Friday, July 31, 2009

San Antonio Tourist Stuff

We Drop In On Ripley's And Wax Museum

Having driven by it a dozen times we finally made the time to go through the Alamo. You know how so many things look
smaller once you really get to them or in them? The Alamo actually seemed quite a bit roomier than I thought it would be from seeing the inside. Packed with tourists!

Just across the street from the venerated Texas monument is of course a collection of tourist attractions. We took in the Ripley's Believe It Or Not 'Odditorium'!

One of my favorite things was this deer head. Notice anything strange or different about it? It is in the 'Odditorium', after all!

The deer head is made totally of nails.

I'm almost 6' 4". This Robert Wadlow fellow was 8' 11". Makes me feel tiny!

Deanna gets creeped out by eyes so she did not want to buddy up to the bug-eyed man.

But Lexi seemed to develop quite a liking for the man qho could swallow his nose...

At the wax museum next door Lexi was interviewed by Oprah about all of her exciting plans.

Supposedly Jay Leno posed with Deanna but this Jay looks a little crazy to me!

Just like watching his show, talking to Dr. Phil drove me to tears.

More from the road coming soon.


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Road Trip! Houston, TX to San Antonio, TX!

Road Trip Around The USA - Day One

Lexi, Deanna, and Alan roll out of Houston headed west.
The Scion is packed to the gills with clothes, tent, food, bazookas, space suits, etc.

We did get a Garmin GPS and from the first day it has been a super cool addition to any trip, calmly and cooly giving directions without once saying I won't ask because I am a man.
My new girlfriend, she will be coming on the bike with me too.

Bye-bye Katy, TX. This is a bedroom community on the west side, out of H-Town.
The road quickly thins out into miles of caws, woods, and speeding tractor trailer trucks.

Interesting display of 'Tiny Texas Houses;, though my pic says 'Texas Uses'. WWell, some Texans do I am sure. These little houses were in a magazine I saw, some as small as 96 square feet! One guy even tows his to friends backyards and then moves every few months.

Downtown San Antonio. We arrived late in the day and were immediately impressed by the architecture, small town charm, the Riverwalk with it's ambience and restaurants. We were not so impressed by the apathetic waitress and error filled menu at Rainforest Cafe' or the termite like bugs on the wall of the Motel 6! (Yes, we are splurging!)
I shall soon post a better and larger shot of this image on the photographs page.

Deanna and Lexi on the Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX.
We had a great night anyway, bad waitress and bugs and all, and looking forward to the coming weeks.
Honestly this happend on Wednesday and I am sitting in a motel typing this on Thursday evening, actually Friday morn at 2 AM!!! Plenty of pix and stuff from today I will have to post in the morn when I awaken. We went to two attractions in S.A. and through some incredible scenery and torrential rain.
Safe and sound, see you soon.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Around The United States Before Around The World

Road Trip!

Lexi, her friend Deanna and I are about to take a huge around the United States road trip in the Alan Around The World Mobile!
We hope to do a large loop out west, north, back east, and down the Atlantic coast in the coming weeks. School is looming so we have about 25 days!
Stay tuned for posts.


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Monday, July 27, 2009

Atascocita, TX, to New Waverly, TX

Zipping Along On Day One. Kind Of Boring, Actually.

I got an early start at 6:30 AM, beating the heat, leaving
Atascocita, TX. I streamed through the neighborhoods, east on FM 1960 across the Lake Houston Bridge and over to 2100 North.

2100 strings North through piney woods. Lucky for me the morning was overcast. When the sun came out it was defeated by a continuous line of trees to my right.

On Plum Grove Road to Cleveland I was chased by these two vicious critters. Later some of their more enthusiastic and larger cousins would cause me to let the adrenaline kick up my pedaling a notch. No problem though... unless a chain were to break!

Plum Grove City Hall.
No marble statues here.

Classic Texas.

Cleveland, thirty easy and cool miles. In Cleveland I refilled water bottles and asked the gas station clerk where a good restaurant was. There happened to be a breakfast buffet next door. Outside a man had overheard me asking and insisted I take ten dollars for eating. I tried to explain that I had money but he insisted so I had an awesome free breakfast and the waitress got a nice tip.

One of many drink water and stretch the legs and feet breaks.

A new county!

Through the Sam Houston National Forest. I thought it would be a beautiful drive through unspoiled wilderness. Instead it was 30 miles of pine trees, hills, tons of houses and no stores or facilities. Who knew the National Forest was full of houses?

