The Traveling Roses

The Traveling Roses

One of our hosts in Louisiana told us about a mother and daughter team that are cycling the coastlines of North and South America. That’s ambitious! They call themselves The Traveling Roses. They came to stay with our host for a day or two, and just kept staying. Apparently they are very picky about weather conditions by biking. “Oooooh, it rained last night and it’s wet today. Biking in the wet is miserable. Let’s stay another day to let it dry up.” At about five days into their stay, they said they’d be leaving early the next morning. The next morning, they delayed. More bad weather conditions. “It’s overcast. I hate gray days. I hope there’s blue skies tomorrow.” At this point, the host couldn’t take another day of them. He drove them and their bikes 60 miles to their next destination.

But they’re not all bad. One night they offered to make their world famous spaghetti. Giving back for overstaying their welcome. They delayed. The host got anxious because it was getting late and they hadn’t even started. Their world famous spaghetti probably involves a lot of preparation. Cutting up vegetables, adding spices, making the sauce, hand-rolling the pasta. He prompted them and they got to it. They boiled pasta and added Ragu sauce. WORLD FAMOUS!

They started in New Orleans a year ago. And they just got out of Louisiana recently. They hitched rides a number of times, and then overstayed to the extreme in Gueydan, LA. The Methodist church allowed them to stay in their guest house and the Traveling Roses freeloaded for 9 months. There was probably an extended period of morning dew on the ground. You can’t bike in that!

They’ve extended the duration of their coastline trip from 4 years to 6 years after their year long pace to get out of Louisiana. Texas will probably take them 2 years. Maybe they should change their mission to be to bike the coastline of two states. That would save a lot of generous people from being abused.

Reading their website is frustrating. They’ve got ads, a list of “Sponsors,” an “Amazon Store” where you can buy the same gear they’re using, and a few places where they urge you to donate money to their cause. Here’s their sales pitch:

Many folks we’ve met have asked how they could help us, so in late autumn of 2007 we wrote a fundraising letter telling our story, liberally lacing it with movie quotes. Our idea was to ask for a $30 minimum donation and to give away a t-shirt to each person who could identify all the movie quotes hidden in the letter. When we realized how time and cost intensive it would be, we scratched the t-shirt idea, but we still really loved the movie letter.
So, since we know most of you probably have too many t-shirts anyway, we’re going straight to the heart of the matter – and asking for your donation of $30, $50 or more! We hope you enjoy our letter, and we hope it inspires you to click on the button below to help us out by sending us a donation of any amount. Let us know if you can identify any of the movie quotes!

So they’re not giving t-shirts to people who donate? Why make an empty reference? They want everyone to know that they intended to give send t-shirts for donations, but they have no follow through, and are good for nothing. A tease. Empty and parasitic. And a $30 minimum?! That’s asking a lot for supporting a pipe dream.

Ryan and I developed a seething hatred for The Traveling Roses. The mission, “cycling to celebrate life,” seems more like “mooching and lying to take advantage of generous people.” Ryan and I adopted a temporary mission: to warn our hosts about the mother-daughter deadbeat combo coming through

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Kathy’s New Orleans Chili

I want to share Kathy’s chili recipe with the world. It was great, really tasty. It is actually a WeightWatchers recipe but we ate cinnamon buns, burned cookies, and dough nuts with it.

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12 oz kidney beans

6 oz ground turkey

3 c stewed tomatoes

2 c tomato sauce

1.5 c chopped onions

1 c chopped green chiles, drained

1 tbs, 2 tsp chili powder

1.5 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

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Instructions: Put in a pot.

Mexico: Dead within 24 hours

There’s been a lot of media attention on the drug wars in Mexico.  Since telling people about our plan to cycle through Mexico, we’ve gotten a lot of negativity.  Our families are worried and our friends think we’re stupid.

Ryan got a phone call from Don Potts’ (host in Jackson) friend, Tom.  Tom lives in Brownsville, TX, and seemingly has a lot of knowledge of Mexico.  His neighbors in Brownsville got kidnapped, and he thinks our plan is dangerous.

As Ryan was speaking with Tom on the phone, I had a feeling it might change our trip.  Ryan had been pretty positive about going for a while now.  When he got off the phone and relayed the message, I shut down.  I didn’t want to hear it.

Ryan said that he didn’t want to go to Mexico.  It’s not worth the risk.

The next day I got a phone call from Donna, our host in Kosciusko.  She had talked to a friend in Texas about our trip.  The friend said we’d be crazy to go, drug violence has spread up into Fredricksburg, where he lives.  He said that if we crossed the border, we’d be dead within 24 hours.  Donna had been worrying about us all night.  She is very motherly, and she was looking out for us, warning us.  Delivering the bad news.

It’s hard to figure out what’s realistic.  The news reports mostly focus on border problems like in Juarez.  Drug-related.  Localized to the border.  Then there’s the personal stories like Tom’s.  Crazy stories.  Scary.  Is it this common?  24 hours and certain death.  That’s extreme.  I understand the message, but it’s not realistic.  Then there’s forums I’ve been reading on CouchSurfing, and other personal accounts from people who’ve done bicycle trips through Mexico.  Great experiences.  Safe place.  Only dangerous if you’re involved with drugs.

Mexico’s a big country.  I don’t think “violence” has spread all over it.  Any tourist, any American, any cyclist: you’re dead.  Rob, kidnap, and kill you.  Extreme.

But it’s hard to know.  Am I just naive?  I just don’t think lawlessness and violence everywhere makes sense.

So now we’re trying to figure out what to do.  I would still love to travel through Mexico and Central America.  Rich experiences in a different culture.  Different people, different language, different food.  No Wendy’s, Dollar Generals, or Walmarts.  When am I going to get this chance again?  Ryan’s more interested in seeing other parts of the US, and volunteering at organic farms.

I’ll be looking at other possibilities of getting into Mexico.  Craigslist rideshare, airfare, boat hitch-hiking.  I wouldn’t mind skipping Northern Mexico where most of the trouble is and getting down to Oaxaca, Chiapas, and the Yucatan.  I’m more interested in those areas anyway.

For now, we’re traveling West through the Bayou of Louisiana, and we’ll be heading through Galveston, Houston, Austin, and maybe making it to Big Bend National Park.