Monday, September 30, 2013

Texas State Line!

Day 9
Roadkill count: 6 (2 possums, 1 bird, 1 snake, 2 UFOs)
We finally made it to Texas! It definitely wasn't easy getting here. We are so proud to have made it this far! We have pushed ourselves beyond exhaustion and have overcome many problems on the way. Looking back on what we have been through, Rheann and I could not have made it this far without each other. We are a great team, and it is our teamwork that has brought us our success.

The day started out rain soaked for us. It was a real challenge to keep our gear dry. We tried to wait and see if the rain would let up, but we had to leave in the rain at 10am to allow us enough time to complete our ride. Thankfully, the rain didn't last much longer. We were able to stop and joke around with a few more pictures.

Our next challenge would be the hilly terrain ahead of us. We climbed at least 80-90 hills on our 40 mile ride. If we weren't climbing a hill, we were riding down another and heading to the next one! There was literally no flat part of the ride today!
At around the 25 mile mark, we were exhausted. We took a break and talked about how far we have come. I think that talk pumped us up somehow, because we attacked the ride with renewed vigor. We were able to make it through the hills of Texas by sheer willpower!
We stopped in Jasper. Our tent was dirty and some of our gear was soaked. We decided to get a hotel room tonight so we could dry out our gear and charge our electronics. Our hotel room is pure chaos!
Here is all of the dirt that we washed off of our tent!
We are headed to Hank Creek park tomorrow in the Anglelina National Forest. It will be another 40 mile ride in similar terrain, but we will be ready for the hills this time! 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Fish Story

Day 8

Today was the first day of relaxation atToledo Bend! If you have never heard of this place, it is known for it's awesome bass fishing. The facilities here are the best we have seen so far. Everything is clean and new looking. The view of the water is beautiful. Best of all, there have been no raccoons messing with us!
We decided to explore the campsite for a bit. We wanted to meet some of our neighbors, but everyone we met had already heard of us! We are pretty famous here in Toledo Bend! Word has spread quickly about our journey. Everyone has very encouraging words to say. When we are on the road struggling, that encouragement helps us get through the day!
We rented a canoe early in the day. We launched from the boat launch and went out for a nice paddle. We rode in the canoe back to our campsite, I would guess it was about 3-4 miles. Rheann spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around camp, and I went fishing.
The fish weren't biting early on, so I just spent most of the day casting my line and reeling it in. It started to get tedious after a while. I was fighting the current for most of the day, but by dusk I just started to let it push me around. I caught a couple little bass that I had to throw back. 
It was time to face the fact that we were only having beans for supper. I was about to go in when I decided to cast one last time. I felt an abrupt tug on the line, so I set the hook, HARD. I could tell by the fight the fish was giving me that it was a keeper. I fought him for about 30 seconds and then....SPLASH! The fish jumped out of the water! Now that I saw that he was big enough for dinner, I got excited! I continued to reel him in, and just when he was getting close to the boat, my rod snapped in half! I didn't really have time to think, I reached for the line with my hand, and the canoe nearly tipped over! I knew that if the line got some slack in it the fish would get off the hook, so I just pulled in the line as fast as I could. I finally got him in the boat. I've caught bigger fish before, but I was so excited because we finally had meat for supper!

I didn't waste any time after I caught him, I went straight to the fish cleaning pier and got us some bass filets. Rheann put some Mexican seasoning on them and we had delicious fish tacos for dinner.
I am going to wake up early tomorrow morning so I can ride 6 miles to the nearest store for a replacement rod. I want to do some more fishing!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Trail of Turds

Day 6
Road kill count: 1 lonely squirrel
52 miles
We arrived at Toledo Bend tonight! The trip was exhausting, but so worth it!
We left Fullerton campgrounds at around 8am, we heard the ride to Toledo Bend was very hilly, so we wanted to give ourselves a lot of time to get here. We had no idea just how hilly it was! We were in for more surprises and road blocks on this ride. "Road blocks" was not a metaphor by the way, there were actual road blocks!
The ride started out in the Kisihatchee National Forest near Fort Polk. We immediately encountered navigation problems, our directions were correct, but there were no road signs! The only reason we could come up with was that the Army must have removed them for training the troops or something. We had to stop at every intersection for both regular roads and dirt roads as well, because we passed a turn assuming that the map didn't account dirt roads.

