Late For Dinner

"Adventures...Make you late for dinner." -- Bilbo Baggins

Featuring Thoughts and Images both Adventurous and Otherwise. Dealing mostly with those Occurences and Happenings which befall one Jordan Emmans, during his Sojourn in the Far East (South Korea, specifically). Giving no promise as to Quality or Frequency of posts. Expecting, however, great Diversity of Subject Matter. Hoping sincerely to Entertain and Enlighten those Readers who would care to glance herein. Or Something.

Location: Gwangju, South Korea

I'm a follower of Jesus and a guitarist/drummer/vocalist. I'm from Cool, CA, USA, and I've been in Korea since Jan. 27, 2006. Right now I'm giving teaching a try. Next year...who knows what I'll be doing. Life is an adventure!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prague, Oklahoma

That's where I was last weekend. It's a little town about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City. I took two days of rest at Rick and Kathy Hawkin's house, a couple I met at the Baptist church here in town. I stopped last night at the church to ask if I could camp and they invited me to stay in their son's room (he was at a friend's house and didn't mind, apparently). It was nice just watching TV and sitting in an air-conditioned living room, luxuries I'd been living without.

I've been having a lot of good days. I've learned that I have to keep the body happy, and spend the money to make that happen, so I am. And so my quality of life on the bike has increased. I'm having fun most of the time, and when I'm not, I'm still glad I'm out there.

I've covered a lot of ground since I last wrote at length, so I'll just give you some highlights:

In Maplesville, AL, I stayed in Diane and Clem Clapp's hunting lodge (I met the couple at the Maplesville Baptist Church), replete with various hunting trophies. Animals I saw displayed: boar, deer, squirrel, duck, various birds I don't know the names of. But it was indoors and out of the bugs, so I was happy.

I met Gerald Allen, Alabama State Representative. He stopped in front of me on the highway outside of Tuscaloosa just to talk to me. He rides too, and is planning to go from California to Virginia next year. He was very excited and impressed, and gave me all kinds of advice, some peaches, M&M's, and $40. I was especially excited about the last part. And impressed with his generosity. If I lived in his district, he'd definitely have my vote.

In Reform, AL, I met Walt and Jean Chambers through an interesting set of circumstances. It was getting towards evening and I was looking for a church to camp at. I'd already passed a church that was doing VBS (Vacation Bible School, a weeklong summer day camp for kids that churches often put on), but I wasn't ready to stop. So when I was ready to stop, about the time I rolled into Reform, I was again looking for a church doing VBS. (Which would mean people at the church whom I could ask if I could camp. I like to ask for permission if I can.) At the main crossroads in the town I saw a sign for VBS at Friendship Baptist Church. I asked some locals how to get there, and it turned out to be about four miles off my route, which was okay at that point. I was willing to ride the extra miles in the hopes of camping there.

So I rode the miles and got to the church. They had an identical VBS sign up near the church, and when I saw it, I actually read it carefully. And discovered that I had my dates wrong. VBS was the next week! So I'd ridden four miles for nothing. I asked a lady out doing her yardwork if she knew who I could talk to about camping at the church and she directed me to Walt and Jean's house. Walt is a deacon at the church.

So I rode up to their house as it was getting dark and put on my best cold-call salesman face. Jean answered the door and was surprised to see me but very welcoming. She invited me in to talk to her husband Walt. So I told them my story, how I had got there by misreading their VBS sign, what I was doing, how I had recently returned from South Korea, and they were fascinated. Before I was done telling my story Jean had fed me and they'd invited me to sleep in their guest room and have breakfast with them in the morning. Of course I accepted.

They are fantastic people who love the Lord, have 20 grandchildren and some great-grandchildren, and were as happy as they could be that I'd found my way to their door. I was too. It was quite a unique experience.

In Columbus, Mississippi, I got my first flat on my rear tire. And met Tina and Crystal at a hair salon -- Tina was a hairdresser and Crystal's son was getting his hair cut. I stopped in for directions and Tina gave me coffee and water and was very hospitable.

To be continued...

(Pictures here.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

From Little Rock, Arkansas

More pictures. Anecdotes to follow in due course.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More new pictures

Shots from the road...

