Last night’s stay with my Couchsurfing host, Jenny, was awesome! She didn’t get home till around 7 but had told me where the key was and said to make myself at home. It’s amazing how trusting people are in that community. So after she got home we got to know each other better and man was she hilarious! She had me cracking up all evening. We watched Forrest Gump (I know, I know) and turned in at around 9. Thank you so much for your hospitality, Jenny!!!
I woke up this morning at around 630 feeling particularly refreshed after having had a real bed to sleep in. I quietly packed up my stuff and hit the road. Seeing as how today was going to be a light day for me I decided to head into town and have some real breakfast at the Waffle House. I killed a Grand Slam breakfast in like 10 minutes flat. It’s borderline embarrassing how fast I can shovel calories into my mouth when I’m hungry (which is usually always). So with my appetite satisfied for the moment I set off into that damp, cloyingly cool humidity.
The next waypoint on my map was the town of Register, about 15 miles down the road. I saw what I thought was a momma dog and her puppy so I decided to pull over and try to win over their affection with some snacks from my bag. It turns out it wasn’t a puppy at all but a little chihuahua looking thing and the bigger dog was just following him around. They didn’t want anything to do with me so I took off down the road. It was going great! Downhill and tailwinds for like 12 miles but when I came upon a sign that said Chandler County I knew I was in trouble. I’d made a wrong turn! I don’t even know why I turned at all considering my map told me to just keep going forward past the town of Register. Those stupid dogs had distracted me! I pulled out my phone to see if there was another road I could take to get me back on track since I wasn’t about to turn around and pedal uphill and into the wind for 12 miles. Not today, Jack, this is supposed to be a rest day.
So the first road that Google sent me down was little country dirt road. It was fine and dandy for about a mile but then the hard packed gravel turned into this soft, dusty sand. 200 lb James + 20 lb Forrest + 60 lbs of gear mixed in with skinny tires and soft sand was not a good combo. I couldn’t get my bike through there if my life depended on it and I had no choice but to turn around and find a new route. Luckily for me there was a paved road about a mile away that was going the direction I needed to go. I don’t think I’m going to be trusting dirt roads anymore on this trip.
At this point I’m really dragging, just zero energy and zero motivation. I stop at the next gas station I see to take a break and fill up my water bottles. I asked the lady at the register if I could fill my water bottles up in the bathroom. She gets this really weird look on her face and I almost think she’s about to tell me to piss off when she says, “You want bathroom water?!” I tell her I just need something wet and I don’t really care what faucet it comes out of. She says, “You can’t go drinking bathroom water, sweetie. Just use the ice machine and fill them up in the sink right there.” Sweet! Nothing like ice cold water on a hot and humid day!
Before I set off I decide to eat an apple and rest up a bit more. I see that my good friend, Michael James Poe, has left a message for me on my Facebook page. He said that him and his brother were out fishing and had accidentally reeled in a turtle! They did a quick, non-invasive surgery and set the little fella free. It’s well known among those who study Turtle Lore that when you catch a turtle and then subsequently set it free unharmed that you’re granted a wish. Micheal, knowing this and being the good-natured soul that he is, used his wish to grant a blessing on all “travellers and vagabonds”. Now some may say that the boost of energy I got when I set off was because of the apple I ate and the monster I drank but I think at this point we all know what it was. TURTLE POWER-UP!!! Also, just for you monsters out there thinking you can just go catch random turtles to get a free wish, you can’t. The turtle must choose you, so don’t even try it 🙂
I’m cruising along, feeling great and generally happy with the world when, ahead of me, I hear the dreaded barks of my second most powerful nemesis. I try to pick up as much speed as I can before I get to the house so I can hopefully outrun the little beast. Not today, James. The owner of the dog, a white haired, hauntingly pale, almost wraith-like woman stands up from her porch and lets loose this guttural, Southern warble, “SHELBYYYY!!!” Now, unlike the dog owned by our beloved Redneck Warrior Princess, this dog doesn’t even pause and in seconds he is hot on my tail. He gets up on my right side and bites down on one of my hanging pannier straps. I must have pulled him along for a good 20 feet before he lets go with a sad sounding “YELP!” I’m guessing that me pulling him along across the pavement gave him a friction burn on his poor little pupper paws. James – 1, Dog – 0.
I get to my camp for the evening with no more trouble. I had planned for today to be a short one but ended up doing 51 miles because of my little detour. Who knows, though? Maybe it was a good thing those dogs threw me off. Those who follow the One True Turtle down his Swampy Path know that it’s not always easy, for His Shelliness works in mysterious ways. Maybe by my taking a detour I avoided getting smushed by a rogue ice cream truck or something. All I know is that it’s time to relax and read a book. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike.