TRIP 2013

Update #22 - September 11
Saltillo, Mississippi
Mission Trip 34: 7,147.84 miles (11,436.54 KM)
8,497.57 miles (13,596.11 KM) - Year Total

Currently, I'm in Saltillo, Mississippi. From here, I'll be heading West to Moore, Oklahoma. I am riding to Moore, Oklahoma to see what I can do with regards to helping out with the rebuilding after this Spring's deadly tornado. Between here and Moore, I'll be riding through Tupelo and Oxford, Mississippi and Little Rock and Fort Smith, Arkansas. Estimated time of arrival in Moore is about 2.5 weeks.

August 29 : Kingsport, TN to Howard Springs, TN - 44.37 miles (70.99 KM)

I had an okay night. The night would have been better if there had been a guest laundry. I hand washed a few things in hopes that they would be dry in the morning. I slept okay till around 5:30 AM. There was an okay hot breakfast. I got on the road around 8 AM. It was a pretty good ride to Rockwood. I got into Rockwood a little before 11 AM. Just before the town of Eureka, I turned West on US 70. Between Eureka and Wetzel, the highway went up and over Mount Roosevelt. I stopped about halfway up for lunch. There was a bit of a plateau at the top. While crossing over a bridge over the Clinch River, I crossed from Roan County into Cumberland County and I crossed into the Central Time Zone. I gained an hour.

The afternoon ride went okay. There was one more long hill to climb over. The highway criss-crossed I-40 a couple of times. After going through Crab Orchard Gap, there was a pretty good downhill run into Crossville. I got into the Crossville area around 4:30 PM. About a mile from the downtown area, I stopped to see if there was anybody at the First Presbyterian Church. I went across the street to the local Christian school. I was greeted with a cold bottle of water. None of the people knew of a local minister but I was told about a church that had some kind of mission shelter. I decided to keep on going for a little while even though I was concerned about the darkening skies.

In the downtown area, I stopped to talk to a local guy who had made rear panniers out of large yellow plastic kitty litter buckets. He told me about a couple of guys from France who had come through town on touring recumbents last year. I stopped long enough to get something cold to drink and to use the restroom at a gas station. There was a local police officer. Before he pulled out of the gas station in his patrol car to go back on duty, he handed me $3 in a GH. I saw that he had a plastic cross hanging from the rear view mirror.

I kept on going to Howard Springs. I pulled into the parking lot of the Memorial Baptist Church because I saw that there was a picnic shelter in back. I had seen some lightning coming from a storm to the West. There was some kind of ladies job corps meeting going on. There was a lady from the church. She gave me permission to camp out in the picnic shelter and she would contact the minister and the police for me because they patrol the grounds of the church during the night

August 30 : Howard Springs, TN to Smithville, TN - 51.11 miles (81.78 KM)

I had an okay night. I was able to sit at a picnic table to have supper before the mosquitoes got too bad. I did hear some thunder and there was a brief rain shower. I woke up around 6:30 AM and I got on the road around 7:45 AM. The morning ride went really well. I was able to get in 24 miles (38 KM) by noon time.I got into Sparta around noon. I stopped to get some lunch.

I was debating on whether to stop for the day or go on to Smithville because I saw at a bank the temperarure was in the low 90s. The tenperature didn't feel so bad because there wasn't much humidity. There was some breeze. The ride to Indian Mound went really well. I took a couple of extended breaks along the way.

A couple of miles down the road there was a long downhill run to Center Hill Lake. I went through a construction blast zone. I had to be really careful on the way down getting into the lane of traffic. There was a narrow two laned bridge so I walked it. They were in the process of doing prelim work for replacing the bridge. The climb up out of the lake valley was long. I walked 3/4 of it before I was able to ride the rest. The road pretty well leveled out before I got into Midway.

