Thursday, May 31, 2001

Thursday 31 May

Henderson, TN

still here but much recovered from the gastric problem... the last medical bulletin prompted a large number of concerned emithers so thanks you to all for your concern and just to report that the Doc has done the biz, (at a knock down $100) and I'm ready to hit the road again.. heading towards St Louis..

meanwjhile I have been wonderfully looked after by the generous and warm people of Henderson.. including Wayne at the motel, and Trey at the Church of Christ and many others...

and I've made it to the pages of the Chester County Independent, courtesy of the managing editor, Catherine Hamm.

So fame at last, eh?

thunderstorms are still passing through, but the weekend looks better and I'm just working out the route (pronounced rout) out of here..

Henderson is the county town of Chester County... but it has no cinema, no bus or train station, and the library is four miles from what may be called downtown... there is no way anyone can access public services in Henderson without a car..

just wait till gas goes up to $5 a gallon, folks..
(it's currently about $1.60... that's about 30p a litre)


Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Tuesday 29 May

Henderson, Tennessee, county town of Chester County..

Medical report
those of you of a squeamish disposition, or if you don't want to know the result - look away now...

A cyclist writes - Doctor.. I'm suffering from the squits on a bicycle which is a trial and tribulation beyond belief..
I've also a touch of the googie withers... what is your advice?

A Doctor replies - well son, the squits on a bicycle occur when you get the squits while riding a bicycle - it can cause some difficulty to the cyclist... but look on the bright side - at least no-one is going to steal your bike. Why you may never need to carry that heavy bike lock around with you again... as for the googie withers... Miss Withers was an actress and personality of the stage and TV who died some years ago - so there's nothing we can do about that... that will be $45, thank you.

I passed a road called Memory Lane yesterday.. and another called Montezuma Road.. they both appeared to lead to nowhere.

Monday was Memorial Day... I was in a swamp of a campsite after a night of thunderstorms.. it was a kind of low point to date.. it was still raining and getting swampier - the loo was across the swamp and didn't have a door or any paper..

the tent performed brilliantly and kept all the rain out...
and the bike is still going well too.. changed the tyres over yesterday - and I'll need another set soon.. but then hit puncture number 4.. the shoulders of roads are littered with tiny shards of metal from rusty cars, and some broken glass.. not great.

I also have a passenger travelling with me - a spider has crept up into the hole between the front forks... and she spins a fresh web every night..so far haven't seen her.. but she's now a long way from home.

Memorial Holiday marked the start of summer and every american with a boat, a trailer, a fishing rod or a gun was out doing the american hunting and fisshing and the great outdoors thing..

more anon..
let's try and get this posted..

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Thursday 24 May

I'm in French Camp, Miss. and courtesy of the French Camp Academy computer.. thanks very much folks..

last night it rained again.. but the most important development has been the Immodium deficiency.. the attack of the squits... the revenge of the Choctaw nation if you get my drift... not a good feeling on the bike..

second encounter with a snake today.. a water mocassin... it was swimming in the creek.. I was on the bridge.

Helped a lady at Gaf's restaurant last night celebrate her 99 birthday.. I asked if US citizens got a telegram from the President.. no-one was sure - they were mightily impressed about people reaching 100 in England getting a Royal Telegram..

the Natchez Chase continues to be a delight... there are as many opportunities to watch wildlife as there are cars passing..

I'd better not outstay my welcome at the French Camp Academy..

more anon, and let's hope the immodium works fast..

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

PS - Arbagast - the Insurance Investigator played by Martin Balsam in Psycho - sent out to trace Janet Leigh..
Wednesday 23 May

Kosciusko, Mississippi

70 miles north of Jackson and about 100 south of Tupelo.. Elvis's birthplace of course as everyone knows who watched any edition of who wants to be a millionnaire..

the Natchez Trace is a real find..the cycling is relatively easy, the scenery fantastic.. and the wildlife abundant.. had my first encounter with a deadly (as opposed to a dead) snake today.. as it dozedby the side of the road and I cycled past and thankfully not over it... it was bright red and black, and I think is called a copperhead..

it was probably pretending to be a dead bungy rope just to take unsuspecting folk in...

