From the Piney woods to the plains, leaving the middle of Louisianna at Monroe and riding out into Texas. Thats where Jeremiah is with his RTW around Gods Creation on Shirley Surly, his metal steed that transports him across the southern USA. Shirley my Surly is running along very smoothly now, with that new back wheel, each day Jeremiah runs on into the 70 and 80 miles, far further than what he has set as an average.
From Monroe too the west, Jeremiah rode alot of little backroads, which puts in place too see alot of tiny US towns that have been all but forgotten, thier citizens and the stores they used to operate. For me it has been a little disheartening on the one hand, but also a certain sense of pride is shown by those who cling to thier meager but satisfying lives in rural America. Logging of the ocean of Pines that cover western Louisianna is a primary employer, followed by the semi’s that haul them in both tree and chip form. Meanwhile, Jeremiah spends his day dodging truck bumpers, mirrors and those blasted rumble strips that border most roads
“Excuse me sir…….I’am going to need to see some ID”. Briefly I thought I had rode i to a third world country…..but here I was in Saline LA…..minding my own business and talking to Curtis bout life. “It wont take but a minute…..I,ll just run it to be sure”. While that was going on, and to a certain extent before the Sherrif arrived, the conversation around me to the left was from 5 or so gals from the Saline Retirement Center…..and Curtis who is the town drunk. When the Sherriff showed up, one gal suggested that they get backinside before the Sherriff decides to check them out. Curtis, well he was relaxed….drunks are like that. A second Sherriff showed up, gun on his hip and his ready for action quick draw tactile gloves…..his hand ever looming over the pistol at his hip. It didnt really un-nerve me, having a steely will and ram-rod spine and all……plus I had the confidence that comes with wearing “Depends”.
“Were going to need to see your California Card says the Sherriff”……..what kind,a card I say somewhat astonished and now a tad (Canadian metric measurement for a little bit)…..I have never even heard of that sort of Card. Well says the Sherriff….”we need to see more ID”. Sir, with all due respect, you have all the ID that I carry….my Passport…..it has gotten me thru a whole host of countries, what,s wrong here. About this time, one of the retired gals, Jeanne was her name…..walks up and hands me a note and 20 dollar bill…..she wanted to wish me well and bless my trip…..i tried to insist that I didnt need her money but she would not have that. Upon taking the money, right there in front of the Sherriff, that sure made them all the more suspicious of my being on the streets of Saline. An hour and a half of the most bizarre background check that I have been thru. I have all kind of respect for law enforcement, but I really felt like this was a bit obsured and completely without merit or need.
My days were rodden mostly under cloud cover, minor rain on a few evenings and the rest of the time was simply spent pedaling. Thru small town after small town. Stopped at many of the little “ruff around the edges” gas station stores and had coffee with owners and employees alike. In doing so, I found we shared a love and belief in Christ…..a love of country…….and about half the time I found they loved Barry. Proof, that coffee will not cure all things. Walked thru many little antique, vintage stores. Not that I wanted to buy anything, just needed to give the butt a rest.
On clear blue sky day, Jeremiah and “Shirley Surly” rode across the river at Logansport and entered Texas. For me, it was another milestone moment, because with Texas rolling by under German rubber…..Jeremiah is officially OUT WEST folks. Never mind what some academician from some Ivy League think tank says about where the west begins. We Cowboys know where the west begins…….Texas.
Texas rolled by fairly easily, not without it,s due sweat and sore legs, but just knowing that more and More Texas was rolling up behind me each day was all the incentive needed to pedal for home, for my incredible wife, my kids and my work obligations. Along about Mexia, I was to meetup with a talented engraver and friend….Jerry Gant. Should be easy right……Jeremiah on a loaded bicycle…….and Jerry, driving a 1976 deep purple Malibu rolling on 24″wheels and low profiles, bumpin tunes on 20,000 watt Blapunkt stereo…..with a rollin whip like that…..how could we miss each other. But we certainly did miss each other on a 2 lane road. Sorry Jerry.
Waco. Rolled into town, me, singing a Bob Wills tune and happy to be meeting up with an old friend Deahl Rooks. Some 25 or more years ago, Deahl was a student in one of my engraving classes. I had not seen him since, talked thru FB, but not in person. When we first met, we were both comllete heathens with no need for Faith. Today we both enjoy having Christ in our lives and homes and relationships. My friend has found his calling in life, in adopting children and offering a loving home to 17 that had none. May God Bless you richly Deahl & Patty, you bolster my own belief with you astounding walk with Christ.
Good night and may God bless America and YOU.