Richard had met me at the restaurant and suggested I take a vitamin pack with potassium for cramps. He had a brand new pack of them and actually went home for them, meeting me on 1725 in the woods to give them to me. Second very nice person to help me out.

One of the coolest rest spots I found. Trouble is when you take off your shoes and lie in the grass people tend to stop and ask if you are OK. It happened a couple of times with concerned motorists and I realized that you have to rest sitting up, lol!

"Think This Is Hot"
Actually, I do, hellishly so.
Soon after this I needed to refill my water. I knocked on the door of the only home without three dogs and a No Tresspassing sign. Mr. John Lewis filled my bottles with water AND ice! Nice man.
(BTW, a No Tresspassing sign salesman could make a fortune in these parts! And they take it seriously here. A few weeks ago some lunatic man and woman shot two people on thier land, and Texas law favors the landowner. Not in your house mind you, or stealing or threatening, they shot them just for trespassing in the woods!)

East Texas farms love fanciful mailboxes.

Another funny mailbox.

All that said, the first day went smooth and not so hard, but It left me wondering if this is really the way I want to see the world.
I had read 'The Long Ride' by Lloyd Sumner ( a great read) and it seemed fun and incredible. I took the MS 150 mile ride to Austin for charity before and had the time of my life. (With 10,000 other bicycle riders of course!)
But after 65 miles I am thinking that the overwhelming feeling I had on the road on a bike was not of accomplishment (I know I can ride, I have done it in the past), or of adventure, the main emotion was boredom.
I want to see things and stuff, and after 65 miles of pine trees, pine trees, pine trees, farm house, more pine trees, I am considering if maybe I should find a faster conveyance to the stuff that is cool?
After 8 hours on a bike I can be camping in the woods somewhere. After 8 hours on something motorized I can be in a museum or natural attraction.
What do you think?
If I change the ride please bear with me and continue along. I am still going to go around the world, and possibly the blog will be better with more interesting things because of the decision.


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Friday, July 24, 2009

Burning My Work Shirts In A Symbolic Gesture

Goodbye Work And Home, Hello World!

In the backyard of a friend I made use of their burn pile and set five of my "work shirts" afire. Call it a symbolic gesture of cutting the bonds of wage slavery, a visual representation of, wisely or not so wisely, burning bridges.

Don't get me wrong, I worked for a good company and with good people, but let's face it, a bad day on an adventure of a lifetime is better than a good day at work. Well, usually!

I'm still trying to get the details and kinks worked out, so it looks like an early Sunday morning departure now. Stupid little details like finding five mini-blinds for the apartment. Trixi was torture on blinds and I can buy them for five bucks each or the apartment can do it for $30. That extra $125 will go far in India so it is worth it to get them done myself. Soon enough though I shall roll, I promise.


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Calling Cards I Ordered To Hand Out On The Road

Don't Call It A Business Card!

I ordered a thousand of these 'calling cards' online for only a few bucks so I could hand them out to people I meet who might want to follow along on the blog.
So many times lately my purchases led to questions about me taking a trip. When I described the bike adventure and told people about the blog they always start looking for an ink pen to write the domain name down.
This shall greatly simplify the process. Who I am, what I am doing, how to follow along or contact me. I will leave small stacks with several friends and take a couple of hundred along with me. More can be mailed to my stops along the way.
What do you think? Leave a comment please.
And PLEASE go vote for me to go to Antarctica through the link at the top of the page!!!!


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gear List For Long Distance Bicycle Touring Trip

Complete List Of Everything On The Bike

Of course every bicyclist is different. Some carry everything but the kitchen sink, others carry a credit card and cell phone. I am beginning with this gear. Maybe in time I will thin the equipment out or add to it, only time and experience will tell me what is needed and what is dead weight for my trip.

1. Ortleib Front Pannier, Left, waterproof
2. Lightweight socks, biking
3. Wool socks, hiking, cold weather
4. Underwear
5. Rain jacket and pants, good REI stuff
6. Light long underwear, wicking, warm
7. Medium long underwear, warmer
8. Dry bag for computer, rubbery for kayaking and such
9. ASUS netbook computer with cover, totally cool, I recommend
10. Magellan pants, zip off into shorts
11. T-shirts, cotton nylon blend, comfy
12. Magellan shirts, cool, dry fast, dressy enough for eating out

1. Ortelib Pannier, Front, Right
2. GORP. Good Old Raisins & Peanuts. With M &M's!
3. Bath towel
4. Knit hat for warmth
5. Non-dairy creamer. Thanks Shipley's!
I also have some hijacked jelly packs. Don't tell.
6. Tea selection
7. Utensils, one-cup coffee gadget
8. Washrag
9. Snack bars
10. Peanut butter, can stew, veggies, tuna
11. Mess kit
12. Extra plastic bags
13. Sugar
14. Coffee
15. Honey
16. Day-Glo vest, gift from Lexi and Sara.
(Where is the promised cash contribution to the trip girls? It was my Father's Day gift!)
17. Oatmeal

1. Ortleib Rear Pannier, Left
2. Katadyn water bottle purifier filter. Dip in river, drink, like magic.
3. Sterno stove and fuels
4. Candle lantern
5. Candles
6. Bathroom- toothbrush, paste, shaving, lotion, shampoo, soap, sunscreen
7. Foot care, lotions, creams, moleskin
8. Manual for camera, I am still learning it.
9. Tool shed, rope, can opener, sewing kit, tent repair kit
10. Pajama bottoms
11. Hat, large brim, neck flap, light, quick dry, high SPF
12. First aid, bandages, painkillers, Immodium, Carmex, etc.
Also, somewhere in there is an LED headlamp.

1. Ortleib Pannier, rear, right
2. OK, both shoes would not fit into one pannier. I have yards rather than feet.
3. Water bottle filter had to be moved
4. Net mosquito hood, cheap, light
5. Kyrptonite New York City lock. Heavy, $3,000 Warranty.
6. Cheap and small tripod
7. Electronics- chargers for phone, computer, camera, batteries, etc.
8. Prescription, 2 months. Won't get you high but without it I don't digest food well. A real pain in the neck. And wallet.
9. Toilet paper. Enough already

1,2,3,4 Panniers, loaded
5. Sleeping bag in dry bag
6. Sleeping pad- Soft and keeps cold ground away from me
7. Tent in dry bag
8. Tent poles
9. Under seat bag, full of tools, spare tubes, patch kit.
10. Helmet
11. Biking shoes and socks
12. Bright yellow jersey
13. Shorts
14. Handlebar bag for phone, camera. snack

1. Handlebar bag
2. Bell. Required in some countires, and fun!
3. Waterproof map case mounts to handlebars
4. Mileage computer
5. Air pump
6. Underseat tool bag
7. Sleeping pad
8. Tent and stakes
9. Sleeping bag
10. Front panniers
11. Water bottles, thanks Sari, Jeanne, and Shannon!
12. Rear panniers

That's it!
I haven't weighed it but it seems scary heavy. That credit card and motel style of biking is surely easier physically, but more expensive. But when I took her for a first spin it was surprisingly easy to move along nicely. A bit wobbly at first, I have to get used to the extra weight.
Strangely, as soon as the wheels touched the pavement the sky darkened, lightning crashed, drizzle fell, and of all things a black cat crossed the street a block away.
I turned the corner!
(Literally and figuratively, I suppose.)


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Before Leaving, Have The Dog Get A Vet Visit

You Want To Stick What Where?

Before heading out on the road I bought my Dog Trixi to the vet for a check-up and all that. She will be staying with Lexi and Oliver while I am away. She's really cool with the idea of her sister Lexi but that hairy beast Oliver, well, she will have to see...
I just had to share this shot of Trixi's worried sideways glance after having her temp checked. You know where they stick that thermometer, right?
Where the sun don't shine!

By the way, have you voted to send Alan Around The World to where the sun don't shine yet?
Vote to send me to Antarctica PLEASE.

I know, that sun thing is more the North Pole but how could I pass up the chance to drop that joke in?


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Alan Around The World Welcomes Aboard Our First Sponsor!

Thomas Cook Is Alan Around The World's First Sponsor!


Thank you to Thomas Cook for becoming an advertiser on Alan Around The World. I am leaving on an adventure around the world, seeing the sights from the seat of a bicycle. If you are ready to take your own holiday or adventure please visit the Thomas Cook website. Tell them Alan Around The World sent you!


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Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Have A Sporting Goods Store In My Closet

Why The President Of REI Sporting Goods Is Smiling

1. Thermarest Sleeping Pad- a full 3/4" thick. Actually is very soft and will keep the ground moisture at bay.
2. Giro Helmet- Not expensive, it's just my head.
3. Rick Steves 'Europe Through The Back Door' Book- Great advice from a master light traveler.
4. Scary, Crazy stack of receipts!
5. Magellan Pants- The crazy zip into two pieces type. Not modern biking garb,I know, so all day-glo spandex clad biking folks can shut yer holes.
6.- Super light and comfy tees.
7.- Magellan Shirts- Light color and weight, vented, super quick drying, high SPF rating.
8. REI Rain Jacket and Pants- Great quality at a fair price for millionaires everywhere.
9. Boxer Briefs- I know, TMI!
10. REI Long Underwear (These are designed to wick away moisture from your body and dollars from your wallet! For extra warmth make sure you wear a lightweight pair near your skin and a thicker set over that pair. Doubling you expenditure of course. Is this like that old thing about lather, rinse, repeat?)
11. Hypodermic Syringes- Just in case I need a shot in any of the countries of the world that believe rinsing a needle is good enough.
12. Moleskin- For tender foot parts. I pity the poor mole though.
13. Big Agnes Emerald Mountain Tent and Stakes.
14. Footprint to go under the tent. (A $55 super-thin tarp!)
15. Full gloves with fingers. (See last post!)
16. Katadyn Water Filter Bottle- Just dip it in a river, ditch, cesspool and squeeze out fresh, clean water! Removes 99.99% of Giardia, the 3 month have-the-poops bacteria! It's that .01% left over that has me worried though.
17. Insulated Water Bottle- I have three. The man said if you put ice and water in them it will stay cold for an hour. Kind of like any other cup, right? These were purchased with funds donated by three separate ladies and will be named after the ladies and tracked on the blog. Will all three make it around the world? We shall see.
(Since three ladies have contributed does that make me a ladies man? Probably not.)
18. One Pound, One Foot Tall Tripod.
19. Passport to the World. Literally.
20. Ortleib Panniers. The only ones that won't leak they say. We shall see. I still bought additional electronics protection.
21. Fancy Biking Socks.
22. Fancy Hiking Socks.
23. REI Hiking Boots- I am not sure about these. Too heavy to tote around the world on a bike to use for a few days. Still mulling this one over.
24. White Gas Stove Fuel.
25. Little One Cup Coffe Device. Super cool!
26. MSR Stove- White gas here, kerosens around the world, hot coffee every morning.
27. Mess Kit- Pan, pot, cup, all in a tiny package. Aslo fork, knife, mini-spatula.
28. Fuel Bottle for Stove.
29. Headlight- Four tiny LED lights can illuminate a campsite, signal for help. annoy my daughter Lexi from 20 feet away.
30. Candle Lantern. Romantic.
31. Waterproof Dry Bags- For the laptop and sleeping bag. Oops, I need one more for the tent!
32. Brass Bell- Man it is loud. It's the law in some countries. Every time I ring it Oliver the dog barks.
33. Electrical Adapter Plugs- Five different ones should cover the world.
34. Cycle Computer- How fast and how far did I ride? What, that's it! This darn thing must be broken.


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Fancy Biking Gloves Are Priced Like Bikinis!

Less Is More

I am sure these gloves have polysomething inserts and NASA engineered fabric liners and possibly have been worn by God, maybe even Lance Armstrong, but they seem to have forgotten the fingertips! I thought maybe they would have little zippers for the fingertip parts, like those two piece pants, but the sales clerk assured me they were made this way.
These were $24.50!
I paid $17.95 for full wrist to fingertip gloves. What a shopper. I just hope I am not troubled by the looming danger of sweaty fingertips.


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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Surly Bicycle Is Being Fine Tuned For Around The World Trip

That's Not The Way To Ride A Bike!

That's me looking totally shabby and straddling the Olive Green Surly Long Haul Trucker bicycle which arrived at West End Bicycles in Houston, Texas today. Chad is fine-tuning the placement of the saddle and such and I look as uncomfortable as that time I had that bad visit to the doctor!
After much measuring and remeasuring I took her for a spin and I have to say the bike felt more comfortable than any bike I have ever rode. Being properly measured and fitted to a bike means all the difference in the world.

BTW, I was wondering if any of you have any ideas on a name for the bike. One friend suggested Blue Passion and a couple of argu-scussions have broken out over here about possible names. Ideas? Send them to me or put them in the comments and I might just have a poll to decide the final name.

