Thursday, July 12, 2012

The end of my ride for now

Well I made it safely to San Francisco on American Airlines yesterday. My ride is officially over for now. I will not make it around the country right now. I may restart the ride going North from San Francisco to Virginia but I have no idea when that might happen. A number of things contributed to the decision to stop riding now. Number one was I was running out of money. I did this ride on my $1000 a month social security income and all the hotel bills I incurred due to the bad weather coming up the East coast were just too expensive. Also the campgrounds here on the East Coast are also very expensive. If I need to pay $30 a day to camp that would leave about $4 for food and everything else. Obviously it would not work. So I called it off. I still consider it a success. I rode 5000 miles in 67 days of riding through 12 states. Almost half that was in high heat and high humidity. I think I proved that being a crippled old man that can't walk does not mean that I can't do other things. Now if I could just get someone to pay me for riding my bike everyday I could even have a job and not be a parasite any more. Like that would ever happen. My flight to SF sucked to put it bluntly. American Airlines does not exactly go out of their way to make the experience pleasant or efficient. Like almost all the airlines they charged for everything from luggage to food and internet. They were not helpful at all. Sure they were polite if you call automaton responses polite. They refused to call over to the other connecting plane to tell them that we were going to try to make the connection after our plane was late arriving. They did look it up and tell us it had not left yet but that was all they would do. I had requested transportation assistance because I can't walk and it was not there when I arrived. They repeatedly told me there was no way that I was disabled and made me prove it with my ID. That is probably illegal. I was not impressed at all with American Airlines and I will try to fly with some other airline next time. Once in SF I was too late to take BART because of the delay. I ended up taking a taxi that cost me another $90 to get to the house. So now I only have $200 to last for the rest of the month. That is only $10 per day, barely enough for food if that. I think I will survive but I will need to rely on help from others to do it. Makes me feel like I should have kept riding in a straight line when I hit the coast of Florida. Such is the life of a poverty stricken crippled old man. More later but no more daily posting until I get a little interest going in my life again. I will miss my bike touring for now. Enjoy life while you still are able to. P.S. If you have not read the beginning of this blog maybe now is the time to go to Jimfrogs.blogspot.com and click on the first blog in 2010 called Calabar and start reading from there. Some people can't even believe that really happened. Real life is usually more crazy than fiction.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chesapeake Virginia

Well today I rested. I can't even walk around the block and I am having a hard time believing that I have already ridden 5000 miles around the country on my bike. My body believes it though and it is telling me loud and clear. I am very stiff and sore today after my 435 miles in the last four days riding. I have been trying to gently stretch and move to try to loosen up but I think it is going to take me a few days to recover. I ate well today. A friend of Wendy's and her family came over for lunch today and we had home made spaghetti with meatballs and also crawfish gravy over fresh mahi mahi that Wendy caught the other day. It was a great meal with great people. I need to learn how to make both of those dishes like they made them today. After the lunch I have mostly been catching up on all my internet stuff like sorting my pics and things and reading all my backed up messages. I have been getting some questions about my plans again. Well here is a surprise twist in my plans. On Tuesday I am flying back to California to visit with my grandson and the rest of my family and friends. I just booked the ticket to San Francisco International Airport. I will ship my bike back through the bike store. That will leave me with a few days of not having any wheels but I think my body could use the rest. I will either fly back and continue my ride or maybe go north from San Francisco to restart my ride. No promises about anything though because I live for today as tomorrow may never come. Enjoy life. more later...PURAVIDA

