Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 17-19, 2018







Tuesday April 17, 2018 marks our first day back on the road since the collision on January 30, 2018.  
There are so many people and companies that helped us get back on the road, here are just a few.  To Trailside Bicycle Company out of Canfield, Ohio, whom we met earlier in our tour, for putting together the spectacular ride you will see in coming photos.  Trailside worked with "Intelligent Design Cycles", our sponsor, and "SineWave Cycles" to obtain parts that were destroyed in the collision.  To the many folks that offered and provided transportation around town.  To Kappy and Richard Thompson of "Live Oak Nursery" for allowing a man and his dog to stay at their property while I recovered.  To the many folks that send aid to our PayPal account, without which I could not have replaced many of the items that were lost or food and other daily necessities such as bus money.  Thank you all.  For a more detailed accounting of those who've helped us, please visit my Facebook group, Tour De PACLANTIC.
My departure from Live Oak Nursery was filled with more than a little anxiety.  Although my trailer is an exact duplicate of the one that was destroyed, I have forgotten my routine and habits while on the road.  New bags and other gear has to be stowed in a different manner in which I was accustomed.  For example, my old bags had pockets and compartments where certain daily use items were kept.  Other concerns were my lack of physical conditioning and perhaps also mental preparedness (such as, would I have debilitating thoughts of being struck again) .  The latter would later and quickly prove inconsequential.
Leaving Live Oak Nursery at noon was not necessarily planned but writing my will and sending out emails to my support group was a necessary task and all that remained of pre ride matters.  I said my goodbyes to everyone, yet again, for I had thought I'd be leaving the day before and then again, the day before that.  ;-)  Daisy hopped right into her crate ,like the old pro she is, and it wasn't long before we crossed the mighty Mississippi River at Highway 84.
Immediately following the river crossing I noticed the Louisiana welcome sign and could not resist a set-up photograph (bike and trailer) with it in the  background.   Louisiana is 19th state of our tour.  It was at this time that Jessica of "The Bakery Cottage" came out to offer water for our bottles and a complimentary treat, to which I thanked her for the offer while declining it at the same time.  We took a selfie together before parting ways.
Further down the road I remembered to look for a post office, to mail my will off to Charlie Thomas of huberslack.com, the fellow that is representing our best interests in the matters regarding our highway collision.
It was a warm day considering that just the day before required a sweat shirt and bottoms to cut the chill.  It was also a windy day with 13 to 14 mile per our head winds for much of the way.  Gusts of wind would often exceed these wind averages.  Water breaks were frequent as I erred on the side of caution due to my lack of conditioning.
As I rode through Vidalia and arrived in Ferriday Louisiana, I noticed that I was logging considerable mileage and still had a good distance to go to my somewhat pre-planned destination.  I immediately cursed myself for taking a friend's word on mileage to my destination without mapping it out myself; folks in vehicles, that do not ride bikes, typically have an extraordinarily exaggerated opinion of how far a mile is (10 miles that-a-way may actually be 20 miles).  I double checked my odometer reading with Google maps and found that my odometer was way off.  It would later become apparent that magnetic/electrical fields from unshielded wiring was affecting the odometer.  Having a renewed understanding of the distance we've traveled did nothing for how I felt and I was at this point only half way to my destination.  Here in Ferriday I chose to skip visiting some of its popular tourist attractions in favor of conserving energy.  On Google+ I have a photo album from my previous visit on our first tour labeled Ferriday, LA.
From this moment on, leaving Ferriday to head west on Highway 84, we will travel in unfamiliar territory once again.  Exciting really, but I can't help but think a little about what lies ahead...or what does not.  We were blessed by the many folks, folks we've met from the first tour, that were nearby and extended offers of assistance following our collision.  My safety net I now leave behind me, more miles each day.  Ride on!
I arrived at a church that I thought might accommodate us for the night but on close inspection there was a neighboring house set back from the road about 35 meters, with windows blacked out solid.  Normally this by itself would not concern me except for the fact that the front door cracked open and then quickly shut as we passed in front of the house.  Stealth camping was now out of the question.  I took a break, ate some peanuts, and mapped an alternate location a couple of miles further.  My body didn't want to go but the alternate location was more desirable.  An hour later I felt I had the energy to make it further and the winds died down a bit, seemingly to accommodate me.
Mt Beulah Church is where I put up camp.  Mosquito net only, no rain fly.  Earlier I had my heart set on an easy meal of split pea and rice soup, and now, I had no desire to eat.  I made an easy to prepare dinner anyway of noodles and tuna and would force it down later if need be.  As luck would have it, hunger arrived.  I made certain to consume some vitamins and minerals and a good amount of powdered milk and coffee too.  I consumed my entire water supply by morning despite the fact that I thought I had been hydrating myself properly along the way.
April 18, 2018, Wednesday, I got an early start and was feeling better than I expected.  The winds were not as bad as the previous day but it was a steady head winds of 11 to 12 miles per hour the entire way.  I arrived in Jonesville, Louisiana in time to quench my thirst just as it arrived.  I picked out a destination according to how my body was feeling.  There would be no sense in overexerting myself and this destination seemed reasonable.
Being out of the saddle for as long as I've been becomes readily apparent when the saddle is no longer comfortable.  In fact, the pain in my ass was ridiculous.  I would hurt so bad I had to stand up to pedal.  The act of getting off of the seat and the flash of pain that came with it is quite remarkable if only for an instant.  I usually change riding styles more frequently, but the high winds and frequent gusts (add to that the wind shear from traffic) kept me seated longer than I would have liked.  Standing on the pedals requires a higher gear, but more importantly, forward momentum.  There is nothing exciting about pedaling a bike in cleats, clipped in, and finding yourself stalled or being pushed backwards.
I arrived at T-Towne Shell Truck Stop and just in time.   This became apparent when I dismounted my bike and my legs wobbled.  I hung out for a while and met an acquaintance from Natchez, Marceau Iry.
I topped off with water and found an excellent place to set camp.
April 19, 2018, Thursday, I took the day off.  This morning I woke remarkably refreshed.  This evening I am feeling tight in areas.  More than likely I will ride out in the morning.
Daisy and I have met quite a few folks while here and several fisher folk have given us some of their catch.  Wednesday in particular was a near religious experience with catfish, in the sense that I cooked it right over a fire and it was fantastic!  There is no exaggerating how yummy it was, I kid you not.  I grilled Daisy one big one exclusively for her.  Normally she will munch on one for a half hour, spitting out a neat pile of bones.  This dog is a fiend for fish!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Highway Collision