Even happier, little Ollie is almost out of the woods with the vet 95% sure he will make a full recovery. Me, I am 100% sure! Thanks for all the kind words while Oliver recovered from nasty old distemper and beat the odds. I compared his neck to his first collar when we found him being neglected and underfed. His neck is now HUGE!

Remember my mentioning a bad doctor visit. Oliver had his own funky MD moment today! Look at his sad face...Thankfully my own medical sufferings were not recorded on camera. Not that I know about!


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Friday, July 17, 2009

Equipment For A Long Distance Bicycle Ride Around The World

Equipmment For Around The World Trip Is Being Assembled
The last week has been a blur of details and choices, exchanges and re-thinking on what to bring on a long-distance bicycle trip. Luckily for me there are online journals with dozens of equipment lists so I can see what others have done.

Teva Not-Quite-Sandals.
I have tried on numerous types and brands of tennis shoe in the past week, bought three, returned three. Three strikes and
you are out, right?
These Teva shoes are very light, have ventilation holes, and I have been wearing them all week and forget they are on me. Originally I bought them just to relax around camp. I tried regular sandals but my daughter Lexi convinced me that other campers should not be subjected to the horrible sight of my bare feet right at dinner time. Sadly, she is correct.
(As for the holes in the Tevas Rob Sweetgall has walked around the USA twice and always slits his Rockport tennis along the side to air them out in the heat, even in the winter.)
I am considering wearing these shoes while biking. (Bike tech-geeks gasping everywhere, I hear you!) I may wear them with an arch insert and good light wool socks to wick moisture away. What do you think, orthopedic gurus and Lance Armstong wannabes?

REI Hiking Boots
A pretty penny they were, though only mid-range, but they feel great on my feet. I figure to do some hiking and even though they are heavy I hope I can tote them along. We shall see. I'm hoping to walk a bit in the United Kingdom, the Swiss Alps, and to trek in Nepal, so good boots are a requirement.
The folks at REI are excellent and full of knowledge, though when Bob the Boot Expert looks you in the eye and asks what kind of sock you are wearing, as "the sock is as important as the boot", it can be intimidating. Especially when you have on Wal-Mart cotton cheapies.
Thanks for the great help Bob!

Portable Tripod
This little cheapo is one foot tall, one pound, and only $13 at Wal-Mart. It will be great for getting all those touristy shots (Alan at the Eiffel Tower, Alan at the Taj Mahal, etc.) without having to trust someone not to bound away with your camera.
This way they can bound away with your camera and tripod!

A Simple Way to Make a Cup of Coffee
This handy-dandy little tool makes one cup at a time. Fill with grounds, snap shut, swirl in hot water, drink. For years I have made a pot, drank a cup, went to work and came home to pour out the other five cups of old coffee!
Like meeting the girl of your dreams, where have you been all of my life!

Trying To Be Prepared
That's right, hypodermics. When you see a bunch of these you either have come across a man with a habit, a diabetic, or a world traveler. Imagine having to get a shot overseas and watching the nurse RE-USE the needle after each patient. Preventative medicine at it's simplest.
Now, just try not to wake up in a hospital and wonder what was done!

Ortleib Panniers
To think I have lusted over luggage. These Ortleib panniers are the saddlebags to be strapped to the side of the bicycle. Laid out on the living room floor and examined caerefully they seem precious small. There is a saying that on a long trip by foot or bike you should lay out all of your gear and all of your money. Now remove half of the gear and double the size of the money pile! Having small luggage encourages this process.
Online ratings and travel bloggers have said these Ortleib panniers are the only ones truly waterproof. After deciding to purchase them Mark, a friend of a friend wrote to advise them also. Thanks Mark, that solidified my decision.

MSR Stove and Mess Kit
This I have but am still considering if I should take it or return it. I envision a hot meal in the evening, if not every night perhaps quite often. Or will the extra pounds languish in my pannier. I may find myself living on purchased food, dinner invitations, simple to prepare stuff.
What do you think? I'm as likely as not to make a sandwich at home, but that is after a day when I have not pedaled 40 miles.

Wow! Four little LED lights can be really bright. Bright enough to dig through panniers for that pesky stove to package up to send home! Bright enough to temporarily blind and constantly annoy Lexi from across the room!

Ah my daughter Lexi, she left tonight for Miami and Disney World! Have fun my girl. We are planning to meet in New York City soon enough to see 'The Little Mermaid' on Broadway and some of the museums and sights in the Big Apple. But that's another post...


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