Ride Day 67

I left Kittyhawk before it was light this morning. Crossing the bridge back to the mainland was fine with no traffic on it. Then I rode on and on and on with very little to see or else I am just too jaded by now. I finally stopped at a small store and had some breakfast which was soso, but the staff was friendly and entertaining to talk to. The road had been fine to this point with wide smooth shoulders that were relatively clean of glass and debris. the traffic was also light on the four lane road so most cars and trucks moved over to the middle lane for me. Then the road sign I dread appeared and it was not a detour sign, it said simply "UNEVEN ROAD SURFACE AHEAD". It was not joking. They were resurfacing the road into the nice smooth road I had been riding on and they roughed up the surface of the old road first. For about twenty miles I had a bone jarring, teeth shattering, tire eating ride in the high heat and humidity. The shoulder had also been reduced by more than half its width and sometimes disappeared entirely. I was almost at the Virginia state line when my first tire blew out. I looked at the tire when I stopped and got ready to fix my flat and the tire was shredded to almost nothing left. I was a long way from anywhere and I am too disabled to walk so I replaced the tube and tried to gingerly ride on to a safer place to figure out where to get a new tire from. I made it less than a mile before my new tube was also history and I was again stranded. There was no choice but to hitch hike my way down the road. There was about nine or ten miles to go to get to Chesapeake Virginia where I was spending the night. I figured I could buy a new tire to get me going at a Walmart until I could find a real bike shop to get a quality tire at. I stood there with my thumb out for about ten minutes when a bright red pickup truck stopped. The driver jumped out and helped me put my bike in the back. He told me he would give me a ride up the road to a service station where I would not be so in the middle of nowhere. He told me that was as far as he could take me but that I would be better off there. I had to agree with him. He was a roofer that was staying home being the house husband while his wife worked because she made better steady money than he did as a roofer. We crossed the state line and then stopped at a service station. I was unloading my bike and putting my bags back on it when I had to stop to go wash the grease off my hands from changing the tire. On the way I met and started talking to a woman called Beth that offered to give me a ride to the Walmart just up the road. I had to wait a few minutes while her car was serviced and then she gave me a ride to Walmart. They did not have my tire but told me where to go to get one at a real bike shop and it was only a mile and a half away. Beth offered to give me a ride there so we were off to Fat Frog bike store. Beth dropped me off and I thanked her for her help. The bike store was just as I had been told, run by a nice friendly helpful man that knew bikes well. They did not have my desired tires in stock but I did buy one for my rear that would get me back on the road again. I replaced it right there in their shop and after a short conversation I left the bike in his shop while I went next door to a Starbucks for a cup of coffee and to look at a map of where my friend's house was here in Chesapeake. I was only a few miles away from their house so after my coffee I headed in their direction. A half mile up the road my new tire blew out. I grumbled and took it off to look at the tube. It had blown out along the seam on the inside of the inner tube which is a factory flaw. I had another tube and put it on to get me to my friend's house. I was again covered in grease with nothing to clean up my hands with so I rubbed them on the dry grass as best as I could. I then made a wrong turn on my directions as I had trusted the directions to my failing memory and the time spent changing the tire was just long enough to forget the exact turns. In other words I got lost. I asked directions a few times from the rare person out in the extremely hot afternoon. From putting all their directions into a general direction I finally got close enough to where someone actually knew where I was going. I pulled up to their house after pedaling 5000 miles from where I had started plus a few short rides with helpful good samaritans when I needed them. I was tired, hot, sweaty, dirty and very thirsty for a cold glass of water. Today was slightly less than 85 miles of riding so in the last four days I had ridden 435 miles and I certainly felt like I had ridden that far. I looked forward to a short rest in Chesapeake Virginia. More later...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ride Day 66

