Day 14: More family fun

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Festus, MO then a ride to Pere Marquette State Park (0 mi / 0 km)

We had a lazy morning up. My cousin Rachel loaned us her room and it is quiet and tough to tell what time it is.

We researched our route from Alton, Illinois, with help from Doug.

I’m trying to get this post out quick, so I’ll sum up.

Doug and Charissa drove us a heck of a way into Illinois. It was a beautiful drive with a great conversation about how to fix the economy. We didn’t have too many solutions.

We got dropped off at Pere Marquette and they made sure we had everything and we were again on our own.

After a quick wine tasting we set up camp and ate dinner. Then to bed to try and get up by 5:50.

Day 12 and 13: Getting out of Florida

Saturday, June 20th – Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Tallahassee, FL to Festus, MO through Jasper, AL (~850 mi / 1,368 km)

Okay, okay, so we gave in and rented a car. But it was necessary to get as far away from Florida as possible. It was hot and we seemed stuck. So far we’ve gone about 200 miles on bike and 850 by car/truck/RV.

259 mi from Orlando to Tallahassee

305 mi from Tallahassee to Birmingham, Al

490 mi from Birmingham to Festus, Mo (just outside of St. Louis)

We passed through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri.

We got on the road by about 7 am and kept flying down the road. I must say that cars are much faster than riding on a bike. Looking at the speedometer and it was 70 mph in the car and about 12 mph on the bike. I guess that’s why people don’t ride their bikes across the country.

We were glad to get some miles out of the way and get further out of the south. But I miss the bike.

We drove to the outskirts of Birmingham to go to Nate’s Uncle Pete and Aunt Tina’s lake house. It was awesome! They have a beautiful home and hospitable hearts. It was my first time meeting them and I felt like I was part of the gang. Nathan’s cousins Kristie and Tripp were also there and it was fun to meet more of the family.

We talked to Kristie about camping in Banff bear country. She once did this for a month and apparently it isn’t as terrifying as we had thought. The major campgr0unds are fairly bear free and there is a lot of info for campers to stay safe. We’re still researching this mom and dad. =)

Tripp does a lot of biking and gave us some good encouragement.

The lake house is just beautiful. We spent some time down at the lake playing with the dogs and enjoying the view. We look forward to returning here in the future. Our time here was too short.

Pete, Tina, Kristen, Tripp, Amy, and Nathan
Pete, Tina, Kristen, Tripp, Amy, and Nathan

We left about 2:30 and headed up to my cousin Charissa and Doug’s house in Festus, Missouri.

Our drive went pretty well. We took an iphone adventure in search of postcards in Alabama. We arrived at a phantom gas station on the side of a back roads hill. It was supposed to be a travel center. I guess there are no postcards in Alabama. As we rolled through Mississippi we noticed that the south actually is hilly. We were glad to be in a car. Once we passed through Memphis we were in Arkansas for about 40 miles. Where we were was really, really flat. Then we got into Missouri and the Ozarks and we were basically climbing mountains. I thought the midwest was flat?!

Charissa and Doug live just south of St. Louis. We got in about 10:30. I had never been to their house before. They are a really fun family with 3 cool teenage girls: Rachel, Alyssa, and Hallie.

I am sitting next to Hallie right now and she’s 13 and full of spunk, attitude, and fun. She took me around on their 4-wheeler earlier and I didn’t fall off, but I thought I was going to.

The Kapplers live in a beautiful house out in the middle of nowhere on the Kappler family property of some size. Nathan started feeling sick on the drive and so we took another rest day on Sunday. (My arm is still healing up as well). We’ve been able to just chill out and tell great stories and laugh. Life is good ya’ll.

We piled in the car later in the afternoon to return the rental car to the St. Louis airport and then headed to some friends’ house for a Father’s Day spaghetti dinner celebration. We returned home full, a little too full perhaps. =)

We hope to head out some time Monday afternoon and get dropped off at a camp site (Pere Marquette State Park perhaps) and then head out early Tuesday morning on our bikes, a week after my wonderful fall.

Day 11: How to rent a car

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Tallahassee, FL (0 mi / 0 km except driving around town a bit)

After I hurt my arm we decided to take a train out of the south. No Amtrak trains are running from Tallahassee at all since Hurricane Katrina. So then we were going to rent a car and drive to New Orleans and take a train north to St. Louis. We found out that there are no direct trains to St. Louis. We were trying to hook up with our adventure cycling maps outside of the south. It is so hot! We would have to box our bikes on the train. Ugh!

Then we determined that it would be cheaper or equal to rent a car and drive all the way. The bike shop couldn’t take our bikes until Friday. So we kept on letting my arm heal. We were going to pick up the car early Saturday morning.

