Pickensville, AL to Houston, MS
Total Miles: 2605
Last night as I was crawling into my tent to get some reading in before bed I hear someone outside say, “Hey, you’re not asleep are you?” When I get out to investigate I’m greeted by my two camp neighbors who ask if I’d like to come over to their site and enjoy some of their dinner with them. I had just finished eating my dinner for the evening so of course I said yes. Second breakfast is surpassed in it’s awesomeness only by second dinner. I was treated to smoked chicken, grilled mushrooms, coleslaw and a huge glass of the kind of sweet tea you can only find in the south: ice cold and almost syrup-like in it’s sweetness. It was such a serendipitous thing to happen right after I posted yesterday’s blog post moaning about how sad and lonely I was just sitting alone every night in my camp. They, along with their families, are from Columbus, Mississippi and we had a grand ol’ time sitting around talking. I even got a bit of a history lesson on the area from a real, live history teacher! It was exactly the remedy I needed to cure this case of the blues. Thank you guys so much!
I woke up this morning at 6 so I could get a jumpstart on another long day. I got my camp packed up and headed a few miles up the road to a truck stop for some breakfast. It was here that I met Miss Jessa, she was about 5 foot nothing with pure white hair pulled back into a tight bun and the kindest, brilliant saphire eyes you’ve ever seen. She asked me if I was working the river today, I’m guessing she thought I was a local fisherman or something but when I told her no, I’m crossing the country on my bicycle she brightened up and said, “Oh, sweetie it’s been years since I’ve had a chance to meet another one of you lot!” She told me all about the nice, young fellas she’s had the pleasure of meeting over the years who were doing something similar to myself and she made a point to tell me how every single one had been so kind to her. It was heartwarming. After I devoured my breakfast and was about to head out the door Miss Jessa came up to me again and handed me a little note, it was written on a torn off piece of paper and written on it was “Mississippi. May God bless you and keep you safe.” She said, “It may not look like much but I want you to keep it and always remember that God will keep you safe in Mississippi. Now get on out of here and enjoy this day He’s given us!” I was almost speechless, it was such a sincere and kind gesture and she had such conviction in her voice when she said i’d be safe in Mississippi. People are amazing in all their many forms.
With my note tucked safely in my handlebar bag where I could see it I set out into the beautiful morning. It was mostly cloudy and relatively cool so I decided to go shirtless. I had planned to stop after about 20 miles for a break but when I got to the little town I was feeling so full of energy that I decided to just keep on pushing. I’ve learned to recognize these little bursts of rocket sauce I occasionally get and use them to there full potential. So I’m just pedaling along, rocking out to music and feeling amazing, I don’t know what those guys put in their chicken last night but I was unstoppable today. Well almost, I did eventually have to stop but only because I had drained all of my water bottles, including my ice cold, vacuum insulated auxiliary bottles (thanks to my awesome parents, now have 2!) When I pulled out my phone to see how far I had left to go I was floored, only 35 miles left. Somehow I had just zoomed through 43 miles and was completely oblivious to how far I’d come, if only all the miles could be so easy. Miss Jessa had given me a J-J-J-JESUS POWERUP!!!
So after refilling, refueling and emptying waste tanks I pushed on towards my destination. I’d taken a pretty sizable break so it took a few miles to get the ol’ pistons warmed up again but once they were I found I was still in the zone. The terrain was gently rolling hills through the countryside with little farms sprinkled here and there and the cool, cloudy weather held out all the way to my campsite. The place is called Witch Dance although it’s more of a picnic area than a campground the website says that bicyclists are welcome to camp overnight for free. Score! No showers or anything but there’s fresh water and clean bathrooms so I’m happy. Tomorrow I’m planning a bit of a shorter day at 57 miles and I’m, again, changing my route a bit. I’m taking a 10 day hiatus from cycling on the 9th of June and had planned on catching a flight to New York out of St. Louis but found that it’s a bit far out of pedaling distance in the time I have. So instead I’ll be continuing to head in a westerly direction till I get to Little Rock, Arkansas and fly out of there instead. Well that’s all for today, I just say knocked a tick off of my foot so now I need to go scour every inch of myself to make sure none of his friends have showed up for dinner unannounced. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!