Bunkie, LA-> Austin, TX= 446 miles
- 10/25: Bunkie, LA (Fire station)-> Chicot State Park (Youth camp cabin) = 11 miles
- Spent all morning writing the last blog post. I lucked out by calling the Chicot youth camp and was told I could stay there in one of the cabins, in a bed with running water and bathrooms. Well, I technically told them I was going to camp outside the cabin but I couldn’t resist staying inside (I used my sleeping bag on the bed).
- 10/26: Chicot State Park-> Deridder, LA (Warmshowers) = 92 miles
- Spent about an hour in the Louisiana Arboretum learning about Bald Cypress and vernal pools and Horsesugar and Mulberry trees. The ride through the park was scenic and traffic was low. I got to Deridder around 6pm to meet Mandy and her dogs. Mandy was a generous and experienced host, she fed me dinner and had a bed made. I played ball with her two dogs then watched TV until past midnight and slept until 10, old habits die hard, or not at all.
- 10/27: Deridder-> Kirbyville, TX (Methodist Church)= 43 miles
- Mandy drove me to the Post office in the morning so that I could vote absentee, I filled out my application in Franklinton, LA at the fair and luckily it had gone through and was sent to the post office. I made her late to the gym but she was not mad at me. In Kirbyville I met up with my host Jim Strickland and he took me out to dinner and we talked about Priuses and camping, mostly. He had done a 9 week canoe trip up in a wilderness area of Canada and told me some funny stories of the adventure.
- 10/28: Kirbyville, TX-> Shepherd Sanctuary, TX (campground) = 90 miles
- Jim paid for my breakfast at a local diner and told me about Kirbyville’s history as a logging town along the railroad. Jim was such a nice guy, he wanted to make my stay there as best as possible it seemed, and I could sense he got a real satisfaction from helping cyclists. After a big plate of southern breakfast and coffee I got started around 10am and rode hard to Shepherd, only taking short breaks. Shepherd Sanctuary was my favorite campground so far, it was decorated with strange antiques and had all these artistic tiny homes on the property. There was a full kitchen that I had access to (plus some of their food, they said so) so I cooked some “fancy ramen,” which consisted of chicken flavor Ramen, chives, soy sauce, and a soft boiled egg. I went into the loft and started reading A New Earth before passing out on the couch, they told me not to sleep up there so I went back outside to my tent.
- 10/29: Shepherd Sanctuary, TX-> College Station, TX = 100 miles
- In the morning I rode through Coldspring, TX where the monthly “Trade Days” fair was happening and got lemonade and perused the handmade soaps and antiques. 60 miles later it was 5:30 and I was in Anderson, close to Navasota, and still hadn’t decided where to camp. The campground in Navasota was 16 miles away, 6 miles in the wrong direction. I reached out to a friend that had connections in College Station. It worked out perfectly, that I had a place to stay and rode ~25 more miles while the sun set to make it a century and was welcomed with a tasty home cooked Sudanese dinner. My new friend’s name was Omar and we chatted over beers in the backyard with his friends.
- 10/30: Rest day in College Station
- Omar’s friend Josh picked us up and we went to a coffee shop, played disc golf, ate tacos at Fuego, and made plans for Omar to ride up from San Diego to San Francisco with me in January.
- 10/31: College Station-> Austin, TX = 110 miles
- I left around 7am and started my ride in thick fog across Texas A&M’s campus, ended up on a parkway that didn’t have a shoulder for a couple 100 yards and was really sketched out before the rode opened up and it was 11am before the fog cleared up so that the sun could heat everything up and I stopped at a Dollar General for a pint of ice cream and granola bars after 60 miles of riding past scenic farmland. I came in to Austin on the Walnut Creek Hike and Bike trail, helped some poor girls pump up a tire (which I’m sure had a slow leak) before their 12 mile ride, got a bunch of smiles and compliments from the friendly bikers of Austin, gave my granola bars to a homeless guy, and ended up at my friends’ house, exhausted and super happy to be there. We hugged and I met the dogs (Lucy and [the boy named] Sue), before taking a quick shower and then running errands.
- 11/1 – 11/7: Rest WEEK in Austin
- Walked my friend’s dogs to the Greenbelt and swam in Barton Springs, replaced my chain, went to Austin Bouldering Project, went to Whislers downtown on Sixth St., spent the weekend at Sound on Sound music festival (got in for free thanks to Jaz’s friend Brooke), read The Dharma Bums, drafted my grad school personal statement, met up with my friend Matt from Virginia Tech for tacos, amongst other fun things. Major shout out for Emily and Jaz for letting me stay at their place for a week, sorry for piling my stuff in the corner of the living room and breaking a wine bottle in the kitchen.