I got into Smithville around 5:20 PM. The police station was in city hall but it was closed. I went over to the jail of the sheriff but none of the deputies knew a local minister. I thought that I would try the police station again. I met some nice officers. I had to wait for one to come back from a call. I was invited in to the station. I got two large homemade cookies. The K-9 officer was able to connect with somebody at the New Life United Pentecostal Church. I was given an escort to the church. I was going to sleep on the floor of the nursery but a cot was found. The family of the police officer even went out to get me a meal from McDs. The big plus was open wifi.

I'm switching my route some. I won't be riding to Nashville. I'm going to be taking a more direct route that will have me ride to Murfreesboro tomorrow and then ride through Franklin, Columbia, and Linden. I have a home visit invite with the parents of some friends of Saltillo, MS on Tuesday in the Linden area.

August 31 : Smithville, TN to South Murfreesboro, TN - 50.77 miles (81.23 KM)

I had an okay night. I went to bed early around 11 PM. I had a bit of a problem staying asleep because my lower lip hurt some from sunburn. I had to find my medicated lip balm. I woke up a little after 5 AM. I was able to get my updating done. I left the church a little before 7 AM. I stopped at McDs for breakfast. On the way out of town, I did some grocery shopping and also to buy another pair of sun glasses. It was still before 8 AM when I headed out of town.

The ride to Liberty went really well. There was just one climb but a great downhill run. A couple of miles West of liberty I left US 90 and headed West on TN 96. The shoulder was a lot better than what there had been on US 70. I was able to get 24 miles (38 KM) in by noon time. There were only a couple of climbs on the way to Murfreesboro. I stopped a few times for breaks. There was a little bit of a headwind.

I got into Murfreesboro around 4 PM. It was a long ride into the downtown area. I checked out the churches but I didn't find anybody around them. I was able to find the police station. There was a lady at the desk. She didn't let me talk to a police officer. She did mention that there were several shelters in the area.

I went over to the nearby fire station. I wanted to see if they had a local minister as a chaplain. I got invited into the office of the station. I was given some phone numbers to try and call. I went across the street to the First Baptist Church Activity Center to find someplace to call because there was a thunderstorm in the area. The phone numbers were just office numbers of the churches. as I was calling the last number, this guy came out of the back door of the building. It turns out that he was the janitor for the First Baptist and First Presbyterian Churches. He didn't have any of the Baptist minister contact numbers but he had the cell phone number of the new Presbyterian Church. I was just able to leave a message.

I had a coupon for a motel near the interstate. As I was leaving the parking lot,a fireman came out to catch up with me. He slipped me $10. It was a two mile (3.2 KM) ride to the motel. It was a bait and switch. The motel didn't look like the picture, the owner was from India. The room was $50 because of the Labor Day weekend intead of the $30 that was advertised.

September 01 : South Murfreesboro, TN to Murfreesboro, TN - 03.82 miles (06.11 KM)

I had a somewhat okay night. I wished that I could have found a better motel to stay at and a cheaper price. The information that was in the coupon book was misleading. The motel didn't look like what was shown in the coupon book. When you called the number in the book, you heard a canned male voice that had an American accent and not somebody who was from India and barely spoke English. There was an assurance that the rooms had been recently remodeled but that wasn't the case. It was a rundown room and the ceiling texture above the shower was coming down from the steam and water vapor. There wasn't much hot water. There wouldn't be any breakfast and there wasn't a fridge or microwave in the room. I had stayed in lot better rooms than this at much lower prices. This was a big bait and switch. Another sham operation from somebody with the Patel clan. If only they had honored the coupon. I had to pay almost double for the room including tax. There wasn't any other places that I could go without having to pay $60 or more for a room. I had stopped at another motel along the way that had an advertised price of around $43 a night but since it was the Labor Day weekend they wanted $75 for the night. There was a thunderstorm coming through the area so I was stuck. The room was on the extreme edge of the wifi router so I barely got a signal and it dropped a lot.