We took our bikes into Sunshine Cycles. They didn’t look too hopeful that it would be done by the end of the day.

Adam and Casey were headed down to Miami for Danny & Lindsey’s wedding. So we decided to pick up the car early.

So we went to the airport. Nate went in and I waited with Adam and Casey in case anything went wrong. I headed in to make sure we were good to go and Nate said we were. So I went and said good bye. Just after they pull away Nate comes running out.

So he goes running after them, but they didn’t see him so they keep going. I call them and Adam answers, “What did you forget?”

So they circle back and it turns out that my VISA backed debit card does not count as a credit card for National. We didn’t bring an acutal credit card. Adam and Nathan went in and Adam had to actually be the “driver”. I’m really glad that we have such good friends. So we put the car in Adam’s name and finally got ourselves a car.

Wow! It seemed like Tallahassee had a hold on us.

Once we got our car, we also got a call from the bike shop saying that our bikes were done! It actually seemed like we were going to be able to get out of Florida.

We stopped at the grocery store, picked up stuff for spaghetti and a bottle of wine and toasted our current good fortune.

We spent the evening packing up and headed to bed early to get ready drive to St. Louis.

Days 9 & 10: Extended Stay

Wednesday, June 17th – Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Tallahassee, FL (0 mi / 0 km)

Day 9

Relaxing, reading, napping, staying inside all day – polar opposite of what we had been doing. We’re giving Amy’s arm time to heal.

Wednesday night, some friends come over and we play the Tallahassee version of “Arul’s First Date”, for those who know what that is. They call it “Telephone Pictionary”, and in either format it is a very fun party game. This is basically how it goes (Tally style):

  1. Given the number of players, n, tear up n*n small blank sheets of paper and give everyone a stack of n sheets (e.g. with 8 players, everyone gets a stack of 8 sheets). Also give everyone a writing utensil.
  2. Think of a phrase or sentence and writes it down on your first piece of paper (e.g. I do not like green eggs and ham). Flip the stack of papers over and pass it to the player on your right.
  3. Start a 1 minute timer, flip the stack in front of you face up, and draw your interpretation of what was written by the previous person. When you’re done or the timer runs out, flip your stack over and pass it to the player on your right.
  4. Repeat step 3, except write your interpretation of the drawing.
  5. Continue until the stack makes it all the way around, alternating drawn and written descriptions.
  6. Share each stack one at a time and try not to laugh too hard 🙂

It’s fun for Adam and Casey to have us over – they say it feels like vacation, even though they’re working.

Day 10

More of the same. We attempt to bike to Winn Dixie, and I manage to fubar my rear derailleur. VERY frustrating. We drive to Winn Dixie instead, to pick up a movie and ice cream. Gran Turino was awesome and definitely worth renting.

Day 8: A Proper Account of Our First Attempt to Get Out of Tallahassee

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Tallahassee, FL to Quincy, FL (22 mi / 35 km …and back)

We woke up at 5:45 am. Nathan’s tire was flat the night before and of course we loaded everything on the bikes and Nathan’s tire was flat again.

It is about 6:30 and Casey and Adam have gone to work. Nate changes the inner tube; it goes flat. It is after 7. So much for our early start.

This account is on the road and will be finished later.

Nate keeps getting flats.

After 1 1/2 hours we take everything off the bike and Nate finally finds a tiny metal wire in the under side of the tire. He takes the wire out and patches the tire. All in all this is about a 35 minute delay. Two separate nice people stop and ask if they can help. We’re hoping everywhere is as hospitable to us as the South.

We keep on 90 West. I missed our turn and suddenly our nice shoulder is gone. We continue on for about 5 miles. Finally going up a steep hill I need a break and Nate looks at the iPhone and finds a parallel road we take. We’re only 20 miles out of Tallahassee and in the small town of Quincy. You can read the earlier post with my falling on the bike.

I thought I was ok at first. It hurt but I could move it. It took Nate a few minutes to convince me that medical attention might be required.

We walked with our bikes and my hurt arm (still attached) to a McDonald’s 1/2 mile away.

I didn’t have Kelly’s number and Adam and Casey were at work and school. So I posted to Kelly’s wall on facebook to call me asap. She did.

A little over an hour later we stuffed our bikes and gear into Kelly’s Camry and head back to Tallahassee to get an x-ray.

Kelly was our hero! She had a huge final to study for, but hooked us up.

We waited for a long time at Patients’ First. This is sort of confusing given the name and being the only patient present. While it took much less time than the ER, 1 hour and 15 minutes for a 5 minute exam and 3 minute x-ray and 7 minutes to develop still doesn’t add up. The people were nice, but there weren’t even any magazines!!!

The doc didn’t see any fractures, so we headed home. I was in a lot of pain.

Thus we were again sucked into the vortex of Tallahassee.