up tight so it would stand in any hard wind. It was good being able to get out of the wet clothes. Hopefully, I will have a dry night.

September 03 : Liberty Hill, SC to Washington, GA : 42.83 miles (65.83 km)

It was a calm night until around 11 pm. The sky got lit up with lightning. It was a pretty intense storm. The main part of the storm lasted over 90 minutes. The rain came down hard for a while but the tent stayed dry. It was a little hard falling and staying asleep. I woke up around 6:30 am. I took my time getting packed up because the tent was wet.

It was around 8:30 am when I got on the road. The ride into McCormick went okay. I stopped for a short break to get my water bottles filled. I stopped for a break at a gas station near Baker Creek State Park. About eight miles (13 km) out of McCormick, I crossed a bridge over the Savanna River into Georgia. There wasn't a safe place to stop and take a picture of the state sign.

The highway surface in Georgia was a lot better than what it was in South Carolina. It was a decent ride into Lincolnton. There wasn't much in town. I had about ten miles to get into Washington but I didn't think that I could make it. About five miles (8 km) out of Washington, the sky was getting dark and there was the loud sound of thunder. I was worried that I was going to get caught out in the open but there was a Methodist church. The covered entrance was large enough for Alice and there was a ramp. I was really surprised at finding a dollar bill at the bottom of the steps. The storm was coming from the South. The lightning was pretty intense. The storm lasted about 70 minutes.

It was around 5 pm when I decided to try and get into Washington. I was lightly raining. It was already getting dark. I got into Washington around 6 pm and I stopped at the United Methodist church. People were gathering in the fellowship hall for a family meal and prayer service. I got to meet the pastor before the meal. After the meal and before the prayer service, I was given the chance to talk. This was the 49th church for the year. Before everybody left, a guy slipped a GH of $20. Instead of letting me stay in the fellowship hall, the pastor took me across the parking lot to a house where the youth met. The kitchen was large enough that I was able to set my tent up and to get everything else that was wet laid out so they would get dry.

September 04 : Washington, GA to Greensboro, GA : 34.99 miles (55.98 km)

I didn't sleep muh during the night. The windows in the front room didn't have any curtains and there were a couple of street lights close by. I tried using my sleep mask and it helped a little bit. There was also a late night thunderstorm and the pounding of the rain on the metal roof was pretty loud.

I was hoping to head out early but there was fog. It was around 8:45 am when I got Alice outside but I didn't realize that I hadn't put my helmet onto Alice before I loked the kithen door behind me. I had put it on the kitchen sink counter and the position of it was hidden from me as I was loading up Alice. I should have put it on the kithen table instead. I rushed over to the church to see if anybody had a key. There were just a couple of ladies in the pre-shool. One of the ladies texted the pastor and he walked over. I didn't realize that he was in his office preparing for the afternoon funeral.

It was around 9:20 am when I finally headed out. By then the fog had lifted. I got on GA 44 heading south. The ride went okay even though there were some rolling hills. Even with getting a late start, I still got around 25 miles (40 km) in by noon.

I got into Greensboro around 1:30 pm. I wasn't sure if there were going to be any more afternoon thunderstorms. To avoid taking the chance, I decided to all it a day and started to try and connect with a loal minister. There wasn't anybody at the Methodist church. I found the secretary and the youth pastor in at the First Baptist church. The youth pastor told me that if I go to the police station I could get a voucher for a room at the local motel.

September 05 : Greensboro, GA to Covington, GA : 51.85 miles (82.94 km)

It was an kind okay night at the motel. The wifi signal was really weak so I couldn't get connected. There wasn't really anything good on television so I turned it off around 9:00 pm. I went to sleep but I woke up a couple of times. I was still able to sleep till around 5 am.

The sun came up around 7 am. I got on the road around 7:15 am. There wasn't any indication of any rain in the area during the night. The sky was a little overcast and the temp was in the low 70s. The high in the afternoon was only going to be in the mid 80s instead of the 90s. There was still going to be between a 30% and 40% chance for afternoon thunderstorms. The morning ride went really well. I got the first twenty miles (32 km) in by 9:45 am. I breezed through the Madison area. By noon, I got a whopping 39 miles (62 km) in. There were some rolling hills along the way but I was able to ride up them. There were some very long downhill runs and my speed got up to over twenty mph (32 kmph).

