Jim Ray Journal Fourth Installment

Jim Ray rides across America Day 13 | May 17, 2004

DAY 13
Day 13 was very indicative of the number. We were in one of the worst storms I've seen in quite a while. We had eight inches of rain, thunderstorms, lightening and high winds (tornado watches) and flooding. It didn't stop raining the entire day and continued into the night.

We weren't sure whether to stay in College Station another day and wait out the storm, or move ahead to the next location which was Silsbee, Texas. As crazy as it sounds, we decided to drive ahead to the next location. We have to stay on a strict schedule of 113 miles a day to finish in time, so we braved the storm.

We got to Silsbee. It was a small Texas town. We found a quaint motel called the Pine Valley Motel run by a darling lady, Helen. She found out we were from Ohio and had to tell us she also was originally from Ohio–Youngstown. She was probably in her late 70s and very proud of her hotel. She gave us the history of the hotel, how many times she renovated it since 1961 and other trivia. She gave us the "best room" with a view of the pool and hot tub, just an exceptionally sweet person. She found out that I like my morning coffee so at 6:30 a.m. the following morning, she called the room the tell me the coffee was on. She was an early riser.

We left the next morning under very threatening skies, again, not sure whether we were going to get a ride in or not. The ride actually was supposed to start in Kountze, Texas, which was five miles of backtracking. We got to the starting point and decided we would ride until the weather prevented it. We were able to get in 70 miles before it started raining hard again.

DAY 14
We were driving through rural Texas farm land. Scenery was not much to speak of. We saw many types of animals along the way. You know how I like the animals, so the majority of my pictures were of furry creatures. I did get a couple of Jim too.

We ended the day in Deridder, La. We are FINALLY out of Texas. That means we are getting closer to the finish line.  

The trip has been extremely fun, but I'm starting to get a little home sick. Each day we finish it brings us a little closer to home. Once we hit Florida, it will feel like we are almost there.

Cross your fingers that the weather will clear so we can get in a good day of riding without getting wet.  

DAY 15
We started this morning from DeRidder, La., and ended in St. Francisville, La. The first 50 miles of road were fantastic, wide shoulders, easy riding and driving. The last part of the trip was rural Louisiana back roads which were terrible! Holes, uneven pavement, and lots of dogs chasing Jim. There was one, in particular, which was extremely funny. It was an old, fat dog. He saw Jim ride by and started to chase him, but within about 10 feet, he ran out of steam. It was comical because the dog was so old and so overweight.

The rain that this part of the country had the last few days was really showing on our ride today. You could see the lowland which was severely flooded due to the eight inches of rain we recently received. I think one of the pictures shows how saturated the ground is in this part of the country.

People in Louisiana are friendly. They wave as they go by, and they don't try to buzz the rider by coming too close. They always get over and give Jim lots of room. So, for the most part, the people have been great, but the scenery is not so great.

We stopped at a Best Western in St. Francisville and met two other older gentlmen, Mike and Ray, who were also taking the sourthern tier ride across the country. These guys were 54 and 62 years old. They are by themselves with no car following them. The travel about 50 to 75 miles per day. Really nice men. We got together with them in the evening to tell cycling stories and talk about the rest of trip to St. Augustine. They are from Florida so they will be home soon. They shared some shortcuts with us that they were going to take to cut miles off of the journey. It was nice meeting others who were doing the same trip.

We are getting close to our final destination and really looking forward to spending a day or two in St. Augustine.

DAY 16
We left St. Francisville, La., early this morning around 7:20 a.m. It was a beautiful, foggy morning, with high humidity. We decided to change the route a little bit today. Adventure Cycling had us going a roundabout way to get to our next destination, so we decided to take a more direct route. It was a good decision. We picked up the "official" route about 35 miles into the ride. The roads in Louisiana are terrible. When you get on the back roads of this state, the roads have patchy/uneven pavement with holes.

About 25 miles into the ride, we ran into the two gentlemen we met last night who are doing this same course. They left at 6:30 a.m. this morning and we caught them about one hour 10 minutes into the ride. They average between eight to 11 mph and we averaged 19 mph today. We stopped and talked with them (one of the pictures is with the guys–Mike (54 years old) and Ray (62 years old). Pretty amazing that these men are traveling across country on their bikes with no sag. I'm amazed at the number of people who make this journey. I can only hope to get in that kind of shape when I get home. I'm really motivated to get into shape after this trip.

Today we passed through Tangipahoa, La., Bolivar, La., Richardson, La., Franklinton, La., Springhill, La., and Bogalusa, La. Our plan was to stay in Bogalusa. It has a population of over 10,000 people, but we couldn't find a hotel ANYWHERE in the town. It was only another 21 miles to Picayune, Miss., so we decided to come here instead. Another good decision today.

Jim had a rear tire blow out on the way to our destination today. We've really been lucky (knock on wood) so far with regard to flats and bike problems. I hope that luck continues for the rest of the trip.

The pictures from today are some nice shots taken during the morning fog. The last picture is of the gentlemen we met doing the same journey.

Hope you enjoy today's pictures (sorry, no cows ).

The fifth installment of the online journal continues the Rays journey into Biloxi, Miss.