We are going to
the middle of the country: Texas!

We are leaving the water behind us and are going further inland before we make the leap over the Rocky Mountains on our next leg of the journey. Read about our journey sofar:

Mount Vernon, Kentucky to Charleston, South Carolina
633 miles in 31 days
August 1, 2009 to August 31, 2009

Charleston, South Carolina to Fort Pierce, Florida
557 miles in 21 days
September 1, 2009 to September 21, 2009

Fort Pierce, Florida to Lucedale, Mississippi
777 miles in 32 days
September 22, 2009 to October 23, 2009

We have our new rims! Thanks Spin Lite Cycling!

We are very grateful for the many generous people we are meeting, as well as our very supporting homebase! This journey could not unfold this way without your support!

Support us if you like what you
see and hear and read.

Send your support to:
The Pedouins
P.O. Box 4072
Mount Vernon, KY, 40456

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On Saturday October 24 we are leaving Lucedale, Mississippi. We will travel on highway 98 to Hattiesburg where we pick up the Long Leaf Trail to Prentiss. Here we continue west on highway 84 to Waco, Texas. From this point on the original planning still stands.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Today 47 miles, Total 2,014
Campsite: Behind Dan's Truck Stop, south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Weather: Chilly with cloudcover, sun from time to time.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Up at 7 and we still need to pack everything. Living in a motel for two days makes everything lay everywhere. Amarins enjoys organizing a chaos. We know where everything goes, so it is not too hard. It still takes time, but Bill uses that to fix breakfast.

At 8.30 we are finally ready to pull out. It is 52 degrees, brrr. We wave goodby to Lucedale. We have enjoyed our visit. We keep the backroad for a couple of miles before it merges with highway 98.

The terrain is hilly. Up the hill we warm up well, down the hill it gets cold, because of our speed. We dressed the girls for 50s weather, but down the hill they get chilled. We stop to add extra layers. It is time to update our wardrobe. Sooner then we anticipated.

We keep on riding. We are looking at the fall colors. It is nice to see them appear. We know Kentucky is having a beautiful fall. We miss out on that, but gain many experiences.

Hopefully we will find a place to eat and hang out in Beaumont. We are out of luck here. The road has bypassed the town. We are taking matters into our own hands, find a place to have a picnic and put down the indian blanket. Picnic consists of hot chocolate, cheese, raisinbread with pasta choca, carrots, and satsumas.

Actually quite thankful that we get to have a picnic.

25 miles into the day. The next town is New Augusta. We are getting very excited, here we will have traveled 2,000 miles! We push the following eight miles and make a victory round through downtown New Augusta.

In New Augusta we sit down in a filling station and hang out for a while. It has warmed up a little, the clouds seem to move out. Will we stay here or will we go on. A truck stop is 14 miles up the road. We decide to go till 4 o'clock, see how far we've went and if the truck stop is reachable.

The rest has done us well, the sun is warming us up. We have a nice rhythm going, mile after mile we cover. An older gentleman stops us and we talk a while. He isn't familiar with the area, but is willing to see how far the truck stop is. Only 2 more miles. We can do that!

At Dan's Truck stop.

Quite a day. We find we can camp behind the truck stop. Bill sets up camp. Amarins plays cards with the girls in the cafe. Before it gets dark we are all in the tent. It is going to be a cold night tonight, we dress warm and snuggle up deep in our sleeping bags. Bill reads a part of Undaunted Courage before we call it a day.

Click here for more pictures of today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Today 49 miles, Total 2,063
Campsite: Police Department, Prentiss, Mississippi
Weather: Calm day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Another chilly morning. We pack our things and put most in the trailer. We leave the tent for the sun to dry it out a little. We have breakfast at Dan's Cafe as we wait for the temperature to rise. At nine we decide it is warm enough to finish packing and head out.

We head north on highway 49, into the town of Hattiesburg. It is not busy on the road, it being an early Sunday morning. We are looking for the turn off to the Long Leaf Trace. We are taking this trail from Hattiesburg to Prentiss. It runs in a north west direction along side SR-42.

At Southern Mississippi State University we get on the trail after an interview with the WDAM tv station here in town. The Long Leaf Trace is another wonderful result of the efforts of the Rails-to-Trails organization. There are many people enjoying the trace on this sunny Sunday morning.

The temperature is rising slowly. We peel off layer after layer of clothing. It is a very enjoyable trail. There are rest areas on a regular basis. It goes through several little towns. In each town is a restroom area. Very nice and well taken care off. We wished there were more trails like this on our route.

The trail is over 40 miles long and we are riding it all the way. We stop to rest, eat, play and snack.

Snack time in Bassfield.

Wrestling with daddy.

It is later in the afternoon when we arrive in Prentiss. We ask at the filling station where the campground is, but the attendant doesn't know. We decide to go to the fire department, perhaps we can camp there. The fire department is just a couple of blocks away.

We get to put our tent up next to the police department/fire department, under a pecan tree. Inside the building we are allowed to use the bath room facilities. We have leftover carrots, satsumas, cheese and crackers for supper and call it a day.

Click here for more pictures of today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Today 14 miles, Total 2,077
Campsite: Waterpark, Monticello, Mississippi
Weather: Tailwind with blue sky.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We had a good night. Our sleeping bags keep us nice and warm. Robin has figured out that the warmest spot is next to daddy. Early in the morning she crawls closer and closer.

The police department/fire department building also functions as the mayors office. We get a chance to meet him and his staff. The grils receive a pin for completion of the Long Leaf Trace.

Officer Steven drives us in an undercover police car to Ward's for breakfast. Quite an experience for the girls. No lights and sirens of course, but you can imagine. After breakfast we get ready to go again.

The mayor of the neighboring town Monticello is visiting Prentiss. He invites us to stay at the Atwood Waterpark, a 55 acre campground, just outside of Monticello. We take him up on the offer.

After talking with the local press and a stop at the Piggly Wiggly, we are on our way. It is going to be a short day. We have the sun and the wind in our backs.

We have a tailwind.

We go up and down the hills. It is nice being in hilly terrain. We are getting quite used to it. It certainly provides beautiful scenery. Especially at the crest of the hills. It is stunning to be able to see far across Mississippi.

Jasmine loves to stand up while we cruise down the hill.

When we pull into the park we are in for a surprise. Pam, the campground manager, has arranged for us to stay in a travel trailer. What a luxury. The trailer has a double bed, a set of bunk beds, a pull out bed, a table, a kitchen and a bathroom with shower.

The girls jump with joy. Cheyenne immediately claims the top bed, Jasmine chooses the bottom bunk. Robin will have to sleep on the pull out. Spacious enough for her.

We arrived at lunch time. Amarins and Bill take a quick shower before we are picked up by Bo, the youth minister of a local church. He is taking us out to lunch. After lunch he drops us off at the library.

At the library we meet with a press lady of Monticello, while the girls are working on their workbooks and are playing with blocks. They each have their own desk.

Spending quality time at the library.

Robin is deciding what to build.

We read stories, color halloween pictures and build cities. We enjoy the library for several hours. It gives Bill a chance to catch up on email.

Cheyenne reads book after book.

Robin and Jasmine building a city together.

Jasmine is very precise at coloring.

After the library Bo takes us for a bite to eat at Sonics before we head back to our camper. It is getting dark, but all we have to do is turn a light on. There are still hours in the evening. Bill reads some more from Undaunted Courage.

The girls are enjoying the comfort of the travel trailer.

Cheyenne is on top.

Click here for more pictures of today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,077
Campsite: Waterpark, Monticello, Mississippi
Weather: A rainy day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Rain is softly falling on the roof. We try to sleep in a little. To no avail. Light touches the earth and we rise to another day. We get to stay here today, with the generosity of Lawrence County.

We have a simple cereal breakfast. It is so luxurious in the camper. We have a table to sit at, the girls play on the bunk bed, a pull out bed provides a great card table. Lots of space to enjoy while staying out of the rain.

Amarins prepares the journal for the internet. Bill takes the girls for a walk when there is a dry spell. Thunderstorms are forecasted for the afternoon, but sofar no evidence of those yet.

The afternoon stays dry. We wonder whether we should have continued towards Natchez. We play the 'what if' game for a while. We decide to stay put and take the rest we are given. Tomorrow is another day.

We take the one mile walking trail around the park, play at the playground and are together as a family. A simple package supper will do for tonight. We don't stay up late, because tomorrow we want to leave at 8am. It is supposed to be sunny and warm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Today 46 miles, Total 2,123
Campsite: First Baptist Church, Bude, Mississippi
Weather: A foggy morning, a blue afternoon.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We are scrambling to get ready to head out at 8am. Then we look outside and see that it is foggy. Very foggy. We are ready to go at 8.30, but it is so foggy we can't safely ride. Pam and Bill invite us for breakfast at the office. We tidy up the trailer and accept the offer.

The trailer was our home for the past two nights.

We are enjoying breakfast at the office. The girls get to watch some cartoons, the grown ups have grown up conversation. The fog is determined to stick around for a while. Should we have packed up and went yesterday? We are playing the 'what if' game again.

This is the first time on the journey that the weather seems to be interfering with our planning. We can feel winter breathing down our necks. Natchez is waiting for us, will the weather turn so we can make it by Thursday?

At ten o'clock, the fog pulls out a little. It is a quarter till 11 when it is safe to ride. We get an escort from Bill across the Pearl river and through Monticello. At 11 we are back on highway 84. With such a late start, Brookhaven looks like our next stop.

We are flying up and down the hills. It is getting warmer, the sun breaks through the clouds, the wind is in our backs. What a change from this morning. We feel strong after the rest day. This is the best riding we've done sofar.

We stop for a warm vegetable soup lunch. Delicious. Heavily filled with vegetables. Exactly what our bodies are asking for. Robin has developed a little cough, this fresh food will do her well.

Just before 2pm we arrive on the west side of interstate 55. We've travelled 24 miles sofar. Brookhaven was off the main road, thus we decided to pass it by. We'll find a place to camp between the interstate and Bude. First we take a long break at the Chevron filling station.

The Brookhaven press meets us here. Since Bill and Amarins are talking with customers and attendents of the Chevron, the reporter starts with the girls. The girls are handling it like professionals, answering every question asked.

Trish at the Chevron makes sure we get some things to eat. We are getting the royal treatment. Mississippi is a string of wonderful people. Mississippi is a happy place. And it is beautiful too.

The weather is so beatiful we decide to aim for Bude. Brother Brad Moak of the First Baptist Church has called us and let us know we can find a place for the night in town. That gives us the peace of mind to continue without worrying about finding a place to camp.

We continue our fast pace over the hills. We are taking in the sights as the sun is slowly working it's way to the west and we enter the town of Bude. The church is easily found. Brad is very welcoming and invites us to stay in one of the sunday school rooms tonight.

The girls immediately make friends with the children that are gathering for the Wednesday evening teachings. A couple of bicycles provide them with the freedom to ride by themselves again. As Amarins is setting up the room for the night, Bill gets a ride to the grocery store for fresh food.

We are invited into the couples class where they are working on the book 'Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti'. We are having a lot of fun with it. After the program we meet Dr Larkin, who invites us to check on Robin in the morning.

Click here for more pictures of today.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today 37 miles, Total 2,160
Campsite: Hampton Inn, Natchez, Mississippi
Weather: Warm with a tailwind.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We are having breakfast in the church kitchen. It is funny to have all this space to ourselves. The girls ride trikes through the hallways. We are undecided about whether or not to ravel today. Again rain has been forecasted.

First things first, Bill is taking Robin to the clinic. The doctor gets a chance to look at her and concludes she has an ear infection. Antibiotics will need to solve it. It is after 10 when they get back. It is very warm outside and there is little wind. We decide to head for Natchez.

We are packed up by 11.30. Thank you for your hospitality Bude community. Another great Mississippi memory has been added. We are dressed in shorts and t-shirts. It is amazingly warm. It could very well be our last warm bicycle day where we can wear shorts.

