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Messages - Westinghouse

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The staccato taps of light to medium rain on a poly-tarp suspended between two trees and staked to the ground in an A-frame was a sound that put me to sleep fast.

I got out to make a phone call at the phone booth.
You might have to describe what a "phone booth" is for our younger generations, especially if it was a rotary dial phone.  ;D

You know those phones. Some phone booths were semi-open. Most were enclosed on all four sides. The phones were rotary. They were pay phones. Coins went into a slot. If you did not have the fifty cents, you could still make a call. Strip  the small rubber tips off a bobby pin. Stick one leg of the pin into the mouthpiece so it makes contact. Pull out the change receiver and touch the pin to the bare metal with the pin. It made the connection same as when coins were inserted.

Now in Zen hostel in Gainesville December 10th 2009. Started Monday December the 7th from Vero Beach. Did 78 miles to Mims. US1 had a nice shoulder most of the way except in Melbourne where it disappeared and the sidewalks suck for cycling. Stopped in a dunkin' donut for 40 minutes. Also had to wait for the rain for 2 or 3 hours at a roadside arcade run by Rich Cummings. Mims was all wet when I got there. Two women at a convenience store said highway 46 was dangerous, two lanes, with a lot of accidents. I found a place in the trees to string up the tarp at the northeast corner of US1 and highway 46.

December 8th 2009. I awoke and packed. I noticed I had camped about 150 ft from a house. I prefer to stay clear of houses when I can, but I did not see it in the dark. It was about 11:00 p.m. last night when I finally got set up to sleep. So late due to the rain. I cycle West on highway 46 to McDonald's where I had a breakfast of pancakes, yuck. I left there around 9:30 a.m. 46 was a very good road for cycling east of sanford. It has a good shoulder. The scenery along the way was quite swampy. West of Sanford traffic increased very much and the road took on more of what the women had described the night before. I took various roads to eustis where I got on highway 19 going north through Ocala national forest. The area is rolling. The growth on both sides of the road was so thick and interlaced like a flora fence I could not get the bicycle in anywhere to sleep. And there was hardly any place to lay down. I finally did find a short road to a tower. I got off into the trees and bushes behind a fence around that Tower. I just lay on the ground and threw the tarp on top of me. No rain. I had already searched several places to sleep before I found that place. It was very cramped. 77 miles.

Tornadoes were not a concern in south Florida. I was not exposed to those devices and social attitudes. I was cycling east to west across the southern tier of counties in Tennessee. It was intuition more than any thing else that alerted me. Televisions in cafes and restaurants mentioned the weather but it all seemed sketchy, equivocal, indistinct. I wheeled up to a convenience store and went in. A group was around a television inside. I asked about the weather. I was told the weather was fine. Good weather they said. But my intuition told me all hell would break loose, so I stayed around the store. This debacle from hell hit within an hour. Multiple tornadoes, hail, heavy rain, howling straight-line wind and a stroboscopic lightning show that turned night into day. It was an all time record high for tornadoes. 57 touched down in one day. Nobody was hurt. The tornadoes hit away from inhabited dwellings.  They closed shop. I asked if I could rack out in the front seat of a truck there. Yes I could, and I did and that storm lasted for hours.

If I had continued cycling and not stopped there, I would have been well into a heavily wooded area with no shelter anywhere except under a tree.

Google comes up with weather forecasts for towns as small as Van Horn, Texas.   Sometimes weather systems form for days and weeks like hurricanes. Easy to track them. Weather conditions known to produce tornadoes can be identified and tracked. One-day in the 1980s I was driving north on US 1 in Stuart, FL. I got out to make a phone call at the phone booth. At that moment, a twister came down. It flung things off a roof.  It knocked down a big sign onto the roadway. It went across US1 shaking a bunch of pine trees and went  back up.