I had stayed the night in Sibley, MS. at Rehoboth Church of God and Christ and was looking forward to seeing Woodville, knowing that it would be a chore getting across the Doloroso hill tops.

On Tuesday January 30th I recall my last break, a rest stop on a bridge, was just over 10 miles north of Woodville along Highway 61, the Mississippi River Trail ( MRT bike route).  About a mile later, I was struck from behind by an SUV. From the SUV, there was no horn, groan from the strain of brakes, or tires biting into or gripping asphalt, it truly came as a vicious and instantaneous surprise. I neither recall the handle bars leaving my grip, nor my cleated shoes, which were mechanically secured to the pedals, somehow coming free.  One moment I'm on my bike and the next I'm trying to contort my body for an attempted controlled crash landing with the asphalt, a futile thought and gesture for I was hurled like a rag doll with forces unimaginable.

As my body came to a halt on the asphalt, I crawled around looking for Daisy, my dog.  I found her crate quite empty and sudden panic overwhelmed me.  "Daisy!!!", I shouted in fear.  It was then that I saw her beyond the wreckage in the grass off the right side of the road, cowering either from my shout or herself recovering from the trauma... the instant transport of her body from her crate to grass under her feet.  I can only imagine what she had experienced for she was struck milliseconds before I was launched.  It was not long after that she got her tail a wagging and she trotted parallel to the road, wagging her tail cautiously and shaking off the previous moments.  I grabbed her collar, scoured the last known location of her leash, found it and secured her to a sign post. 

My most valuable cargo having been secured, all five of her appendages looking normal with no kinks, bumps, or bends, I went to my next task of locating my valuables; phone, back-up batteries, wallet, ID's, all of which were originally in my handle bar bag and now scattered in the travel lane of the highway.  I suppose it was about this moment that I noticed a citizen take charge, placing his personal property (truck and trailer) and himself at risk to prevent further injury to Daisy and I by blocking the lane up-traffic from the wreckage.  The driver obviously waited for a lull in southbound traffic for which to drive North on this south bound stretch and park his pick-truck and trailer blocking the travel lane that held the remains of our transportation, then exited his vehicle and ran further ahead, the entire while waving his arms to further warn oncoming traffic of the lane closure ahead.  Traffic heading south bound would now encounter a man waving his arms directing them to the passing lane, then his truck facing the wrong direction, then the wreck as well as the many folks working in impromptu coordinated road clean-up.   This is just one man that I wish I could thank for rising to the occasion for the safety of others and Daisy and I.