Like yesterday, today is a day for riding. No rain in sight, but the forecast projects some tonight. We don't want to be caught in it, so we put ourselves to work as we haven't done before. We cover 15 miles in an hour and a half and take a break in Roxie, halfway to Natchez. The weather stays good.

A cloud-sun pattern on a field beautifies the day.

Another 15 miles takes us into Washington. Not yet Washington state, as Jasmine asks, but closer nonetheless. As we pull into a filling station a photographer is taking pictures of us pulling in. She is with the Natchez Democrat.

Natchez has known about us coming to town since Monday, due to the article that was written in Monticello as well as the mayor of Prentiss contacting the visitor center in Natchez. How everything has been worked out we're not quite sure, but the following has been put in place for us:

  • The Natchez Democrat is notified of our arrival;
  • Janelle Williams, the general manager of the Hampton Inn, arranged for us to stay there for 3 nights, as well as taking us out for supper;
  • Sally, with the Natchez Visitor Center, put together a plan to let us see and experience the entire Natchez, past and present, as well as arranging a police escort from Washington to our hotel;
  • The Natchez Coffee company on Franklin Street invites us for lunch;
  • Cock-of-the-Walk for providing us with supper.

Under police protection we pedal the last five miles into town to the Hampton Inn at the Mississippi River. We can see the bridge which will take us into Louisiana on Sunday. We can see the mighty river. We receive a hearty welcome and for the kids much more:

Robin is reaching for her presents.

Cheyenne and Jasmine can't wait to find out about their gifts.

Thanks Janelle!

Our room is terrific. It is huge. Lots of room for the girls to run and play. The window lets us look out at the bridge and the river. The girls immediately get changed into their new outfits and start coloring in their new coloring books.

While the girls are enjoying their new things, Bill takes the opportunity to walk to the river and have a moment alone with his thoughts. He's soaking in the view and immagining his great grandparents crossing the river in pursuit of the wheat harvest.

For tonight we are going out to eat at Blues and Biscuits with one of our followers of our journey, Barbara. She lives near Jackson, MS. Since we are this close to her hometown, she decided to travel down to meet us. Supper is delicious. Meat and vegetables, tasteful and plentiful. We enjoy the company and are thankful for the pleasure of meeting in person.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,160
Campsite: Hampton Inn, Natchez, Mississippi
Weather: Lots and lots of rain.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A day in pictures.

Robin is looking at the rainy weather outside.

Between rain we make it to the visitor center across the street from the hotel. We learn about the history of Natchez. Natchez is the oldest town along the Mississippi river, even older then New Orleans.

The origination of the word Mississippi.

The crab myrtle trees in fall colors.

Our story is on the front page of the Natchez Democrat. Cheyenne likes being in the news paper. Seeing us on the cover made her feel pretty good. She says: "I loved it".

It is Friday, time for our radio interview for
IMAX radio. These two ladies are travelers too and have lots to share.

Becky and Sally have taken us to the Natchez Coffee Company for lunch.

After Sally shows mister Napkin head, Robin makes a good copy of it.

The waitress at the Natchez Coffee company.

Bill has a chance to meet the Mayor of Natchez. The lady in the middle is Janelle, the general manager of Hampton Inn and Suites here in Natchez.

From Lucedale in the east to Natchez in the west, we have felt totally welcome in Mississippi. It has been a string of wonderful experiences with delightful people. Mississippi makes you feel at home.

As a reminder of Lucedale, the girls each got a shirt with their names embroidered on it by Sandy and her sister Pat.

Besides a shirt they also received an embroidered bag to carry their workbooks in.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,160
Campsite: Hampton Inn, Natchez, Mississippi
Weather: Blinking blue.
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A day in pictures.

It is halloween in the Eola Hotel.

A horse and carriage ride provides us with a great experience. The driver tells us about many of the Antebellum homes and the history of the town. Natchez is the oldest town on the Mississippi river, two years older then New Orleans. Natchez was founded in 1716.

Stanton house was build around 1837.

A beautiful day on the bluff at the Mississippi River. We'll be crossing the bridge in the distance tomorrow!

A bird is taking a free ride on a log down the river. It is not the only bird that is taking advantage of this way of transportation.

A visit to Longwood finishes our stay in Natchez. Longwood is the only residential octagonal building in the world. It was never finished. Inside you can see the tools and materials as well as the floorplans of what the house was going to look like. Bill especially enjoyed visiting this estate.

The Cock of the Walk has offered us a free supper. Amarins stays in the hotel with Robin. This is a date for Bill, Cheyenne and Jasmine.

Cheyenne and Jasmine are waiting for supper. Jasmine is waiting for her catfish. Cheyenne tries a bite of it too.

Sunset over the Mississippi River bridge. Tomorrow we'll be crossing it.

Princess Jasmine and Ninja Cheyenne on a halloween candy hunt.

We have had a wonderful time in Natchez and will keep these fond memories clearly in our minds. It is a town worth visiting again.

Tomorrow we are crossing the Mississippi River into Louisiana.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Today 52 miles, Total 2,212
Campsite: Empty lot, Jena, Louisiana
Weather: Shiny and blue
Flat tires: 0, Total 10
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

What a day. We are going to cross the Mississippi River. We are entering the West. A police escort helps us safely across the bridge. Twice we need to get off the bike to walk it across the teeth of the bridge. We are concerned for our rims. Then we roll into Louisiana!

A new state. Louisiana!

After a few miles of town, we enter a new landscape. Fields and fields of cotton. The cotton stalks wave slowly in the wind. It is a dizzying sight. We take a break at the Frogmore plantation. It is surrounded by cotton fields. Between the historic buildings are patches of beautiful pink-purple fall flowers.

We pedal up a storm. Louisiana is flat as a pancake. The shoulder is a bit rough, which slows us down a bit, but we make great progress. We get to the town of Jonesville around noon and decide we can make it to Jena.

As we continue our journey we see very tall trees off in the distance. Wow those trees must be humongous. Or are they? What is happening to the nice flat road? We are going up a hill! And another and another. Where did we get the idea that Louisiana was flat as a pancake? Amazing how quick we judged an entire state by just the first twenty miles.

The hills are smooth and rolling. We are going through beautiful forests. It slows us down obviously, but it is enjoyable none the less. Last night we moved the clock back one hour for daylight savings time. It might save us time in the morning, but it sure doesn't help us in the evening. The sun is setting at a rapid speed. Where is town!

At the top of one of the hills we climb our way into the town of Jena. A McDonalds is located in the center of town. We eat some and ask if there is a place to camp anywhere nearby. A church might provide what we need. It happens to be Sunday, so there are several people at the church. An empty lot behind the building can be our camp site.

As we turn the corner to our campsite, we cut the corner to short and bounce the trailer in a hole. It keeps on rolling, but it has harmed the bottom fabric more then it should. With all the travelling we've been doing, the trailer has held up marvelously well. It does look like it is giving up on us though.

We park under a carport and start on setting up the tent. Snap. A tent pole has broken, just where one side fits in the other. How fortunate we are that we still have the little replacement piece. Both Bill and Amarins have thought about throwing it away on several occasions. After all an extra ounce is an extra ounce.

Enough excitement for today. As a courtesy we visit the church service tonight. The girls get to be in the play room. Cheyenne discovers a hidden talent.

Cheyenne has totally blown us away with these two portraits she made. Two ladies at the sunday school were patient enough to let Cheyenne draw them. Great job Cheyenne!

Click here for more pictures of today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Today 38 miles, Total 2,250
Campsite: In the Ferguson's yard, Winnfield, Louisiana
Weather: Warm and wonderful
Flat tires: 2, Total 12
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Another night in the tent. We enjoy being in close proximity together. Except perhaps when Robins feet end up in our faces and when that wakes us up. The tent is very spacious for all of us and our gear. We need to contact REI today and see if they can replace the tent so we can continue our experience.

For the trailer we will need to have another solution. The bar that attatches to the trailer from the bicycle is weakening, bending a little. This is partly the reason why the front of the trailer is so close to the ground. Thus the scuff marks on the fabrics. We are adjusting the way we have the rack on the top in the hope that this alleviates the pressure on the front of the trailer as well as the arm.

The front of the trailer is just an inch off the ground. This creates a problem when we go over bumps in the road. And bumps we see many off here in Louisiana on the shoulder. The rack on the top of the trailer has a lot of weight on it with our sleeping bags and sleeping mats. By adjusting the height of the back of the rack we have been able to shift the weight from leaning on the front to leaning on the back of the trailer. Perhaps we should have done this from the beginning. But we are doing it now. We are still learning. By the time we are in Alaska we will know exactly how everything should have been when we started the journey!

It is 8am and we are ready to go. While it was still to cool to travel we walked over to McDonalds to use the bathroom facilities and to have a quick snack-breakfast.

As we pull the bicycle out of the carport, Bill notices the front wheel is very wobbly. What is going on here! Trailer, tent, front wheel. Jinxed in Jena, or just the way of the universe to tell us it is time to get serious about getting our gear in order to be able to cross the Rockies? We decide on the latter. The front wheel problem is quickly solved by tightening the bracket. We tighten the rar tire just to be safe.

We are finally off. Lets get out of town before we get a flat tire or so... Bang! It already happened. A total blowout of the rear tire. Everybody off and unload! Replacing the rear tire is extra complicated because of all the gear we have there plus an extra rim break that needs to be untightened. While we are there we receive quite some visitors, residents of Jena, letting us know that Jena is a fine town to live in. Very friendly folk and willing to extend a helping hand. The girls play with what is at hand.

Yep, the side wall is broken.

Let's try this again. We are off again. Today's destination is Winnfield. The weather is great. Hard to believe we were freezing our tails off last month in Florida. We are taking advantage of it though and plan to ride at least a little bit every pretty day. This area has had a lot of rain this last week. From Shreveport down to here there are heavily flooded areas. Before we are really out of town we stop at the Walmart. Bill needs some tiestraps to tighten the weakened bar on the trailer.

With everything fixed to the best of our current abilities, we are heading in a north west direction on highway 84. Hill after hill after hill. We cross several creeks, way out of their banks. From time to time we see a log ful of turtles. As soon as we ride by, they jump off and dissappear into the muddy water.

By the dirt on the grass we can see that the water has receded a bit already. By the trees in the water we can tell that there still is a lot of excess water in the area. The hills become a little less tall when we enter the town of Tullos. A filling station at the junction of highway 165 is the place for lunch. We stay at Chuck's for a while to rest and to enjoy the wonderful vegetable meal with chopped steak. Delicious. For dessert we have a piece of lemon cake. All provided by the ladies of Chuck's. Thanks y'all!

The hills are flattening out as we get closer to Winnfield. The road is good, although no shoulder. Traffic is light and very considerate to share the road. We absorb the beauty of the forests and enjoy in the delight of the residents of this state. We see more trucks and cowboy hats, so we must be getting closer to Texas. Maybe another five miles and we'll be at our destination. Pfff. A flat front tire. What a day! We are fortunate though, because we just entered a part of the highway that has a broad shoulder.

Another flat tire to fix. This time the front tire. Bill just exchanges the inner tube for another one.

The road is build on a dyke. We see lots of water on either side of it. In this area most of the water has flooded fileds and forests. Towns seem to be build on a hill.

Observing a flooded area. Looking at the power of nature.

We take the bypass around town before we enter the business area. Where to eat tonight. We don't feel like eating burgers. It is vegetables that we'd like to have. We stop at a Sonic to ask about other options. A Chinese buffet looks like a good choice. As we ride over there it turns out to be closed. Across the street is a Mexican restaurant. A great alternative as it turns out. The girls enjoy their burrito, rice and some salad. Amarins has a Chimichanga, explanatory to some perhaps, delicious to Amarins. Bill decides on an enchillada. We all enjoy the food choices and feel very content.