After a short break at a gas station, the rest of the ride into Covington went okay. I stopped for a late lunch break at a McD's. I took a meandering ride into the downtown area. About a half mile west of the McD's, I rode passed an accident. Somehow this older guy had flipped over his motorcycle onto it's side and he was lying on his back in the road. It hadn't happened not too long ago. There was enough people around the motorcyclist so I didn't stop. After a few minutes, I watched an ambulance speed past me going to help the guy out.

In the downtown area, I stopped at the First Presbyterian Church. I was surprised at finding the pastor in the office. Pastor Billy was pretty friendly. He has been at the church for 29 years. He was instrumental in helping form the local Habitat affiliate. I had another case of being in a small world again. It turns out that he is a friend of Rev Hasty in Columbus, GA. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night, Pastor Billy offered to meet me at a motel not too far away north of I-20. Before he left the motel, Pastor Billy took out his wallet and gave me a GH.

Stores are gearing up for Christmas already and it's way before Halloween. I saw my first Christmas sale commercial on television. This one was from Kmart. They are really getting despirate for sales.

September 06 : Covington, GA to McDonough, GA : 34.11 miles (54.58 km)

It was an kind okay night at the motel. I was able to get some rest even though I was near a busy highway. There was a simple free breakfast. I got on the road around 7:30 am. I rode back into the downtown area.

I headed Southwest on GA 81. My intention was to head South for about 10 miles and then turn Westward and using a trip sheet make my way to Jonesboro South of Atlanta. This didn't happen. I followed the sheet till around Pace and then things got a little messed up. I hit a highway that was being repaved and widened. The highway didn't have any road signs on it and I thought that it was GA 20 heading South. Instead of going South, I was heading Southeast on GA 212. I didn't know this until I got back on GA 81 about six miles South of where I had turned West.

I decided to go ahead and stay on GA 81 and ride to McDonough instead. Even with the mix-up, I was able to get in 28 miles (45 km) by noon. I did take quite a few breaks along the way to get something cold to drink since it was close to 90.

I got into McDonough around 1:30 pm. With the high heat and the 40% of afternoon thunderstorms, I decided to try and stop. I didn't think that I would find anybody at one of the local churches so I found my way over to the police station. At the door, I got greeted by Officer Holmes. He was pretty friendly and he invited me into the station so I could get out of the heat. Officer Holmes made contact with several of the local ministers. Officer Holmes told me that if neither of the ministers that he had contacted offered to help me he would contact his own pastor and he would help me by getting me a room at one of the local motels near the interstate. Officer Holmes is very active in doing social ministry. He does scrap metal recycling on the side. Earlier in the year, he raised funds for a mission trip to Kentucky through a scrap meal fund raiser.

It took a couple of hours but one of the guys from the First Baptist church called and said that he would come to the station to meet me. This guy named Butch came to the station with his truck and he took me over to one of the motels near the interstate. I turns out that the pastor had called one of the deacons and the deacon had passed me on to Butch. Butch is very active in doing social ministry. He has been a youth pastor at the church for three years and has been on several search committees but because he was divorced nearly 40 years ago certain people at the church will not allow him to be either a deacon or an elder.

When we got to the motel, Butch surprised me by getting me the room for two nights. He also gave me a GH so I could get something to eat at the McD's next door. Tomorrow, Butch is going to come by and pick me up. I might be able to speak at the church tomorrow. This might be my 50th church for the year.

September 07 : McDonough, GA to McDonough, GA : 00.00 miles (00.00 km)

It was an kind okay night at the motel. I was able to get some rest. There was a simple free breakfast of donuts and orange juice. I did rain a little bit during the night but the majority of the storms had gone around the area.

Around 8:40 am, Butch picked me up and took me to the main Baptist church downtown for the early morning service. The reception of the people towards me was 150% better than what I had experienced at the churches in South Carolina. As soon as I got into the sanctuary people started to come to me and greet me with a smile and a hearty handshake. Before the service started, I met the music minister and the senior pastor. The service was pretty good. Towards the end of the service before the closing prayer, the senior pastor introduced me and he gave me the chance to speak for a couple of minutes. This is the 50th church for the year.

Butch then took me to the church's second campus. There was a church on the west side of the town that was failing and the main church offered to take it over. The church was down to maybe six people. During the last two years, the leadership staff rotated through on Sundays until a search commitee was formed to find a pastor. A pastor was found and this was his first Sunday. He is from the Greenville, South Carolina area. I was really impressed with him. His first sermon was about relational discipleship. A lot of people greeted me and made me feel welcome. Near the end of the service, Butch introduced me but I wasn't given the chance to say anything. On the way back to the motel, Butch took me out to dinner and also to a grocery store so I could get a few things.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between September 15th and September 22nd.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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