I went to bed around 11 PM. The blankets and the sheets looked clean but I didn't want to take a chance under the blankets. While lying on the bed, I thought that I felt the telltail bites of little insects. It would have just my luck if the bed was infested with bedbugs. I woke up a little before 5 AM. My bioclock doesn't want to change from EST.

Around 9 AM, I left the motel and started the ride back into the downtown area. It was lightly drizzling. I rode back to the First Presbyterian Church. They were between services but nobody mentioned to me about attending a Sunday school class. I talked to the head pastor without knowing it. I hooked up with the associte pastor who I had gotten the cell phone number for. He apologized to me because he didn't check his messages last night. He told me that he would help me find someplace to stay for the night. The church had a house around the block and I could possibly stay with the youth minister since he is there at the house by himself. There was just a few people who talked to me before the second service. I was surprised at getting an invite for lunch before the service started.

At the beginning of the service during the end of announcements, the associate pastor had me stand up and he introduced me as a special guest. As I was sitting down, an elderly lady behind me slipped me $20. It was so good to be in a church that was nearly full and of mixed generations. There were quite a few young children. After the service, several people stopped by and slipped me money in GHs. I got what I had paid for the motel room and then some.

When I got ouside, there was a small crowd around Alice. One of the members worked for the local radio station (WGNS - AM 1450) and he interviewed me. [Here is the
LINK to the interview that was posted the next day.] There was another guy who ran a local website for local events. He took a lot of pictures and even took a video of me leaving the church. I rode over to the house to meet with the youth pastor. He recently graduated from the local college. He splits his time at the church and then goes to the church's student center at the college.

After getting Alice settled at the house, I was taken out for a meal at one of the local deli restaurants went okay. I got a turkey melt reuben and some potato salad.

September 02 : Murfreesboro, TN to Columbia, TN - 56.39 miles (90.22 KM)

I had a somewhat okay afternoon and night. I took about a three hour nap. Josh didn't get back till around 10 PM. He wasn't up when I left around 7:30 AM. I stopped to get some groceries at a store on the western edge of the city. There was one long hill to climb over on the way to Franklin. I was able to ride up a little over half of it. The downhill run went okay.

I got into Franklin around 1:10 PM. I stopped for some lunch. Being that it was a holiday, I expected the motels near the interstate to have high rates. I didn't think that I could connect with a minister so I opted to go on to Columbia. The sky was clouding up to the South but it wasn't storming yet. I got on US 31 going South. I got caught in a brief drizzle but it wasn't much. I rode through Spring Hill.

I got into Columbia around 5:30 PM. I stopped at a motel that had rates in the upper $30s. The room was okay but there wasn't any wifi.

September 03 : Columbia, TN to Flat Woods, TN - 36.20 miles (57.20 KM)

I had a somewhat okay night. It would have been a better night if there was wifi available and not seeing the roach crawl up the screen of the tv. The lights in the room were so dark that you couldn't see anything. I just hope that if there were more roaches they would stay out of bed with me. The room was okay except for the stain from bleach on the carpeting. You could speculate that it came from somebody trying to clean up vomit.

I got on the road around 8 AM. I had to do a little bit of shopping before I left town. I headed West on US 421. The first half of the ride was up and over three ridges. I walked up the steep parts because in some places the shoulder was quite narrow and there was a rumble strip. About 15 miles out of Hohenwald, I hit some construction. They were doing construction to make the highway four laned. I was able to ride along a section of newly paved surface. I was still able to make about 21 miles by noon time. About 7 miles (11.2 KM) out of Hohenwald, the highway became a divided 4 lane highway.

I got into Hohenwald a little before 3 PM. I stopped for a break at a gas station on the East edge of town and I also contacted my hosts for the next couple of days. They had offered to come and pick me up and take me the rest of the way to their house out in the country. They live about 5 miles (8 KM) West of US 13 between Linden and Waynesboro, TN. The last mile was along a very bumby dirt path. They live in such a remote area that they are off the grid. They have solar cells and batteries for electricity, spring water, but they do have satellite tv and internet.

