An ideal in the long-distance bicycling community on a trip like this is cost-free "stealth camping". For me my rules from the start were 1) No trespassing 2) No trash and 3) No dung. As it turns out it was not hard in rural areas to stop for the night between the paved roadway and the adjacent property line fence in a spot that, while being in the open and easy to see if the Law showed up, was also out of the headlights of passing traffic. One rode until dark, walked off the roadway, lay the bike down and if needed, put up a little dome tent, usually no fly just with the screens for mosquitoes. Waking before first light you quickly take down and pack the tent and be on your way.Where did you sleep? Did you camp out? Every night? Did you ever stop at a hotel just for the luxury of a soft bed and A/C?
33 days, 32 nights:
13 nights at campgrounds.
8 nights at cheap motels (including Malvern AR outside of Little Rock where I had to stay for two nights while a major front rolled through).
7 nights by the roadside.
5 nights with friends en route.
2 nights with people met, one at the home of a retired teacher outside of Greenville OH and one on the porch of the house occupied by a group of carpenters on the Seneca Indian Reservation at Salamanca NY.
I customarily sleep on the floor and usually sleep well outside, so soft beds and A/C weren't really an issue. Showers were the thing, sometimes I went three days without a shower.
No dealings at all with the police. Only semi-friendly warning to get out of town by dark was from one of the local methamphetamine crowd at a convenience store in Northeast Arkansas, and she was warning me about the police. Only time I was worried by the locals was in rural Southeast Missouri, where they seemed clannish and suspicious of outsiders.Were you ever scared? Were you harassed at anytime by anyone? Police? Average Joes?
Most appalling place was ironically enough in Delaware OH north of Columbus. There I thought to stop for a while in a downtown, trendy looking coffee shop to download photos from my camera. Skinny (White) heroin addicts, late teens/early twenties, openly dealing drugs at the coffee shop and sidewalk out front.
While handguns are as common as toaster ovens here in Texas I did not travel armed. First off it would have been a felony in New York State. The other big reason was that, if I were technically committing some minor violation like stopping in a public park or rural cemetery for the night (neither of which as it turned out ever happened), me having a weapon might turn an otherwise friendly warning by local police into a formal charge of some kind: A travelling stranger on a bike is one thing, a travelling stranger on a bike with a handgun would be another thing entirely.Did you carry a weapon?
Only once of any consequence. Turns out there's a sort of natural selection in place with dogs that live along highways, most barked but did not run into the road after me.Were you chased by dogs or other animals?
The only exception was in Southeast Missouri, there a lab of all things ran out after me, close enough that I stopped and got off the bike while the dog growled and tried to get behind me. The owner, exasperated, tried in vain to call off the dog, explaining that it was his daughter's dog and didn't listen to him.
Finally, in frustration, he picked up a baseball-sized rock and threw it at the dog, narrowly missing its head.... remember this was a lab.....
...whereupon the dog looked at him, looked at the rock, and brought the rock back to him
Everyone in New York knew I was coming, they did not know HOW I was coming, during that month they thought I was in West Texas off the grid counting birds, else my mom up there would have called me three times a day. In part I did not tell them because I didn't know for sure until nearly the end if I would be able to make it all the way.Did you have family at home worried sick about you?
As for the reaction of my family and friends here in San Antonio I'll relate my nephews' reaction up in New York when I rolled up their driveway unannounced, on a bicycle, from Texas yet....
"If it had been any one else but you Uncle Mike we would have been surprised."
The last thing I did each night was to turn on the phone and text my progress to family and friends here in Texas.
Yes, turned off most of the time to conserve batteries. Throughout the trip McDonald's was my lifeline to the world, I would charge my phone there and use their free wifi on the compact netbook computer I brought.Did you carry a cell phone?