(I'm now in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at the U. of Alabama library. I hope to be in Columbus, Mississippi by tonight.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Pictures...! Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A burger "all the way," lessons learned, heat

Hello again. First, the numbers: I am now up to 780 miles pedaled, and 20 days on the road. So I'm averaging 39 miles per day, between 9 and 10 miles per hour. Which is down a bit from my previously posted average of 45 miles per day, but hey, there have been some hills. And some heat.

I'm in the Auburn University library in, you guessed it, Auburn, Alabama. This is another day of rest for me. I'll be honest, the last few days have been a bit rough. Near 100-degree heat has really been taking it out of me, even with taking a break during the worst of it every day. Aaaand...I realized that I'm going to have to change my route if I want to make it back in August. Without going broke. So, while I haven't finalized my new route yet, I have decided not to go up to Franklin, TN, as it would take too much time and money. So I'm going to go straight northwest from here, as straight as I can. Don't worry, I'm still going to avoid the worst of the desert.

I've continued my stealth camping ways, and enjoyed the hospitality of the church. And I stayed in a motel in Columbus, GA. Yes, I cracked. I don't plan on that happening again. Too expensive.

To back up a bit...

After quitting Quitman (haha, do you get it?), I rode to Moultrie. As I was heading out of town, at around 6:30pm, a thundershower hit. I stopped off at Lakeside Assembly of God, seeking shelter. Only momentary shelter, but I met Bryant, a real nice guy and the children's church leader there. We got to talking and he offered to let me camp there at the church. I took him up on his offer, and was setting up my tent when Jean Sellers walked up.

After learning what I was doing, and that I was intending to spend the night there under the church's carport, he said, "Why don't you come stay in my guest room?" He seemed like a nice guy so I accepted his offer. He and his wife Lucille took me to pizza, then back to their home, where they did my laundry and put me up in a wonderful bedroom, complete with a fan to drown out any noise and help me sleep better. In the morning Jean took me to breakfast and dropped me off back at the church. It was great, and very, very generous of them. And trusting on their part. They're both retired, Jean from Proctor and Gamble and Lucille from a large sewing company there in Georgia. Both wonderful, hospitable, Christian people! Thank you Jean and Lucille!

I should also mention Jimmy Chapman, who was also there at the church. He made me feel extremely welcome, and offered all kinds of help and support, even giving me his phone number. Thank you Jimmy for your warm hospitality!

From Moultrie I rode to just outside of Albany, camping behind Mt. Hope Baptist church, which was out in the middle of nowhere, between two cornfields. On the way there I stopped off at Bob's Country Store and had excellent food, cooked by a guy named (I believe his name was also) Jimmy. The burger was great. I had it "all the way," which means "with everything on it." First time I'd heard that phrase. The black-eyed peas were great (my first black-eyed peas ever, if my memory serves me right). The pudding was excellent. I hung out there for a while, waiting out the heat and reading. I'm reading The Odyssey, by the way, a gift from my coworker Daniel. It's extremely apropos.

I should also mention the All-Pro Grill in Leesburg. I heard "all the way" in relation to burgers for the second time there. The burger was good, too. I watched Regis and Kelly while I ate it. Good, ol' fashioned, mindless entertainment.

After Mt. Hope it was another church, which had no sign so it shall remain nameless. This one was just outside Americus, GA. From Quitman all the way to Moultrie I took the back roads. The highways in Georgia are terrible for bikes. Georgia is either indifferent to or has a strong dislike of bicycles. There are no bike lanes, and major roads have deep, horizontal grooves on the shoulders, warning drivers when they're about to go off the road, but also making it hell to ride on. I can't ride on the grooves, which puts me on the white line -- with semi's shooting past me. No fun. So when I got to Americus, the edge of my good map that showed back roads, and couldn't find another map with back roads, I became frustrated. And decided to get out of Georgia.

So I headed straight west on Highway 26, going to Columbus. As it got toward the heat of the day, I stopped at Friendship Camp, a Baptist summer camp. They were winding down a week of jr.-sr. high camp, and were kind enough to let me hang out for a while. Janet got me water and took me to see Lance, the camp director and a real nice guy, who gave the okay. I also met Scott, a biker like myself (perhaps less crazy). I sat at some shady picnic tables, where a couple of students and a counselor (Josh, Ashley and Libba) were hanging out, playing guitar. It had been two weeks since I had played a guitar, so I asked if I could borrow one of theirs. It felt oh so good to play again. I played a couple songs for them before they had to leave. Josh, Ashley and Libba, it was nice meeting you guys! And thanks, Lance, Scott and Janet for making me feel so welcome.