I was out of my hotel room at the crack of light to explore the Cedar Island area. Five minutes later I had seen it all. I decided to eat breakfast instead. I pigged out on bagels with cream cheese, apples, bananas, cereal, coffee and muffins. Then I took a few apples for later. the ferry was right on time as expected. I enjoyed talking to a couple of other bikers that were just going out to the banks for a short look around. There were also a couple of families that were quizzing me about my ride. The ferry took 2 hours and 15 minutes so we had plenty of time to talk. Once off the ferry I was off to Kittyhawk 85 miles away. I started out riding strong but there was absolutely no shade and the sun was beating down all day in the upper 90s. I was disappointed that the famous light house was covered up with scaffolding. I started to overheat right after the second ferry that took me to Hatteras Island. I stopped for yet another breakfast at an air conditioned cafe. The food was soso and the price was high but the company of the staff was nice and friendly. I rode for another couple of hours and stopped for lunch this time. I had a philly cheese steak which tasted great and the staff again was very friendly and talkative. I enjoyed their company. Then I rode for several hours straight. To keep cool I went swimming in the ocean a few times or I would stop any time I saw a beach shower and just stand under the shower with all my riding clothes on until I was cooled down then I would jump on my bike all wet and ride on. A few people laughed at the sight of me doing that but could not have cared less if they thought I was weird.  I made the mistake of stopping for an apple break along the road and I was eaten alive by mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Did I say I hate no-see-ums? I was seriously slowing down from the heat when I suddenly picked up a nice tailwind. Don't think I would have made it to Kittyhawk without the wind at my back. When I arrived at Kittyhawk I stopped at a cafe called Chilli's and had a shrimp stir fry that tasted great. I washed it down with some beer and then headed off to the campgrounds. It was dark when I finally put up the tent. I sat around and talked to a couple of young guys that were originally from the Chicago area. It was fun talking to them but I was passing out from my ride so I went to bed.

Ride Day 65

I got up early and left the fire station before any of the fire fighters were out of bed. It was a long ride I had planned for the day and the temps were going over the century mark again so I wanted to ride as far as possible in the cooler morning air. I rode hard for a short while but the heat climbed quickly into the 90s and kept climbing until it hit 114!!. The road was terrible for bikes. There was generally enough room on the shoulder but it was covered in glass and debris from recent strong thundershowers. The debris made me focus on the space right in front of me so that I could not get in much looking around at the scenery. There really was not much to see other than the usual longleaf pines as I passed the military bases. In the afternoon I had to stop at every store I passed to buy drinks or food and cool off in their air conditioning. I finally made it to Beaufort NC where I had planned to spend the night. I had ridden 98 miles and was exhausted. I spent a few hours looking around town and had a couple of beers. I talked to the locals about where to stay or camp and the options were terrible for my wallet. I just could not afford the place. One of the guys I talked to told me I could camp at his parents house about halfway to the ferry. I told him ok and headed in that direction. The heat was brutal. I rode slow and drank copious amounts of drinks. In the end, I decided to make the whole 42 mile run to the ferry and camp there for the night so that I could catch the 7AM ferry to the Outer Banks. It was getting dark when I pulled into Cedar Island where the ferry leaves from. 140 miles for the day and I was beat up. I had to check into the hotel and pay the extra money so that I could soak in a hot tub for a while to help me recover. I slept well and planned out my ride for tomorrow on the Outer Banks. This was my longest ride so far on my journey and my second day of grueling heat. Tomorrow would be even sunnier I am told.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ride Day 64

I left camp early and headed to Sunset Beach for my coffee fix this morning. I chatted with the owner about my ride and then hit the road going North. The road was terrible at the beginning with no shoulder and heavy traffic. I rode hard because my plan was for 83 miles and the temp forecast was over a hundred with high humidity. The plan did not work out so well today. I made it to the ferry without much problem and just missed the boat but I got to watch it leave. It was 45 minutes for the next one. I sat around with a crowd of people and they quizzed me on my ride and my plans. I handed out some cards so they can look it up. On the ferry we played with the gulls and took pics of them. A couple of young kids were putting bread on their heads and letting the birds pick it off on the fly. I enjoyed watching them. After we landed I took off to try to make up some time. The heat had other ideas for me. I rode up the coast through Carolina Shores and enjoyed seeing all the tourists and the beautiful beaches. Then the first detour sign came along. It was for my road and I took it like the sign told me to. Detours are usually planned for cars and this was no exception. It was almost 25 miles out of my way and the temperature went over 104. I was melting big time. I eventually made it back to my route only to be told by someone that the detour was not needed because they opened the road for the holiday traffic. They just did not take down or cover up the signs...So I wasted 2 hours of my time riding hard in 104 degree sweltering heat. When I got to Hampstead about 23 miles short of my destination I had already ridden 98 miles and the temp had climbed up to around 114. I was in danger of heat exhaustion and stopped at a volunteer fire station to ask if I could cool down or if they knew of a place I could stay the night either a campground or a hotel. They laughed and said there were neither any place close but that I could spend the night at the station. I was extremely thankful for the offer and accepted right away. I have now had a shower and have recovered well from my heat problems. They are all nice guys. We talked about my ride a bit but basically I am too tired to do much but get ready to crash for the night very soon. Tomorrow I am riding to the outer banks if I don't melt again in the heat which is forecast to continue with scattered thundershowers possibly severe.

