Gulf Coast Cruise

Could this be JKL – Just Keep Living?

It is very possible, but the idea of continuing a daily blog/journal is a huge undertaking. I have so enjoyed the daily writing and photography that has been done these past 2 years 7 months and handful of days but it is tiring.

We flew into New Orleans, LA and hailed a taxi to take us to a WarmShower’s host in Gramercy. From there we spent two nights where we got the bikes put back together. It felt good to have a full bike shop and space to work.

It was a sunny, cold day when we left Gramercy, LA. The sun was high in the sky but the air was freezing cold. Ice crystals coated the plants in the shaded areas of the ditch. Our first “hill” was crossing the Mississippi River on one of the high bridges.

The ride west was rather uneventful. It felt amazing to be back in the states, cycling had a familiarity to it which was very nice. We know what to expect, signs are typically obeyed. Our route took us along the Gulf Coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoying a remarkable State Park called Palmetto Island State Park, we listened to the coyotes howl and the owl call out. We also stayed at a free camp area called Rutherford Beach and were gifted with one of the most beautiful sunsets over the Gulf.

Sunrise at Rutherford Beach was incredible. It was cold, very cold and so windy but the views were spectacular.

On into Texas, now we are onto roads that I have been on in the past.

Our final state in our final country of this journey. Welcome to Texas, these bikes have come full circle.

We stayed right along the Gulf Coast, cycling through Galveston and heading deeper south. The riding was windy, so windy but it was enjoyable. We pulled long days in the saddle but we were both ready to be done with this journey. Our lives need to close this chapter out and start a new chapter. The cycling through Texas, beautiful. Our day into Port Lavaca was a wash out and we got hit with a lot of rain and mud. We were met by a classmate of mine from Aranas Pass, a hearty greeting from Keith H.

Our final day was from Port Lavaca to Aransas Pass, this will be a near 65 mile day. The road was good, the winds were cooperative and we made good time.

We were met at my parents home by a reporter from Corpus Christi and a local reporter. This was a surprise and the local reporter did an amazing write up.

So our journey of the Americas is now complete and the next chapter has opened and the words are slowly being written. Our cycling is far from over and we actually have bought new bikes for more off road adventures. My CrazyGuyOnABike daily journaling has come to an end. It was a true labor of love but it was very very difficult to keep it up to date. From here on out we will share our stories of our future rides and adventures.

Thank you to all who followed us along on our journey through the Americas. It is an event that no one can ever take away from us and the memories are enough to last throughout our lifetime and well into our next.

From the road

Our discovery of the Americas is winding down and WOW!! what an adventure it has been.  We have purchased flights back home, leaving South America on January 18, 2019.  At that point this journey of the America’s will end.   A new chapter in our lives will start and future tours and fun times will be played out on this  blog site.

We will leave the journals up on the CrazyguyonaBike website.  These included lots of photos and details including maps.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/cjbiketours2018  Our South American Tour

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/cjbiketours2017  Exploring Mexico & Central America

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/cjbiketours2016  Alaska to Baja

Return to Medellin

Lethargic depression is what we call it, that longing ache to get back to our lives.  We had only been stateside about 2 weeks when it started creeping into the far reaching corners of our mind.  We missed the every day routine, seeing new sites, hearing new sounds, experiencing new things.  Cycle touring gives us purpose, it’s what we do and who we are.

Plane tickets had to be purchased in advance, medical tests were scheduled in advance without knowing if there would be required follow-ups.  Luckily, we are healthy which is a very good thing.  However, now we had so much time to burn in the states.

The words “Is it Dec. 6th yet?” were said often, too often.  We compensated by eating and drinking too much, we gained weight and with that we longed for the open roads even more.  Dec. 6th could not come quick enough.

We spent Thanksgiving in El Dorado, Arkansas with Curtis’ mom and sister.  We spent time in our Little House in the Piney Woods.  I flew to Minnesota for a Girlfriends Weekend with my bestie Colleen.  We did medical tests, eye exams, dental check ups and other such things in Longview, TX.  We visited with friends and finally we made our way back to Aransas Pass where my folks reside.  It felt like we were off our bikes years and years but alas it was only roughly 2 months.

