Charley’s ride across America 8. Recovery and Crisis?


Day 13 feb 9. 10 miles, explore Dauphin Island, recover and t-storms

Day 14 feb 10. 41 miles 4:20. Strong wind, rain all day, no shoulder for half the day. End in Pascagoula MS

Running total 603

Dear friends and family,

I’m glad I stayed around yesterday.It rained really hard most of the night and into the morning.

I had a late morning to drink coffee, read, write, and do lots of stretching and core exercises.

My younger sister, Gerianne, who holds a doctor of Physical Therapy degree, continues to educate me that the latest thinking about healthy recovery is movement. So, even though I’m tempted to just lay around and “recover”, I’ll take her advice.

I’m at an end of the island with very little in the way of stores or restaurants. I noticed on Google maps a bakery that showed they have the usual sweets plus they serve a hot breakfast. Only 1.4 miles away the map showed. Wading through the huge puddles from last night’s rain, I hiked  my way towards breakfast.

What a cute building for a bakery. At the front counter I asked the young waitress what they had in the way of a hot breakfast. She said they had biscuits and gravy. Then she stopped. I asked the obvious next question and of course the answer was “nope” , “nothing else”. 

So, not to make her feel bad, I obliged. I was kind of hoping it was awful, so that would fill my obligation to sample the local food and then move on, except it was disturbingly good. Damn! Now I’m going to have to exercise self control in the future. if I want to live long. 

I was impressed with the shirts the staff was wearing, and one of the staff agreed to having her picture taken so I could share with you. 


Seemed like an opportunity for a swim, till I came across the flashing warning, so instead I got on the bike, sans bags, and pedaled the five miles to the Alabama Aquarian. I learned about the three different wet areas here: the Delta, the Bay, and the Gulf. It was all well presented, and gave me an appreciation for where I am and the richness of these areas I’m passing through.

Friday morning anticipation 0800 Friday

I’m sitting up in bed in my cheap motel. The first place that still uses an old fashioned key attached to the plastic room number

It appears that the weather system stalled instead of passing through. When I look outside I see the trees bent from the wind and a distant flag stretched straight out.. Looks like between 15-20 knots. I looked up the weather report for Dauphin island just now and it shows a forecast of 80% chance of rain and NE winds of 20-25. 

The first nine miles from here are to the northeast, over the Dauphin Island bridge, completely exposed to this wind. I looked up the bridge on google and it does show a wide shoulder, BUT it also shows ( see picture) a very steep climb to get up and over the ship passage.

I’m really nervous and not anxious to get out in it. I’ve got the clothing for it, and the temperature is already 57 degrees, so probably won’t freeze if I get wet.

What are my fears about? Are they well founded, or will they quickly dissipate once I get going. What if I just walk the bike up and down the steep section? I’m not in any hurry as I’ve got only 41 miles to pedal today.

What could go wrong?

I could pedal and make NO progress

I could get blown into traffic. Get hurt or die.

I could get so fearful that I just sit down and cry.

How to mitigate this

  1. Just get your ass out there and put your big boy pants on 
  2. Take it in bite sized chunks, going very slowly
  3. Go look and if really bad, return to your same room. The motel isn’t full.
  4. It’s probably not as bad as I anticipate
  5. This just must be the charm of being solo and unsupported. 

I just took a shower to wash off the smell of fear. Don’t need that to linger in my clothes.

The above was written before I left the room this morning

Now it’s 2 PM

The reality out there:

The bridge was just what I anticipated, winds of 20-25 on the nose, enough to actually blow me backwards if stopped pedaling. I (maybe stupidly) googled the bridge and found the picture I attach. Seemed like an optical illusion in that it couldn’t be that steep. It was. I had to walk the bike up it! 

Then, just when I was telling myself that at least it wasn’t raining, here it came. Sideways. By the taste of the water running down my face into my mouth it seemed slightly salty, so was a mixture of spray and rain.

I was reminded of being on passage solo in my sailboat 47 days out from Tahiti, bound for Neah Bay. It was the end of September and one of the fierce windy low pressure systems came down the coast from Alaska. To reduce sail I crawled up to the bow to lower the jib. I had to do it manually while sitting. Waves would come and the bow and I would dip under each wave, filling my foul weather gear with water as I wrestled the sail down.

 At first I cursed the weather and then a calm came over me as I realized this is why I traveled this way. Today had that element as I felt pity for those in passing cars that were missing this.

The next 30 miles were easier, just solid rain and less wind. I left quite a puddle at the front desk checking in to this motel, where I’m now dry and warm.

I spent some time thinking about this morning, and thought it about time to have a talk with myself.

“ Self, what do you think was going on this morning? We’re you really scared?”

“ I don’t know, I’m not sure” was the answer.

“But if you did know, what would it be?” ( Channeling Jim Ewing, mentor and friend)

“ Some sort of way I process things”

Love to you all,


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