September 07 : Flat Woods, TN to East Savannah, TN - 32.73 miles (52.37 KM)

I had a somewhat okay night. I slept a little better during the night. I didn't wake up once during the night. I woke up around 6:15 AM. I did some stuff on the internet and I got things packed up. I went upstairs around 8 AM for breakfast. It was around 9 AM when we headed out from the house. Instead of pulling a trailor, we loaded up everything in the Browns's car. The ride to the highway went okay. We rode through Flat Woods on the Waynesboro. It was about a 20 mile trip to the Waynesboro area. Instead of taking me all of the way into Waynesboro, Mr Brown took me about halfway up a hill on US 64. We stopped at a Manufactured house factory. It took me about 15 minutes to get everything on Alice and ready to go. After some pictures, were taken I headed West on US 64. Instead of going back to their house, the Browns were going to visit one of Mrs Brown's sisters who was in an assisted living center in Waynesboro.

I had about a mile climb up to the top of the plateau. There was a wide paved shoulder. While I was riding, another cyclist came up from behind me and he rode with me. He was a local guy. What was unusual with him was that he had a digital camera in a waterproof case that was fastened to the top of his helmet. There was a cable hanging down that connected to a controller that he had fastened to his jersey. At the top, he met up with other cyclist who had passed us on our way up the hill.

I rode through about a 12 mile (19 KM) construction area where they were turning the highway into a divided four lane highway. Just before the small town of Olive Hill, the highway switched back to a two lane highway with no shoulder but for a rumble strip. The pavement was really rough. I walked up a hill because there was no safe area for me to ride up the hill. I was hoping for a gas station or a store to be in Olive Hill but there wasn't any.

A couple miles West of Olive Hill, there was a downhill run and then another hill started up. It was already after noon, so I decided to find some place where I could stop and rest and have some lunch. I picked a place where there was some shade but not all the way so I had the sun beating down on me. I didn't link about trying to use Alice as a sun shade. During lunch, I drank two water bottles. After about 40 minutes, I decided to head out again. As soon as I got up, I became really dizzy and I light headed. I sat down again. About 20 minutes later, I got up again but I was still lightheaded and dizzy. I decided to use my helmet as a pillow and lie down a little bit on my side. I stayed that way for about 40 minutes. I was bonked. I was concerned that I was heat stressed and on the beginning of a heat stroke. The temperature must have been in the low 90s with a heat index in the low 100s. I was surprised that nobody stopped to see that I was okay but they didn't. I was debating on whether I should call 911. Once the sun moved behind some trees, I felt a little better. I was really sweat soaked. I was able to sit up and drink another water bottle. I felt a lot better and I decided to head out. I still had about 14 miles (22 KM) to ride to Savanna.

When I got up, I wasn't woozy. It was around 3:30 PM when I got back on the road. I took my time getting up the rest of the hill. There was a downhill run of about 3 miles and then another climb but it wasn't as long as the last climb. About six miles (10 KM) out of Columbia, the highway became a four lane divided highway and the shoulder became a lot better. It was around 5 PM when I got into the Savannah area. I stopped at a Dollar Tree to get some food supplies and some other things. I decided to stop at the first motel that I came across in the Eastern section of Savannah possibly a couple miles from the downtown area. I was able to get a room for $40 before taxes.

Even though I had already taken three days off the road this week, I am thinking about trying to take tomorrow off after church. The afternoon temperature might be in the low 90s. I don't want to get caught between towns and have another problem with bonking out again. From Savannah, I've possibly got 70 miles to ride to Saltillo (just North of Tupelo). If I take tomorrow off, I should be able to get into Saltillo sometime Tuesday afternoon.

September 08 : East Savannah, TN to Savannah, TN - 02.13 miles (03.41 KM)

I had a somewhat okay night. I got some rest but not as much as I had hoped. I don't really know what the problem was. It might have been from the caffeine in the energy drinks. I spent most of the evening repairing my gear and going through everything to see what I could get rid of. I filled a small trashcan of things I didn't need. It was kind of late when I got on the internet.