And then it happened, Dec. 6th rolled around, the calendar days moved forward and we welcomed our flight day back to Medellin.  Back to our bicycles awaiting our return.  My sister Juli and my Mom took Curtis and I to the Corpus Christi airport.  We had a 7:35 AM flight so it was an early arrival.  They dropped us off along with three large bags to check.  We got in line, checked the bags and waited for the flight to depart.  The flight to Houston was non-eventful, as was the flight from Houston to Miami.  We had a two hour layover in Miami.2Cool, our flight was on time.  Just as the flight was beginning to board, our names were called to the flight counter.  They were not going to allow us to board the plane since we had no exit flight our bus ticket out of Colombia.  They were wanting us to purchase a return flight. It took about 15 minutes of discussion and for Curtis to explain that we were on bicycles before they finally allowed us to board without buying a return ticket.   They required the name and address of our hotel we would be staying at, luckily Curtis had one booked so we were able to provide that information.  I have to say other than that snafu the flight was amazing.4Each seat on our Avianca flight has a built in screen for us to enjoy a movie or tv program.  In addition, we were offered a full meal on board which turned out to actually be pretty good.  This made the three hour flight go fast.

Immigration was a snap, they never even questioned our exit plans, they did ask where we were staying so again the hotel information was needed.  We were just stamped through and that was that.  Next was baggage claim and we heard our names called over the loudspeaker again.  It seems that our 3 bags decided to remain in Miami but we were assured they would be here in the morning and delivered to our hotel, again very relieved to have had a hotel selected that we could provide information about.7Curtis had arranged a taxi to pick us up.  It is about an hour drive from the airport to our hotel.  I have to say it felt good to be back in Colombia.

The hotel was booked for one night, tomorrow our bags arrive and we will be off to reclaim our bicycles, or so we thought.1The next day, Dec. 7 came and went, no bags.  We found out that they were sent to Bogota and would be on a flight soon.  We stayed a 2nd night at the hotel.  Finally, on Dec. 8 at 9:30am we were informed that our bags were on a truck bound for our hotel.  What we thought was right away turned into hours.

Our bags finally arrived at 3:20pm and by 3:25pm we were in a taxi enroute to Casa de Ciclistas.  Our wait was over and we had our bags in hand.  These bags contained basically our whole lives!  Tent, sleeping gear, camping gear, clothing and all of the bike parts to totally rebuild the bikes.  We were even more relieved to find that the bags were not even opened, consequently nothing was missing or lost.

Our adventure awaits!!

 

 

 

Camping Texas Style

 

We have a few new items, replacements that we needed to make while we were stateside.  Not wanting any surprises in a negative sense once we hit the mountains of Colombia and beyond, a shakedown mini-camping tour is just what we needed.

We utilized a website http://www.freecampsites.net and hoped to do mostly free camping or wild camping.

Our first site was superb.  It was called Neches Bluff,  coordinates 31.5673910, -95.1634620  This area has a number of places where you can camp and includes one pit toilet.  It appears to be an area very busy during hunting season on the weekends, but we were there mid week and had the place to ourselves.  We chose a very large site with a bit stone fire ring.  Finding a good source of hickory wood, we built an incredible fire and cooked our supper over the open flames.   Coyotes sang to us throughout the night as did the owls.

 

We departed in the morning heading for yet another free site at Lake Limestone.  31.4481370, -96.3774730    I had never heard of this lake but there were three sites listed.  We checked out each one and settled on the 3rd site.  The camping was incredible.  There was a couple of fishermen than came and went but for the most part we had the place to ourselves.  We walked around a bit, walked the shoreline of the lake and checked out the one bathroom.  It was not in the best condition but it was useable.  I had to laugh at the sign posted in the womens bathroom to cover a broken front window.  It seems that they have a weight limit on ladies using their potty.   One of our Thermarest pads has a leak and we attempted to find the leak, no luck.  Tonight we will try and make sure the valve is secure, maybe that’s all it is.  We spotted a Great Horned Owl and it along with 3 others sang to use through the night.  We did hear coyotes a long ways away but for the most part, tonight was a night for the owls.   There is a fire grill smoker looking thing at each site and we built a fire in the firebox.  Supper was potatoes, sweet potatoes and sausage.  We ended the evening sipping Baileys Irish Creme, watching the sun set over the lake.  Beyond beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

It froze last night and was quite cool this morning when we ate breakfast and drank our coffee.

The air mattress leaked again, there is no doubt there is a leak in it.  Hopefully we can find it tonight.

Our driving route took us through Waco, Texas and we discovered Cameron Park.  It has over 20 miles of hiking trails and we enjoyed about 5 miles of them.  In addition, we had a wonderful picnic lunch.

