TRIP 2016

Update #07 - April 09th
Clarksdale, Mississippi
Trip 48 : 894.59 miles (1,431.34 km)
Year Total : 1,648.47 miles (2,637.55 km)

My time in Mississippi is almost over. Weather permitting, I should be crossing into Memphis, Tennessee Tuesday, April 12th.

March 31, 2016 : columbia to Columbia : 00.00 miles (00.00 km)
Trip Total: 555.19 miles (888.30 km)
Year Total: 1,309.07 miles (2,094.51 km)

First full rest day for the trip. It's good that I'm not on the road today. I woke up around 5:30 AM to some loud thunder. It's around 8:30 AM while I'm writing this entry, there have already been two possible tornadoes to the Southeast of me. The area affected was where I traveled through Monday.

Yesterday afternoon and night were okay. The hotel is being remodeled. Currently, they are working on the hallways on the third floor. The rooms haven't been remodeled yet. The remodeling is supposed to be finished sometime around late May.

Around 6 PM, my new friend Danny picked me up and took me to the Woodlawn United Pentacostal Church. Danny worked in the youth center as security. Before we went over to the youth center which was in the old sanctuary, we went inside the main church building. The church is huge. It was built about 18 years ago. It was as big as a five story building. I estimate that it had to have cost $10 million or more. Danny told me that the building is paid for becasue several years ago one of the members who owns a construction company paid off the $3.5 million balance on the bill because he got a bonus of doing some job ahead of schedule after Hurricane Katrina. The lobby was huge with a huge crystal chandelier and two winding stairways. There is a coffee shop being added that will be open during the week days.

The sanctuary was huge. Could have possibly held a thousand people. There was just a large stage up front. No crosses in sight. There were large projection screens behind the stage and several television cameras throughout the room. The praise team was practicing and the volume was already cranked up.

I went with Danny to the youth center called Elevate. The old church had been gutted and turned into two youth churches (5-12 years old) and (12 yrs and older through 12th grade). There was a large meeting area and a small canteen. I got treated to a hamburger and something to drink. There were over 60 teens there. Danny told me that there would have been more since it was Spring Break. I got to meet the youth pastor before the service. I didn't go into the sanctuary until the singing was over and then I snuck into one of the back aisles. Before the youth pastor started his sermon, he told everybody that there was a special guest here and then he introduced me. I was able to stand up and talk for a few minutes, This is my seventh church for the year. The sermon was pretty good and it had a theme about "Trading Up". After the service, several of the teens came up to me and shook my hand. It was about 8:30 PM when I got dropped off at the hotel.

April 01, 2016 : Columbia, MS to McComb, MS : 44.47 miles (71.15 km)
Trip Total: 599.66 miles (955.46 km)
Year Total: 1,353.45 miles (2,165.66 km)

First full rest day for the trip yesterday. There wasn't much rain during the day. There was some thunder around 6 AM. Around 8:30 AM, there was a break-in on what was going on tv for a report of a tornado warning. There was a possible tornado going through the town of Purvis. The storm was going Eastward and was going to be going through New Augusta and Beaumont, which were several towns that I cycled through Monday.

There was off and on rain during the day. In the afternoon, I was able to take a walk across the highway to the grocery store in the shopping center. After getting back to the hotel, I finished working on naming and filing the pictures that I've taken during the trip. I also cut down and resewed the bag that I found on the side of the road so that it would become a new bag for my sleeping pad. There was some more storms in the afternoon but the worst ones were to the North of me.

I went to bed early before 10 PM. I woke up once to go to the restroom but I was able to fall back asleep till around 6 AM. I took advantage of the good hot breakfast again and was able to take some of the extra small food like wrapped bagels and mufins.

I left the hotel a little before 8 AM. The ride West was a little slow. The sky was pretty overcast and it was cool. I had to stop and put on my long-sleeve pullover shirt. The narrow shoulder also slowed me down especially when I rode over hills. During one stop at a gas station, I called up my friend in Fulton, MS to see if she had a contact in McComb with the MS Extension Service. Romona was doing a presentation but she said that she would start helping me around 1 PM.

A little before noon, I made it into Tylertown. I stopped at a McDs for some lunch. It was really frustrating that they overcharged me. Instead of just charging me item by item from the value menu, the black lady who was at the register charged me for a meal and then a drink upcharge. The value meal was actually $.15 more than what the individual items costs and there was no need for a drink upcharge. I waited till one of the managers was free and I got a refund back.