Wow! He serves two tables at once. It was such a great sight that Amarins couldn't resist to ask him to pose for a picture.

While we are at the restaurant we get to talking with Mr and Mrs Ferguson. Of course the subject of a place to camp comes up. With generous hearts they decide to let us stay in their yard. We are not quite used to the sun setting so early, so this is quite a relief. Thank you Mr and Mrs Ferguson!

It is close to dark when we arrive and put our tent up. We utilize the chance to take a bath and crawl refreshed in our beds. What a day.

Click here for more pictures of today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today 37 miles, Total 2,287
Campsite: On the riverbank, Natchitoches, Louisiana
Weather: So sunny and nice
Flat tires: 0, Total 12
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We wake up with the light of day. It is a bit chilly so we stay in our tent and get things packed up to go. Robin chooses not to help, but to find a nice warm spot. And where do you think that is?...

And who is snuggling up with daddy in the morning?

When it is warm enough, we pack up and as quietly as we can, as to not wake up the Ferguson's, we head out. It is to cool to be riding, thus another stop at, yes again, a McDonalds. Not a very substantial breakfast, but it will get us going.

On our way out of town Bill decides to go to the Chevrolet dealership. No, we are not trading in our bicycle, we are still enjoying the journey to much. We need a special tool to tighten up Bills Z-torque. Jerry, one of the workers there is very helpful. Thanks Jerry!

With this accomplished we head further on highway 84. Southwest ward this time. It will take us in the direction of Natchitoches. By the recommendation of several people it is a town we need to visit. It is on our way to Waco, Texas, so we choose this as our destination for today.

The sun is on our side. We've already pealed off one of our layers of clothing. As with our equipment, we are also working on getting our clothing in order. The cotton we have needs to be replaced with polypropelene and the likes. Warm mittens and wool socks need to be found for the girls.

Right now we are absorbing the warm rays of the sun as it follows us on the El Camino East-West Corridor. This is a 1,729 mile roadway from coastal Georgia to El Paso, Texas. The organization is working on making it a 4-way highway all the way. We are certainly enjoying the effort, where many times a shoulder and or new pavement provide for enjoyable bicycle travel. On top of that the scenery is great too.

The first part of the day we cover many hills. Several times we need to stop halfway up the hill to catch our breath. Two older ladies stop on the side of the road to hear about our journey. Their names are Ms Vicky and Ms Vera as we later learn. They live in Natchitoches (pronounce as Na-ko-desh) and assure us that the town is a must see. They go even further then that. A couple of miles down the road we see them again. They have contacted the Natchitoches Times. The reporter is going to meet us in Clarence, a town 10 miles from Natchitoches. Ms Vicky and Ms Vera have arranged a lunch for us at Grayson's Bar-b-que.

The ladies are our personal escort to the restaurant, helping us with directions. At Grayson's we have a great lunch, with beef, ham, beans and slaw. Oh how well that suits our needs. We take the leftover meat with us, it will be good for supper. We thank the ladies and Mr Grayson profusely and feel strong for the final 10 miles of the day.

We enjoy our lunch in the company of Ms Vera and Ms Vicky. These ladies are full of spark.

The ladies are not yet finished with providing miracles. They call ahead to the chief of police to see if we can have permission to camp on the riverbank in town. Next they wait for us at the Red River bridge. This is a very old and narrow two lane bridge without shoulder and in very rough shape. As we enter the bridge they ride behind us to protect us from traffic. We pedal as fast as we can across and move on the shoulder as soon as we can. A long line of traffic has formed behind us. This bridge should be on the top of items to replace by the El Camino organization.

We enjoy the old colonial homes as we travel toward downtown. The main street has brick pavers which gives the town a warm feeling. With the ladies leading the way we find our way to the riverbank. Permission has been granted for us to camp there.

Our tent is set up on the riverbank of Cane River Lake. In the olden days this was the main thoroughfare for steamboats. As a result of the Red River changing it's course naturally, that stopped.

It is still early as we finish setting up camp. We decide to walk to the boulevard and enjoy the history of this town. The town was founded in 1714, yes, older then Natches (1716) and New Orleans (1718). Natchitoches is the oldest city of the Louisiana Purchase; the greatest land acquisition - changing the balance of world power.

Cheyenne is reading about the Louisiana Purchase.

A concrete map displays the current United States and the size of the Louisiana Purchase on top of it. The girls had a good time tracing our journey from state to state. It was a little different then just recalling the states we've been in one after the other.

The moon rises as we walk back to our tent. Another day full of new experiences. another day filled with great citizens. There is a huge disconnect between the America of the media and the America we are seeing. We like what Robert Duvall says in Second Hand Lions: "That good always triumphs over evil." And it is good that we see.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Today 14 miles, Total 2,301
Campsite: Mr Bergeron's bunkhouse, near Hagewood, Louisiana
Weather: Another incredible weather day
Flat tires: 0, Total 12
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Morning at the river.

We get everything ready to go but the tent. The fly is a bit damp, thus we decide to let the sun dry it as much as possible. From the police officer we heard about a donut shop to visit for breakfast. Without trailer we head there and enjoy the morning rush.

When we get back to our campsite we find two boxes of donuts plus milk and orange juice; with the compliments of the police officer. Thank you sir! We load it in the trailer to have it for lunch. We find our way out of town without problems.

Then the problem begins. The side bar of the trailer has broken. It is only the fabric that holds it together. The tiestraps have come apart.

The tiestraps didn't hold. The side bar finally broke.

Everybody off and unload the trailer. Let's see what we can do. Bill sends Amarins to the filling station to see if there are hoseclamps. The girls start playing next to the bicycle. As we are fixing the trailer an engineer stops by and helps us brainstorm solutions. He lives 7 miles down the road and can help us with tools.

The temporary solution. Lots of hoseclamps and a couple of tiestraps. The perfect solution would be an iron rod that would fit in the broken aluminum bar.

Phew, all these problems of the past couple of days are wearing us thin. It makes us very conscious of every hump in the road and is a mental drain. This deminishes our pedaling power. When we see the engineer again, he is totally fine with us spending the rest of the day and the night there. He's got an even better plan, he is putting us up in his bunkhouse, including laundry facility.

We wash and clean and relax with the tv. Mr Bergeron is taking Bill to the bicycle store in Shreveport for new tires. We're running out of spares and there are no bicycle stores on our route. Bill decides to leave the trailer the way it is for now until we can find a steel rod to put inside the broken aluminum tube.

In the evening we have Gumbo for supper. It is the first time any of us has had it. We like it very much.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today 40 miles, Total 2,341
Campsite: At Milam Settlers park, Milam, Texas
Weather: We are so fortunate with another sunny day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 12
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Although we didn't fix the trailer, the rest has certainly helped us and it feels good to have everything clean again. By eight o'clock we head for Mr Bergeron's residence. We are going to have eggs, bacon and toast for breakfast. That'll get us going. The girls have the chance to watch some Dora.

Robin loves dogs. This one accepts everything she does. If we'd let her she would have taken it with her.

After breakfast the temperature is already warm enough to be on the road without a coat. Texas is on the schedule for the day. State number 10! We steadily head west and make sure to smell the roses. The shoulder is a bit rough, with porous asphalt. We keep the break on when we go downhill. As we were flying through Mississippi, as slow we are traveling across Louisiana. More time to enjoy the scenery.

Somewhere down the road we meet a lady who is babysitting her 5 great-grandchildren. It is the gift she is giving her grandchildren so that they can go to college. What a gift to give. Family helping family. It is wonderful.

Quite a feat, babysitting 5 great-grandchildren.

We arrive in Many, the last town before the Texas State Line. We grab something to eat, fill up our water containers and are back on the road. We are excited to reach Texas. Mile after mile we are getting closer. Then we see it:

Texas ahead!

A two mile bridge across the water of Toledo Lake, then we will be in Texas. An incredible feeling comes over us. Another big state, a state we'll be in for weeks. Many miles between cities. How will we fare. The next weeks will tell.

In the background we see Louisiana. A police officer helps us across the bridge.

Texas here we are!

Right across the bridge we find a little cafe to sit down in for a while. We consider what to do. We've done quite many miles already. The next town, Milam, is another 7 miles. It is not to late in the afternoon, should we go for it? We decide to head out that way and see where we can find a place to camp.

We keep going until we get to Milam. At the crossroads is the Milam Settlers Park. A great place for us to camp.

Camping at the Milam Settlers park.

For supper we have Gumbo, which we brought with us, and some fruit. On top of that we are offered pork chops and biscuits by Sandra and Bill, owners of the 'Sandra's Hamburgers' canteena. They come to visit with us as we are having supper.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Today 36 miles, Total 2,377
Campsite: At the Spencer's residence, Etoile, Texas
Weather: The weather keeps on being great
Flat tires: 1, Total 13
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

With the canteena nearby, breakfast is a no brainer. A vegetable filled omelet for Bill and Amarins and Mickey Mouse pancakes for the girls. Chocolate milk and coffee to tip it off.

And we are off again. Etoile or Lufkin, depending on how we are cruising.

A look at the hills on a downhill stretch.

Cruising? Absolutely not. The pavement is very rough, this certainly makes a difference in our speed. The hills are short and snappy. Up and down we go. When we go down we need to hold the break because of the rough asphalt, as well as being careful with our trailer.

These hills are killers. We left at nine and by 12 we still have only done 15 miles, maybe. This makes us think that even the miles in Texas are bigger!

A break in the Texas country side.

We keep mulling away. We see longhorns with horns over a foot long, and that is most likely an understatement. We play wordgames. Cheyenne practises her multiplication tables of one and two. Cheyenne reads the numbers of the Farm roads, into the thousands. Jasmine reads every individual number and can sound out many double digit numbers. Robin thinks every number is number sixty four.

Phew are we tired when we finally get to the river. The river means we are getting close to Etoile. Etoile is located on a peninsula between two rivers. As we ride onto the dyke and get ready to cross, Bill stops the bike and pulls something out of the front tire. A tack. Another flat tire is the result. Because he knows exactly where the tack was located, the tire is easily patched.

Flat number 13. Bill only needs to put a patch on the tire and we are ready again.

A couple more inclines and we are in Etoile. We order a good piece of meat and vegetables to share. We now know that this is the kind of food that keeps us going. We can only pedal a short time on a diet of raisinbread and granola bars. We'll keep those as back up.

A customer tells us about a boat ramp a mile away, just across the bridge. That sounds good to us. We can camp there. We ride across the bridge, but find no boat ramp. When we see a couple outside enjoying the afternoon we decide to stop and ask if we can camp in their yard. That is no problem. If we want we can sleep in the workshop. It gets even better then that. Mr Spencer has exactly the piece of steel Bill was looking for.

The universe is providing once more. The girls have a buddy to play with and Bill has the chance to fix the trailer.

With the trailer all fixed, the girls worn out from playing, camp set up in the workshop, we say goodnight to the Spencers and are ready for another day.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today 20 miles, Total 2,397
Campsite: Lufkin Inn, Lufkin, Texas
Weather: A high fog in the morning, sunny with some clouds in the afternoon.
Flat tires: 0, Total 13
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Hey, it is foggy this morning. The fog is hanging high, so it doesn't block the view. What it does block is the sun. It certainly keeps the temperature down a little. Lower 60s this morning for sure. We shall not complain though, we have been so fortunate all week with the weather.

Robin is spotting the mailbox as Jasmine is reading the numbers on it.

We play the mailbox game. They provide great random samples of numbers. From time to time we add the individual numbers. Sometimes we look at odd and even numbers. It is a fun number game and helps us pass the miles.

Just heading for Lufkin today. We can use a short day. We are planning to get a motel for the night so we can finally update the website again. Bill is on facebook now and is able to send a note to our homepage with the cell phone from time to time. At least you can see now that we are still moving ahead.

