Lewis and Clark Cycling Trek

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


This trip was quite different than the first three years. The most noticeable was the amount of traffic. As we traveled along the Lewis and Clark Trail during the first 3 years, for the most part, traffic was sparse. Not so in our southern states. We were frequently subjected to heavy traffic. I was most surprised by logging trucks. I really hadn’t expected that. I guess I didn’t realize that Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi would have that much lumber industry. I was also surprised that southern Illinois, and western Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi were all quite hilly, with some really challenging ones. I didn’t realize that the foothills of the Appalachians extended that far west. Some of these hills rivaled the crossing of the Rockies and Cascades, at least as far as steepness is concerned.

This year we traveled 1649 miles partially through the states of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida for exactly 30 days. Our average daily mileage was 56 miles a day. We had a low mileage day of 18.53 miles because of mechanical problems. Our highest mileage was 83.34 miles because there were no lodging opportunities between the 2 points on that particular day. Speaking of lodging, we stayed in more motels than we ever have during the first 3 years. We stayed in 1 cabin, 1 private home and 11 motels during the 30 day tour. The weather was hot and humid through the entire month. I believe that there was only once that the temperature dropped below 70 degrees during the night and it was frequently in the mid-80s most nights. This made tent-sleeping very difficult, especially for me. I’m sure this lead to the increased number of motel nights. Spokewrench didn’t seem to mind the heat nearly as much as I did. Daytime temperatures were always in the 90’s at least part of the day and it was very humid throughout the month.

Riding conditions were varied. In Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, we were frequently on county roads. This would seem the safest, but we often encountered heavy truck traffic...mostly logging trucks and dump trucks. County roads rarely have shoulders, so this was a source of stress for me. State roads in most of these states had wider shoulders but, particularly in Alabama, the shoulder was often covered with rumble strips making biking on them difficult if not impossible. In Florida, we lost the rumble strips but had a great deal more car and some truck traffic. Florida had a fair number of bike-only lanes and we found almost all of our bike trails in Florida. I always breathed a big sigh of relief when we were able to ride on both of those. On shoulders everywhere we were constantly avoiding bark from the lumber trucks, truck tire pieces that had exploded, frequent broken glass, dead snakes, and, most frequently, roadkill armadillos.

We had 3 flats during the ride. We each had a flat on our trailer. Spokewrench’s was due to wire from truck tires and mine was due to glass. The third flat was my rear tire (in the last 10 miles of the ride) from, again, truck tire wire. Spokewrench wore out his rear tire so we replaced both his front and rear along the way. We also replaced his trailer tires for a pair with higher pressure for easier pulling. (I had replaced mine before we left, and found them quite efficient).

Altogether, we have traveled from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean in the first 3 years and then from St. Louis to the Atlantic Ocean this year, completing a transcontinental ride the hard way…diagonally…northwest to southeast. This amounted to just under 6000 miles for the 4 year odyssey. Will there be more in future years??? Who knows???

Students: You have until Monday, August 13 to submit the answers to the 30 questions we have posed. Remember to send them to the email address where we make our announcements. Good Luck!!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Day 30, Aug. 2-Hawthorne, FL to St. Augustine, FL (Anastasia State Park Campground)