 

 

Freecampsites.net is not infallable; our first choice was at Lake Witney which claimed to have several free areas available.  We discovered upon arrival that the park has open/closed hours, it also had an on site park host and very prominent No Camping signs posted.  To really use the freecampsites website, you have to do your homework as some of the sites are not listed right or out of date.  Rather than push our luck, we opted to head for Meridian State Park and pay a fee tonight.

We checked into Meridian State Park into site#30.  It is a primitive site and we had the entire side of the lake to ourselves.  It was wonderful.  We were greeted by a large hawk and it kept close eye on us the entire time we were there.  There are fire pits and we gathered up some cedar to make a beautiful fire.

 

 

What a fabulous night last night, coyotes were close and sang to us.  We finally found the hole in the thermarest, it is on the bottom.  While we were eating breakfast we got a message from friends in Colombia, seems we still had 4G network at the park.  They are also having thermarest issues.  We were planning a trip into Georgetown, TX to REI to buy repair stuff for our thermarest.  We also now needed to buy a replacement pad for them.   Morning coffee was awesome, we replaced our worn out filter with a new unit that will double as a funnel.  This collapsable piece is working better than we could have imagined.  In addition, our new coffee cups work like a charm.

We packed up and headed for the shower house, a perk with the pay campsite.  It felt so awesome to have a hot shower and be able to get scrubbed clean.  Now for the drive to REI.

New things are always coming out and while we were at REI we looked into the different pads.  We ended up buying 2 new pads for Curtis and I.  These weigh a fraction of what our big ones weigh and a lot smaller in size.  We are going to ditch the thermarests and go with the  REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad.

 

Our fourth and final night of camping was again a free site. Camp Creek Recreation Area near Smithwick, TX  https://www.lcra.org/parks/Pages/camp-creek.aspx
30.5639207,-98.1918536

We set up under a huge pecan tree and this was so beautiful.  Doves ate cracked pecans on the driveway, squirrels were busy storing up nuts for the upcoming winter.  We enjoyed a small box of wine on this last night of camping.  Our fire was made from old pecan limbs and burned hot.  After supper we curled up on our new pads and listened to the night sounds.  I love camping, the sounds and the fresh air, the peace and freedom it allows.

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The campsite next to us was home to a 22 year old woman from Amsterdam.  She is a traveler, exploring the US before heading out to Panama around New Year’s.  Meet Silver, an extrodinary young traveler with a zest for life.  I love meeting these young people.  Travel and exploring the world is such an incredible learning experience.  All people should get out and travel, 3 months, 6 months, a year, however long.  It is sad to see so few American travelers.  I have heard these words, “It’s not proper”, “You need to be working”, “You can’t take the time off”, “It’s too dangerous”. HOGWASH and bullshit!

I embrace my new title of traveler.  I embrace the different cultures I get exposed to.  People are people no matter what part of the world and I only wish I had discovered the joys and excitement that traveling shows us.

Get off your couch, do something new, take a chance, LIVE!

Little House in the Piney Woods

1November 2017
Home is where the heart is … Little House in the Piney Woods

We rented an AirBnB for the month, a cute little house where we can get things reorganized for our trip back to Colombia.  

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Our little home in Rusk, TX has a hilltop table where we can watch the sunset. It is so relaxing to just sit and not hear traffic noises, horns blaring, etc. After so many months in Mexico and Central America where it is wall to wall people, it has been so nice to just sit and be quiet.

The sun sets over the hills. We have watched so many deer at our home. This is just what our souls have needed. Peace & Quiet!

bikes

I got to play on my new bike. Curtis bought me a white Bianchi Intrepida Dama 105 and we pulled his red Gunnar Sport out of storage. Man, these bikes are so light weight compared to the tanks (LHT’s) that we typically ride. They were lots of fun as we got out to explore some amazing country roads here in east Texas.

One of the main reasons for our return to East Texas is to get some medical and dental check ups.  Not that there is anything wrong but more routine as age creeps in on us.

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(1) Eye exams, (2) routine physicals/labs and (3) dental checkups. Curtis got new glasses, my eyes still at 20/20 thanks to mono-vision lasik in 2013. Our dental exams were awesome, I did have a loose filling and a missing filling but neither of us had any cavities. I got the fillings fixed/replaced. The physicals went well and the labs look good.  

My weight is up, GGrrr. I have battled weight issues my entire life so yo-yo weight is not uncommon for me. I attribute this gain to the month off in Medellin compounded with the large portions we have both been over-indulging in. Not to mention the *cough cough* panaderia visits. LOL I have no doubt we will both slim back down when we get away from the local pastry shops and get on the bikes daily again.