With a view to these latest rounds of storms and tornadoes, it is good practice to stay ahead of the weather. A cyclist touring long distances could find himself wild-camped away from a roadway when some unprecedented wild powerful storm suddenly appears and wreaks serious damage. It happened three times to me.  As far as I know, googling weather forecasts for different regions should yield accurate reliable information.  When you do not know severe storms are coming, they can take you by surprise.  I cycled the southern tier one summer east to west. It was hotter than hell, but otherwise the weather was great.There was 25 minutes of rain in Slidell Louisiana, and one night of heavy rain near Las Cruces, New Mexico. That was it for a two month tour. Doing the southern tier again there were extremely serious very dangerous radical changes in the  weather. On another crossing it was a miracle I survived it. Doing a transcontinental bicycle tour can bring you to very nice weather with rain here and there. It can also steer you into a seriously hazardous situation, if you do not keep yourselves forewarned. I ignored the weather advisories. I also woke up to a tornado shredding trees all around near the Mississippi in or south of Minnesota, 1987. I got myself into a number of fixes with the weather while bicycle touring because I was not prepared.

General Discussion / Re: US dogs
« on: May 08, 2024, 02:48:23 am »
When we cycled highway 90 in the winter of 1984 in north Florida going west, free-ranging dogs were all over the place. We had several loud snarling barking run-ins with them. Frequently they lay dead in the road, smashed by motor vehicles. Several years later I cycled that same highway in winter. Not one single dog did I see anywhere along the length of that highway 90 in north Florida. Generally  speaking, there is nothing to worry about in the US. In other parts of the world there are dogs that would rip a man to shreds and devour him. I encountered two of them.  All I can say is thank God for that chain link fence. I would say dogs have chased and slowed me to a halt 100 times.

General Discussion / Re: Amtrak lounge access with a bicycle
« on: May 07, 2024, 10:47:18 pm »
I would just open the door and push the bike inside and lean it against a wall. Call the train people and ask.

Did route 9 along the eastern New Mexico - Mexico border a couple years ago. Plenty of drones, planes, mobile monitoring sites, and border patrol cars and vehicles. Due to the heat, I was riding in the dark in the early morning - have to admit to a rare sense of edginess.

Long distances bicycle touring in that area give me a very good idea of what you saw. I cycled through there in 2022, for the sixth time.  I found it a very good area for cycling. How many times did I cycle, loaded with 40 pounds of gear, up that long steep road in downtown El Paso?  They have those electric eyes all over the place, and some you cannot see, hidden, cleverly concealed.

At first it seemed like a false report, this last incident, the robbery and murders of two men from Australia and one  American.  And they dropped the bodies down a well. It is almost inconceivable.  It is unthinkable.  There have not been any such catastrophes for touring cyclists on the American side of the border.  Or have there been---even 0ne? I never heard of it.

Baja, CA, MX is a popular destination for cyclists. I have not been there.  I understand that some or most of the cycling there is on dirt roads and sand.  As everyone probably already knows, three young men recently went there for surfing. They were robbed, murdered execution style (shot through the backs of their heads), their bodies thrown down a well, and their truck set ablaze.  The burning was to conceal evidence, they said. When it comes to cycling the southern tier, which I have done completely 5 times,  I would STAY on the AMERICAN side of the border.

General Discussion / Re: Hotel/motel vs camping
« on: May 04, 2024, 01:45:41 pm »
Damn !  Just now saw the date of the original post.  But that is OK.  The topic is relevant no matter when the OP.

General Discussion / Re: Hotel/motel vs camping
« on: May 02, 2024, 11:14:06 pm »
I am planning a southern tier, coast-to-coast trip starting early May. Does anyone have advice regarding the difference between a credit card, hotel/motel option vs camping. For instance, what is the cost difference? What is the comfort variable? Is there a difference as to what is easiest to find in a timely manner? This trip will be unsupported with one other person. I have done week long supported tours before (Ride the Rockies). Any other thoughts on the subject would be helpful.