Lufkin is only 20 miles, the hills are not as snappy as yesterday, so we make pretty good progress. We stop from time to time, but still make it to town by noon. We find a motel just off our path. We'll stay one night till check-out time then go about ten miles to take a bite out of the 47 miles it is from here to Crockett.

We are in contact with REI about our tent. Our kind is on backorder, so we cannot trade it in. There is another option available and they are going to see if they can send one to the store in Dallas. Now all we have to do is find a way to get to Dallas. We are planning on being in Waco next weekend. From there we can maybe get a ride.

The trailer has held up great. It feels very strong and the bottom is a good two inches from the ground. We don't need to worry about bumps in the road anymore. Yeah!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,397
Campsite: Lufkin Inn, Lufkin, Texas
Weather: Airconditioned.
Flat tires: 0, Total 13
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We sleep in, as far as that goes. We're used to getting up early. We are not leaving until 11am, taking advantage of the check-out time. We want to go only 10 miles or so, find a place to camp. Tomorrow we should be able to make it to Crockett then.

We load everything as far as we can load it. At 10.30 Bill and Amarins look at each other (we do that more often, this is just a time worth mentioning...). We feel our muscles. We've been going for seven days straight, covering over 200 miles. It is time to take the day off.

We decide to stay another night. We play and relax in the afternoon. Bill goes shopping and brings vegetables, yoghurt, milk, fruit and microwavable spaghetti. Ahh, good food. We love it.

Jasmine and Robin play 'restaurant' in front of our motel room.

A day well spent.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Today 47 miles, Total 2,444
Campsite: Fire Department, Crockett, Texas
Weather: Cloud cover from Ida.
Flat tires: 0, Total 13
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A riding day. Half of our belongings are already packed. Still the remainder takes over an hour, including having breakfast. It is close to nine when we roll out. Amarins knows the way, having had a chance to use the internet to get a map of Lufkin. Out of town is easily found.

We stop at the last filling station in town, buy a gallon of water and fill up the camel backs and bottles. Who knows when we will find water again. We don't leave town without filling up.

The asphalt is very porous and slows us down by a couple mph. It is mentally draining too. By eleven o'clock we are only 12 miles down the road. This includes a couple of breaks for bathroom use and redressing. It is a bit cooler then we thought it would be.

Maybe we'll make it to Ratcliff today, just 12 more miles. It is not just the asphalt, the hills are very much part of the journey too. We are very thankful for the wide shoulder. It gives us plenty of space to take breathing breaks. Our stop-and-go practice in the Appalachian mountain range is coming in handy.

We keep pushing for close to another hour and decide it has been well. We are ready for a break. We park the bicycle on the shoulder and head for the forest. A fine place for a picnic.

Refreshed and energized we get back on the road. What a difference. Not that we fly like we did in Mississippi, but we are making good progress. We arrive in Ratcliff at about one, still early, but never to early for another break. A bench in front of a filling station is a good place to rest again and talk with the locals.

After Ratcliff there will be Kennard, then nothing until Crockett. 'Nothing' has different meanings to different people. No ammenities is not a disaster to us. All we need is a wide spot in the road, preferably a little bit away from the road, to pitch our tent.

Hey, this is the name of our home town in Kentucky.

We continue on, looking for a place to camp. Our speed picks up, though the hills remain. Perhaps our muscles just needed a good warm-up after our off day. Crockett is 20 more miles, out of our reach it looks like. A day of unknowns. Is it ever different? So many times we think we know what lies ahead of us. How often are we right, how often are we wrong.

Cloudcover from tropical storm Ida. We are on the edge of it.

Several miles after Kennard we arrive at a roadwork section. There is no shoulder, just a drop off. The pavement is not as porous, so that helps. For the next eight miles we push as hard as we can to get out of the road work area. We amaze ourselves when at the end of the road work we arrive in the town of Crockett!

We think we see a Cracker Barrel sign, but we are wrong. On the way there we see a playground at a Sonic, thus Sonic is for supper. The girls play for a while, then we head into town to find a place to camp. A big grassy area at a church looks inviting. We ask if we can camp, but we may not. Next stop Fire station.

The Fire station is easily found. They don't have a lot of space, but we are more then welcome to pitch our tent. A slightly sloping area is the place for tonight. They will leave the door to the station open tonight so we can take a shower, use the bathroom and watch some tv. Offers we readily accept.

The girls get to look inside a fire truck, talk a young man out of some stickers and get a stuffed animal form the Chief. A puppy for Robin and Jasmine, a talking monkey for Cheyenne. What a treat. Inside we clean up and enjoy the tv for a while. While we are there we have visitors; Christian and Dusty Cockerell. They bring all sorts of treats for the girls and us to enjoy. Thanks!

With treat filled bellies and memory filled brains, we head for the tent. What a journey. It is very hard to continue from time to time, but every time we do the reward of friendship and joy always makes it worth the effort. We do not know what lies ahead of us. All we know is to be in the now and enjoy every moment of it.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today 33 miles, Total 2,477
Campsite: Flo Community Center, Flo, Texas
Weather: Warm and sweaty.
Flat tires: 1, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Just another morning of getting ready. We use the facilities of the fire station, have a simple breakfast and are on our way.

We are barely out of town when we hear the sound of lots of cows. We are passing a stockyard. Tuesday is auction day so we decide to stop and see what is happening. We park our bicycle at the office and head towards the sound.

From a farmer and his wife we get a tour. The stockyard is set up as a maze of gates. This helps with guiding the cows into their proper locations. A catwalk above the gated area gives us a birdseye view of all the cows that are for sale. It is another system that we expose to our girls and ourselves

After this experience we head back down the road. We are on TX-7 a bit busier then we like. No shoulder and porous asphalt. We are going to turn off the road at Hopewell thus we pedal hard to make it there quickly.

Silly Jasmine and Robin.

The scenery is stunningly beautiful. The fields, the farms, the hills, what a pleasure to ride through this area. We soak it up and take plenty of moments to stop and look around and hear the sounds.

It is fall! We are in a leaf shower. Catch 'm if you can.

Some miles before Hopewell a yellow vehicle pulls over. We stop to visit; one yellow vehicle to another. Sondra is on her way to Centerville and is going to pick us up some lunch. We will meet again in Hopewell.

Thinking of lunch makes our bellies grown. Hopewell is still another six or seven miles. The hills are not to steep and hill after hill we get closer. Then we have a flat tire. Again.

How to fix a flat tire: with the help of your girls!

Robin wants to help fill up the tire. Never to young to learn. After a couple of pumps she surrenders the pump to Bill. 'Heavy' is her conclusion.

We arrive in Hopewell exactly as Sondra arrives too. What a timing. We visit for a while. As Amarins tells her name, Sondra knows immediatly it is a Frysian name. She owns a Frysian horse and makes the connection easily. (The likeness is between the names, not with the horse...)

From one yellow vehicle to another. Sondra of the
Yellow Rose of Texas Ranch has provided us with a barbeque and hamburger sandwich lunch. Thanks Sondra!

We move away from TX-7 onto Farm road 1511. Back into the steeper hills. Less traffic though. The girls are singing all the way up the hills. A beautiful sound. We are keeping our eyes open for a place to camp. When we don't find a spot, we take a break at the top of one of the hills. The girls disappear in the woods and once again play and explore.

At the junction of 831 we get the advise to go just a couple more miles and we'll find a restaurant where we can probably pitch our tent. We continue and find something even better. The Flo Community Center.

We're staying at the Flo community center. The community has opened the doors of the center so we can use the facilities!

In the evening we get several visitors, from the president of the Community center to the reporter of the Buffalo press with husband and grand children. Lots of fun for the girls too.

Camping next to a playground is always fun.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today 40 miles, Total 2,517
Campsite: RV Park, Groesbeck, Texas
Weather: Warm and sweaty.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Somewhat slept in. So calm and peaceful here. Bill takes the girls inside to wash up, while Amarins gets the things inside the tent packed up. After everything is packed up we heat up the vegetable-beef stew. Strange breakfast but oh so delicious and filling. We almost lick out the bowl.

The girls play in the gym as we pack up the tent and get everything ready to go. It is a little after nine when we pull out. Back on the road, up and down into the cutting hills. Phew our muscles are sore. It takes us more then a couple of miles to warm up. Still we don't get into a routine.

Our minds are spinning about the coming weekend. How is Bill going to get to the REI store? By Grehound and then hitch hike? Just hitch hike? Where can we get good tires? The Armadillo's have worked best for us, but they are hard to come by. We haven't seen a bicycle store since Mississippi or even before. We need new innertubes too.

We push and shove and feel drained when we reach Buffalo, only 11 miles. Bill finds a wide spot in the road. Time for a break. The girls go exploring in the woods. Bill and Amarins just sit and rest.

Just a pretty Texas country side picture.

Next town is Donie, 10 miles. Let's see if we can make it at least to there. The break hasn't really helped a lot. We are still chugging. But hill after hill we are getting closer to Waco. Here we hope to stay for the weekend and figure out some things for the bicycle and clothing wise.

Hey Marty! No hills in Texas you said?!!!! To get from where we were to the top of the hill of in the distance took us 20 minutes! And lots and lots of sweat.

We ride through a coalmining area. It is a huge operation. As far as the eye can see. Well, at least until the next hill. We are very fortunate to have a wide shoulder to ride on. We are now on Texas road 164. This wide space helps us along well. Even if it is just mentally.

The girls are full of questions about the coalmining process. We can answer them only to the extend of our knowledge. It is wonderful to hear them asking questions, so eager to learn. It is amazing the pieces they can put together.

It is after noon when we enter Donie. The only restaurant in town is the choice to rest and eat. A good choice none the less. Beef burrito's and hamburger with french fries. A great place to sit and rest.

Our current location on the right. The end of this leg of our journey on the left. Still a long way to go in Texas.

A great place to make lots of phone calls. Bill is on the phone with REI and a bicycle store that carries the Armadillo tires. A lot gets accomplished. The new tent will be in on Friday. Armadillo tires are on hand in Dallas. A phone call from friend and former neighbor Michael Cromer solves the logistics problem. He is willing to drive us to Dallas and get everything swapped and purchased. What a relief.

Time for lunch at Yolanda's restaurant in Donie.

We are in high spirits. All seems to be lined up for the weekend. Now all we need to do is make it to Waco by the end of tomorrow. Another 20 miles to Groesbeck today, 40 miles tomorrow. It is possible.

Same road, similar hills, but we are cruising. Stunning how the mind can block our performance. Now certain things seem to have lined up, we are back with our mind on what it should be on: pedaling. The first seven miles to Personville are done, well not in no-time, but pretty fast. It even slipped our minds that we crossed the 2,500th mile marker!!!

We keep on going and can feel that we are in the vicinity of town. Freewheeling for a second, Bill feels a drag and hears a crunching noice. Bill applies the breaks when suddenly the bicycle just stopped and veered to the right. It almost made us fall over. This is when we realized the rear ring cassette was malfunctioning.

After Bill got his temper in check, we got the kids off the bike, got the chain untangled and devised a plan to get to town. The sun is setting rapidly. We finish the last two miles to town with zero free wheeling. I.e. pedal until the bicycle comes to a complete stop. No free miles anymore. We need to keep pressure on the chain.

At the Exxon filling station we have something to eat and ask around for a place to pitch the tent. No such thing in Groesbeck. It is a city ordinance to not allow tents in anyones yard. Huh? Say that again? With the help of a citizen we do find a place to camp at the trailer park. Apperantly it is okay here for the night.

Setting up camp in the trailer park in Groesbeck.

With the mosquitoes in our neck we set up camp as quicly as possible. When camp is set up we dive into the tent to have supper. With the generosity of the ladies at the Exxon filling station we eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Thank you ladies!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today 42 miles, Total 2,559
Campsite: Michael and Amanda Cromer's residence, Spicewood, Texas
Weather: Blue sky day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

A new view of Groesbeck. Sunny, warm and welcoming. The citizens we meet think the ordinance is odd too, but anyway, when is it really a problem.