I went to bed around midnight but I wasn't able to fall asleep. I stayed up till around 2:45 AM and I was tired enough to fall asleep. I slept till 6:30. The motel didn't have a breakfast.

I left the motel around 9:10 AM. The temperature was already in the low 80s. It's supposed to get up into the low or mid 90s by mid afternoon. I stopped at a gas station for something cold to drink. It was a short ride into the downtown area.

I stopped at the First United Methodist Church. I got there around 9:50 AM. I met the minister in the sanctuary. He had one of the men take me to the Shuygate Martin SSC downstairs. I was probably the youngest person in the class. I got introduced and was able to speak for a few minutes. Some of the guys said that they had seen me yesterday. After the class, one of the guys slipped me $40 in a GH and said that it was from the Men's Breakfast that had been held earlier. During the beginning of the service, the pastor in the pulpit said that there was a special guest (me) and one of the guys introduced me and I was asked to stand up and say a few words. The pastor even mentioned me during the end of his sermon.

The church is getting very mission orientated. The church is in the beginning of a program called "Jesus Acts Of Kindness" which has been going on for a couple of weeks. One of the young girls had collected over 3000 pairs of shoes. After the service, quite a few people slipped me money in green handshakes. I mentioned to the pastor that I was concerned about the high heat and what happened yesterday. On Alice, I found a note and an envelope with $20 in it. It was from the SSC that I had attended, Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night,the pastor took me to a motel a couple of blocks away to get me a room for the day.

Tomorrow, I'll be heading out really early to avoid the high heat. I'll be crossing into Mississippi tomorrow. Mississippi would be my 26th state for the year.

September 09 : Savannah, TN to Corinth, MS - 34.46 miles (55.14 KM)

I had an okay night. I got some rest but not as much as I had hoped. From the weather reports, I got concerned about the high heat index warning. They were talking about a heat index of around 100 degrees. I planned to get on the road really early.

I woke up around 5 AM. When I checked out the weather on tv, I saw that there was a rain shower going through the area. When I left the motel room about 7:20 AM, the sky was overcast and the parking lot was wet. I walked the rest of the way out of town to warm up my legs. I stopped at a gas station to get some breakfast. I walked about three quarters the way across the bridge over the Tennessee River. The ride to Crumps was pretty comfortable with the low temperature.

In Crumps, I left US 65 and I got on TN 22 to head south to Corinth, MS. About five miles down TN 22, it started to drizzle. I rode through the Shilo National Civil War Battlefield Park. The rain got harder and I heard thunder but the sky wasn't really dark for a thunderstorm. I stopped at a gas station for a break. About three miles from the state line, I had to stop at a shut down gas station that still had a roof where there gas pumps were to wait out a heavy rain shower. I had to wait around fifteen minutes. I stopped at a Dollar General to get a few things. When I got outside the store, the rain had stopped. A couple miles down the road I had to stop to take my jacket off.

I crossed into MS around 11:30 AM. I rode almost 26 miles in TN. By noon, I had ridden about 28 miles. It was a short ride into Corinth. I got into Corinth around 12:50 PM. I stopped to call my friend in Saltillo to say that I was in MS. She told me that she would be willing to come and get me to sag me the rest of the way to their house if I didn't think I could do the remaining 40 miles because of the heat index tomorrow afternoon. It was starting to warm up so I decided against going any farther. I stopped at the First Baptist Church to see if I could connect with a minister. I was willing to camp out in a class room but they offered to get me a room at a nearby motel.

September 10 : Corinth, MS to Saltillo, MS - 20.02 miles (32.03 KM)

I had an okay night. I got some rest. The room would have been better if it had more light. There was just one light on the wall but it wasn't near the bed. It might have been before the furniture had been shifted around to accomondate a television and cable receiver.