We pedaled through a large maze of hills and forest for hours. There were a bunch of signs everywhere written in Hebrew. We also found a wrecked car sitting on a rock!
It was 11am and we were almost out of the base, when we ran into a roadblock! The gate was closed and looked like it had been closed for a long time. We had to backtrack a few miles to reach a gravel road. This ended up being at least a 5 mile detour.
The gravel road was very challenging for us. It was almost impossible for us actually. The road was a steep uphill. It was unridable, so we got off our bikes and did the walk of shame. After a bit, even walking our bikes up the hill in the gravel became difficult. Rheann slipped and fell on one of the hills, we had enough of this gravel! Thankfully, some guys came by in a truck just when we had given up. We flagged them down and they gave us a ride to the end of the gravel road. When we told them about what we were doing, one of them said "I ride triathlons  and stuff, but I've never done anything that crazy!" Thank you guys! You really pulled us out of a sinkhole there!
While riding on base, we got to talk a a few soldiers while we were taking a break. Rheann got really pumped up when the soldiers thought what we were doing was hardcore. These guys hike with 80 pound backpacks and go through intense training. We really took it as a compliment!
Once we got off the base, we continued on to Leesville. We stopped for lunch at a place called Fatboy Skinnys. They had pretty good burgers!
We continued on the road to Toledo Bend. The road was pretty much a constant uphill ride, that is until we turned onto a road called Buckshot Road. It started out as just a crappy slab of pavement, but then it got worse. It turned into a dirt and sandy hell! Our bikes were not setup for this kind of terrain. We have skinny road tires on them and no shocks. The loose sand presented a constant threat of falling. We were in for a challenge!

This road is where the we got the idea for the title of this blog. We saw so many different kinds of animal feces that we renamed this road the "Trail of Turds". How much feces does it take to warrant such a name? Let me tell you, it was an obscene amount of feces. We lost count of the piles of horse, cow and dog poop at around 50! This trail was a literal minefield! Apparently, this road has a long standing tradition of things pooping on it. It was the toilet of the forest, so we decided to make an addition of our own! (Just kidding, but that would have been funny) It looked like no one had driven a car on it in years, it was overgrown with grass as well.

After pedaling for 12 miles through poo infested dirt hell, we finally had one singular, lonely mile left until we reached the highway. Then we encountered our second road block. I wanted to call it a road block, but it was more like the road just ended! There was a gate with a chain and a lock on it right in our path. On the other side of that gate, there was a horse pasture. We either had to circle back 12 miles through the Trail of Turds, or try to jump the fence somehow. We decided to go for the fence.
We took apart the bob trailers, then we put the bikes over the gate. It wasn't until we had lifted one of the 70 pound trailers over it that I discovered the gate was dummy locked! That's right, we struggled which lifting all of our heavy gear over a gate that had an open lock on the chain!
We rode across the pasture to find it full of horses. There were 10 or 12 of them, and they all wanted to meet us. They came right up to us to say hi. That was a pretty cool experience!
We rode across to the house next to he pasture, and called out for someone to unlock the gate. I guess the lady that came out was confused on how 2 cyclists hauling 140 pounds of gear ended up in her horse pasture in the middle of nowhere. There was no explanation that could have sufficed, so we just said "We're sorry". It must have seemed like we teleported there from the future or something. We can only imagine what she must have thought! She pointed us to the highway and we were on our way again!
The rest of the ride wasn't bad, we were just tired from the whole ordeal we had been through. We limped into Toledo Bend at around 6:45. We took a good bit of breaks, but that came out to over 10 hours on the bikes today!
We got to our campsite, and we were simply blown away by the beauty we saw. The view was incredible! We had just enough daylight left to snap a few pictures.

We will be staying here for the weekend. We need some rest and I want to do some serious fishing! Our next ride takes us into Texas! We can hardly believe we have come this far already!

A Mew Friend

Day 5
Road kill count: 2 (1 possum, 1 evil raccoon)
Today we said goodbye to the great campsites at Chicot State Park. They really spoiled us with the electricity and wifi. The plan was to ride to Oakdale, which was about 26 miles, and stealth camp. Instead we rode 59 miles to the Lake Fullerton campground. There is no running water here, but you can see the stars clearer than any other camp we have stayed at so far! This place is really remote!
The ride today was the longest we have done yet, but it was surprisingly easy for us. We did have the added challenge of numerous hills, but we overcame them one at a time. The entire ride was very scenic. We spent most of the day riding in roads through forests. The sun stayed behind the trees and we rode in the shade! The weather was beautiful as well.
We did meet a few new friends today, but the one that sticks out the most for us had fur. This little kitten came out of nowhere and started chasing after my bike. This kitten was meowing at us and chasing us, almost like it was asking us for help. She was injured, so we decided to take her with us into the next town. I really wanted to bring her with us on our trip, but we wouldn't have been able to care for her. We ended up bringing her to the fire station in Oakdale. We left her with all the beef jerky she could eat and some fresh water, hopefully the firefighters will take good care of her!

