Day 41: Orange Beach, Alabama, to Milton, Florida

Lady in the hotel parking lot, looking at us and our bikes, then at the light rain falling in Orange Beach, Alabama: *sinister laugh*, pause.
Lady: “Well, have fun.”
Me: “We are fun!”

And with that, we rode into Florida, in the rain. We punched out 53 miles in about 4 1/2 hours today, with minor hills, and tall bridges. We had F-16s fly right over the top of us a couple times near Pensacola.

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Day 40: Bayou La Batre, Alabama, to Orange Beach, Alabama

Guy in Bayou La Batre Waffle House this morning: You ever seen the movie Forrest Gump? That’s this area right here.

As we were struggling to get our bikes and trailers on a hotel elevator in Orange Beach today, a couple of 8-year-olds waiting for the elevator eyeballed our stuff for a good minute or so before one of them asked, “You guys traveling or something?”

I said Oh yeah, biking from California to Florida, and they let me get on the elevator first, bicycle in each hand. While I was steering the bikes down the hallway on the second floor, they interrogated Tony about our trip, then helped him get the trailers on the elevator. One of them said to the other one, “We’re doing that someday! I don’t care what you say, we’re doing it!”

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Day 39: Rogers Lake, Mississippi, to Bayou La Batre, Alabama

Things that happened today:

1) We rode 105 miles.

2) A teenage kid riding a bicycle towards us near Vancleave, Mississippi, gave us a full Nazi salute and yelled “White Power!” As we passed him.

3) I realized we are pretty much back to the same conversation dynamic we used to have when we worked at the Pinicon Restaurant in New Hampton, Iowa, back in high school. However, I believe we are more interesting people than the two meattheads who used to stand on opposite sides of the dishwasher at the Pinicon back in high school, talking about how in the world we were going to get beer that weekend.
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Day 38: Franklinton, Louisiana, to Rogers Lake, Mississippi

State No. 6.

After nearly 2,500 miles of eyeballing passing drivers in my dorky rearview mirror on my helmet, and being constantly vigilant for 7-10 hours of riding every day, I didn’t check one time, and it almost cost me.

We were looking for a left turn onto Progress Road just after crossing Interstate 59 outside of Poplarville, Mississippi, and I had been riding directly on top of the white line on the right side of the road, and it suddenly turned into rumble strips. I was surprised and bounced around for a second before I steered my bike to the left of the line. Then I saw the sign for Progress Road, and started to make a left turn. I am sure I checked my mirror a few seconds beforehand and hadn’t seen anything, but I don’t think I double-checked before I started moving to actually make the turn.

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Day 37: St. Francisville, Louisiana, to Franklinton, Louisiana

Hunter with his son at gas station in Norwood, Louisiana: Where y’all headed?
Me: Florida.
Hunter: Well, you ain’t gonna make it there by lunch.

At some point today, I think both of us probably thought we picked the wrong day to schedule a 96-mile ride — it was hilly, a stark contrast to the past few days, and our route wound all over the place, so we could never really latch on to a good tailwind.
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Day 36: Ville Platte, Louisiana, to St. Francisville, Louisiana

We met Jan about 25 miles into our ride today -- she's riding the other way with her friend Irene driving a support van. Her husband refused to let her bike across America by herself ...

Deckhand on the Melville Ferry, looking at our bikes: Where y’all headed?
Us: Florida.
Deckhand (laughing): F%$# that shit.

I had my tail between my legs after our day of bad juju yesterday, until we stopped at a grocery store in Lebeau, Louisiana, today just before noon. The owner of the store insisted on giving Tony some free Boudain so he could have his first taste of cajun food. After that, it seemed that everyone who came in and out of the store for the next 15 minutes wanted to say hi — a sweet old lady, a guy using the car wash, people stopping in to pick up a can of pork and beans.

The rest of the day, every car that passed us drove all the way into the other lane, people smiled, waved, and chatted us up, the sun shined, the wind was at our backs, babies everywhere stopped crying, complete strangers hugged each other in the streets, and the rivers of Louisiana turned into champagne.

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Day 35: DeRidder, Louisiana, to Ville Platte, Louisiana

Wow. The area of western Louisiana that we biked through today is like its own country, where bicycles haven’t been invented yet. I think things started to go downhill when a guy decided he would swerve his car off the highway at Tony, who was standing well off the road. He swerved back, missing Tony’s bike by about a foot, and I guess getting a good laugh out of the whole thing.

Then, about an hour later, I was about a mile behind Tony when some guy in an oncoming pickup decided to throw a fountain soda at me. He missed by about 8 feet, but I was starting to feel like a target.

Me: You know what would have been funny?
Tony: What?
Me: If that guy had thrown the soda at me, and I had pulled out a gun and shot and killed him. Wouldn’t that be funny?
*silence*

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