A couple of miles passed Tylertown, I crossed the Pearl River which is the seperater between Southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Between Tylertown and McComb, I had to stop a couple of times to wait for some rain storms to go through the area. I also had to ride my mirror a lot because in a lot of places the open shoulder beyond the rumble strip was only a couple of inches wide. I had to risk it and go to the left of the white line and the rumble strip. Most of the traffic was courteous except for one car who forced me back onto the shoulder. For the last half hour of riding into McComb, I rode in some light rain.

I got into McComb around 4:30 PM. I got out my phone and I found out that I missed a call from my friend up in Fulton. she had called an hour ago. I called her back. Her contact in McComb suggested I call either the Centenary United Methodist Church or the First Baptist Church. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't find anybody in the office but I decided to try the numbers anyway. There was nobody in at the First Baptist Church. In the message of the Methodist Church was the cell phone number of the minister. I called up that number but the pastor just brushed me off. I never thought that I would come across a pass-off minister.

I headed into the downtown area to see if I could maybe find the police station. Along the way, I rode passed a cheap motel. If I can't find any help, I'd try and get a room here. A couple of blocks away, I rode passed a thrift store for a mission. This wasn't a good sign for me. I rode through the downtown area. There was a downtown motel but by the look of it, it would have probably cost more than the first motel that I rode passed. I didn't find anybody around the churches or any contact numbers. I couldn't find the police station so I started the ride back to the cheap motel. I got stopped by a young guy who wanted to see what I was doing. Before he left, he slipped me a small GH.

At the cheap motel, I got a small discount on the room. I'll be riding to Meadville tomorrow. I'm around 37 miles from Meadville and a little over 60 miles from Natchez. I've gone passed New Orleans and pretty well straight North of

April 02, 2016 : McComb, MS to Meadville, MS : 35.96 miles (57.54 km)
Trip Total: 635.62 miles (1,016.99 km)
Year Total: 1,389.50 miles (2,223.20 km)

Considering how much I paid for the room, the room should have been a lot better inside. The room had no windows. There was a window in the bathroom but it was covered up. The air conditioner/ heater unit was where the bedroom window should be. The room needed to be repainted badly. There was a lot of plaster patchwork and that wasn't really sanded down or painted. For some reason, the crown molding was missing so there was a gap above the walls and the ceiling. There wasn't a light next to the bed so I had to use my helmet light. There was also a leak in the bathtub so it wouldn't shut off completely. Even though I was just three doors down from the office, I got a very weak signal. It started out at just three bars but most of the time it was just two bars. It took a really long time to update the website. To update just seven pages, it took almost three hours.

I went to bed early around 10 pm. I did have to get up once to relieve myself. I was able to fall asleep till around 6:30 AM. There wasn't a breakfast provided but I had plenty of stuff left over from the hotel in Columbia.

I left the motel a little before 8:30 AM. The sky was clear but the temperature was around 59. I backtracked through the downtown area to stay on US 51 N to Summit. There was quite a bit of climbing to do along the way. The town of Summit is at 498 feet above sea level which is the highest point between New Orleans and Jackson, MS. On the Northern outskirts of Summit, I was able to get back on US 98 where it left I-55. It was a little over five miles from the motel which was a couple hundred feet North of US 98 before it joined the interstate.

Once I headed Westward, I got slammed by a stiff headwind coming from the Northwest. Right beyond the interstate, US 98 became just a 2 lane highway with light traffic. The problem for me was that there was no shoulder because of rumble stripping. The highway surface was pretty rough with a lot of cracks.

I wasn't making that good of time. About an hour down US 98, I noticed that the front tire was going flat. I found a small piece of wire sticking out of the inside of the tire and I used my pliers to pull it out. I was able to patch the tube. Between McComb and Summit, I had passed a Walmart and I didn't think about stopping to get some new inner tubes. If I hadn't used most of the $50 that I was saving for tires for the motel room last night, I would have stopped. It didn't take long to get the tire fixed and back on Alice. I noticed that the rear tire was a little low so I tried to inflate it more without taking the wheel off. This was a mistake because I accidently cut the bottom of the valve stem ruining the tube. It was sort of good that I took the old tube out because I found a small piece of wire sticking up in the inside of the tire. I inflated this tube up to 60 psi instead of the full 90 psi since I didn't want another valve stem cutting.