I woke up early and I got on the internet to check my email. I wished that I hadn't done so because it would have gotten my mood and attention to detail a lot more clearer. I got a disturbing email from an acquaintance in NW Illinois telling me that a friend of mine, Gary Arnold in Thomson, IL, had recently passed away from a heart attack. Visitation was going to be today and his funeral was going to be tomorrow. Gary had a bicycle shop and I got my second recumbent from him in late April of 2005. The last time that I had seen Gary was May 22 of this year. He sold recumbent and he was one of the few mechanics that I trusted with ny repair needs.

I left the motel around 7:15 AM. The motel was in the downtown area but not really on a main street. The sky was partly cloudy so I couldn't really see the direction where the sun had recently risen from and know which direction that I needed to travel to get back on US 45 going South to Saltillo (North of Tupelo). I tried making my way over to US 45. After about 2 miles (3 KM) of cycling, I got to a divided 4 lane highway that I thought was US 45. There wasn't any highway signs to tell me what highway that I was on.

After a short break at a gas station, I headed in the direction that I had assumed was straight South. I wasn't going South. I was actually heading Southeast and was on US 72 instead of US 45. I didn't catch this error until I had gone nearly 19 miles out of my way. I thought that I was making good time and I was going to get the first 20 miles (32 KM) done a little before 10:30 AM. Along the way, I hadn't seen any highway signs. I didn't think about checking the compass strapped to the back of my seat. It was after taking a break at a gas station in Burnsville and crossing the NE Mississippi Canal that I found out that I had made a big mistake. I finally came to a highway sign that said that Huntsville, Alabama was 104 miles (166 KM) away. This was the first indication that I was actually going the wrong way. Huntsville is in the Northern portion of Alabama. I finally got my compass and map out and found out my error.

This wasn't the first time that I got myself lost on the road. It doesn't often happen out in the country between cities or towns. Usually, it happens when I get into a metropolitan area. This was by far one of the longest misdirections that I had ridden.

The only thing that I could do was to backtrack several miles to Burnsville. I had gotten the "B" and the "ville" right but I was hoping to be in Booneville by now. Looking at the map, it would have been at least a seventeen mile zig zag course to Booneville. I couldn't think about doing that because it was already getting hot and there was a high heat index warning with temps in the low 100s. Yesterday afternoon, I had made arrangements with my friend in Saltillo and she was going to sag me the rest of the way to their house if I couldn't make it. I called her up. She suggested for me to stay put and wait for her to come and get me instead of heading out to Booneville and meeting up somewhere along the way. Jen arrived a little more than an hour after I had called her.

I'm going to stay with my friends in Saltillo tomorrow. Jen had contacted the local newspaper in Tupelo and they are supposed to be sending out a reporter tomorrow afternoon. Also, I might be speaking at the mid-week service at their Methodist Church in Tupelo tomorrow night. From Saltillo, I have at least 15 more cycling days to get to Moore, OK. .

September 11 : Saltillo, MS to Saltillo, MS - 0.00 miles (0.00 KM)

I had an okay night. I got more rest than I expected. I didn't really do much. I got the dirty clothes that I had washed, dried, and packed up. I packed up Alice again because a reporter and photographer from the local newspaper (Tupelo Daily Journal) was going to come by around 1 PM. The interview went okay. It was my 6th newspaper interview for the years. I was told that the article should be in the Religious section a week from this Saturday. I decided to leave Alice packed so she would be ready for an early start tomorrow.

Aound 5 PM, we headed down to Tupelo for the mid-wek service at the First United Methodist. I was given the chance to speak for a few minutes. This was my 46th church for the year.

I'll be getting back on the road tomorrow. Because the heat hasn't broke yet, I might make tomorrow a short day and just ride to Pontotoc, Mississippi. I have between 14 and 16 more days of cycling to get to Moore, Oklahoma.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between September 12th and September 26th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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