Crossing Paths on 380 [news]

02/22/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

We have had the great pleasure to meet some truly driven people while biking great lengths. We are making our cross-country journey in the dead of winter (a truly foul weathered winter) and on a route that is unlike the few traditional routes planned by the Adventure Cycling Association. A few days ago at latitude 33.17204 and longitude -97.86115 we chanced upon two representatives from the International Mountain Bike Association. Sponsored by Subaru they were given all the gear necessary to travel the country.

We passed by and enjoyed lunch with them on the coast of Lake Bridgeport. Both were enthused to meet us and confirmed we were the first touring pair they had seen yet this year. We admired their choice of locomotion (four wheels and gasoline) and their chances to ride their bikes day after day. Through acts of 'Paying Forward' they gave us a sack of nutritional bars and gels for those extra weary days. We parted on route 380 bound to opposite cardinal directions.

The day later we saw a speck on the horizon coming closer to us at almost a similar speed as a loaded touring bike. The weather has lately drawn everybody indoors and we were thrilled to meet someone else on the road. With a three wheeled cart filled with camping gear and food, Patrick McGlade nearly passed us running at top speed. We chatted for awhile and exchanged cards. He was running a marathon a day for 2,500 miles to Savannah, GA from San Diego, CA.

We asked him how the Rockies were when he left and what the desert was like a month ago. The look in his eyes gave us both something to look forward to when he enthusiastically responded with a simple "Beautiful." He is running for juvenile arthritis.

Both accounts gave us something to think about for we have met individuals on the road with similarities to us. All with a drive to accomplish and move. Traveling for the sake of refreshment and purpose for both themselves and others.

Snowy Texas [news]

02/15/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

We were in Hawkins, Texas. Birthplace of Aunt Jemima; A proud hub in the American pancake world. Strolling in I requested we bunk out in a local hotel; I was sick. Ironically the weather systems changed and with a stroke of coincidence it started to snow in Texas. We were warned that this part of the country was famous for their southern ice storms so we were lucky to be sheltered for the night. Little did anyone know that it would snow nearly a foot. Breaking any and all records in the area.

We awoke, ate breakfast at the Jewel Cafe and decided we would push west on route 80. Push is what we did. There were no plows in the area and the only pavement visible was at the bottom of tire ruts. It was a beautiful morning with freshly lain snow covering every tree and every building. The most people we saw on that run were the few stuck in the ditches by the side of the road, unpracticed in slick driving conditions. Paul & I had a blast.

It was a drastic change in scenery for us and we felt reminiscent of New England. Just west of Hawkins, Paul took the brief opportunity to photograph a large snowman while I pedaled ahead some. A few minutes later I looked back to see an empty divided highway, blue and white with the morning sun. Searching for Paul I found him sitting on a porch, drinking hot cocoa, and chatting with a snowed in Texan family. We stayed with them for hours.

One of my goals for this trip was to learn how to ride a horse. I was not all that determined to search out my opportunity that particular day but by happenstance this family let me mount up on Leo, their stallion. I donned a pair of cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, a pair of size-to-small snow pants, and my Team Bowditch short sleeve shirt and set off to trot. Boy did I have a thrill at that. I would not mind being a cowboy. I was a lucky guy that day; I do not think many people can say that their first horse ride was 3,000 miles away from home in Texas, with inches of snow on the ground.

Jackson and the Trace [news]

01/30/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

All through Mississippi Paul & I were especially eager to meet up with the Natchez Trace just north of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. We rode almost 60 miles the day prior just to get up to the parkway. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a two lane road setup by the National Park Service. It follows the original footpath that led travelers from Natchez, a primary port town at what used to be a southwestern limit to the United States, to Nashville Tennessee, the terminus.

The Trace was first formed by deer trails and other natural seams in the forest. Native people including the Choctaw and Chickasaw walked these paths to move throughout the land. After centuries of foot traffic these paths became ingrained in the soil, at places 30 ft. deep. With the rise of the white man and civilization in the form of towns and water transportation people would drift down the Mississippi and walk north using the trail system. Stands were setup along the way to help the traveler.

No longer in full use, the Natchez Trace has faded with the advent of the automobile and paved roads. We traveled the Parkway in remembrance of those that traveled by foot, sometimes risking their lives.

Passing through Jackson we stopped at the state news paper, the Clarion-Ledger. They interviewed us and photographed us in their courtyard. After stopping at a café, Paul & I continued south on the Trace, traveling to Natchez, to see a historic and wealthy town, prospering from the Mississippi river and it's rich heritage.

Tuskegee, AL [news]

01/20/2010 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

Among the six or seven National Parks in Alabama, Paul & I have been to three. First on our list was the Tuskegee Institute (the only Institute to receive National Park status) with Moton Airfield, home of the Tuskegee Airmen, across town. We covered only 20 miles that day but we received a greater appreciation in our discoveries of Black History and the many prominent leaders in this area that haven't made the history books.

Our first discovery was the intriguing and simple life of George W. Carver. Born with a desire to learn and a curiosity about nature, he became known to have a deeper relationship with the natural and agricultural world. Under Booker T. Washington's command, Carver taught at the prestigious Institute in Tuskegee and both pioneered education that influenced national standards and practices.

All whom knew him revered at his simple life and total fascination with natural beauty. When someone would take notice of the fresh flower in his lapel (replaced daily) he would lean in and say "Let me tell you something about this flower." He had no need for money and grew most of his own food. He found simple solutions to lifes problems with plants and their composition. He invested once in his life in a bank that failed shortly thereafter. He responded when asked what he thought about loosing all hismoney with "Well, I guess it's with someone that needed it more than me."

Only a few miles away is Moton Field. Many African-Americans during the civil rights movement applied for the armed services. A majority of them were rejected and only a few were allowed into an 'experimental group' titled The Tuskegee Airmen. These airmen fought for their country and their own rights. The National Park exhibit was closed for improvements this year, however, we received VIP status and were given a tour around the hangers. These hangers were filled with vintage aircraft and tools owned by the airmen. We truly appreciated the chance to learn the history of these men.