If by any chance I fail to register an update... and anyone decides to send an Arbagast after me..you can track me down from the gas stations along the route.. I've called in at most nearly every one to replensih the fluid levels...

Oh and I guess I should add a new category to the update... campfires lit of an evening - 1 last night at Ratliff Ferry..

matches used to get campfire started - 1 plus a few potato chips (crisps to you lot) as firelighters... some of us already know the flammability of Pringles..

and I've just seen another good TFTD outside the Church of God of Prophesy... worry is the darkroom where negatives are developed..


more anon

R

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Tuesday 22 May

some recent thanks

to Dave Gano at Mobile Internet Services for trying to get the photos to work... southern states people - SUPPORT this man and his internet business - you get the best back up service anyway..

Jerry Perry at the Roosevelt State Park in Morton, for getting me to the grocery store before the storm hit..

to the good folk at Carters General Store in Sandhill, and Della the Librarian in Sandhill..

for kindnesses that make so much of a difference..

Tuesady 22 May continued

From Waynsboro to Mount Olve via Laurel and Hot Coffee.. Hot Coffee has the most authentic general store.. the general store of all your collective imaginations.. and the good ole boys passed the time of day on the porch and inside..the sign outside said 'no loud and vexatious music' though whether this was to indiicate that none would be sold or none was to be played outside I'm not sure..

Mississippi is the Magnolia State.. some of the towns round here have names like - Hot Coffee, Fruitdale, Polkville, Basic, Enterprise, Increase, Energy and , best of all, Whynot.

I'm going well, the cooler weather is a great help and I can cut down the daily miles now that I'm about to get onto the Natchez TRace Parkway up towards Tupelo and Nashville...

and I hear we won the test match in three days... so all is well
Tuesday 22 May
Sandhill Mississippi, just north of Jackson

well the weather broke last night, there were storm and tornado warnings out, and the most tremendous storm broke over the Roosevelt State Park in Morton.. the lightning danced all around the sky and buckets and sheets of water fell..

luckily I was in a cabin, else I would surely have been washed away.

I'm in the heart of the Southern Baptist Bible Belt and the churches are more numerous than, well, bars for certain, Scott County is dry...

I've been putting in some long hard and hot days.. the humidity has been in the nineties % and the temperature the same degrees.. which is a terrible combination when the days have been as loing as 70 or 80 miles..

after Mobile, I cycled up to Waynesboro.. the main town of Wayne County (tonight Matthew I'm going to be Wayne County)..

there is nothing for 30 miles as you cross the state line from Alabama to Mississippi.. and I mean nothing.. even the gas stations are closed up and gone away..

A special mention to Dave Gano at Mobile Internet Services, who tried to get the photos working.. Thanks Dave and I hope that your wife speaks to you again soon.. that was help A and B the C of D..

let's just deal with the dead things on the side of the road... lots of dead wildlife..

In the UK we run over hedgehogs and rabbits mostly..
In France, there are hundreds of dead industrial gloves, rubber, canvas etc..
In the US, there are dozens of dead bungy ropes - plus dead racoons, lots of dead rockies... the occasional deer, snakes (I hope they are dead and not just fooling) and tortoises... worst of all and messiest and by far bad sight opf the week are the dead armadillos - oh boy when they get squashed the bits go a long way and they stink to high heaven...

better post this and start another...

Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday 18 May

So this is Mobile Alabama.. yes which means that I have crssed the first of many state lines... and the southern drawl and charm to go with it have definitely kicked in..

People so far have been extremely friendly.. like my freind the Brickie who gave me a map at the filling station on the other side of the City Limits.. and my friend Colin who put the bike into the back of his pick up and took me through the tunnel.. and my friend Chris at the Sainger Theatre.. what a beautiful 1950 seater auditrium, now 75 years old but a dream of art deco curlicews...

and my friends at Derry's Old Tyme Cafe in old downtown Mobile - great salad and home of the famous Dauphin Street Po-Boy.. no I never did find out...

