Monday, May 14, 2007

On the Road! (And some philosophy passed on)

The trip has officially begun! We are writing this from Grove Hill, Alabama, after having completed two full days of riding, covering 107 miles of the route so far, and logging an actual 124 miles on the bikes (riding to our accomodations each night, around town riding, wrong turns, etc. mean more miles than what the route actually shows.)

We are doing fine. Compared to the places we've been through since leaving Mobile on Saturday morning, Grove Hill (pop 1438) is a very good sized town, and a friendly place. The first two days of riding have been very different, so I am going to do two separate postings. This one is about Day #1.

We left Mobile at about 7 am Saturday morning, very excited and filled with anticipation. The "butterflies" that we'd felt the previous couple of days were gone... we were just ready to start. The early Saturday AM departure was planned to avoid any heavy traffic on the big city downtown streets and the bridges that cross the bay. Riding was good, but by the time we got out of the city and past the town of Spanish Fort, we started hitting hills. We took a break at Blakely State Park and had a nice conversation with the park ranger there. The heat as the day wore on made riding a lot of work, but we made it to Stockton by 2 pm. We found the most fabulous restaurant, the Stagecoach Cafe. They had a luncheon buffet of great food, and did we eat!! True southern cooked vegetables, pot roast & chicken, desserts, and lots of southern sweetened iced tea. It was great! Super friendly people, too, all very curious about the trip we are doing.

We then went on to the campground at Hubbard Landing, which was recommended by the Inaugural Group riders when we saw them in Cincinnati. The campground is on a lake, and has been owned by brothers Harold and Jimmy Byars since 1950. These folks could not have been nicer. They remembered the first group from a few weeks ago, and just went out of their way to make us as comfortable as possible.

That evening, with our tent set up, we went and sat on the porch outside the campground office and just talked and talked with Jimmy, his wife Frances, and nephew Paul. Fine people. And the primary piece of advice / philosophy given to us by Alvin, the group leader of that first group of riders, came back to me. He said that you can ride the route and be a tourist, or you can be a traveler. A TOURIST is someone who goes and sees and takes the memories and experience home with them. A TRAVELER gives as well as takes ..... gives in terms of the interactions with the people he/she passes. The local people in the towns one rides through are generally friendly and very interested in the bike trip, this route that many have now heard about, and the people who ride it. They truly want to talk and interact. We are making it a point to take the time to do so on this trip, and already it is making the trip all the more meaningful to us.

1 comment:

Russell said...

Just typed in some coments , but lost them in process of logging on to Google site . Hope yio got them though. More power to you . We've just returned form the Lewis & Clark trail - 1st stage - 1100 miles from Alton , Ill to Pierre SD . We agree so much with your `traveller` definition . Best wishes . George and Mary Russell