Calabash NC

I had my last day in Calabash NC. I watched my neighbors in the campground shrimping with a cast net. I enjoyed watching them doing it. There are more pics and a video at picasawebalbums/jimfrogs098. I did not do much else today except eat some ice cream at the Creamery, which I love. I also started the day at Java Cafe again in Sunset Beach. It was a day of rest more than anything getting ready to hit the road again in the morning.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Winding Down

Today I am sitting in a coffee shop called Java Coffee in Sunset Beach. I was talking to a couple of guys here this morning named Roger and Ray about my travels. They had the typical response of "no way," "nobody did that," "I don't believe it." I am used to people having a hard time believing that I have done some of the things I have done. I am not your typical American. I have been wandering the world for decades and lots of crazy things have happened around me and to me. I find it entertaining that people do not believe it all. I could care less about believers because I just travel for my own personal reasons and write about it for my own personal reasons. I am not out to impress anyone. There is no need for me to do that. I get plenty of satisfaction just doing my thing. Last night I ran into a guy that had just returned from a several month tour of India. One of the nonbelievers was listening to us talk about India and all of a sudden he spoke up and said "Wow. You really do know what you are talking about if you even know directions around town in Calcutta India like that." I had to laugh at his response but it is not the first time that happened. I am still in Sunset Beach North Carolina. The weather sucks. I am seriously considering ending my ride when I get to Virginia. I will have ridden almost 4900 miles by then and I am starting to burn out physically. My knees are starting to hurt when I ride and I do not want to cause permanent damage on my knees by overdoing it. I am not a young whippersnapper any more and it takes me a while to heal up. The weather is also not making it much fun. Thundershowers are the daily norm and they do not go well with riding a bike and camping. I am tired too. My nightly pain levels are very high recently. It all adds up to the common sense thing and flying back to California. I am thinking about going back to Bakersfield so I can see the grandson. Maybe next spring I can return to Virginia and continue on my ride around the country. This is not an iron man contest for me, I just want to enjoy the ride and meet nice people and see the country from an up close point of view. I hope to leave tomorrow for Virginia if the weather allows. It is a three day ride to get there. I will visit Wendy in Chesapeake and ship my bike home then fly back. Such is the life of a wandering biker.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Still in Calabash

Well here I sit in Calabash North Carolina. The weather forecast for the next ten days is terrible news for a bike rider. Thundershowers with high winds are on the forecast for every single day. These storms have been hitting just north of here for the last week and have taken out lots of trees and knocked out power to millions of homes--not what I want to hear. Yesterday I rode around town a bit looking for a laundry to wash my dirty clothes. I had to ride all the way down into Little River South Carolina to find one. I did my clothes and then ate yet another breakfast, my third of the day today. Then I went and had a root beer float over at the creamery just to make sure I was getting enough calories in me. I am still eating as much as I can afford to eat. My weight is 176 pounds and I started at 210 when I left San Francisco. That is too much weight loss in such a short time so I am clearly not eating too much. After the ice cream fix I headed over to the Sippin Suds bar to hide out in their air conditioning because the temps felt like a 100 degrees today. I was talking with Bonnie the owner and she expected a large group of bikers to show up for a short stop. She asked me to video them coming into her parking lot and to take some pics while they were there. I did that for her and enjoyed hanging out with all the bikers from the Titans motorcycle club. We talked about their ride today but mostly they all just sat quietly and tried to recover from the brutal heat outside today. The highest temp they rode through today was 109 degrees. That is too hot to ride in if you ask me, even on a motorcycle. That is why I am just sitting tight here in Calabash. The weather is just to hot to safely ride a bike and now the thundershowers are supposed to start and high winds to boot. I am seriously thinking about ending my ride right here. This weather pattern is forecast for the next ten days. Yikes. I am thinking about all my options and I don't like any of them. I need to decide soon because I can not afford to just sit in hotels around here, that would cost me a hundred bucks a day in this tourist area. Such is the life of a wandering biker...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rest Day Ride to Myrtle Beach