I've a bit of a target in mind... aiming to get to Jackson Mississippi in a few days time and then head up the Old Natchez Trace Parkway.. an ancient trail from the north..

more anon

Oh

Please accept my apologies that the photographs are still locked in the camera and not yet up on the website... the last computer I ran into recognised that there was a camera trying to speak to it... but sadly, like the advertisement - we are both fluent Bough, unfortunately not in the same language..

I am seriously trying to reslove the problem, but in the meantime I hope that the lack of photies is not spoiling your enjoyment too much.. I'm still having fun..
and it's still over 90 degrees..

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Thursday 17 May

further musings on Florida

So here is a curious thing… America is shortly hitting the buffers as far as an energy crisis is concerned.. in California there are already occasional blackouts and more are predicted as the population turn up the A/C.. air conditioning..

In Florida there are local laws that prohibit the drying of clothes by hanging them out on washing lines to sunbathe and dry in a neat 20 minutes.. so people have to use driers, which in turn use up precious energy and electricity.

We are in the sunshine state for heavens sake – hang the washing out guys..

Oh and petrol (gas) is about to hit $3 a gallon.. that’s about twice what it is now.. for those of us working it out in England, petrol over here is about 30p a litre…

Oh and George.www.Bush.co.us has pronounced that conservation is not a matter of giving anything up.. it’s about building more power stations and drilling in the Gulf for more oil..

Nice one George.

more anon
Thursday 17 May

sorry for the slight pause in updates.. there has been a technical hitch with one of the host servers.. not this end..

I'm now just west of Pensacola.. and it's 92 degrees and rising...

this update comes courtesy of godd friends of frends, Ellen and Ron Roston.. to whom all hail and thanks for the winderful hospitality..

other headlines: I've now suffered the third puncture.. and these are getting a bit boring.. I keep lifting chunks of rusty metal out of my tyres.. and the flats happen usually at the height of the heat of the day...

the fluid intake has also risen to around 5 litres a day... and not much of it runs through the system.. if you get my drift.. sorry that is probably more mediacl detail than you require just now..

so from the Everglades I took the decision not to cycle through the alligator and snake infested swamp.. and rented a car for a couple of days to get across to the other side..

boy did I save myself some grief.. I seriously thnk I would have been in danger of my life if I had tried to bike it.. the road was only 2 lanes and the traffic was ferocious.. far worse than any creepy thing that crawls on its belly..

In the Everglades it is more a case of watching out that America doesn't sneak up on you..

I can't say that I'm all that keen on gators or snakes.. they pervade a kind of malevolence.. and there were plenty of them on the banks and in the canals on both sides of the road.. I took the obligatory photo and left them to it..

so made it to a state park on the Gulf coast

they have spiders here called house-keepers.. they are bigger than anything you see in Engalnd.. even in the bath..

the Ranger said they are not dangerous just respectful.. she said it was the smaller ones you had to careful of.. thanks a bunch.. don't tell me any more..

I ate at Captain Eddies in Sarasota.. the Gulf Coast equivalent of Captain Cod of Kiddrminster, or Danny Hagen's in Louth, except that Eddie serves Grouper and Yellow snapper.. and down the other end of the table was Ben Kingsley..

so do I feel embarrassed about hiring a car? not a bit... I'm not here to break any records of endurance or to put my life at risk..

oh and the notes at the state park also say.. mosquitos are a part of our eco-system and we do not use any poisons to destroy them... ok but they are not an essential part of my eco system and I ma more than happy to blast them with deet...

Thursday, May 10, 2001

Thursday 10 May

Key Largo - distance travelled under my own power 75 miles
Distance from my starting point - minus 75 miles - sadly because I've travelled in the opposite direction to Seattle...

but that's ok.. all part of ther plan
except that it is tougher down here than I thought it would be... there are fewer campsites between places...and the sun is high.