I stopped at a gas station for a short lunch break a little after noon. Because of the late start, the hills, bad roads, and the two flat tire repairs, I had only ridden about 15 miles. The afternoon ride went a little better. The hills became less and the rumble strip disappeared. About eight miles out of Meadville, I had to stop and work on the rear tire again. I needed to patch up another pinhole leak. Before heading back out, I took the time to stabilize the below seat rack so it will not swing from side to side anymore.

I got into Meadville around 5 PM. I was going to stop at the Meadville Baptist Church. I had checked out the church website before leaving the motel this morning. The pastor and the music minister lived close to the church. The music minister gave me permission to stay in the youth building for the night. I was able to have some fresh baked biscuits for dinner and an ice cream sundae for dessert.

When I get back on the road Monday, I'm not going all of the way into Natchez. US 61 from the South goes into downtown Natchez and then it goes up a hill out of the Mississippi River valley and travels for about 7 miles before it turns back North near the small town of Washington. If I would go to downtown Natchez before starting the trip North along the MRT. The Natchez Trace doesn't start up till about 6 miles North of the intersection of US 61 and US 98. I'm going to use Washington as the end of Mission Trip Leg 01 and the start of Mission Trip Leg 02. I'm about 27 miles away from Washington.

Started watching "The Cross" - The Arthur Blessed Story. Arthur was 68 yrs old at the time of the movie, which came out in 2010. During the 40 yrs of his walking, he took the cross through every country, dependency, and island around the world. Arthur estimates that he has walked about 38,000 miles (1.5 times around the equator) taking at least 70 million steps. I met Arthur either 1996 or 1997 in the Florida Panhandle. I've ridden 213,722 miles more than what Arthur has walked.

April 04, 2016 : Meadville to Port Gibson : 63.37 miles (101.39 km)
Trip Total: 698.99 miles (1,118.38 km)
Year Total: 1,452.87 miles (2,324.59 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night. It was just a little puzzling why Matt didn't take advantage of me. If I had a church and a missionary happened to come by, I would have given him the chance to talk and postponed what I was going to do for a later date. I had the main part of the youth building pretty well to myself until about 4 PM. There was a deacon's meeting planned. I went out for a short walk around town. Before the evening service, Matt came by with a love offering from the church. I basiclly got back what I had spent on the motel room in McComb. Matt didn't invite me to take part in the evening service. That's okay because I got to talk to the sr youth group that met upstairs in the youth building.

Instead of attempting to sleep on the bare concrete again, I used a long table as a platform. It worked out okay. I probably was able to sleep for about 7.5 hours. I had pretty well everything packed up by 7:00 AM and I left the church grounds around 7:45 AM. It was cool enough that I had to wear my pullover and windbreaker. The ride West went okay. There were some hills to cross and rumble strips to deal with. I had to ride my mirror a lot. By noon, I had ridden about 21 miles. I stopped at a gas station about 6 miles out of Washington for a short lunch break. It was warm enough that I was able to remove my pullover and windbreaker. Most of the remaining miles to Washington were downhill.

I joined up with US 61 about 6 miles East of Natchez. To get to Natchez you would have had to go down a hill into the Mississippi River Valley but I didn't see the point because there was no need for me to do so. I turned Northwards ending Trip Leg 01 at 1:37 PM CST. After a short break at a gas station, I headed North towards Fayette.

There was some rumble strips and little shoulder to deal with until I got into Franklin County. It was about 3:45 PM when I got into Fayette. I didn't think that I could connect with anybody with the local churches. It was a pretty economically depressed area. I decided to try and push on to Port Gibson.

The ride North went okay. The miles zipped by because there wasn't a rumble strip to deal with. about 4 miles out of Port Gibson, the divided 4 lane highway became a two laned one. About a mile out of Port Gibson, the Natchez Trace crossed above me.

I got inot Port Gibson around 6:40 PM. On the way into the downtown area, I checked out the churches but I didn't see anybody around them. I found my way over to the police station. There wasn't an officer available but the guy who was there tried to help me. He did mention that he saw some activity at the St James Episcopal church. There was some kind of meeting going on in the house that used to be the manse. The rector wasn't there but I was given permission to stay in the upstairs apartment.

I'm about 30 miles away from Vicksburg.

April 05, 2016 : Port Gibson, MS to Vicksburg, MS : 30.14 miles (48.22 km)
Trip Total: 729.13 miles (1,166.61 km)
Year Total: 1,483.01 miles (2,372.82 km)

I had a pretty good evening. I'm glad that I stopped to check the activity at the St James Episcopal Church. Before I took my stuff upstairs to the residence floor, I was able to talk with the vestry who were having a meeting. I used the smallest of the bedrooms that was away from the road. It was sort of warm at night but before morning I had to locate a blanket because the solar heat had gone away. The temperature went from the eighties to the low sixties.