My first (4) colonoscopy , this was easy and went without a hitch. All is well and they don’t need to see me for seven years. SWEET!  Done and check.

My final appointment this month (5) was with a dermatologist. Melanoma runs in my family and with me living basically outside I want to get a full mole scan just to be sure. I was such a beach baby and sun worshiper in my younger days and really fried my skin a few too many times, I just wanted to make sure all my freckles and moles are nothing more than what they appear to be. And the final drumroll for me is tatatatatatatatatata … I batted five for five (all moles are normal) and now my medical concerns are behind me for a while. High Five!!

Curtis also had his (4) colonoscopy, all is good here too and they gave him a ten year pass until the next one.

He had one more appointment as well, with a urologist, his final (5) medical concern. Time to figure out what this whole UTI issue is once and for all. He’s had trouble in Mexico and Nicaragua and on into Colombia. Well, it seems it is a simple bladder emptying fix, or should I say not quite emptying fully but we are well on the way to getting that resolved. All in all, it’s a non-issue, nothing serious and with just a quick followup in 3 weeks, he is good to go. Curtis also batted 5 for 5, YAY!!

With good health results we are ready to roll, but we have a few weeks until we fly back to Colombia. Oh how I miss the cycling, it gives me purpose, what is around that next corner or over that next mountain top. South America, we have only dipped our big toe in so far and with renewed excitement we will tackle the Andes Mountains head on. Yea…bring it on!

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Curtis is rebuilding our front triples, he lowered the gearing for both of us. These Rene Herse rings are so beautiful, almost like jewelry for the bikes! 44/34/24 yea we could have gone lower but this is lower than what we were running (46/36/26). Seldom using the big ring and realistically living in the little ring when in the mountains, we wanted a bit better climbing power. I can see us pretty much living in our middle ring now and the elimination of 2 teeth across the board will make hills and mountains a whole lot easier.

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Gear exchange: much of our gear is flat wearing out. But there are a few things that going without is not even an option or consideration.

We bought new coffee cups, the others were very shot and coffee time in the mornings is precious to us both. In addition, our little black screen coffee filter doesn’t let liquid thru any more, no matter how much we try to clean out the screen it just drips. Time to replace it.

We found a collapsable funnel filter that is awesome. If the screen plugs we can still use paper filters in it. YAY!

Tent

Tents need to be sealed from time to time!

We have tasks to tend to and one of the big ones is to reseal the tent. All tents leak over time and this will be the 3rd time we have sealed this one. We did it once in the Yukon Territory, Canada. Once in California for use all through our DEF journal and now here. This will hopefully last until we finish out South America. In the past we purchased specialized tent seam sealer. This time we are trying something different.

We read that tents can be sealed with regular silicone mixed with mineral spirits. The mineral spirits and silicone are mixed. We used a gatorade bottle so we could shake it up well to mix it. It took a lot of shaking! It is slow to mix but makes it easier to paint the seams.

I painted the inside corners of the tent floor with the silicone mix. I then attached the rain fly upside down on the tent and painted all the seams.

The mineral spirits will evaporate and leave the silicone behind. This is a really easy way to seal the tent.

We left the tent set up in our living room for nearly a week. I am impressed how easy this was. Mineral Spirits and Silicone are readily available most places and mixing the two in a water bottle made this project quite easy. And the results, I am very impressed! What an incredible way to re-seal the seams and the silicone will make the seams quite water tight. I am very happy with the results.

Nov. 14 – The silicone is dry and the seams sealed great! Now that it is fully dry, I dusted the silicone with a bit of cornstarch, which allows the tent to be rolled up without sticking to itself. In the past, when I sealed the tent with actual tent sealer, I had issues with it sticking to itself. I hope that the cornstarch alleviates that issue.

All in all, I am very pleased with how this all turned out.

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What a beauty!! I love praying mantiss and this guy has hung around for over a week! Obviously not in the same place but we see him almost daily somewhere near the house.

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Curtis met his new grand-daughters, both born while we were in Mexico. Luna is the youngest and is baby sister to 3 year old Alex, daughter to Sandy (back) and Don. Hazel is Brenda (front) and Ben’s daughter. We cooked up a big pot of pasta and sauce, laughed, and caught up on all the latest family news with Brenda and Sandy before they headed out late in the afternoon.