A man and his wife (I later heard was a registered nurse) had stopped to help in any way they could.  So many concerned citizens inquiring to my physical health and what I needed in the way of assistance.  So much of what littered the scene was now essentially trash, things that sustained us while on our journey now held little meaning.  A lady with a phone to her ear, telling me that 911 is on the line with her while asking me if I required medical attention.  The driver of the vehicle expressing concern and offering apologies and regret; my feeling sorrow for this fellow and thinking how hard he must be beating himself up.  A thought of an ambulance coming for me rather than being available for someone in dire need.  A man handing me a necklace and telling me this may be important...my military dog tags.  Someone telling me they had found my phone, but it turned out to be just one of my USB battery back-up packs.  The lady whom had notified me of her call to 911 and was still on the phone with them, took it upon herself to help scour the area for my phone, my only connection to my family (my friends and "Veterans and Their Pets").  I would later find it nearly 75 yards further south in the middle of the roadway in the travel lane according to Frank Davis.  Frank counseled me as though he knew what must be going on in my mind and offered the clear headed forethought of me returning to Natchez rather than transporting me to Woodville; it has bike shops and people that know of me and our mission and more resources that I would need later on.  The selfless advice of strangers looking after a fellow human.

The people that came together in this dark time, their faces drawn with sorrow? Pity? Disbelief?  Sadness? Fear of the unknown - finding themselves part of something we all hope never happens to "us"?  They seemed to be all on autopilot contributing in each their own way to bring order and comfort to what looked like a tiny war zone.  I felt as though they each looked the way I felt.  It was grim yet beautiful in its own way.  

I took some quick photos with my phone of the debris and amongst all the communication aimed at me... is this yours?  Is this of value to you?  Would you like to place things important to you in this bag? (*I'm in tears writing these memories*) May I offer you a ride?  I want to offer you help...  I logged on to social media and posted without thought, photos of the scene.  Normally in times of trouble on the road my first call is always to "Veterans and Their Pets" but here on Highway 61, so very far from any of my known support group, surrounded by strangers, it was here in Mississippi I found myself needing no one but these folks on the scene.

I eventually left the scene Frank Davis of Natchez who kindly said that his trip to Woodville, MS could wait.  He brought me to Under The Hill Saloon where Andre had said that I was welcome to make use of his patio.

Later in the evening, Michael West of "Veterans and Their Pets SM", the organization I am riding for, sends me a much needed text.  The text listed two veterinary clinics close to me.  Advised me to call and ask which will take payment over the phone, take Daisy there; have them give her a thorough examination including x-rays, and an adult dog blood work-up; make plans to have them board her while you (Harold) see to your own injuries.  Daisy would be in good hands while I was being treated.

On Wednesday, January 31st, I called upon Frank Davis once again, at his earlier insistence that I not hesitate to do so, for a ride to Natchez Veterinary Clinic to drop Daisy off and then to Merit Health Natchez for my own needs.  His schedule on this day dovetailed perfectly with helping us with our needs.

I had finished with my exams at Merit in time to avoid having to board Daisy for the night, assuming that I could get there in time.  I had called Jim Smith (Natchez Architectural and Art Discoveries) of Natchez, also at his insistence that I not hesitate to call for a ride, to see if he was able to pickup Daisy and I.  Jim was not immediately free to do so, but when I called Frank, again, he was just a mile away and had finished his business for the day.

Frank and I arrived at Natchez Veterinary Clinic in time to pick up Daisy and spare her any more undue separation anxiety.  I, and they, found her in excellent health...pending blood work results.  I asked about the bill at which time I discovered yet another good Samaritan had called in to pay her bill, Colleen A. Miller, another good Samaritan I have yet to meet. I took a photo with the staff with tears still in my eyes.  

My tour for "VeteransAndTheirPets.org" is so much more than me, pedaling my bike and sharing my story.  It is made up of countless thoughts and prayers and other contributions made along the way by countless thoughtful people.  I and Daisy are such a small part in a very large whole.

My x-rays as well as Daisy's reveal nothing remarkable, initially.  Daisy's blood work will be in later today.  Some of my injuries have worsened since the incident, while some new aches and pains have recently appeared.  I will request an MRI for the exact nature of my injuries are as yet unknown.

If my health allows, I plan and hope to ride out of here as soon as possible, to finish my cross country commitment.  

I have asked a third party, Trailside Bicycle Company out of Canfield Ohio experienced with insurance claims and familiar with my now totaled rig to guide me in my replacement rig and associated gear.