73.69 miles. N29.52 X W81.17

When I woke up this morning, I thought the motel room had a leak. I could hear a dripping sound. It wasn’t a leak, it was the rain dripping from the roof of our room. One would expect that the final day of a 16 week odyssey would be something like this: Clear, sunny skies, cool temperatures, quiet country roads, and a mechanically sound ride. What really happened is we had overcast skies with rain most of the day, hot, humid temperatures such that a raincoat was too hot an option, busy state highways with shoulders, some of the heaviest traffic we have seen, and a flat tire with only 10 miles to go. We packed up and set off for the last day of the trek. We biked back to last night’s supper location for breakfast, then got back on the road. Naturally, the rain had not subsided. The rain finally stopped around 11 at which point we had lunch. Once again, however, it was raining when we left. As mentioned before, we had a flat with just 10 miles to go. Spokewrench fixed that (in the rain) and we were back in the saddle within 15 minutes. We finished the last 10 miles to the campground and set up the tent, in the rain. We biked down to a small pavilion where we cooked a supper of Macaroni and Cheese with Vienna Sausage. After that, we biked down to the Atlantic Ocean to take pictures documenting us and our bikes in the ocean. We went down later to swim a little. This is officially the end of this leg of the ride and completes a 4 year odyssey that has led us from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean (on the Lewis and Clark Trail) and then from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico (on the Underground Railroad Trail) and then on the Atlantic (on the Southern Tier Trail). Unofficially, we have traveled 1648 miles this summer and a total of around 6000 miles. Tomorrow we drive!!!

Question of the day: Calculate how many pedal strokes it has taken us to the bicycle the complete 6000 mile trip. Use an average speed of 11.5 miles per hour and an average cadence of 75.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Day 29, Aug. 1-High Springs, FL (O’Leno State Park) to Hawthorne, FL

58.79 miles. N29.35 X W82.05

We left a beautiful, but dripping campground and biked into High Springs, FL and to a restaurant for breakfast. We had a variety of roads and pathways to bike on today. We were briefly on state roads, but mostly on county roads going into Gainsville. Once we made it to Gainsville, as a university town, we found bike lanes on almost all the roads we traveled in the city. We also biked about 2 or 3 miles on the Gainsville-Waldo Rd. Greenway…this led us to the Gainsville-Hawthorne Greenway that would take us 16 miles into Hawthorne via this rails-to-trails conversion. This greenway was pristine. It was paved and in excellent condition. The trail was well marked and made for a very pleasant ride. We did encounter rain about half way across the greenway, but just enough to cause us to put everything under cover. It never rained seriously and we didn’t get soaked. It was just enough to cool us off and cover our bikes with sand…again. We biked on to Hawthorne and stopped at Sonny’s for supper. We had a called the Ranch Motel and Campground earlier and were told that there would be no problem getting a room. With the rain and the threat of more, we decided to spend the night in one of the inexpensive motel rooms. Tomorrow is St. Augustine!

Question of the Day:

Which university, which has won titles in football and basketball this season, is located in Gainsville?

Day 28, July 31-Live Oak, FL (Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park) to High Springs, FL (O’Leno State Park)

54.72 miles. N29.54 X W82.35

I had a flat tire today before we had gone over 10 miles…a piece of a brown beer bottle lodged in my tire. I saw it before I hit it, and dodged it with my bicycle, but I couldn’t avoid it with the trailer. In my opinion, glass throwers are the lowest level of human life forms. People who throw glass bottles on the roadway should have their driver’s license suspended for life and be issued a bicycle and garbage bags so they can dodge and pick up roadway glass. We see glass everywhere and all the time. I’m surprised we haven’t flatted from glass before this. I also have a similar opinion about people who throw dirty diapers on the roadside, but I won’t go into that one.

It pretty much rained and dripped all night long. We stayed dry in the tent, but it was pretty hot and damp. Today’s problem is that we have decided to do a 55 mile ride and our map shows no services for the entire trip. Isn’t it amazing that you can go 55 miles in one of the most populous states in the U.S. and can go that far without a place to stop and eat or use the restroom? Well, fortunately, the map was wrong. We found a coffee shop in Wellborn at the 17 mile mark and then around the 50 mile mark we found a campground and convenience store. Most of the route today was on country roads and relatively flat. The ride was pretty much uneventful. The weather was hot in the morning then somewhat cooler in the afternoon as it became partially overcast, threatening rain. We pulled into O’Leno State Park and immediately saw a couple of deer along the side of the road. We haven’t seen many deer since biking in Florida. We set up camp amid thunder all around us. Our equipment is still wet from last night’s rain and it looks like more rain is in the offing. We waiting a little before starting to cook, in case the rain should start. Finally, we decided we’d better eat. I cooked and we were able to eat without getting wet. While we were eating, we heard a pair of barred owls talking to each other. After supper, I was writing in the journal when I saw one of the barred owls fly down to the ground and pounce on something and fly back up to the tree to eat. I tried to mimic its call, but unfortunately, scared it away. Perhaps my call was a warning call…or it was just plain weird. Sure enough the rain started a little before dusk, and while we were showering. It rained very hard for 20 minutes or so and then rained lightly for most of the night. We spent another night shut up in our tent, dry, but very warm and damp. By the way, the spider in the picture above is a banana spider...and, no, it is not making a cell phone call, it's just for size comparison.