I rolled out of there at 5pm, headed toward Buena Vista. About an hour and a half later, I rolled into the outskirts of town. I camped in a field behind their sports complex, in what I thought was a great location. In the morning, I discovered...ants. Now, there are red ants everywhere in the South, but these had actually chewed through the netting on my tent and gotten into my backpack, where they smelled goodies. They didn't bite me at all. I only saw it when I woke up. But it was a bummer de-anting my pack and tent.

After that delightful morning, I rode toward Columbus. I made good time, stopping off at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Cusseta. They were having a barbecue fundraiser to send their youth to Six Flags in Atlanta. So naturally, seeing the sign and the smoking grill, I stopped for lunch. Douglas was manning the grill, and he did a fantastic job. The ribs and chicken were superb. I also talked with a gentleman who had ridden his motorcycle all over the States, so we had something in common. Pastor Harris was a very welcoming, friendly man. Everyone there was very friendly, actually. Thanks, Zion Hill Baptist Church!

Zion Hill was the last good thing that happened that day. I was on Highway 30, which was pretty nice. But it deadended into 280, which was basically a freeway. The grooves returned. It was hot. And on both sides of the road -- military property. I found this out the hard way. I kept seeing signs that said, "U.S. Property, no trespassing." This frustrated me. If it's U.S. property, and I'm U.S. citizen, I should be able to ride that road, I thought. Now, in my defense, I was sick unto death of freeway riding, was hot, tired and pushing to get to Columbus before it got too hot. So, seeing a nice road that seemed to go the right direction, even though it was closed, I got off 280, road through some tall grass, and made the nice, abandoned road that wound through the woods. It wound past a large, open field with a sign that said, "Babbot Drop Zone."

Not good. I was on military property, military training grounds, no less. So I promptly decided to something else stupid. I saw a dirt road that seemed to maybe take me back to the freeway by a quicker route. Bombing down it, I hit some sand and took a spill. I was okay, I just couldn't get free of my clip-in pedals. Then I compounded my stupidity. I didn't go back to where I knew I could get back on the freeway. No, I kept going on the dirt road, till I came to another, more overgrown dirt road that seemed to go straight back to the freeway. It led me to dense brush. Which I had no choice but to go through. So about 50 yards of dense brush later, with cuts and stratches and sand all over me, I made it back to where I would have flown past 15 minutes earlier, had I stayed on the freeway. The lesson? Don't trespass, for one. Don't take unproven shortcuts, for another.

I made it to Columbus after riding through the heat. It was about 4pm. By 5, I was toast. I had no energy, was not in the highest of spirits, so...I checked into the first motel of the trip. It set me back a pretty penny, but at least I had a shower and bed. Columbus is beautiful, very historic. I just wish I had had more time and a car to enjoy it. Yes, I wanted a car. I was tired.

After Columbus I rode to Opalika, Alabama. Once you cross the Chatahoochee River going out of Columbus, you're in Alabama. So, another new state. To get to Opalika I had to ride on 280 again. No grooves, just a horrible chip-and-seal shoulder that I couldn't ride on. So, I was on the white line, with cars and trucks barreling past me at 65 miles per hour. I took my life in my own hands all day that day. Once again, the heat was intense, reaching 100 on the blacktop. I got to town and was drained. I stopped at Burger King, thought I could keep going after that, and was wrong. I immediately had to find some shade and just sit. Which I did, for two hours. After regaining my strength a bit, I rode off in search of a place to crash, metaphorically speaking.

I happened upon First Baptist Church of Opalika, in a huge, beautiful building in the Greek style, recently renovated. Their youth choir was practicing for the evening service, so I sat in. They were very good, led by a lady named Tamara. The evening service (it was Sunday) was full, maybe 500 people. Pastor Steve and Pastor Mike gave me the okay to camp on church property for the night, which I gladly did. Thank you, gentlemen!

