June 22, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TransAmerica Bike Trip

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June 22, 2001

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Layover in Houston, Missouri. (0 miles)

Waiting for the mail.

Our inspired plan to send our camping stuff on ahead has backfired, as our camping gear has not yet arrived here in Houston. The U.S. Postal Service had just over 4 days to transport it 190 miles from Carbondale, but no camping gear yet. "Maybe tomorrow." I told them we should have sent it by bicycle courier (maybe Lance Armstrong) as it would have arrived yesterday.

This is a bit of a psychological setback, but not as sobering as witnessing another drama this morning. Yesterday when we arrived at out motel, we noticed another couple coming and going from their room with all of the identifying markings of bicycle tourists. Not only did they have the tan lines, but they were seen walking in the direction of the nearest Laundromat carrying plastic grocery sacks of laundry. That was definitely bicycle tourist behavior. The part that didn't fit was that they seemed to go out of their way to avoid meeting us, though it was obvious we were traveling by bicycle too.

This morning we sat outside our motel room in the sun and watched as the husband drove a rental U-Haul truck up to their room and silently loaded touring bikes, panniers, and gear into the back. Finally, I couldn't resist introducing myself. The husband explained that they had started out in May from Yorktown too, but that "a combination of factors", which he didn't want to detail, had caused them to abandon the idea here in Houston. It had proven to be too arduous, "just not fun anymore," all enthusiasm gone. The wife didn't want to talk to us, only reminding her husband that they needed to get going.

Hmmm. I cannot deny that riding a bicycle across America is a very big psychological and physical challenge. There have been blood, sweat, and tears already. Other veterans of this ride say you end up learning as much about yourself as you do about the country. There are no guarantees that whomever starts this trip can or will finish it. I cannot speak for my physical ability to finish this, only my stubbornness.
This has caused us to be introspective today as we explored quaint downtown Houston. Everyone recommends periodic rest days, and this is the first day in the last 18 that we have not ridden our bikes. Instead, we've had hot fudge sundaes at the old fashioned soda fountain in the corner drug store, answered an old-timer's questions about our bicycle travel, and hung out in the library. It's good to goof off.

 
 
 
 

Houston, Missouri:. Population. 2,100. When we had hot fudge sundaes in this corner drug store, we were told that a big Wal-Mart was coming soon to the outskirts of town. This will probably herald the end of this small town pharmacy. All along our route, small, convenient markets and services are closing as people are willing to drive 50-60 miles to the nearest chain stores.


 
 

Missouri seems to like to fly the American flag and decorate in red, white, and blue, so I bought a small American flag at the Houston antique mall to attach to my bike. This is to symbolize my resolve and enthusiasm to continue westward in the morning, U.S. Postal Service allowing.

 
 
 
 

Another fuel stop: Regular or high octane.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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