My friend Jim Ostdick has just produced an e-book available on Amazon with vignettes from several thousand road miles circumpedaling the US on his Long Haul Trucker touring bike: Palomino and the Dream Machine: A Retired Dude’s Bicycle Tour Around the Lower Forty-Eight United States
He has chronicled some of this journey on his blog, but how much better to find them in one place for download on your kindle? And so reasonable! Here are excerpts, reprinted by permission of the author from two of my favorite yarns:
The cool morning fog had nearly lifted by the time I exited Hwy 101 and headed south on Hollister Avenue into Goleta CA. Goleta is a suburb of Santa Barbara, a sprawl that includes Isla Vista and UCSB.
I was starved due to the previous night’s grab bag dinner, so I pulled into the first strip mall shopping center on my side of the road and started scouting for breakfast. Dismounting, I pushed the Dream Machine along a crowded row of businesses. Sushi. Subway. Phone store. Beauty salon.
Just as I was approaching the salon, with its neon signs flashing “Nails” and “Waxes” and “Tints,” the door popped open and out came Little Miss Perfect, Santa Barbie herself.
This early 20s girl was just the right height, just the right shape, < 5% body fat, tanned, toned, waxed tantalizingly bare except for her shining straight brown just right shoulder length perfectly trimmed model hair, color-matched, with upper and lower nails perfectly formed to easily slip into expensive slithery garments. She probably had perfect teeth, but I couldn’t tell you that because she didn’t show them to me.
She smelled really good. Her battery operated green eyes, though, were avoidance tools, focused on some plane unattainable to those mere mortals who poop and pee.
As she passed – glided – in front of me, her perfect little nose wrinkled slightly, disapprovingly, as if to announce “eww, it sweats” not to me personally but to me as part of that general population of beasts that are not shaped, waxed, toned, trimmed, polished, and related to hedge fund managers.
She disappeared and I continued, suddenly a lot more interested in the Cajun Kitchen Cafe and breakfast. I, as you know, heart breakfast. Continued
Bunkie Rhymes with Funky
Bunkie LA is dead in the center of Louisiana swamp country. It is the home of Zutty Singleton and that, for some people at least, says it all. Bunkie, my friends, put the “o” in “oh nooooo.” It put the “ew” in “mildew.” It put the “ick” in “icky.” And long, long ago, Bunkie LA put the “eak” in “freak.”
This is where the woodsy woods woodsy meets the swampy swamp swampy. The result, of course, is the creepy creep creepsy. The landscape has some charm in the daytime if the Sun is out and the humidity is reasonably low, but generally that’s not the case. Usually, the sky is overcast and the air stunningly muggy or else lightning bolts are flying through the air alongside baseball-sized hail stones.
At night, you can forget it. This place is just plain haunted by dusk. You’ve heard of voodoo and all that. Hmphh, that’s for amateurs. Your average Louisiana grandma can turn a frog into a panther and back just by picking her nose and looking cross eyed. Everybody here is somebody else at least half the time. They live in two towns simultaneously and delve into nefarious mischief with rats and boars. Just this morning there was a picture in The Acadian of a boar with a boar body and a rat’s head. Maybe it was a rat with a rat’s head and a boar body, who knows. The editor of the paper, who went to newspaper school in AMERICA, implored citizens to cut this stuff out. It’s making him look bad to his college buddies.
Chicot State Park is just down the road. I rode through the park this morning during a brief break between the overnight tornado and the afternoon hurricane. A narrow asphalt road bisects the Park’s woods for about five miles. Beautiful pines and cypresses and palmettos grow in giant puddles of dark, shiny water with sunbeams shooting through gaps in the canopy. As nice as it appeared, I just knew it was a ruse. The Park was like the pretty girl in the horror movie whose hair goes all stringy right before her face melts and her teeth turn green. I was sure that if I parked the Dream Machine and set one foot in the woods I would be instantly covered in water moccasins and yanked into the murky depths by red-eyed rat boars.
Bunkie LA holds the Louisiana Corn Festival every June. Do not go. The corn is really opossum snout that just looks like corn until you get up close to it. And you know what happens after that. Stay home and find something constructive to do.
Peace, Love, and the Sheer Terror of Bicycling Through the Bayou,