TRavelled a long road yesterday across the South Florida swamp - not quite the everglades but close enough..

there were a lot of deadly snakes by the side of the road so I didn't feel like stopping much... actually to be fair they were dead snakes.. but I bet they were deadly before they died.. and what had killed them all I ask?

the bike suffered it's first mechanical breakdown too when I was just 2 miles from the campsite in Key Largo - massive puncture as a piece of rusty chevrolet embedded itself in my tyre..

er, just to reassure relatives - the rusty bit was not attached to the chevrolet at the time.. it was just a large spike of metal..

so today - further running repairs - and seeking of advice about how to get out of Florida without too much further effort...

I lost a couple of pages of updates from Tuesday in Miami - did I mention that I have found a website dedicated to paintings of bicycles - it's called - www.bicyclepaintings.com...

Key Largo is like many US towns and cities on major highways - it is impossible to know where the highway stops and the town begins... there are a couplr of Malls - and a small plaza where the greyhound bus leaves and where hurrah the public library is located... everything else is either on the highway or a 'mile or so' down the road, and left at the junction...

I'm having to work out how to get over to the west coast - the road across the Everglades sounds terrifying - it's just a 2 lane highway raised up on a bank for 40 miles... down the bank on either side live slimy creatures that creep on their bellies... and snap at things..

this is not time to crack the joke - waiter I'll have an alligator sandwich - and make it snappy.

so, I'll try another update when I'm on the other side - it may go quiet for a while - no cause for alarm dear readers..

and I'm also having a certain difficulty getting the photies back - so apologies for those of you who are tuning in especially for the snaps (oh, no, not alligators again!)

cheers
R

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Tuesday 8 May

just lost about two pages

ah technology.

day 2

miles travelled under own power 25
miles from strating point 0
temperature - high 70s
wind speed gusting to gale force

spirits high as the wind

tomorrow the ride starts in earnest - down to Key Largo.. could be about 70 miles chums

hey Grimsby eh?

cheers
all round Miami Beach when that result came through

R
Tuesday 8 May

just lost about two pages

ah technology.

day 2

miles travelled under own power 25
miles from strating point 0
temperature - high 70s
wind speed gusting to gale force

spirits high as the wind

tomorrow the ride starts in earnest - down to Key Largo.. could be about 70 miles chums

hey Grimsby eh?

cheers

Monday, May 07, 2001

here we go

Miami Beach Monday 7 may 2001
let's start with the journey - oh by the way - I'm not goiung to correvct too many spelling errors - sorry if it gets a bit tedious..

the train from Derby, you have to start from somewhere - even Bill Bryson came from Des Moines - and the Train manager wanted to put me and the bike off at Leicester - the bike box was too big - a safety hazard... we compromised - I put, lifted the box onto the table in first class - it felt a bit like I got away with something sneaky... but this is sneaking up on america after all.

Now I know that my passport is nearing its expiry date - and the photo does not do me justice (whose passport photo does?).. However I can honestly say that I have never before experienced someone actually laughing out loud on the check in desk at Heathrow. The check in travel advisor and I exchanged pleasantries and idel banter for a couple of minutes much to the amusement of the queue that was extending behind..

and the bike had to be unpacked and disinfected... has there ever been a recorded case of transfer of foot and mouth between a bicycle tyre and a human being?

on the plane.. the first encounter with the vanity of older age.. oh dear sir, does not suit you sir, that rug.. that outrageously floppy and big rug.. that is a truly terrible wig...

First impressions of Miami Beach - fantastico, muchs hispanos, and the wonderful wonderful Art Deco.. this is 30s Miami before the developers got their hands on it.. all parallel lines and smooth curves and pastel colours.

and lots of neon when the sun went down.

falling into conversation with the shuttle bus driver - there was general amazement about the prosdpect of the journey ahead - which is all just vaguely worrying..

immediately - even on the toll road in from the airport - downtown and to Miami Beach the distances on the maps seem to expand.. this is a big country even in town..

I must remember the lesson of San Francisco and the ride out to the airport on that trip from Portland to Frisco - DO NOT attempt to bike out to airports..