Before the day actually turns sunny, we pedal through the fog and stop at Mary's Breakfast and Burger Barn, just off of TX-164. We would not have known it was there if Willy hadn't told us it was there. We would have missed out on a great breakfast.

We enjoy the food tremendously. It is flavorful and there certainly is plenty of it. We sit there for quite a while, allowing the sun to break up the fog. Thank you Mary and Willy to provide us with this wonderful breakfast!

Mary's Breakfast and Burger Barn provided us with a very tasteful breakfast.

A new way to ride the bicycle. Never ever stop pedaling, keep the tension on the chain so the hub will not block up again. Talk about a workout. No free miles today. The weather is good, traffic is light and the shoulder is not to porous to ride on.

We pedal and cover quite some ground. The first town is in view. As we roll into town, Bill notices his right Z-torque is about to fall off. We tightened the bolt in Winnfield, Louisiana, but it looks like the thread is now totally dead. We slow down to check it out and pop, there goes the Z-torque.

How fornutate that we are within the city limits of Mart when Bill's pedal falls off. The pedals are not connected to each other. This allows us to pedal to the Auto part store in town. Eventhough we are frustrated, we are laughing all the way to the part store, with Bill only pedaling on the left.

At the auto parts store we find the help we need. Bill taps a new bigger bolt in the hole and puts the pedal back on. We are ready to ride once more.

We will make it to Waco today. Our old neighbor Michael is coming to pick us up. We are going to spend the weekend with him and his wife Amanda. They live near Austin, TX.

It is close to three when we make it to the belt line around Waco. We call the bicycle store for directions. Should be easy to find. We take a short break at a filling station and then head back for the bicycle. As we are loading up, Larry of Bicycles Outback drives up. He has better directions for us. And even better then that, he is going to escort us all the way through town. Thank you!

At the bicycle store we unload all our gear. We are taking it with us to see what we can dispose off and what to send home to Kentucky. We need to make space for the new winter gear we'll be getting this weekend.

Jasmine and Robin rapidly get a bicycle and ride it outside for a while.

At six Michael and Amanda arrive and we head for the hills. It is late when we get there. Tomorrow we will get to enjoy the scenery.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,559
Campsite: Michael and Amanda Cromer's residence, Spicewood, Texas
Weather: Very nice.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

It is Robins birthday today! We couldn't have planned it better, being among friends on a day like today.

We are cooking out for supper.

It is Robin's birthday!

Birthday cards!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today miles, Total 2,559
Campsite: Michael and Amanda Cromer's residence, Spicewood, Texas
Weather: Cool with some cloud cover.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Another day to rest and get organized. Tomorrow we are going to Dallas. Get new Armadillo tires, trade in the tent and add more warm clothes for the girls and ourselves.

Gone fishing:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today 5 miles, Total 2,564
Campsite: Filling station, Speegleville, Texas
Weather: Good for shopping.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Up bright and early. By 6:58 we are all in the car and ready for the day. Two minutes ahead of schedule. The journey to Dallas is uneventful. It is foggy and we cannot see a lot of the scenery. The REI store is easily found.

Bill heads for the customer service desk to swap tents, Amarins and the girls are working the shopping list. Sleeping bag, mat, mittens, socks, jackets and pants for Bill. A little over an hour later we are out of the store with bags of winter gear and an incredible credit card bill. If you have been enjoying the journey and you haven't had a chance to make a donation, then now would be the time!

We try to find the bicycle store, but cannot find it. Even the people working at the bicycle store do not know where they are located, because they cannot give us any directions. We will have to deal with it later. Back to Waco we go.

Michael and Amanda have been very helpful driving us around to have all our errands run. Thank you so much. We had a great time with you!

Back in Waco Amarins starts putting all the new items in the compression bags and in all the empty spots in the trailer. It all just fits. It is already after four and the sun is setting. We want to make it out of town before the sun sets.

Once again Larry of Outback Bicycles helps us out. With his directions and with him as escort we make it across the Twin Bridge and out of town. At a Chevron dealer we find a grassy spot and pitch out new tent.

It takes some time. Figuring out the new color co-ordinated pole system and getting the fly on properly. But with the help of our girls we get it up before it is totally dark. The girls get in quickly and shout with joy. It is longer than the previous one, although just by a little. Jasmine shouts 'It is like a museum!' How she came up with that will remain a mistery.

Cheyenne claims the far portion of the tent, where she can control the screen window. Jasmine is hugging and loving on her new sleeping bag. She crawls in it quickly and finds out it is very warm. Good! Robin is totally tickled that she now gets Jasmines 'old' bag. Hopefully she'll stay warm in it, which will increase our sleeping comfort tremendously.

So far we are enjoying our new tent. Let's hope it will keep us warm through the winter.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Today 26 miles, Total 2,590
Campsite: City Park, Clifton, Texas
Elevation: 673 feet.
Weather: Wiiiiindy!
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

The fly is slapping in the wind. It is still before dusk. Bill decides to stake out some guidelines. It helps a bit and we can go back to sleep. The sun is up when we wake up again. Jasmine has slept wonderful in her new sleeping bag. Robin slept until dusk before she decided to snuggle up with daddy.

At the filling station we have a biscuit breakfast with chocolate milk and coffee. The girls watch a couple cartoons. Bill talks with some of the older visiting men. Amarins uploads the website. When Amarins goes to pay for the food and drinks, owner Ash refuses to accept it. He even sends us off with drinks for the girls and biscuits for later.

The wind keeps being strong and brisk. It doesn't warm up a lot. At ten o'clock we are packed up, ourselves included. Hats, mittens, windbreaking fleece, heavy socks. We are ready to go. It is 51 degrees. With a hearty goodbye to Ash, we are off again.

The wind is in our faces. It is hard work for every mile. Going up the hills, the wind is not as strong. We are protected from the wind by the hill. Going down the hills it is as if the wind tries to push us back to the other side. Only occasionaly can we cruise down the hill and then only very slowly.

We enjoy the country side very much. Fields and fields of rolling grass. Distant views of tree covered hills. Horses galloping, cows grazing. From time to time we see a windmill gone wild.

We stop from time to time, but our breaks are short. It is to chilly to just hang out in the wind. Still it takes us till one o'clock to cover the 16 miles to Valley Mills. This town is located at the bottom of a hill. While we ride down the hill, a car keeps just ahead of us on the shoulder. In town they stop at the Subway. So do we.

The couple in the car tells us they saw us earlier in the day and were curious to see if we were celebraties. Nope, it is just us. They live in Glen Rose. Always looking for a place to camp, we look on the map, but it is not on our route. We keep TX-6 all the way to Eastland at interstate 20. We have a good time visiting. Before they continue on their way they hand us lunch money. Thanks! This is how we afford the journey. One day at a time. With the generosity of people like these folks.

It hasn't warmed up much since this morning. We keep warmly dressed. Robin refuses to wear her gloves. She can't feel her blankies with them she explains. Jasmine and Cheyenne put them on gladly. We are so thankful we had the chance to go to Dallas this weekend and get more appropriate gear. We sure need it today.

From Valley Mills it is 10 more miles to Clifton. A good place to aim for. The country side keeps being beautiful. The shoulder on the road is wide and good to ride on. Mile after mile we get closer. In town we do some shopping for fruit, chocolate milk and orange juice. Then we head for the city park. We are told that's where we can set up the tent. We make only one more stop. We stop for the train.

In town we catch up with the train. It probably made a stop here, since we really don't travel very fast.

We find the swing set in the park and decide to put our tent up right there. The girls immediately take to the swing set, until they discover the climbing fun they'll have on a huge log. Even Robin is boisterous enough to climb on.

Putting up the tent today is a little easier. We discover that there is a mistake in the description of which pole goes where. Doing it our way makes the tent nice and tight. Amarins rearranges the bedding, just to see if it creates more space this time. When the sun sets, the girls crawl in one after the other. For supper we have leftover Subway sandwiches and biscuits, Luchy Charms, bananas and chocolate milk. When the sun sets it is time for stories.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today 26 miles, Total 2,616
Campsite: Behind the Iredell Cafe, Iredell, Texas
Elevation: 902 feet
Weather: A winter day, but without the snow.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Out of all the places to put up the tent, we put it right under a street light. It made it look like day light all night. When we look for a proper place to put the tent, we look for a flat spot, without ant hills. Now we know to look up as well and check for street lights.

We all slept well. Everybody kept in their sleeping bags and stayed warm throughout the night. When we wake up it sure feels a bit cool in the tent. We hold off of getting up as long as possible, but eventually when you have to go you have to go. Getting out of the tent is like getting under a cold shower. Bill checks the temperature: 37 degrees. With the frost on the gras and a bit on the tent, we know it has been a frosty night.

We quickly crawl back inside. When the sun finally hits the tent it is time to really get up. We put on layer after layer of clothing. We have everything almost packed inside the tent, when a car stops. It is Mayor Fred of Clifton. He is inviting us for breakfast. We leave the tent to dry a little while longer and head for the restaurant. Pancakes for the girls, eggs, bacon and potatoes for us. The girls eat good, then find a box of toys to play with. We are having a great time visiting with Mayor Fred.

Attempting a picture with Mayor Fred.

We finish up packing everything in the trailer and on the bicycle. It is about 10:15 when we are finally on the road. The wind is there again. At least the temperature is now in the fifties and the sun is shining brightly. Next stop Meridian, about 12 miles down TX-6, or actually up, since we are heading north(west).

The country side is so beautiful, even the cows and bulls seem to enjoy it. They wander around their field lazily, stopping to gaze at us when we come by, then continuing minding their own business. The wind blows into the tall grass, giving it many shades of green, red and white/yellow as the sun reflects on it. It is a pretty sight.

A grassy crest of the hill. These cows lay lazily in the sun.

Eight miles out of Meridian, we meet a reporter of the Bosque County News. She invites us for lunch. It is only 11, but with still 8 miles to go, we will arrive in town arround lunch time. It is mentally very hard to deal with only going 6 miles an hour, even if it includes a couple of brief breaks. Without wind we could take these hills easily and make good time. But it is what it is. We work as hard as we can endure and mile after mile we get closer. If we wait for the 'proper' weather, we'd still be in Kentucky.

We turn off of TX-6 to go into Meridian and meet with the owner of the newspaper. We have lunch at the Cactus Grill while we are doing the interview. It is a relaxed setting, the food is good, and many questions get answered. We take some leftover noodles with us in a doggy bag. They will be good for supper. We still have chocolate milk and orange juice. It keeps well in this colder weather.

It is 10 miles to Iredell once we are back on TX-6. Oh, scratch that, the sign just says it is 13. It is already 2pm, with a little over 3 hours of daylight left. We are going to see if we can make it. A couple of miles into the afternoon ride we pull over for a quick breather. The drive chain makes a cloinking sound. It sounds familiar. It sounds like a problem we've just recently had. Spinning backwards immediately knocks the chain off.

Looks like the same problem we had in Groesbeck. Is the guts of the rear hub messed up again? We call Lyle at Spinlite Cycling and ar on for yet another new rim. We love this 48 spoke rim, and have had no broken spokes at all so far. Still we need the hub problem solved. The manufacturer of the hub confirms having problems with them. Thus we are on for yet another new rim. This rim will be sent to the factory for further investigation.

Like we did before, we continue on our route. Trying to cruise as little as possible. We've discovered the problem sooner this time. We still have some cruise left in the tire before it will break totally. Then we are back to a constant pedal pattern like we did from Groesbeck to Waco. We accept what we get and are thankful for recognizing the problem quicker this time. Lyle will be on top of building a new rim and will ship it to Slaton, TX. It will be there waiting for us when we finally get there.

