TRIP 2012

Update #13 - July 16th
Cleveland, Mississippi
307.96 miles (492.74 KM)

The first seven days have been okay. It's been interesting to get back on the road after such a long time. The last day, Alice was loaded up and I was on tour was back on September 28th of last year. I had been off the road for almost 9.5 months. Six of those months were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Normally, I get on the road sometime in March or April.

Even though I was in Baton Rouge a long time, I was able to get some medical needs taken care of (especially my oral needs). It is so great to have a smile again because it had been a long time that I had one. I was concerned that I was going to have a problem with my right knee after the accident back in May but it hasn't been a problem.

Monday (July 09th), I rode from where I was staying in the Magnolia Woods Neighborhood through the Louisiana State University Campus and then into the downtown area. In the downtown area, I rode passed the old state capitol and then got on BUS US 61 that paralleled the Mississippi River. On the way out of Baton Rouge, I rode passed several oil refineries. It was a pretty good ride along US 61 going north. The highway was a divided four-lane and there was a paved shoulder. I was concerned about thunderstorms but they didn't hit till I almost got into St. Francisville. The rain started a few miles out of St, Francisville and I just had enough time to put on my jacket. I was so happy when I saw the Days Inn. The manager saw how wet I was and he went and got me a towel. When he heard what I was doing he gave me a pretty good discount.

Tuesday (July 10th), after a pretty good free and hot breakfast I got on the road around 7:40 AM. The skies looked ominous and I was pretty sure that I was going to get soaked again. There was talk on the television that it was going to be raining for the next four days. I got maybe three miles down the road when I had to pull off the road and find some shelter in one of the bays of a car wash. I waited till around 9 AM before I was able to get on the road again. For the next seven hours, it was taking off my jacket and putting it back on again. After about 18 miles down the road, I crossed into Mississippi and stopped to take the required photos of my bike and the state sign. It would be nice that sometime I would get into the pictures as well. Around 4:30 PM, I stopped at a motel on the Southern edge of Natchez because they offered a 25% senior discount. I had never asked for a senior discount before but now that I'm on the far side of my 50s I thought I would take advantage of them.

Wednesday (July 11th), I got on the road early again. It was another overcast day with occasional showers. I could have road along the Natchez Trace but I really don't like to ride along Parkways because there are no services on them. I like to ride main roads because if I ever had an emergency I would get help better. I finished the day in Port Gibson. I was able to get another discount at a motel.

Thursday (July 12th), I decided to do a short day to Vicksburg. There was a rain shower that lasted for about an hour. The hard part was riding up and down the bluffs south of Vicksburg. I had to find an alternate route through town because US 61 joined I-55 for about 5 miles. Coming into the Southern edge of Vicksburg, I came across a sign that advertised a good rate at a motel. I was pretty happy when I came across the motel on my alternate route. I got to my room a couple minutes before it started to pour for a couple hours.

I didn't feel like riding Friday (July 13th) but I struck out. I didn't want to ride in the rain again. It looked like it was rain again. After about four miles down the road, I decided to break down and get a room at another motel. I was able to get another discount. Not too far away from the motel was the Vicksburg National Historic Park.

Vicksburg, Mississippi and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania were the two pivital battles that ended the Civil War. Vicksburg was considered as a purely defensive position being that it was on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The Confederate strategic doctrine was tied tightly to the mindset. With the defeat at Shiloh in April 1862 and the destruction of the naval fleet by Union ironclads at Memphis in June 1862, the Confederacy realized that it was essential for it's survival to maintain the control of the River. The battle to take Vicksburg lasted between June and September 1862 because the Union Army had to blockade the fortified town.

I went over to check out some volunteers who were doing a living history exhibition at an earthern blockade. After a few minutes, I went to check out the visitor center. It was mostly a book store - gift shop but there was a 20 minute video and a small museum. The rest of the day was pretty good. I went through all of my panniers to see if there was anything that I could get rid of to lesson the load. I was able to find nearly a small trashcan full. I lessoned the load by about four pounds.

I felt a lot better Saturday (July 14th). I rode between Eastern Vicksburg and Rolling Fork. I thought that I was able to find an alternate route to where US 61 split off from the interstate but I had to backtrack about a mile and head west into downtown Vicksburg where I got on the riverfront road. I didn't really get close to the Mississippi River but the ride was pretty flat. Once back on US 61, the ride was pretty flat except for a short section of bluffs and crossing over the bridge across the Yahoo River. There were no clouds in the sky so the sun beat down on me. The temperature had to have been in the high 90s Fahrenheit so the heat index had to be in the low 100s Fahrenheit. I took advantage of any shade that I could find along the way to get out of the sun for a while. I rode through several towns but there were no places where I could fill up my water bottles. I had four water bottles fastened to the panniers, one bottle strapped to the back rack, and a bladder bag fastened to the back of my seat but it didn't seem to be enough. When I got into Rolling Fork, I had only a bottle and a quarter left. I was able to get a room at the only motel in town with a rate in the low $30s. Next to the motel was a drive-inn and they even had coupons in the rooms.

Normally, I try and take Sundays off but I decided to go on. I was able to get the first 20 miles (32 km) in before 10 AM and I was able to get into Hollandale before the church service started at the United Methodist Church. I was able to talk with the lady minister before the service started. I was made welcome by the congregation. Usually I consider getting at least three handshakes before the service as a good sign but I got almost two dozen. During the service, the minister introduced me and I was able to speak for a few minutes. I stopped at a Subway for lunch. I wasn't able to head out right after lunch because I had to wait out a thunderstorm. I had about a 40 minute wait. I had a pretty good ride to Leland and I was able to get a room at a motel in the low 30s. The room was okay but there wasn't any internet access.

Today (Monday, July 16th), I decided to only ride to Cleveland. The temperature was going to get back into the upper 90s Fahrenheit. I'm getting concerned about the high heat because from what I heard on television it will get hotter and hotter. The middle of the country is going to go through their second heat wave in less than a month. I was going to try and make it up to Decorah, Iowa in the Northern part of the state by the first weekend of August but I'm not going to try it. I'm going to reduce my mileage and try and not go over 40 miles (64 KM per day). Because of this, I'll be arriving in Northern Iowa the third week of August. The first 20 miles (32 KM) went okay. A couple of miles down the road, I had to use my cell phone to call 911 to report a house fire. The house was an old one and it looked like it was abandoned but there were other structures close by that could have caught on fire. About five more miles down the road, two fire trucks went passed me heading south to the fire. After taking a break at a gas station and gulping down a liter of iced tea, I started the remaining 10 miles (16 KM) to Cleveland. I spent a little more than what I wanted to spend at a motel but I needed to stop at one that had a guest laundry. I really needed to get my clothes washed and dried. The wet clothes were getting kind of rank smelling.

Tomorrow, I'll be riding as far as Clarksdale. I was looking at crossing the Mississippi River at Helena, Arkansas and then start riding up the West side of the River but I'll be riding up to Memphis, Tennessee instead. I'm looking at crossing the Mississippi River on the ferry at Hickman, Kentucky. The next seven days will have me stop for the night in Clarksdale and Robinsonville, MS; Memphis, Covington, Dyersburg, and Union City, Tennessee; and East Prarie, Missouri.

I'll try and add a new update every week or two weeks along the way so the next one will be posted around July 23rd or July 30th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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