Wednesday, October 28, 2009

End of the Way

My final day began earlier by comparison; I was on the road by nine.
It was a day to truly enjoy. The terrain from Hinds County into Adams changes as the route gets into the loess bluffs, but it wasn't too difficult.
I stopped at Rocky Springs, one of the best spots on the Trace. It was there that I finished off the cake Brenda sent with me and took on water.
By noon I was in Port Gibson. U.S. Grant said that it was a town too beautiful to burn when he passed through in 1863, but he surely didn't come in on Highway 18 like I did. Let's just say that after passing Club Ole Skol, you just keep on going to Highway 61.
I located my trailer and gear at the Farmer's Co-op, where it had been left by a kind older gentleman that I flat-out waved down an hour into the ride earlier in the day. By then, I decided to leave it be and call Ashley to swing by there and pick it up on the way to Natchez to get me.
Now as you can imagine, that went over well.
"How would you like to add extra scenery and wildlife fun to your trip today?" I cautiously asked her, (to the amusement of the guys at the co-op).
Suffice it to say, she and I got right to the point and I left it there, hoping that it would be picked-up.
I decided to eat some soul food in Port Gibson and found Slo-Jo's, a ramshackle bldg. on 61 that featured a large lunch crowd outside.
I had the best smoked chicken wings, peas and cornbread ever put on a plate there.
I headed down 61/Church Street past the grand old churches and homes before getting back on the Trace around 1:30 p.m.
The last thirty-five or so miles were enjoyable. I stopped for the last time at Mount Locust, an inn on the Trace that features the oldest standing structure.
Later I came into Natchez and went down to the river and was thankful for the health and opportunity to live such an adventure.
I tried to talk the Natchez-Under-The-Hill Saloon owner into cranking up the karaoke machine so that I could sing "My Way" by Elvis, but he wouldn't have any part of it.
I settled for sitting for an hour on a bench by the big river, "ole miss", thinking back on the experience.
At last, I am going to turn down Lance Armstrong's offer to ride with his new team as a domestique in the coming year. I love Purvis and Lamar County too much and am ready to be back with my family and jobs.

Uva uvum vivendo varia fit...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"It ain't dyin' I'm talkin' about; it's livin...'"

Ms. Jackie Martin came to visit early Sunday morning before I left Kosciusco. We had a great time talking about my Mom and Dad when they were first married. My mother was 18 and had never been outside of New Orleans much when she married Dad and moved there. He had returned from Korea and was working there. By day, he worked for United Gas and by night he hung out at the local funeral home with Mike, Jackie's husband, who was the mortician/undertaker/ambulance driver of the community. He spent all his free time as a self-appointed first responder. Anyone who knew him has to have a mental image of him hurdling down the highway in a ambulance with lights going and sirens blaring.
They rented a garage apt., Mom and Dad did.
My mother is a saint...

Anyway, I set out to find these places and seven miles later realized that I had better resume the trip.
I hit the Trace mid-morning and with weary, aching legs, gained some momentum. A few miles south of town, I heard some voices and realized some riders were about to overtake me.
It was none other than the famous Danny Chew, (, two-time winner of Race Across America. He was passing through with a nephew and a local cyclist he knew who joined them for a few miles. Believe it or not, he left Pennsylvania, rode to Alaska and back through the northwest and central US and was going on to Florida.
I liked him a lot until I saw how he was looking at my two-wheeled trailer.
"You ain't gettin' very far pullin' that baby carrier." he said.
"I may fool ya'." I replied...
Seriously though, it was a close brush with fame, running into him was...

I made it along in more great weather.
A couple of songs I was thinking about were Johnny Jenkins' version of "Statesboro Blues", and Nat Stuckey's version of "Sweet Thing and Cisco".

In the afternoon, I encountered musket fire from the woods near the mouth of the Pearl River, twenty miles north of Ridgeland.
Figuring it was a civil war reenactment, I thought I'd stop and check it out. I walked a piece into the woods and hid my bike, then tried to pinpoint the area that I heard the shots come from.
About 200 yards down a logging road that I thought led to another historic site, I was almost smashed over by several oncoming deer. That was odd, I thought.
Walking a few steps further, I realized that I was standing between hunters and their flushed prey.
I quickly reversed course, followed the deer, and was on my bicycle within seconds.

I stopped at the Ross Barnett Res. Overlook for old times' sake. That was a favorite place of mine during school.
I stopped for supplies in Ridgeland and passed over I-20, trying to figure out which character I am more like:
Josey Wales
Clark Griswold
Augustus McRae
Cousin Eddie
Ranson Stoddard
Probably only numbers two and four, I concluded.

(By the way, crossing I-20 affords a view of Highland Colony development which features P.F. Changs and Bianchi's and Ruth's Chris, to name a few.)
But as I still had nearly thirty miles to cover and my hostess had offered to save some supper for me, I pressed on toward Raymond.

In the Raymond area I was facinated with all the local civil war history.

With the help of another good samaritan, a tree farmer named Chris Fitzpatrick, (who carried my trailer to the inn), I made it to the spot on the Trace from where I could take a short trail to Mamie's Cottage, an antebellum BandB on the grounds of the Dupree estate.
I didn't know it but I was in for a real treat.
I dined on a truly great meal, read for awhile and enjoyed the night and evening in solitude.
My hosts, Charles and Brenda Davis, contributed ibuprophen, razor, and other needed items, besides two fine meals.
All told, I'm not sure that I've eaten a better meal; 1.5" thick pork chop grilled, mac/cheese, lima beans, bread, apple crumb cake.
Homemade breakfast was served: blueberry pancakes, bacon, ham, coffee, o.j.
Brenda even sent me off the next morning with another big hunk of the cake.

