Cannot really say that I had a good night’s sleep, but then again I will not complain. I had a roof over my head and a shower. Also had the lights on all night long same as TV and some occasional visitors as the lounge is situated on the route towards WC. Now I know how it’s like to spend a night at a truck stop. As with everything in life, there are pluses and minuses.
Morning comes at 4:45. Last night just before I had fallen asleep a security guard came. She warned me that I have to take my bicycle out of the lounge and I have to be awake before 5:30 when the boss comes in and the boss does not really supports people sleeping in the lounge, let alone having a bicycle there.
After I took Lou out I poured some coffee and the cashier did not want to charge me for it. For breakfast I had two pieces of fried fish from yesterday. I ate one and offered the second one to this girl in her early twenties that has also spent the night here. Yesterday she left the rehab clinic and since she does not have any money to go home she has stopped here and some as me used the luxury of one of the two couches.
After breakfast I went outside to say hello to the new day and to watch and admire a beautiful sunrise. Mornings are so quiet, serene and fresh.
Soon Bobby, the trucker from yesterday comes. We stand outside having our cigarettes and we continue the conversation from yesterday. Topics are still personal so I will not get into the details. Just not meant to be published.
Around 7h there is enough daylight for me to feel that I’m visible enough on the road so I hit the road. To take advantage of the morning freshness and to enjoy the day to its fullest.
I’m still surrounded by fields of sugarcane, full of birds and occasionally interrupted by tree lined bayous which gives the whole scenery a swampy feeling.
Today for the first time in a long period (I think actually from Kentucky) it happens that a cyclist with panniers comes my way. The guy, Rob is training for cycling the Natchez Trace, a route most of which I have cycled over on my tour, with his friend in September. We share some advices, information and say goodbye and good luck. We cycle onwards, each in his own direction.
Good half an hour later a pick-up catches up with me. Rob is behind the wheel and he offers me to come to his place to take a shower, a cold drink and grab something to eat. I gladly accept the offer and together we load up Lou into his pick-up while I sit in the front in a nicely air conditioned cabin.
About an hour later finds me freshly showered, refreshed by a cold drink and well fed. Rob offers to give me a lift past the point where he has picked me up and since yesterday I was held back by the rain, I happily take his offer.
Louisiana is still flat and if it would not have been for the heat it would be ideally for cycling. Well, it is, just not in this time of the year. Clouds are filling the sky and storms start to appear all around me. One is actually chasing me and I’m doing my best to reach the next town before it actually starts pouring down. I managed to outrun it and I stop at a McDonalds for an ice cream. Instead of a birthday cake.
While there I check my e-mails and Facebook. I try to reply to all the happy birthday wishes but I’m restless and cannot really focus on my replies. I feel that I have to go back to the road and to the next town so that I can in time (even thou I have enough time and I’m aware of it) find a place to sleep. It’s not uncommon for me that around 15-16h I start to occupy myself with thinking where will I spend the night. Will I manage to find a location for pitching my tent before the nightfall and where will that be? Will the location be safe or hidden enough not to attract unwanted attention? And here in the South I also try to find a location that does not require setting up my tent. The humidity in the air makes the whole tent and anything inside wet in the morning whether it rains or not. And since I’m quite lazy I don’t really fancy everyday packing, unpacking and drying all the soaked stuff.
What annoyed me today was the fact that I have not allowed myself to take the time to focus on all the birthday notes that I have received and so some of you got my thank you with a small delay. And I could have focused to these notes since, regardless if I spend the whole day or just the last 10 minutes thinking about where to spend the night, I have managed each and every day to find a place to do it. May it be pitching my tent behind a timber shop or sleeping in a barn. Every time there was something and that is why I find it so annoying when I worry myself unnecessarily. Especially as I firmly believe in what Paulo Coelho has written in The Alchemist about pursuing one’s Dreams (and those of you who are regular readers of this blog will inevitably in the future find myself referencing to this book several times). “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream!” Affirmation of this quote I experience on a daily basis.
Upon leaving McDonalds I find myself on a straight road that seems to go into infinity. Head wind (something that I have lately rarely experienced) is picking up and the surface of the road is rough, cracked. As I “battle” the kilometers I arrive to the next town tired and without energy.
I stop at the fire station asking for a shelter for the night. Anything will do. 1×2 meters of relatively, not necessarily flat surface and a roof over my head is all that I need. Kyle, the dispatcher offers me space in the garage and I grab the offer with a sigh of relief. After I manage to somewhat replenish my energy level with a coffee and a cigarette (and a break), Kyle and his girlfriend Mary-Beth prepare dinner. Opening the doors to the fire station was already generous enough so I try to object. In return I get a lesion on Cajun culture. Kyle says: “We Cajun (local people of French origin) have the need to feed people!” There is no room for further objections.
To wrap up for the day, I look at the magic of a Southern sunset. Today I have turned 35.
With a Smile, until next time!
So you will not say its only text again