Iredell looks even further away now. Pitching the tent along side the road is very tempting. We decide against it and keep mulling along. We feel mentally and physically drained. Beaten down by the wind and the continuation of gear problems. Yet we keep on pedaling and arrive into Iredell at 4.30pm. The girls and Amarins use the filling station/convenience store as hangout while Bill asks around for a place to camp. Behind the restaurant which is located next to the filling station is a good spot.

Bill talks with a motorcyclist for a bit. Then we pull our bicycle to the back of the building. With the help of Cheyenne the tent is set up quickly and the beds are made. We head back to the filling station and warm up our noodles for supper. While we are there the motorcyclist comes back with his wife. Bill takes them to see the bicycle and to share our journey. They are inspired. This inspires Bill to ask the ultimate, for them to do a load of laundry for us. They say yes without hesitation. Although we could use a shower ourselves, at least our clothes will smell fresh as we ride tomorrow.

We clean up in the restroom and head for the tent to put the dirty clothes together. Bill stayes with the girls. Amarins goes back to the filling station to prepare some pictures and today's story for the website.

As a side note: Did you check out the Charts and Graphs link yet? It is compiled information about the first three legs ouf our journey. Where we spend the night, how many miles we've traveled etc. Amarins' pet project. In Slaton we'll upload leg 4!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today 10 miles, Total 2,626
Campsite: Hico Inn,
Hico, Texas
Elevation: 1,027 feet
Weather: Sunny winter day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

Amarins enjoys a moment to herself with a cup of coffee at the filling station. A couple of ranchers are having their morning get together. After the coffee she brings in Cheyenne and Jasmine. When Bill and Robin also come in, a rancher speaks up and asks who else she is going to bring in. It leads to us talking about our journey and camping behing the Iredell Cafe.

The girls have their minds set on pancakes this morning. We saw the advertisement for them here yesterday. To our dissapointment, they've run out. There is no consoling the girls. Especially Jasmine is dissapointed. Soon the entire store knows. Rancher Mike speaks up again and offers to make the girls pancakes at his home. An offer we don't resist. We need to wait for the temperature to increase, thus it works out great.

At the ranch the girls immediately take to the cowboy hats.

While the pancakes and bacon are in the making, the girls make drawings. We enjoy spending time with Mike and his wife. Outside the window we see the horses. It's a pretty picture. It all makes for a very enjoyable morning.

When we get back to the campsite it is warm enough to pack up and go. While we do that, the girls continue drawing. This time inside the Iredell Cafe.

It is late morning as we finally get on the road. The wind is not strong today. We should be able to cover quite some miles. It is still possible to make it to Slaton, TX, by Thanksgiving.

The morning is cool, but we are warmly dressed. We are excited about riding today. It is so much easier without the wind blowing in our faces. We are already slowly climbing to the New Mexico plateau. We left Iredell at 902 feet and are heading up the hill more then we get to go down.

It is around lunch time when we arrive in Hico. We see a filling station ahead and plan to stop there. Then we see a beautiful down town area. We put on the breaks, turn around and head for down town. Hico is a very well kept old western town. We just need to spend some time here. We've only travelled 10 miles today, but decide that this is well worth stopping for.

Part of downtown Hico.

As we park our bicycle it is us that are getting attention. We get to talking with a couple from Weatherford, Oklahoma. This is the town where Bill's grandfather was born. We visited once and have good memories of the area. Kay and Wesley ask us for lunch and we accept. It's what a coincidental meeting can lead to.

Our first stop is The Billy the Kid Museum. It is located in the Visitor Center. Legend has it that Billy the Kid died here on the sidewalk in 1950 and not in a gunfight in New Mexico. Inside the visitor center is an old fashioned jail cell and several memorabilia of the town history. Among them, a jar of dirt from Hico, Kentucky. Hico, Texas was named after it.

The Billy the Kid Museum is located in the Hico Visitor Center.

We check into the Hico Inn and hop back on our bicycle to explore the town further. It is well worth taking the afternoon off for. We find the old Opera buiding, a blacksmith shop, and several other buildings. At the Wiseman House we stop to get some chocolate treats for the evening. What a day.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today 33 miles, Total 2,659
Campsite: At Linda and Mike Flora's residence, DeLeon, Texas
Elevation: 1,305 feet
Weather: Warmer with a little tail wind.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We have a good night at the motel. The girls have enjoyed riding bicycles around the parking lot and playing ball. A real bed to sleep in is also nice from time to time. By eight o'clock we are in town ready for breakfast. Once again the girls have there mind set on pancakes, thus we chose the Koffee Kup Kafe.

As we pedalled around town yesterday, we met several residents of the area. The area is full of emigrants from The Netherlands. One lady connected us with Willemina, originally from Tytsjersteradeel. Willemina is joining us for breakfast this morning. It is so nice visiting. We hear there are a lot of dairy farmers here that came from The Netherlands to build a future here.

We leave the restaurant with a fresh baked Dutch boterkoek in our trailer. How delicious that will be when we have a break later on.

Here we sit in the heart of Texas eating a homemade dutch boterkoek.

The hills keep on rolling. The grass is waving, this time from a south wind. There is so much to see. An entire prairie full of shades of grass from bluish green to brownish red. One part is a game preserve. Elk and several other kinds of deer are roaming around. It is a beautiful view which we gladly use to distract us from pedalling. Next town Dublin.

We are taking a breather just past the high school in Dublin. As we get ready to continue a truck stops behind us and asks us if he can do anyting for us. We ask for a place to have lunch and he invites us to the high school in return. That will be great. We turn the bicycle around and park in front of the school.

Inside we get a warm welcome from the principal and several teachers. The students are having lunch and give us curious stares. The girls are shy at first but soon warm up to all the attention. The principal and Cheyenne are doing rounds at the tables, sharing about our journey with the students.

Lunch at the Dublin High School. Several students stop by to talk. From time to time Amarins gets to talk Frysian.

Lunch is very good. A salad, crisp tortilla with cheese dip, apples and chocolate milk. We get a special treat: A Dublin Dr Pepper. The Dr Peppers made in Dublin are the only ones made with real cane sugar. In Dublin is the oldest bottling company for Dr Pepper. For Amarins, this was the first Dr Pepper she really liked.

Every student and teacher came outside to wave us goodbye.

We are rested and full from our stay at the High School. The girls got to run and play. We are going an additional 12 miles to DeLeon, continuing our TX-6 route. We pedal in a nice rhythm and cover quite some ground. When we see a pretty patch of grass along side the road, we stop for a break in the sun.

Playing peek-a-boo in the tall grass.

When we get to the filling station in DeLeon, we need to decide what to do. Where can we camp. A young man gets to talking with Bill and knows of a place to pitch the tent. In the yard of his parents, under the water tower. We gladly accept the offer. The girls enjoy the end of the riding day with an ice cream.

We are sleeping under water tonight.

Mrs Flora is going to cook supper tonight for us. Our last home cooked meal was in Louisiana. This is so appreciated. We will pick a home cooked meal anytime. Delicious.

Mrs Flora cooked a delicious supper. Fried okra, green beans, mashed potatoes and chicken. What a delight to have a home cooked meal of home grown vegetables.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,659
Campsite: At Linda and Mike Flora's residence, DeLeon, Texas
Elevation: 1,305 feet
Weather: Enormous thunderstorm in night, cloudy and damp during the day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 14
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

What a thunderstorm this night. Right on top of us. Heavy rain on top of it. The tent does well and keeps us dry. That is a relief. It is our first rainy night in the tent.

We get up to a rainy day. We are going to stay put today. Thank you Flora family for letting us enjoy the day at your home! The grils have enjoyed playing with Savannah.

Never to drury to go out and play.

Robin hopping on the trampoline. Joy joy joy.

It was a good day to rest.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today 33 miles, Total 2,692
Campsite: Behind McDonalds, Easland, Texas
Elevation: 1,440 feet
Weather: Misty morning, cloudy afternoon.
Flat tires: 2, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 4

We wake up to a foggy morning. Walking in it covers our coats with moisture. We want to ride today, but we are not going to ride in this mist. It is a cool morning and we'd be soaked and cold very quickly. The girls can play with Savannah a while longer. We are not pulling out until the air clears.

Mrs Flora once again fixes breakfast. We watch tv, scanning the weather channel from time to time. That doesn't give us any idea about the weather. The radar shows no rain, but it doesn't show clear skies either. We wait and slowly put our clothing away in the trailer. We get the girls ready for riding.

At ten it is finally dry enough to start packing up the tent. That doesn't take to long. Mrs Flora takes pictures from time to time. We have enjoyed eachothers company. Now it is time again to move on. We wave goodbye and head northwest. Eastland is our destination today.

Thank you Mrs Flora for your hospitality and your homecooked meals!

We have a nice rhythm going. It doesn't feel like we are climbing a lot. That helps. It takes us a little over an hour to cover the 10 miles to Gorman. In Gorman we see a big peanut processing plant. The Peanut Hut has many different peanut products for sale. They don't have a place to sit inside, thus we roll further to the Dairy Queen. It is nice and warm inside. A good place for a little break.

Our break inside provides Bill with the opportunity to fill the tires with some more air. Especially after an off day this is necessary. Today it doesn't work out to good. The front inner tube rips a hair. Just enough to not be fixable. Bill swaps it for our last innertube. It is a tense moment. One more unfixable flat and we're going to be stuck.

Moving forward, always moving forward.

A longer break then anticipated, but we are on the road again. It is warmer now. We can see the sun breaking up the clouds ahead of us. We are aiming for the blue sky now. Eastland is another 20 miles. It is located next to the interstate. Tonight we need to find out where the bicycle store in Abilene is. Then we need to see if they have the innertubes we need. If Bill can catch a ride to Abilene, we'll stock up on them.

When we dismiss the flat tire thoughts, the ride is very enjoyable. The girls are softly singing. We take breaks from time to time, just to enjoy the country side. Once we stop next to a field with probably 30 Shetland ponies. Robin gets all excited. This is her size horse.

We are thankful that the road stays relatively flat. There are some hills, but the general direction seems to be down hill. It is just a little after three when we pull into Eastland. A fireman helps us with directions to the AT&T store. Our phone charger has given up on us and needs to be replaced. While Bill arranges a new one, Amarins and the girls hang around in McDonalds. The very friendly staff takes care of all our needs.

The friendly store managers at the Eastland McDonalds.

It is after four when we get ready to pull out. We can camp on the outskirts at the west side of town. It is always nice to be outside town already, when starting a new riding day. We are not even out of the parking lot yet, when Amarins discovers a flat tire. The rear one this time. Arghh! Everybody off! To see how bad it it, Bill first fills up the tire. The leak is quickly found. A staple is the problem this time.

Amarins takes the girls back inside. There is no need to stand around outside. Bill pulls the tire off and tries to patch the holes. It isn't working. Somehow the patches don't work. Perhaps using a new tube of glue will work. Still the patch doesn't work too well, but it seems to be on. We fill up the tire and it looks like it holds.

Are we going to risk it, and ride out of town and camp? Or should we camp behind the McDonalds and see how the patch is holding up? We decide to do the latter. It has gotten too late to ride now. Besides it is even more important now to get new innertubes. Help is all around. One lady offers to take Bill to Abilene tomorrow if we can find a bicycle store that is open. Another lady calls the police and thinks we are destitute and in need for a motel. It is the help of the first lady we prefer. Calling the police should only be done in a real emergency. Their time is too precious to be wasted on unnecessary calls.

We set up camp and even have a couple of picnic tables available. It is rapidly getting dark. When camp is made, Amarins walks to walmart for some fresh food. Bananas, a yoghurt drink and some granola bars are the result. As we settle in, some ladies of McDonalds stop by to ask if we'd like some hot chocolate. The girls jump with joy. That's a great treat before bedtime.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Today 47 miles, Total 2,737
Campsite: City Park, Albany, Texas
Elevation: 1,414 feet
Weather: Slight headwind, beautiful day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 1, Total 5

We have a rest ful night in our tent. It feels good being close together. We head for McDonalds to clean up and have breakfast. It seems that the patch is holding. The bicycle store is closed today. No need to hang around, we are moving on again.