Monday and the sun is up ust around 7am and hot by 9am and very hot by 11. and the wind is up too - the walk along the beach was well a bit of an effort. In conversation with deux jeunes francaises taking the long way hjome to France from Montreal after le gap year.. and they take the first snap to prove that I am here - no life guard on duty.. check out the phot gallery pages sometime soon...

and there have been rip tides here according to Swellin from Texas don't you just know.. they have been pulling folk out of the foaming brine like the paranoia scene in Jaws when officer Brody goes ape..

the art deco is truly wonderful and extends to the beach apartment blocks.. it's decoration like smooth gothic..
oh the jaquey bakery van has just tunrned up to deliver the daily bagels..

so let's list the tasks for today

1 find the sun block (tick)
2 find the bike (tick)
3 Find all the bits of the bike (tick)
4 reconstruct bike - there's a bicycle repair man down the block if I get stuck (tick) (BRM not required)
5 find the result of the sunday div 1 games and the fate of the mariners (not done yet)
6 find the internet cafe (tick)...

post the update (tick) at least I hope this works...


catch up with me again soon pals..

Saturday, May 05, 2001

cooer - just starting to get a bit scary... this time tomorrow we shall know the fate of the Mariners - or rather you lot will know - I'll be stuck in mid-air over the Atlantic worrying in case Palace have beaten Stockport, and Portsmouth got a result at Birmingham...

it's too worrying to contemplate - so let's also think that this time tomorrow I'll be landing in Miami - and the bke and the rest of the luggage will be in Bangkok...

have a good bank holiday...

Friday, May 04, 2001

Friday 4 May - the day that would have been the day after the election if we hadn't put our feet in our mouths...
no bike ride today except to the bike shop - the wonderful Olympic Cycles in Nottingham - for a spanner - couldn't get the pedals off.

hey ho, now got the bike into a box - and checked that Heathrow terminal 4 can put the the bike onto its carousel...

amazing what you learn from talking to your Dad - there is an irony almost comic - that as you get older and have more to say to your father than at any other time in your life, it gets harder because he's nearly deaf, and I'm nearly too anxious to say what I want to say... back to the conversation -

amazing, he told me that we have a family connection in Florida.. my great grandfather's brother left England after the First World War and became the keeper of parrots at Miami Zoological Gardens... great great uncle Billings - keeper of the pollies at the zoo.. I must look it up... and see what legacy of the chap from south Lincolnshire remains..

just one day to go - the packing is becoming obsessive and nervous.

thought for the day

a green parrot is also a green salad and a green parrot. He who makes it only a green parrot diminishes its reality.
- Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

It's Wednesday - just four days and counting.. more work on the garden, and the website - sometimes I can't tell the difference between the two.. they both need a lot of weeding.

Bike ride up to Newstead Abbey, the ancestral home of Lord Byron - poet of this parish... the peacocks were roaring their heads off.. two were perched up on the battlements. In the cafe a visitor asked me if peacocks could fly - yes I said, but not with elegance or grace... I wonder how he thought the birds had got up to the heights...

the tooth is fine, the bike has new wheels, the preparation is going ok... just need to start sorting out the packing.. cooer.

I am an obsessive when it comes to packing, and placing items into the right pockets on the various bags, panniers, etc... my guess is that it's a man thing - it's certainly very anal...

hey ho - here is the tought for today - at least on this page - on the real TFTD page there is a different thought - feel free to check them both out..

in honour of Byron - who was always looking at himself in mirrors to make sure that he was sufficiently outrageous.

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

May Day - I'm still here in Nottingham, nursing a sore tooth but nearly ready to go.. and the excitement is mounting.. only five days and I shall be in Miami Beach...

Nottingham is now back on the public art map with the unveiling last week of a fantastic new piece of public art by Anish Kapoor. The sculpture called Sky Mirror is a brilliant spherical concave mirror in which you can see - yourself, the sky, the world beyond, the world of your dreams, clouds..

You can find Sky Mirror in the forecourt of Nottingham Playhouse. Make sure if you are anywhere near Nottingham to call in and view.

meanwhile.. preparations for the big bike ride continue - not least as I try to get the website into a better shape before I set off... more anon.

Thought for the day.. May day.

People of the world, untie...