How is it going with your estimated time of commencing your trans-con bicycle tour in early May?  What have you finally decided to do about motels and camping?

To me a better example is when a bridge is being replaced and a detour is required.  For a car, a 10 mile detour on an interstate is no big deal but to a touring cyclist it can be a major undertaking.  Again I ask where do you draw the line.  Since all I do is a strictly volunteer situation (for free) and as far as ACA goes, they have an "Addendums" section to look for after printing updates, where do you draw the line.  Tailwinds, John

In my experiences, first there is a sign telling the bridge up ahead is closed. Second, it is closed to motor vehicle traffic. Third, keep going and you will find it is easily doable on a bicycle.  Even a sign that says bridge out is worth passing and seeing for yourself. One or two miles to check out a bridge, compared to a 20 mile detour seems like a fair trade.  Sure, some bridges really are closed and smashed and completely useless.

In 2022 there was a sign saying bridge closed. It was on Hwy 90 between New Orleans and Pearlington. The bridge appeared to have been damaged. There was a large gash in the concrete guard-wall and pieces of a vehicle lay all around. Walking the bike between the two concrete barriers was easy.  It was an easy roll over the pile of asphalt on the east side of the barriers.  I was going west to east.  Another closed bridge was on the Pearl river at Pearlington Here the barriers were closer together.  Bike and panniers had to be lifted over the barriers separately.  It was always. I think, that closed bridges were passable.

I would put on the maps--- Some motels / hotels do allow bicycles in rooms or they provide secure storage. Some do not. It is best to call ahead and find out.

On routes that draw cyclists from all over the world, e.g. the PCBR, it may be that motel proprietors had negative experiences accommodating cyclists keeping bicycles in rooms. I did the PCBR in 1993, August---September. I came across public notices in restaurants that there had been some conflicts between land owners and cyclists. I also noticed some obviously suspicious traffic activities on the route. On that trip I used camp grounds, stealth sites and hostels. The hostels always had secure storage rooms.

This year, January 24---February 5, I did a 550 mile ride around south Florida, and no motels. In 2022 I cycled about 1400 miles in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. In Astoria I had a nice, two-bedroom motel right there on the Columbia river. In Tucson I was days at the Red Lion. In  El Paso I stayed in the Hilton Double Tree. In New Orleans I was days at the Alexandre. In Perry, Florida it was an old, run-down, over priced kind of dirty place. I was so tired I would have taken a room in the black hole of Calcutta. The Chinese all-you-can-eat restaurant next door to it gave me a nasty case of food poisoning. In Stuart, Florida I stayed at the Days Inn for days. As motels go, except for the dump in Perry, these places were a bit on the upscale side. There were no issues about keeping the bicycle in the room. The Alexandre was the best. Hey, at $200.00 a day plus a hefty security deposit, are they going to say this to you?  Hell no. No bicycles.  Of course not. The Alexandre was more like a one-bedroom house than a motel room where floor space was the matter. Right there in downtown NOLA at the French quarter.

Matt, just to clarify, I  am not associated with ACA other than being a regular member like you.  However, I have created routes for probably 20 years that are usually short routes, i.e. 15-100 miles, that connect to other short routes. Think about the little spider web lines in a cracked car windshield.  I get on average about 2-3 requests a week for route assistance but only help maybe 3 out of 10 because they think I do printed maps like ACA when I mainly just do GPS routes and written cue sheets. Anyway, ACA should get the credit for making great maps.  Tailwinds, John

Reading these comments, your experiences with bicycle touring are extensive and impressive. What compelled you to do all that and the routes?  I have not much knowledge about those subjects. There was this compelling need to adventure into the wide world the planet. It did not enter my mind that I should research it. In my own analysis, I noticed certain similar social interactions country wide. When stopped in some town sometimes people asked questions. Those questions and comments were all the same all the same in FL,  AL, MS, LA, TX, NM, AZ, CA.

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