We also met some nice people in the Subway there, we told them about our blog and that we would mention them. Hi to the workers at Subway in Oakdale!
After we ate lunch, we noticed that we were really behind schedule. The whole ordeal with the kitten took a lot of time and we did deviate from our route to take care of her. We decided to step it up since we only had a few hours of daylight left.
When we got into Fullerton, people at the general store gave us weird looks. We have been getting a few of those on our trip, but the people being nice to us far outnumber them. That includes the couple we met tonight at our campsite. They were really fun to hang out with. They had been at the camp all day and caught a bunch of fish. We worked out a deal with them; they would combine their fish and our jambalaya so we could have a feast! Rheann cooked a great dinner, as always!

Tomorrow we are headed to Toledo Bend! We are really excited to get there! It will be a 48 mile ride with a lot of hills. Hopefully that ride is just as enjoyable as today was!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Raccoons' Rukus

Day 4
The raccoons wreaked havoc on our camp last night. We normally hang our food bags from a tree so they can't reach it, but these raccoons had PhDs! We watched as one of the bigger ones tried to stretch out and reach the bags. It couldn't do it, so it climbed the tree and got on the branch that we hung the bags from. It's additional weight caused the branch to drop low enough for his buddies to hop on the bags! We were impressed, and had to really use our heads to outsmart these guys. I ended up having to climb a tree to make this setup.
It was just out of reach for them and it seemed to work, but I got my hand caught on a nail in one of the trees and got cut pretty bad! We took this picture the next morning.
We woke up this morning feeling like the road kill we have been counting. Two 50 mile days  in a row really took it out of us, so we decided to stay another night at Chicot. We needed and deserved a break! I was ready for a day of fun and relaxation. The first thing I wanted to do this morning was get a fishing line in the water, but we had a few chores to do first. Our clothes were really stinky, so today was laundry day!
We hung our laundry out on a clothesline we brought with us, then we had some breakfast. We went out to the pier for some fishing, but didn't have much luck. We didn't mind though, the view was great!

After our fishing was done, we took a little ride around the park. We explored some of the trails and took in the fresh air.
To finish off the day, we rented a boat and went fishing again. We had a few bites this time, but both of our reels malfunctioned so we had to cut the trip short.

We went back to camp empty handed, so I went on a ride down the road to get some supplies.
I rode 5 miles, in the dark (uphill both ways!) and arrived at the store, only to find out its been closed for an hour! 
I caught a ride from a nice guy who also got to the store at the same time, and brought me to walmart to pick up some supplies. Normally, I would have ridden the 10 mile stretch, but it was dark out and very dangerous!
When I got back to camp, Rheann cooked up some dinner for us. You would not believe her skill with that little stove! She cooked blackened chicken and rice with onions and bell peppers. She even made some cornbread! It was delicious!
It looks like we are going to go to bed for the night. We plan on riding as far as we feel like tomorrow, then we will just camp in a random spot in the woods; this is called "stealth camping". We are headed to Toledo Bend! We should arrive there in 2-3 days, depending on how far we go tomorrow. I can't wait to fish out there! Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip so far!

Against The Wind

Day 3
Road kill count: 4 ( 2 raccoons and 2 puppies ): )
Our route yesterday took us from Sherburne WMA to Chicot State Park. It was another 50 mile day, and this ride had unique challenges for us to overcome as well. There weren't any dangerous roads this time, but the wind was brutal! 
After riding for 24 miles straight into the wind, we felt like we needed a long break. We stopped at a Subway that also had wifi. We ate lunch there and rest our legs for a bit.
We hit the road after an hour break and ran right into a rainstorm. We didn't mind the rain at all, but we had to scramble to protect our gear that was outside of our bob bags. 
After the rain passed, we caught a break from the wind. We were able to ride a little faster, but since we weren't struggling so hard, we were able to appreciate our surroundings more. We stopped and took a few pictures on the way.
We finally got to camp at about 5:30. We usually average about 12-14 mph on our rides, but we went at half that. The ride ended up taking us almost 9 hours! We were exhausted but we took one last picture.
When we arrived  to the campground, we met a fellow cyclist named Ricky Fotenot. After we told him our story, and he was impressed! Apparently the route we took to get here kills multiple cyclists every year, so much so that local cyclists call it the "death road". Ricky went and got us a six pack of blue moon, saying "if I ever ride across the basin, I hope someone buys me a beer!" That was so nice of him! Thank you! I wish we had taken a picture!
The trip so far has been really good for us. We have already met a ton of nice people, and have gotten a lot of help along the way. Rheann and I are getting much closer and this is great for our relationship. Time means much less to us now that we don't have such a busy life. We aren't constantly in a hurry and we can just enjoy being together. We are working well together, but I do have to add that Rheann is pretty capable. She is great at camping and I don't think I would have made it even this far without her!
We will be taking a day off today and staying again in Chicot. We want to get some fishing in, so we will be renting a canoe and going explore! I am looking forward to some r&r! I will probably post another entry tonight, we will make sure to take pictures of all the fun today!