Sample food/liquid intake for one day only:
6 to 8 twenty ounce bottles of Powerade/water/energy drink
two Clif energy bars
8-10 ibuprophen
misc. junk foods

Thought for the day-
"When I was a child...I was a dreamer. I read comic books and I was the hero. I saw movies and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...
Elvis Presley

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"How far is it to Miles City?"

Have to write fast; no time to edit.
One of the best Andy Griffith episodes is "What's your hurry?", when the executive's car broke down in Mayberry. The whole idea on a day like yesterday is not to count mile posts and miles, but to enjoy the journey.
Witch Dance, (, and Leonard's 3-Way in French Camp were two of yesterday's highlights. After getting a wolf-whistle from a local at Leonard's, one of the few country stores or hotels in Mississippi not owned and operated by Indians, I decided that the last thing to jettison is your loose-fitting camo cargo shorts. These are a must to slip over biking shorts when stopping at rural stores.
But, as a law professor of mine used to say, "I digress".
So the day started at the Tupelo Vis. Center where I quickly made friends with Sam and Pat, two guys who reenact pioneer days on Saturdays. This friendship was solidified when I mentioned that I joined the Son's of Confederate Veterans at an early age.
"What chapter?" said Pat, testing me.
"Nathan Bedford Forrest" I replied confidently.
With a broad grin and handshake, they agreed to impose upon everyone who stopped to see the exhibit that was headed south and ask them to carry my gear to Koscuisco.
As I said earlier, I had a great ride.
110 miles were covered. I felt like I was sailing without the trailer.
Averaged 15.5 miles.
Some things I recall.
Ibuprophen and anything that ends in "ine" such as caffiene, nicotine, help the very serious aches.
(I confess to chewing on a cigar i.e. Josey Wales to either help the pain or to offset the outfit I am wearing while riding.)
Some songs stuck in my head include:
James Cleland"s version of "What a Friend".
Pat Green's "Dixie Lullaby"
John Hartford's "Lorena", which I request be played at my funeral.
Elvis' version of "Dixie".
Mountain Heart's version of "HOw Tedious and Tasteless".
Norman Blake's version of "Southern Railroad Blues" and "Green LIght on the Southern".
Tony Rice's version of "Why You Been Gone So Long".
There are less hardwoods the farther south you travel, but it is good to see the pines.
"In the Pines" is another great song...
Right now I have to go.
I am staying at a fine BandB downtown Kosciusco, which happens to be the town where my poor ole Daddy brought his eighteen y.o. bride to live shortly after marrying her after knowing her a total of six weeks. They lived here for awhile while he worked for United Gas Company. Anyway, I found their great friend Ms. Jackie Martin, who was glad to hear from me b/c they lost touch 50 years ago.
I am going to get some "Moe" stories from her, as she is coming here to have coffee before church.
(Her husband died last year).
Give my half of the cattle to... Toot Toot
P.S. You can smell fried catfish from the Trace near sunset a mile south of Kosciusco, but you can't get to where it is cooking on a bicycle.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Breaking camp

Abandoned cabin a mile from main road afforded great privacy, nature, good rest, and a few critters.
Kosciusco. It is chancy, but Ill make it, Lord willing.
I wonder if there is a saloon and a piano player there.

Friday, October 23, 2009

To be in Tupelo- "Priceless"

I have ridden a long piece and been unlucky with the weather. It was cold, windy and raining. I crossed the Tennessee River, passed through Alabama, and am in Elvis' hometown now. No sign of any outlaws.
I made it last night to Tishomingo State Park, but again, not by much. I have to thank Bennie and Julie Martin, RVers on their honeymooon. I met them at Merriweather Lewis campground yesterday morning after spending a few minutes getting to know one another, and flat out asked them if they would haul my gear on down to Tishomingo. They were going to visit the nearby Amish and said they'd be glad to. Thank the good Lord, is all I can say.
Anyway, the rain held off until I got my tent set up at Tishomingo. It is a great park, but soon it began to storm/rain. It was dry inside my Mountain Hardwear tent and rain fly on loan from a doctor friend. (It would have been jettisoned the first day had it not been a gift from his wife...) I finished off the best spaghetti/meat sauce and scrambled eggs I have ever eaten, cooked in the bag with my camp stove and hot water. (I recommend Mountain House brand foods...)
Today began with my spirits soaring, thinking that I had made 90m yesterday and had only to do 40m today. But have I mentioned the headwind? I averaged 11 mph today, if you can believe it.
Highlights of the day included the suspense of a pickup truck with a camo. back window and the logo of Bear Archery slowing down and passing me and screaming about my outfit, talking to myself much of the day, the solitude, and finding the abandoned cabins in the woods at the campground near Tupelo.
And guess what? Bennie and Julie had hauled all my gear down the trail to the place in the woods where the cabins are located.
It is a good day and I am having a meal at Vanelli's in town. I have to figure out how I am going to get rid of all this stuff in the morning, but for now... priceless.
To my supporters, thanks.
To my critics, get some exercise and try not to be so jealous.

Tupelo, Honey

Finally made it thru the cold front to Tupelo
Wind brutal; should have ridden the other wa y, I reckon
More later tonight