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November 11, 2017
Whitewater State Park, SE Minnesota

I took a quick side trip to Minnesota to visit a couple of days with my bestie, Colleen. She and I go back, way back to age 6 and we’ve been through it all together. This was a quick GFW (Girl-Friends Weekend) with lots of laughter, gossip, late night conversations and early morning coffee talks.

We took a drive through Weaver Valley, hiked a bit at Whitewater State Park and just caught up with each other.

What a fabulous weekend.

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Nov. 18, 2017
Atlanta, TX   
L-R: Bill H., Jenny S., Curtis S., Jerry H., Roger W.

Sometimes you just have to get out and have some fun! Jerry and Roger participated in a 5K this morning, then we met up and had lunch (turkey with all the fixings). The wind was fierce but was supposed to switch by noon; operative words there is “supposed to”.

Despite the winds, semi-head and side winds we had a blast on a fast and fun 14 miles from Atlanta, TX to Linden, TX. Lots of laughter and story telling ensued, combined with a bit of Flor de Caña from Bill. This is just what the proverbial doctor ordered for Curtis and I. We needed this, to surround ourselves with like-minded, bicycle people.  Today was just flat out fun!

 

Amy2

November 19, 2017
Ironman Arizona

I am speechless! I spent my day “tracking” Amy on her quest to become Ironman and OMG I am in total awe.

Amy is a friend who I met years ago. We did her first Oklahoma Freewheel together. I was impressed then by her energy, her positive outlook on life and I was instantly drawn to her. Through the following years we remained in touch and ultimately made many common changes in our lives. We each discovered the love of our lives, our hubbies, Terry and Curtis. We made hard choices, we took even tougher steps, steps to better ourselves and be happy. I KNOW we are both happier. We now have support, encouragement & love.

And Terry, thank you for supporting her and encouraging her through this journey!! You sir are awesome!

Through the medium of FB as Curtis & I cycled through Mexico and Central America, I watched Amy train for this epic race. She would post about this training day or that race, I would say to her from afar
“Trust Your Training, You Got This!”

And tonight, as I watched Amy cross over that finish line with just minutes to spare I was a bundle of nerves and a pool of tears. I was on the edge of my seat, sending enouragement through the stars.
You SO got this Amy!!! And YOU did it!!

Amy, you have been through so much and I totally applaud you for your determination and grit.   YOU, my Dear are Ironman!!

November 20, 2017
Fairfield Lake State Park

A beautiful sunny, fall day found us in the woods at this beautiful state park. We took a brisk 6+ mile walk through a wooded trail, found an amazing primitive wildcamp site with running water and fire rings. This was an incredible walk and we really enjoyed the fresh air.  

Car

It would be cool to know the backstory of this old car we came across on our walk today. Oh, we have plenty of stories made up for it already, but sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction!!

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November 22, 2017
South of Rusk, Texas

It was a beautiful day, the sky was so blue and we have just today to really take advantage of and ride. With the Thanskgiving holiday knocking at our door we really won’t have time to play on them any more this trip.

These lightweight beauties will go back to storage and will await our return in 2019. These bikes are fun and I love my new little white wonder. Thanks Curtis!!!

TDay 2017November 23, 2017
Happy Thanksgiving

We so often forget to be thankful for so many things in our lives, things that we take for granted. Today we spent time with Curtis’ Mom and Sister in El Dorado, Arkansas. Susana spent the morning preparing an incredible feast, complete with pumpkin pie.

We took a walk down memory lane with a huge box of old photographs. Curtis and Brenda spent hours going through the photos and we copied and posted as many as we could.

Today we are truly thankful for the special people that make up the individual threads that have become the tapestry of our lives. So many people are met in the course of a lifetime, often making such lasting memories and impacts that we are not fully aware of until so much later. We realize that their thread has fully intertwined into our personal tapestry creating a masterpiece of beauty. A simple act of kindness, a friendly word or smile can make such a difference and we are truly grateful for all of our friends and family that have become a part of our lives.

November Hiatus 2017

DSC00267Well, here goes.  Having a few weeks, actually more like two months of down time Curtis and I have decided to create our own site.  We continue our posting over of crazyguyonabike.com but at some point we realize that we may want to do things “our way”.

So, here we are.  I am learning and this is not an easy thing to teach this old dog new tricks.  It was supposed to be easy, HAH!  Anyway, I’ll do my best.

And away we go!!

You can continue to find us at:

ABC: Anchorage to Baja California

www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/CJBikeTours2016

DEF: Down Even Further-Mexico & Central America

www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/CJBikeTours2017

GHI: Grand Herculean Itinerary – South America

www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/CJBikeTours2018

 

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