To:

-The fellow directing traffic,

-The lady that stayed on the phone the entire time with 911,

-The nurse and her husband,

-The EMS staff,

-The highway patrol,

-The man who diligently scooped individual pieces of my fishing tackle box,

-The man who found my military dog tags,

-The man who asked if my spoke nuts scattered in the gravel were valuable pieces,

-Under The Hill Saloon,

-Colleen Miller for your help with Daisy's examination,

-Frank Davis for the rational ideas and transporting a homeless man, his dog, and his home...

...I wish I could thank you all including others I've failed to mention or recognize.

Thank you!!


UPDATE February 14, 2018

Hello all,


I hope that you will share the following information as an update on our progress for veteransandtheirpets.org .  As of this time, the insurance company of the isured, State Farm, has not helped financially or otherwise. (More on this in the last paragraph)

As you know, Daisy and I were struck from behind on highway 61, south of Natchez in Mississippi, 3,450 miles into our cross country tour.  Amazingly, Daisy and I were able to walk away.  The full story of this day may also be found at ( http://www.petguide.com/blog/news-blog/dog/homeless-veteran-dog-hit-riding-bike-awareness/ ) and ( http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/2018/02/02/traveling-bicyclist-struck-by-car-leaving-natchez/ )

Trailside Bicycle Company (  www.trailsidebicyclecompany.com ) has taken it upon themselves, at a great risk and initial cash outlay, to build us a new bike and trailer, a huge and complicated undertaking.  I am most grateful for their assistance in this and past efforts.  If anyone is able to assist them in their efforts in getting us back on the road, please contact Tim Knight at Trailside Bicycle Company at (330) 503-4690.

Donations directly to "Harold & Daisy" are accepted through PayPal at ( https://www.paypal.me/TourDePACLANTIC ).  Michael West of veteransandtheirpets.org , the organization for whom we ride, has set this account up to see us through during our displacement here in Natchez, Mississippi.

I hold no ill will towards the driver, however, insurance seems quite deliberately slow in assisting us in our continued and ongoing expenses despite the fact that the driver was cited for " failure to yield right of way".  Report available through Mississippi Highway Patrol; I hold a copy as well.

Feel free to contact me for more info.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Rain Day in Natchez

Yesterday I had packed up camp for the coming rain, three inches was forecast and I was in low country.  Since the wee hours of the morning it has been steadily coming down and will continue to do so until late this evening.  I hope that I've chosen camp well and will not need a canoe.

We are still in Natchez, Mississippi and I plan on heading south tomorrow.  I will stay in high country, as opposed to the low country of Louisiana just on the other side of the Mississippi River, and cross the river at St. Francisville, Louisiana.  The hills along Highway 61 will be a tougher route but I hope to see some great scenes and historic locations on this path.

#DaisyGirlDog #ManDogBike
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Natchez Democrat

Thank you "The Natchez Democrat" for hearing and sharing our story and mission for "Veterans and Their Pets"SM.  Sabrina Simms and Nicole Hester of www.NatchezDemocrat.com came out and met us on Highway 61 outside of Natchez, Mississippi.

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American Duchess

This morning Daisy and I woke to a brilliant light that lit up our tent like a momentary starburst.  We went out to investigate and this is what we discovered...

The American Duchess, a river boat cruise ship was tying up on the Mississippi River here at Natchez, Mississippi.  The American Duchess cruises from New Orleans, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee and makes certain stops along the way.

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#cooldogs #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram  #travelingwithpets #traildog #traillife #cyclingshots #cyclingphotos #everydayislegday #cyclinglife #rideyourbike #happythoughts

#dogtricks #furbabies #thepupnation  #thegreatoutdogs #adventuredogsofficial  #ruffpost #muttstagram #barkpost

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tour Progress Screenshot

Here is a recent screenshot of our route thus far...

TourDePACLANTIC.blogspot.com a #crosscountry #bicycle #cycling #tour of #America for #military #veterans and their #pets

#TourDePACLANTIC #VeteransAndTheirPets #IntelligentDesignCycles

#adventurepup #dogsonadventures #biketouring #bikepacking  #bicycledogs #gooddog 

#cooldogs #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram  #travelingwithpets #traildog #traillife #cyclingshots #cyclingphotos #everydayislegday #cyclinglife #rideyourbike #happythoughts #whatthehell #trainingpartner #travelwithpets 

#dogtricks #furbabies #thepupnation  #thegreatoutdogs #adventuredogsofficial  #ruffpost #muttstagram #barkpost #dogumented #mydogismy #houndandlife #topdogsofinstagram