Amarins packs up the inside of the tent. Bill gets the bicycle ready to ride. The girls play around the campsite. When the inside is packed up in and on the trailer, Bill can start packing up the tent. Amarins takes Cheyenne and Jasmine to Walmart to see if there are inner tubes. They come back with the right size, if it weren't for the valve stem. Our tire needs a special kind.

On our way out we stop at Walmart to return the inner tube. The first stretch of the road takes us to Cisco. It is also an interstate town. If we get another flat, we can always stay there. The road to Cisco takes us gradually up to about 1,600 feet. We will be climbing all the way to Slaton and beyond.

Old cars, but still in good shape.

There is not much to see and do in Cisco. We are looking for a place to sit and have a snack. At a filling station we find some items to munch on. A grasssy area next to the train tracks provides a good picnic spot. After our break we'll be heading north west towards Albany. It's another 34 miles. We are going to go to Moran first and then see if we want to go further.

A snack along side the railroad track.

The weather is very accomodating. There is a slight head wind. The sun is out. It is just nice to be travelling on our bicycle. We pedal up the hill with the dam of Lake Cisco on our left. The scenery is changing again. Many more cacti. Shrubbier trees. More rock. Redder soil. We enjoy it very much. The ruggedness of it all speaks to us.

Robin and Jasmine stretch to have a good look at the scenery.

It is in the middle of the afternoon when we reach Moran. We find a deli shop and decide to sit and eat and rest. It been a good run. These are the moments we feel 'we deserve' a good rest. Amarins chooses a chicken, bacon, vegetables tortilla. Bill settles for a hamburger with fries. The girls eat from both of us. It is very tasteful. It was a good choice to take a break here.

We're gonna go another hour and then look for a camp site. This will carry the day over 30 miles. That'll be nice. Although the general direction from Cisco to Albany is downhill, there still are plenty of little hills to climb. The joy comes from reaching the top and then rolling down the other side.

Now that we are mostly going up the hill, we talk more then when we had hills only from time to time. We can't tell the kids to be quiet all the time. They are so full of questions. They see a new tree and want to share it with us. Robin is a hawk spotter and lets us know each and everyone she sees. Cheyenne tells us the number of the farm road junction; in the thousands! Jasmine makes up her own songs.

Exploring in the tall grass. The cactus is the current topic of interest. Robin learns which spots of the cactus are okay to touch.

When the hour rolls around, we can see a water tower in the distance. Water tower equals town equals Albany. We know that we can see very far here. Five to 10 miles easily. We ask the girls if they'd like to see if we can make it to town. They all agree. After all, town could mean play ground!

Curving through the hill country takes a long time. The water tower seems to move away. Apparently it is on the other side of town, because we have just reached the city limits. The sherriff station is on our left. Let's ask and see where we can camp. Bill is the person to do that, while Amarins holds the bicycle.

Another mile to the north side of town, but well worth it. There is a play ground and we get to camp right next to it. Bill steers the bicycle into the grass to get as close to the gazebo as possible. Then we suddenly can't get no further and we all fall down. The bicycle is just to heavy for Bill and Amarins to uphold once it starts leaning. No one gets hurt, but none of us are liking it much.

A lady has followed us the last part. She is interested in our journey and it is nice to talk for a while. A little while later she's back. With a bowl of fresh home made chili. Amarins was just preparing to fix a noodle supper, but that is quickly put aside. It is a bit on the spicy side for Bill and the girls, but Amarins is enjoying it tremendously. The ground beef, the tomato, the flavor, delicious.

Setting up camp at the playground as the sun is setting.

When the sun has set it is time to stop playing and get ready for bed. But not until after a part of the story of Meriwether Lewis in Undaunted Courage.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Today 24 miles, Total 2,761
Campsite: Under the stars, upon a hill, Texas
Elevation: 1,600 feet (est)
Weather: Monstrous headwind.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

We are happy with our new tent. The new sleeping bag for Jasmine is working great. Robin loves having Jasmine's 'old' sleeping bag. She'll still scoot it as close as she can to Bill though. Smart girl. Cheyenne is al curled up with her mister Dog. Mister Dog has been with her since she was one. He certainly had to come on this journey with us.

When the kids are dressed they can go out and play on the play ground. Amarins and Robin have a fight over wearing mittens. Robin just refuses to have them on. Because, as she says, "I can't pat my binkies". You can understand who wins this fight...

It is still to cold to ride out of town. But not to cold to find a place to have break fast. We have to go a little further east on highway 180. It leads us to the Hubbard House Cafe. The cafe has only been open for 6 weeks and we're going to put it to the test.

First we use the facilities to clean up. Then take a long time deciding on what to have for breakfast. Cheyenne is literally studying the menu from top to bottom and front to back. Result: bacon, hashbrowns and chocolate milk. In the mean time Robin and Jasmine are devouring a pancake. Bill and Amarins go for the omelet.

Deciding on breakfast proves to be quite a task. So many choices.

The thermometer on the bicycle is quickly influenced by the sun. Only early in the morning can we get a decent reading. When it feels like it is warm enough to ride, we start herding up the girls so we can get them dressed. This takes a while, the girls being as wild as they are. They are having a blast with us chasing them down.

Ready to go after a good breakfast at the Hubbard House Cafe in Albany, TX.

From Albany we are going straight west on highway 180. This will take us to Snyder. From snyder we pick up highway 84 again, the same one we followed through Mississippi and Louisiana. This time we'll take it into New Mexico.

As soon as we are out of town, reality sets in. Or we could call it wind. A fierce wind, coming straight at us from the west. On top of that we have the 3-mile hill, the 6-mile hill and the 9-mile hill to climb. The 3-mile hill is a warming up for the 6-mile hill. The 6-mile hill is a warming up for the 9-mile hill.

The wind blows the flag over.

We make it up 3-mile hill without taking a break. Almost to the top we see a reporter taking pictures. We keep on riding until we are at a good place to stop and talk for a while. Way off in the distance we can see the 6-mile hill. Another interview. This time with the Albany news paper. We ask every reporter to send us a signed copy of their article. It will be so much fun to put them all in a scrap book when we get back.

The interview gives us a nice break. Then it's on the road again. We ge to go a little bit down the hill before the next climb sets in. This hill takes many breaks. But we make it eventually. We've been going for almost 2 hours and have only covered 6 miles, 7 including the mile through town. It is fair to say we will not make it to Anson today.

A roadside picnic. You can never have to many of those.

After the 9-mile hill it levels out a bit. Now all we have to deal with is the wind. The wind will be a part of our travel from now on. It is just part of how we planned the journey. Of course we wouldn't mind a windless day from time to time...

Wind is very common in this area. A landscape of wind mills seems very appropriate. 'Just as in the Netherlands' according to Cheyenne.

We take many breaks and travel just as far as we can. A field of grass provides a great hunting ground for arrow heads. The grisl don't find any, but they do find many rocks. Cheyenne and Jasmine run to the middle of the field. It is as if the field swallows them. It's majestic.

The girls are looking for arrow heads, just like we do in Kentucky.

We snack on our supplies. Raisin bread, pasta choca, crackers, fruit, chocolate milk. It'll have to do. We are surprised that we don't eat more with the amount of energy we put out. Riding with a full belly is not a very pleasant thing to do, thus we snack our way through the day.

The hills are not so steep, but we're still climbing. A photographer takes some shots. He's with the Abilene newspaper. He's intrigued with the story and decides to call his editor to see if a reporter can come out. Knowing she will come from Abilene we ask if she can bring some inner tubes. After some calling around, it is all going to work out.

Greg, the photographer is going ahead of us to take some more pictures and to get some suppr from Anson. We are heading for the highest hill and start looking for a place to set up camp. A wide spot in the road is just the thing. The girls play in the dirt, making parks and playgrounds, as we set up camp.

Camping on the top of a hill. What a view.

When Greg gets back from Anson, he reports it is another 16.5 miles. We're glad we stopped. We have a chicken, sausage, barbeque and macaroni salad. It tastes so good. And it is warm too. Thanks Greg! We've finished supper as the reporter arrives. She brought innertubes! Now we don't have to worry about that anymore. Thank you so much!

The ultimate fun: digging in the dirt.

Jasmine designed her own park, by using a plastic fork, spoon and knife.

Cheyenne is working on her own project.

We visit with the reporter for quite a while. We've found a beautiful place to camp. It will be beautiful when the stars come out tonight. We'll go out for some stargazing. When the sun sets the reporter has to go back to write the story. It will be in the newspaper tomorrow. We'll get to see it this time since it has a widespread distribution.

A Texas sunset.

We wait for the stars to light up in the sky. It's incredible how many we can see. We unzip the back portion of the tent and one after the other the girls have a moment by themselves to gaze at the stars. Cheyenne is looking for constellations. Jasmine is just amazed by the beauty of it. This is the first time that she remembers seeing the stars. Robin just sits and looks. When she talks her voice is soft and quiet. It's a natural response to the beauty of the universe.

With the coyote's howling in the distance and the stars vividly on our minds, we drift off to sleep. What a day it was.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today 17 miles, Total 2,778
Campsite: Morning Star Inn, Anson, Texas
Elevation: 1,729 feet
Weather: Cold with a headwind.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

A night under the stars. What a delight. Yesterday's head wind was a treasure in disguise. It is up to us to recognize these treasures. It is up to us to live each moment to the fullest. To find evry moment to treasure, between the mundane hustle and bustle of the day.

Our camping spot on top of a hill.

We wrap the kids up warm before letting them go outside the tent. Then for us it is time to pack up once more. When all is put away and one way or another connected to the bicycle, it is time for breakfast. We have chocolate milk left from yesterday. It stayed nice and cool last night. Raisin bread and fruit will do.

Same wind, same road, same hills. Still beautiful and majestic to look at. The hills flatten out a little bit. We see whiteness on the fields. It can't be snow. The girls recognize it. It is cotton.

We're back in the cotton fields.

It isn't easy. It isn't a vacation. It's a lot of hard work. It's a lot of uncertainty. But the rewards. Oh the rewards. A hug from Jasmine for showing her the stars. Little Robin curling up in your arms and falling asleep. Cheyenne almost jumping out of her skin with joy for reading five digit numbers. A journey of a lifetime, already filled with memories we will treasure for as long as we roam this earth.

Along the road we see our first tumbleweed. Who doesn't know about these balls of branches rolling through the dessert. So familiar in cowboy movies. It is worth stopping for. Amarins gets off the bike and gets a picture first 'in its original stage'. Picking it up proves a bit harder. It isn't big, it is very prickly. On its prickly thorns are little cotton balls. The girls get to touch the weed before Amarins acts like the wind and rolls it across the road.

Our first tumble weed! It is very prickly.

Town is just up ahead. We can see the tall courthouse above all else. We already decided on a motel today. But first we are looking for a place to have lunch. We ride around the courthouse and find a sandwich shop on the corner. One of the employees saw us riding a little while ago and traced us down just as we pulled to a stop. They are inviting us for lunch. Great!

A sandwich lunch with lots of veggies at the Coffie Bean Cafe in Anson, counter corner from the coffeehouse.

With a good lunch we head for the motel. As we pull in, a gentleman pulls up too. He insists on getting us a room. We gladly accept. Thank you sir!

It is still early in the afternoon. We enjoy the time with cleaning up and relaxing. We do some laundry. Bill goes shopping. For supper we go to the next door restaurant.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today 28 miles, Total 2,806
Campsite: First Baptist Church, Roby, Texas
Elevation: 1,729 feet
Weather: A winters day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

The sun is shining into our room. It feels nice and warm. Going outside proves to be different. Very chilly. Especially when you turn the corner and the wind becomes a part of it.