I woke up at 5:30 (Alabama is Central Time, so I gained an hour). After riding casually around the historic district, I headed for nearby Auburn, where I did my laundry at the laundromat. After cleansing my garments, I went across the street to R and R Music, where I met Larry and Toby and another guy who doesn't work at the store whose name escapes me. Larry gave me a pep talk about my ride, and about music. So I'm feeling better about my chances of making it all the way by bike. Toby showed me his band and had some very kind words to say about my music. The other guy, who shall remain nameless until I remember his name (he has spent a lot of time in Canada, though he's not Canadian; just so he knows I'm talking about him) was very impressed with our stuff. I'm glad I stopped in; thanks guys!

And that pretty much brings you up to date. Now I'm off to find a place to sleep for the night, and up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat. Your prayers are appreciated!

Until the next library...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

From Quitman, Georgia

Pictures here!

So I decided to deviate from my planned route, and am now in Georgia. I hadn't planned on hitting Georgia; more on that later.

This is day 13 of my trip. I'm getting into some good shape, averaging 45 miles a day. Only 10 miles an hour, but hey. Slow and steady wins the race. I've camped at a Baptist church (in Anthony, FL -- thanks Pastor Jim and the folks there for your hospitality!), by the side of road among some trees (only setting up my tent when it was dark, so as to aviod detection), and on the floor in a guy's apartment in Gainesville. That's an interesting story:

I was exhausted as usual, and had made up my mind to get a motel room, for the first time on this trip. First, I went to a Subway. There, I met Christina, who was extremely helpful. All I had to pay with was a $100 bill, which they couldn't break, so her manager gave me the sandwich. And Christina gave me a free drink. She told me where to find a good motel, and called around to see if there were any churches I could stay at. Though she wasn't successful, I appreciated her effort.

So then, with my gas tank full (of free Subway) I felt enboldened to search for cheaper lodging. I was cruising around the university district (the University of Florida is there) looking for another church when I passed a guy and a girl around my age, carrying beer and pizza. The guy gave me a very supportive "how you doing?" and I got a feeling. I turned after them and asked him if he knew of a place I could stay. He said, "It's cool you asked: I just got done with a 4,000-mile tour myself! You can sleep on my floor!" His name was Josh, and he had just ridden from Key West, FL to Idaho. He was trying to make it to Anchorage but got sick. Anyway, I showered for the first time in four days, and slept indoors for the first time since I started. Thanks, Josh! (You can see pictures from his ride at

After Gainesville I stayed at two campgrounds, Ichetucknee Springs and Suwanhee River. At Suwanhee River State Park, I met an Anglican high school youth group. They were camped across from me, I asked to borrow a hammer for my tent stakes, we started chatting and they invited me to play Texas hold 'em with them (no money, just bragging rights). They gave me some Gatorade and Pop Tarts, and prayed for me. Thanks Patrick and guys!

From there I rode to Madison, FL, a delightful little southern town with beautiful, historical architecture and a community college. It was Sunday, so I hung out on campus for a while for my afternoon break. Then, as I was looking at my maps and realizing that my Adventure Cycling maps were making me ride more miles than necessary, I decided to head straight north. So off the beaten path I went, and am now in Quitman, GA.

My plan was to ask a church if I could camp on their property. I stopped at Quitman Church of Christ. I met John Sikes, told him I needed a place to stay, and he said, "Let me talk to an elder about that." Elder Walker offered to put me up in a motel room, but I told him all I really needed was a plot of grass to pitch my tent. They did even better: they had a small apartment with a shower and restroom that was being used for storage, and let me stay there for two nights. Thanks, Elder Walker and Mr. Sikes!

At seven that evening the church held a public sing-along in the town park. The Church of Christ doesn't use any musical instruments in their services, believing that if the first-century church didn't do it, they shouldn't either. Many people from other churches in the area came to the sing-along. There were maybe 200 people there, all singing hymns a capella. It was actually quite cool; all the Church of Christ people were singing in harmony. It was beautiful. Everyone was amazed at what I'm doing, and were extremely friendly.

So here I am in the Brooks County Public Library in Quitman, taking a day of rest and catching up on my Internet-related chores. I'm going to re-tool my route and see if I can shave some more miles (and time and money). Thanks for the comments -- keep 'em coming! Talk to you again soon.