Question of the day:

What English phrase is used to mimic the call of a barred owl?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 27, July 30-Tallahassee, FL to Live Oak, FL (Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park)

83.34 miles. N30.24 X W82.57

Congratulations are in order. As of yesterday, I am now a grandfather for the fourth time, the first time for my son and daughter-in-law. But the real congrats go to the new Mom and Dad. What a blessed event!

We spent the night in Tallahassee at the Best Western on the east side. We debated as to whether this was a good idea or not, and it turned out to be a great idea as you will read below. We left in good time after a continental breakfast at the hotel, one of the best, I might add. We biked 18 miles to Monticello hoping to find a little more to eat. Alas, we didn’t find a restaurant in Monticello on our route. We biked on to Greenville, another 15 miles or so. Nothing in Greenville but convenience food and no place to sit. Next stop at the 48 mile marker was Madison, by this time we are starved. Finally a sit down restaurant. I called from this restaurant for our campground tonight and the campground was closed. That meant another 32 miles, making a total of over 80 as you can see at the top. I called the next campground and reserved a spot for the night. We biked on to Lee, got something to drink and that’s about where the sky opened up on us. It rained all the remaining 25 miles of the trip into the campground. With the heat and humidity, the rain felt good and cooled us off. This campground is much like a KOA with all kinds of facilities including a restaurant. We had supper, pitched our tent, and perched on the office porch to blog.

Question of the day: This campground is named after a famous river. Who made this river famous?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Day 26, July 29-Eastbank Campground, Bain Bridge, GA Near Chattahoochee, FL to Tallahassee, FL

55.11 miles. N30.29 X W84.10

It remained clear all night, so we did not need the rain-fly. This helped the heat in the tent a little. It was still pretty warm but we managed a pretty good sleep. We were also able to keep the ants at bay thanks to the pesticide the camp host loaned us. I did find some woodroaches in the trailer, but I chased them off. We got a late start. We slept in a bit as we were expecting a short day today, but decided before we left to not take the 45 mile bypass of Tallahassee that Adventure Cycling suggests and go directly through the city. This will save us a day of biking, but make today a bit longer. We also lost an hour today because of the changing time zones. Anyhow we didn’t get started until after 10:00…and it was a hot one. Yesterday was 97 degrees, and it seemed hotter than that to me. The only problem was that we needed to find a motel on the east side of Tallahassee. An internet connection would allow us to search by area, but we couldn’t find a connection. We stopped at 3 McDonald’s and one Burger King, but nothing. Finally just outside of downtown Tallahassee, we found a Starbucks that had a connection and we quickly found a motel. We biked directly through the downtown, but since this was a Sunday afternoon, the traffic was fairly light. We pulled into the Best Western at about 6:00 p.m., a little later than normal. I am pretty much whipped today. The stifling heat doubled with the hills (yes, I said hills) of Tallahassee made it a difficult day for me. Spokewrench, however, seemed to get along pretty well. Well, we are in the air conditioning with some thunderstorms booming around in the area. I’m looking forward to a good, cool night’s sleep.

Question of the day: Can you find two words in today’s blog that have a triple-double?

Day 25, July 28-Bonifay, Fl to Eastbank Campground (COE), Bain Bridge, GA.