Bill picks up some breakfast at the restaurant. It is easier this way instead of us going there. While the girls eat, we pack up. As the sun creeps higher and higher, the temperature slowly rises. When it is warm enough we head out.

Mascotte for a day. Robins puppy. A gift from a police officer in Crockett.

This is a road with absolutely nothing on it. Just intersections. No homes, no businesses. We are thankful that Bill went shopping. He bought all sorts of treats; chips, peanuts, whipped cream, cheese, juices. Whenever we stop we get a new treat. It gives a good flavor to the day.

We ride like the wind. It isn't noon yet, but we already took a big bite out of today's mileage.

The girls study the insulation value of grass... Well, they hide and realize it is much warmer in the grass then out in the open.

Roby is on our minds. Further west we go on highway 180. The temperature has risen nicely. The wind is not to strong. It's a good day to be riding. To be together.

Where is Robin?

Jasmine in the grass.

Cheyenne first makes a bed with her coat.

On the way to Roby a motorcyclist tracks us down. It is Howard from Abilene. He read about us in the newspaper and contacted us. He's bringing us new valve stems and new inner tubes. Now we'll be good all the way over the rockies!

Howard rides tandem with his wife.

We are relieved that these problems are behind us. With new supplies we make it to Roby. At the filling station we settle down for a moment. While we are there a lady from the Baptist Church offers us the fellowship hall to stay at tonight. We gladly accept it.

After we eat a little, we head for the church. Because of Thanksgiving there will be no service tonight. The girls run and play in the lunch room. We can set up camp in a sideroom. For the grils there is a special treat. Bill met a fellow at the filling station. He's got planes in his front yard and a train in his back yard. That's worth seeing!

Bill and the girls go with Bob to his place and get to ride on the train and sit in the planes. When they come back they tell Amarins all about it. They're so excited. Thanks Bob! Quite an ending to this day.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today 33 miles, Total 2,839
Campsite: Best Western, Snyder, Texas
Elevation: 2,320 feet
Weather: A sunny cool day with a brisk head wind.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Before we head out of town we stop by the planes to take a picture. This is worth stopping for. The planes are used in parades form time to time.

Mr Bob with his airplanes.

We left early. It is still before nine when we're out of the city limits. 32 miles to Snyder. That is our goal for today. A Best Western has been lined up. We're feeling like celebrities here. The Abilene newspaper has reached far ahead of us.

Having a picnic sometimes creates quite a crowd.

The first miles have been very easy. The road doesn't climb a lot here. During the rest of the day we'll have to make up for the over 400 feet climb we're expecting. It is a good day to take many breaks. We're going about 4 miles per hour. This includes the parts going down hill.

A straw bale provides a good spot to shield from the wind and rest a while.

The wind is hammering us. We can now understand the reason for the large number of windmills in this area. There is hardly a tree on the plain to break the wind.

The wind keeps on blowing. The blades on the mills keep on turning.

The thought of Best Western brings us closer and closer to town. It is a very hard day. Yesterday went so easy, today it's all different. We're litterally inching closer. Finally town is in sight. What a relief. We even see a Burger King. It is definitely time for a break. Ahhh

We call Jeff, he arranged the Best Western for us. He is going to meet us there after a while. We stay at the Burger King for a little while. There are always people wanting to know more about our journey. When we're rested we make our final mile to the motel.

Not only has Jeff lined up the motel, he also brought a fine thanksgiving dinner. What a display.

What a feast we were treated to. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

We are having an enjoyable time visiting with Jeff and Michelle. Thanks for everything guys!

Thank you Michele and Jeff for giving us a Thanksgiving we will never forget.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,839
Campsite: Best Western, Snyder, Texas
Elevation: 2,320 feet
Weather: Another winters day.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

We're staying here for today. We can use the rest.

Jeff is our tourguide for the day. We ride to Roscoe to see the statue of the Albino Buffalo. A former resident of Roscoe, a Mr Mooar, shot one in the 19th century.

Next we go to Sweetwater. It is here that the women pilots were trained to help fly planes in World War II. The WASPs. Cheyenne once read a story about the WASPs.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Today 46 miles, Total 2,885
Campsite: Best Western, Post, Texas
Elevation: 2,605 feet
Weather: Crisp and blue, warming up nicely in the afternoon.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

We wake up to the sun peeking through the crack in the curtain. It's time to get up and get going. Bill heads with the girls for breakfast as Amarins cleans up the room. It works out great. When Bill comes back with the girls, our things are put up and the riding clothes are layed out. Amarins heads for breakfast with Jasmine on her tail. She's going for round two.

It is nine when we are on the road again. Bill is taking us a surprise route. We go under the train tracks and are out of town already. He knew about this route from Kenny, who we met at the Burger King the other day. Kenny took Bill out for a tour around the county yesterday. It is nice to be out of town so quickly. We ride through the fields and get to highway 84 without problems.

We stay on the shoulder of the road. It is a four lane highway, but traffic is heavy today. The shoulder will do just fine.

Mountain ahead.

The country side keeps on changing. There are less mesquite trees and more evergreens. The dirt is more of a red color then the beige we saw earlier on the journey. A butte is sticking up from time to time. We like it very much. It's rustic, majestic, vast. We wonder how the pioneer days were like. How would it be to camp under the skies seeing the endless stars. Hovering around the campfire, fixing a simple meal.

The morning is still a bit cool. It chills our noses, it reddens our cheeks. It's a beautiful day to be outdoors. We realize once again how blessed we are to be able to be on this journey. We've traveled over 2,800 miles by faith. Having our bills in order in Kentucky when we left, leaving home with only $300 dollars to our name. We've made it this far by the generosity of people like you, of the people we meet on our path. This country we live in and which we call home, is filled with an abundance of wonderful people and we meet them every day. Every day.

Cheyenne in battle gear.

Robin Hoods...

A slight tail wind is helping us cruise along. We're not climbing in elevation yet. The road just gently rolls along. We're leaving the windmills behind us. We're in big oil country. Just outside of Snyder is a historical marking. It tells about the Billionth barrel that was pumped in the area in 1973, only 25 years after the discovery of the oil field. The field is still going strong, looking at the number of pumps. Robin calls the smaller pumps 'baby pumps'.

Every journey starts with a small step, in our situation a single stroke. We don't know how many strokes we've made so far, but we can guess it have been about 2 Million! Uphill it takes us a thousand strokes a mile. On the flat in high gear it takes us about 300. So an average of 650 strokes per mile times the 2,800 miles we've traveled, brings us to 1,820,000 strokes. Thus Two Million for short.

Jasmine is admiring the rough country side.

When we get to Justiceburg, 30 miles from Snyder, we know to turn off the main road towards the lake. Here we'll find the Burnham Country Store and Grill. Kenny arranged for us to have lunch here and if we want a place to camp. It is still early. We rest, eat and rest some more. The food is very good. It fills us well.

Lunch at the Burnham Country Store and Grill just off of hwy 84 in Justiceburg.

The temperature outside is slowly rising. We decide to take advantage of this warmer weather and go the 15 more miles to Post. The weather forecast for tomorrow is very iffy. It might stay dry, but it could rain and perhaps even snow. We don't need our jackets any more. Eventhough we are going uphill from here, we keep a steady pace and even amaze ourselves. It must be the wind that helps us. And of course our determination to get to Post.

These burros were very excited about us passing by. They brayed and ran with us for as long as they could. Just imagine if there had been no fences. We'd have quite a following of horses, cows and donkeys.

With the laughter about the donkeys still fresh on our minds, we keep on going. There are some clouds rolling in, but it stays warm. This is probably part of 'that front' that is coming through. Weather is a funny thing. Do we really think we can predict what it is going to be like lets say next week Friday? We can't even be sure about tomorrow. Although we hope that the weather is going to be great of course.

The sun is still one hand above the horizon as we enter Post. Since it is a bit late and the weather forecast for tomorrow doesn't look to appealing, we are looking for a motel for tonight. We check on two motels in town, but decide they are too expensive. Well, our tent will have to do then. We head out of town to look for a place to pitch the tent. We see a Best Western across the street and give it one more shot. They are willing to cut us a deal, but it still seems to expensive. While we are thinking about what to do, a car pulls over and gives us exactly the amount we need for the motel. A sign for us to take it and head for the motel. Thank you sir!

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,885
Campsite: The Altman's home, Slaton, Texas
Elevation: 3,064 feet
Weather: Icy drizzle with a North-Eastern wind.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

It is cloudy, windy and a bit cool, but it is dry! It looks like we can ride to Slaton today. We get everything packed and loaded. We have ourselves some breakfast and get ready to go. Bill takes the bicycle outside (we had it parked in the lobby), only to realize that it is drizzling. Enough to get wet from in a short period of time. And wet means cold. Wet and cold could mean sick. Not the kind of weather we choose to ride in.

Everything is ready to go.

It is time to put our heads together. There are several options. We stay another night or we call our friends in Slaton for help . Staying another night means incurring costs we don't want to carry. Calling for help means skipping a part of the journey. ..... ..... .....

A lot of packages are waiting for us in Slaton. The materials we need for Robin, so she can start pedaling with us. The new trailer that Burley send, free of charge and with several updates strengthening the entire trailer. Several other packages with clothing and lights. Bill needs to make an adjustment on the Z-torque to secure it in place better. All of this will take time to put together. And winter is upon us. After all, that's why we will not ride today.

It is decision time. We decide to call for help. This is the first time in this four month journey. We will transport our bicycle, trailer and our selves to Slaton. Our journey will include a 23 mile gap. It is what it is. And it is good.

Calling in the troops.

We watch tv together in the lobby as we wait. When Ray arrives it is time to secure the bicycle on his trailer. Amarins stays inside with the girls. It is nice and warm inside.

Loading the bicycle on the trailer. Securing it with many bungy cords.

The ride to Slaton is very pretty. First we drive up the hill. It is a rolling hill which keeps on climbing until it ends on a plateau. The plateau rises very slowly. It would have been a beautiful hill to conquer by bicycle.

We are welcomed with open arms and feel immediately at home. Our bedroom has five beds side by side. The girls immediately claim theirs, after which they jump ffrom the one to the other. They're excited to be in Slaton. All sorts of toys and games are there to play with.

Time to play on the computer with Adam.

We are in Slaton now. This concludes the fourth leg of our journey, with a total of 2,885 miles. We are going to stay here until we've got the bicycle all retooled and the new Burley trailer put together. Winter weather is forecasted for the entire week. If it moves out on Saturday, that will be the day for us to start the fifth leg of the journey, from Slaton, Texas to San Diego, California.

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Monday thru Friday, November 29 thru December 4, 2009

Today 0 miles, Total 2,885
Campsite: The Altman's home, Slaton, Texas
Elevation: 3,064 feet
Weather: To cold and wet to ride.
Flat tires: 0, Total 16
Falls with bicycle: 0, Total 5

A week in pictures.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Brood met muisjes!!!

Riding Robin.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An interview with the Slatonite:

The girls are acting like pro's when it comes to being interviews. Their answers still are a bit short from time to time. 'How do you enjoy the journey?' 'Good."

Fun with playdough.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another day with playdough.

Picture by Jasmine. Jasmine's creation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It is snowing!

Cheyenne is trying to catch the snow on her tongue.

Robin is going for the ice skating rink. It takes a little to long to freeze though.

The first ride with Robin in the saddle. We're pulling our new Burley trailer. Thanks

Friday, December 4, 2009

Drawings by Cheyenne.

Click here for more pictures of this week.

Read about the continuation of our journey: Slaton, Texas to San Diego, California.

Read about the journey
from Florida to Mississippi

Read about the journey
from South Carolina to Florida

Read about the journey
from Kentucky to South Carolina

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