This morning I got up early and showered then rode over to Sunset Beach to have breakfast and do some wifi. After eating, I decided to cruise down South toward Myrtle Beach South Carolina for today’s entertainment. Myrtle Beach is about twenty miles South of Calabash North Carolina where I am camping. The ride took me back on the narrow busy roads that I disliked so much on my way into town here. It seemed better with an empty bike than it was with my entire load of junk on my bike or at least it required a lot less effort to ride. It got hot though. High was predicted to be high 90s today with high humidity. The first stop for me was Cherry Grove Beach which is just North of North Myrtle and then Myrtle Beach. At Cherry Grove I went out to the pier and looked around then sat down at a beach front cafĂ© to have a Cuban Sandwich and a cup of coffee. The ride South to North Myrtle Beach did not take very long but I stopped and had an ice cream cone when I got there and checked out the beach. It looked exactly like Cherry Grove to me, crowded with July 4th tourists. I jumped back on my bike and rode to Myrtle Beach. The traffic was thick and there were just too many people so I gave up and rode back up to Calabash and had an ice cream at the Creamery and checked my internet junk while I was there. It was too hot to go hang out in my tent and to hang out in the campground there were way too many hungry mosquitoes so I opted for the Sippin Suds Bar for a few hours of air conditioned pleasant company. I rode 52 miles on my day of rest. So much for resting…

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day of Rest in Calabash

I decided to take some time off after cramping up so bad yesterday. I spent the day slowly riding from Calabash to Sunset beach and back to Calabash. I enjoyed my time at Sunset Beach. I started out with a good cup of coffee at Java coffee shop and then rode across the big bridge to the ocean beach. There I walked out on the fishing pier and talked to some of the anglers about what they catch and so on. There were a lot of people fishing and it was a beautiful day. After the pier I rode my bike down the hard packed sand on the beach to Bird Island. I did not see many birds there but there were a few jaybirds skinny dipping on the beach. I did not stay very long and rode back to Sunset Beach. I tried to get some pics of the shore birds but I was not very successful at it. When I had my fill of sun and beach I rode back to Calabash and had lunch at a buffet style all you can eat. I got my money's worth and then had a couple of cold beers at the local bar where I had my drinks last night. I talked to the owner of the bar for a while and had some beer then I had to go back to my campsite and take a nap. I actually slept for about an hour which is extremely rare for me to nap. I was hungry again so I went into town and had some ice cream and brownie at the local creamery. Then I had a couple more beers before I went out looking for dinner. I ended up eating pizza at Tony's Pizza in Calabash. That was it for me I had to go back and take a shower and crash for the night. Tomorrow I am also taking the day off. Enjoy life.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ride Day 63