61.26 miles. N 30.43 X W 84.51

Spokewrench got up today feeling a little punky. We walked next door to the Waffle House for breakfast and both ordered big breakfasts. Spokewrench ate hardly any of his and I actually didn’t do much better, eating about half of mine. I sent him back to the motel room to rest and I gathered the excess baggage we have been carrying around, took it to the Bonifay Post Office and sent it back home. I had a bag full of unneeded receipts and maps, Spokewrench’s bicycle tire he replaced, our never used water filter, some brochures, and a couple of gifts for family. We finally got on the road around 9:30. Today we biked 10 miles and then stopped, rested, and ate or at least drank something. That seemed to help us get through the day. It was 5:00 Central time when we reached the campground and 6:00 Eastern time. We seem to be moving in and out of the Eastern time zone. Also we are just across the state line in Georgia. We will go right back into Florida tomorrow, but it’s kind of cool to say we camped in Georgia tonight. We are in a beautiful campground and have it pretty much to ourselves. I can’t see anyone else around. There are no people in the tent section, but I don’t know about the RV section. Here’s the plan: blog, make pudding, shower, sleep. I’m especially looking forward to the last one.

Question of the day: I mentioned time zones in the blog. Can you find the exact location on Route 90 where the time zone changes from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Day 24, July 27-Crestview, FL to Bonifay, FL

60.84 miles. N30.46 X W85.41

We had a possible kidnapping today—no, not Spokewrench, but Scout, our little stuffed mascot. Yesterday afternoon, I untied him from my trailer and set him on top while I put my bike in the motel room. That’s the last we saw of him. We didn’t actually miss him until morning. When we got ready to leave, Scout was gone. I asked at the front desk, the housekeepers, and the maintenance man…nothing. So we left Scout-less. It’s a little sad. He has been with us since St. Louis on the Lewis and Clark Trail.

We left Crestview around 9:00 after breakfast at McD’s. We rode on Route 90 all day today. It is a pretty busy road, but there is a smooth, 4 foot shoulder and fairly level terrain allowing us to make good time today. A slight push from a southwest wind didn’t hurt anything either. We pedaled through Mossy Head, DeFuniak Springs, Ponce de Leon (stopped here for lunch at Sally’s Restaurant), Westville, Caryville, and finally Bonifay. Yes, we are staying at another motel. This area is not good for campgrounds. In the last 4 we called, 2 will not accept tent camping, 1 was closed, and the last was expensive and off-route more than we like. So we are at a motel for the 3rd day in a row. Hopefully, we will have more campgrounds in our future. This is getting expensive.

Question of the day: Take a look at the picture above. Ponce de Leon is the name of a Spanish explorer who came to Florida looking for something special. What was he looking for? (There’s a clue in the picture.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 23, July 26-Pensacola, FL to Crestview, FL

64.23 miles. N30.44 X W86.34

The day divides itself into 2 distinct halves today. The first half was busy, noisy roads with lots of traffic. This was coming out of Pensacola and traveling to Milton on Route 90. Just to make it more interesting, after biking for about an hour, we encountered a downpour. The heavy rain followed us for about 30 minutes completely soaking us. We didn’t put on raincoats because of the heat. The big problem was the traffic. Every 5 seconds, a car would pass us spraying us with road water laced with sand. We were literally covered with sand. In Milton we found a Sonic to eat. The good thing about the Sonic is that we could eat outside under a covered area out of the rain and we didn’t have to drip all over the restaurant. The rain pretty much stopped by the time we were finished eating.

The second half of the ride was dryer and much, much quieter. We picked up the Blackwater Heritage Trail out of Milton. It was a wonderful, wide, smooth biking path. We followed that for 5.5 miles. I even spotted a box turtle crossing the path in front of us. The trail ended all too soon, but we continued on quiet, county roads for almost the rest of the mileage. We stopped at Holt at a restaurant for an early evening meal. I called the campground where we intended to stay for the night…bad news…they no longer have tent campsites. We called the other campground near Holt and same answer. 13 more miles down the road was Crestview, but no campgrounds. The nearest campground was 43 miles away…way to far for us today. Crestview does have motels, so we broke down and took another motel. Oh well, it’s a good chance to shower away the sand coating we are wearing.