The ride today was terrible. I did just over a hundred miles on roads with absolutely no room for a bike and the traffic was very heavy almost all day long. I was terrified that I would be hit by a drunk or inattentive driver. I took only three pics all day because I had to focus on riding in a straight line as close to the edge of the roadway as possible without running off the side of the blacktop or veering out into the traffic. The drivers were mostly great at giving me as much room as they could but it was just too tight sometimes especially when the logging trucks went by. Needless to say I did not enjoy the ride very much. I did enjoy some of my stops though. I stopped at one store to get a cold drink and there were a half dozen guys sitting around solving all the world's problems. We had a little talk about bike riding and about my trip, then threw in some fishing stories...I enjoyed their conversations. They took cards with my blog on and told me they would look it up. I planned on riding from Andrews to Myrtle Beach but the road I started on was so tight and filled with traffic that I turned around and went back to the ACA route which was longer but claimed to be on quiet country roads. Well some of them were quiet at times that is true but most of the day there was just way too much traffic on the narrow roads with no room for me and my bike. I was nervous all day long and that is just not my style. I got very little site seeing in because I had to focus on riding in a straight line all day long. The scenery was mostly long leaf pine tree lined roads with fields of tobacco and corn or peanuts mixed in here and there. The towns were all very little burgs, some did not even have a small store. I stopped at a lot of the stores just to get a break and rest my eyes from the intense riding. When I got to Conway I almost got a hotel but then decided to push on because it was only 11 in the morning. AS I got closer to Little River and the state line I started to cramp up. At first it was just small cramps in one leg but within a few minutes both legs were cramping. I stopped at a store and walked them off and drank a high potassium drink and ate a banana then made sure I was hydrated by drinking a large gatoraide. I felt better and hit the road but within a few miles I was again cramping up. I just rode through the cramps because there was no point in stopping in the middle of nowhere. As I was riding along two large deer came running out of the trees right at me. I kind of froze up and one ran in front of my bike and the other ran behind me. I thought sure they were going to ram into me but I was lucky because they could have seriously injured me. I got to Little River and called the campground. They told me there was room but that it was still another 6 miles to the site. I pushed on sometimes just pedaling with one leg or the other to rest one leg. I made it to the campsite and immediately took a long hot shower and sat down to rest. A half hour later I decided to ride back to a bar I had seen on my way to have a cold beer or three. I enjoyed hanging out at the bar even though there were only three other guys in the bar. They quizzed me about my bike ride and we talked about all the world problems, solving most of them. Then I went back to my tent and was out cold by 8:15 in the evening. A long hard mixed day with some good and some bad. I was just happy I am still here to talk about it. More later.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ride Day 62

My ride today from Givhans State Park to Andrews South Carolina was kind of boring. The road was lined with trees almost all day which kept me in the shade and a bit cooler but with nothing to focus my attention on I could have fallen asleep at the handlebars. I am real tired of Longleaf pine trees by now. That is the tree that has lined most of the roads since Alabama. They block all views of everything and it is like riding in a tunnel sometimes. At least the oaks when they are lining the roads will sometimes make a canopy that looks good with all the spanish moss hanging off them. There were only a few small towns along the route. Most of them had no services at all. I did stop at all the open stores along the way. It was Sunday so most things were closed as they have been throughout the South. I stopped sometimes just to talk to people in the stores because I was so bored. I obviously did not take much for pics today. It was also a short ride of only 65 miles of flat roads. I stopped in Andrews South Carolina because big black clouds were building in the sky and the next town with services like a hotel were over fifty miles further down the road. I needed the rest anyway. After a nice long soak in a hot tub I tried to stretch my legs out. I tried different ways of stretching but I am so stiff that I had a hard time stretching. I am going to have to figure out a way to loosen up because I am getting stiffer the longer I ride. I hope I don't just lock up when I eventually stop riding. I must also point out that it isn't me that does not make paragraphs as needed but rather Blogspot removes all my paragraphs and runs it all together for some stupid reason. I have complained to them but since there is no dialogue nothing has been done to fix the issue. My hotel is just a cheap crappy one but there is a TV to keep up on the severe weather that is in the area. I might be here for a couple of days or more before it drys out enough to hit the road again. After almost 4600 miles of riding my bike I could use the rest. Maybe I can even loosen up a bit before I am out of this little burg. From here I head to the beach and ride the Ocean Highway going North. The forecast is for high heat and high humidity left over from tropical storm Debby that is hitting Florida right now. More later....