Question of the day: If you have been in my classes at Washington, I have told you the answer to this question. Today we saw a box turtle, like Tilly and Boxer, in my classroom. Tilly is a female and boxer is a male. What is the unique way male and female box turtles can be told apart?

Day 22, July 25. Dauphin Island Campground, AL to Pensacola, FL

58.71 miles. N 30.25 X W87.13

We didn’t get into a good rhythm today. We started out without breakfast, so we could make the first ferry off the island. We have a 60 miler to do today after the ferry and the earlier we can get at it, the better. The ferry left the island at 8:00 and put us back on the mainland at 8:40. By the time we got on the road, it was 9:00. Late to do 60 miles but do-able if one keeps at it. Tonight is Pensacola and, as is our usual policy, we stay at a motel when stopping in a city. The ride was flat as a pancake today, except for bridges and there were several of those. Most of the day was spent biking along the coast. We have seen more condos along the beaches than I thought possible. There seemed to be one after the other, for hour after hour. We left Alabama and entered Florida around 2:00 p.m. without fanfare…in fact we didn’t even know we were in Florida until we noticed the road number changed. No picture of us under the “Welcome to Florida” sign this time. We ran across a bike shop shortly before arriving at the inn. Spokewrench was able to find a match to the front tire he bought the other day and a kickstand to replace the one that exploded in Gosport, AL. The inn in Pensacola added to this unusual day. The first room where we were placed had serious, and I do mean serious, toilet problems. The front desk person changed us to another room. In this room, the remote didn’t work and the shower was cold. We complained again and the lady gave Spokewrench the codes to calibrate the remote. He was able to correct that problem…but the shower is still cold. We walked several blocks to check out a couple of restaurants for a burger. One was very expensive, we found out, after we were seated, so we left. The other was a pub and it didn’t quite feel right. So we walked back to the hotel and order out for pizza. Things turned out pretty well. We have a room that has a working toilet and remote, we have enough pizza for both supper and breakfast tomorrow morning, and the air conditioner is keeping the room “sleeping cool.” All we lack is a hot shower...oh well, 4 out of 5 isn’t bad.

Question of the day: The picture at the top of the page was taken from the ferry this morning. What is the function of the structure in the picture?

Day 21, July 24-Mobile, AL to Dauphin Island Campground, AL

46.98 miles. N 30.15 X W 88.05

We left Mobile at 9:00, 3 hours later than we had planned. We wanted to get an early start to miss the rush hour traffic downtown…but…it was raining. The weather said it would clear soon so we decided to leave around 9:00 after rush hour instead of before. It worked out pretty well. The traffic wasn’t too bad. We are actually traveling off-route because we are between the Underground Railroad route and the Southern Tier route. A gentleman at the bicycle shop in Mobile gave us a route down to Dauphin Island and it worked out quite well. Thanks, Mike. We made it to Dauphin Island in good time after crossing one of the longest bridges we have biked over yet. I don’t know exactly, but it was somewhere between 4 to 6 miles.

And now…three foot breakers wash up into the white sands churning the clamshells and pebbles over and over. The beach is rather isolated with only 5 or 6 families enjoying the summer sun and the warm Gulf water. Every few minutes I see a pelican skimming along the water searching for fish, I assume. The beach itself is dotted with tree stumps to my left but mostly white sand on my right. Back from the shore a ways, clumps of beach grasses and another plant I can’t recall, agave perhaps (see the picture above). All this, right behind our camp. Awesome! Spokewrench and I even took a dip in that delightfully warm water. Spokewrench’s claim to fame? A possible jellyfish sting.

Question of the day: The flags of 4 different countries have flown over Dauphin Island. What are those 4 countries?