I woke up around 5 AM. I had things packed up and I left the manse (parish house) around 7 AM. I rode passed several of the other churches. There was a Messianic Jewish congregation in a building that looked like it originally held a Greek Orthodox Church. The biggest church in town was the Presbyterian Church. Instead of a cross on top of the steeple, there was a large golden left hand in the form of a fist with the pointer finger pointing straight upwards.

On the Northern edge of town, I stopped at a new McDs for something light to eat and something to drink. I wanted to get on the internet to check my email because I haven't been able to do so in three days. I got back on the road around 8 AM. Close by was a motel where I had remembered staying at five years ago. I remember that the room was pretty bad because the floor was almost gone below the carpeting. There wasn't any activity around the motel so I didn't know that it was closed or not.

The ride North was a little slow because of the hills. There were some long climbs to get over and also rumble strips to deal with. Depending on what county I was riding in, there was a rumble strip or no strip. I did have to stop and check out the front wheel because it seemed to be a little loose. I spent a lot of time riding my mirror.

About 21 miles North of Port Gibson, I crossed into the Southern edge of Vicksburg. The rumble strip disappeared. By noon, I had ridden about 22 miles in by noon. I stopped at a Dollar General to get a few things. I stopped at a Walmart to get some new innertubes. I bought one 20 inch and two 26 inch. I was happy that there was a price drop. Instead of the advertised rate of $4.96 a tube, I got each one for $3.88. I could have bought an extra innertube with the savings.

I stopped at a McDs near the Walmart for something to eat. The store was either being built or remodeled. The dining area was closed so I had to order through the drive-in windows. Vehicular traffic was low. I kind of scared the the people in the store because they weren't expecting somebody to walk up to the window. This was at the food pick-up window. I had to go to the first window to pay. I was amazed at how much loose change I picked up. I moved Alice off the parking lot to another shopping center because there was a lot of construction activity.

Around 1:30 PM, I called up my friend with the MSU Extension office to see if she was able to connect with somebody in the office in Vicksburg. I was just able to leave a voice mail message. US 61 joined I-51. I carefully followed the shoulder and got off the first exit. I saw a sign that the temperature was in the low 80s. I stopped at a gas station to get something to drink. I got a call from my friend with the extension off. She told me that she had heard from her contact in Vicksburg and he suggested the rescue mission. I wasn't going there. Since I had the GH still from the Spiers, I decided to get a room at a motel that was close by. I might have stayed there before during my last ride through the area. I wish that I could have found a discount coupon.

Tommorow, I'll be riding through the downtown area but I won't be seeing the Mississippi River because it goes around a bend. I'll be getting on old US 61. I should be getting on the MRT. Goal for tomorrow is Rolling Fork 47 miles away. Checking a map of the USA, I noticed that I'm almost straight West of Columbus, GA. Between Rolling Fork and Hollandale, I'll be riding North of Louisiana.

April 06, 2016 : Vicksburg, MS to Rolling Fork, MS : 49.63 miles (79.41 km)
Trip Total: 778.76 miles (1,246.02 km)
Year Total: 1,532.64 miles (2,452.22 km)

I had an okay afternoon and night. I didn't venture out the rest of the day. I wasn't feeling sort of well because before going across the street from the gas station to the motel, I almost threw up. Could have been a little heat stress even though I was trying to keep myself hydrated.

The room was a little run down. There was a good wifi signal though. I went to bed a little late and I slept till around 5:30 AM. There wasn't much for breakfast so I had a cold one of cereal, milk, orange juice, and pastries.

I left the motel a little after 8 AM. It wasn't that cold so I didn't wear either the pullover or windbreaker. I started to ride into the downtown area on Halls Ferry Road. My goal was going to ride into the downtown area to get on old US 61 (Bus 61). About a mile and half down the road, I saw signs for the MRT. I decided to try that instead. Instead of going downtown, the MRT stayed close to I-20. The MRT signs disappeared near the intersection of Indiana Ave and I-20. From that intersection, I followed a frontage road to another local street that took me passed the Vicksburg National Military Park and I was able to get on US 61 where it split off from I-20. It was good getting on US 61 again. There was some wind to push me along. About 12 miles out of Vicksburg, the wide shoulder disappeared and the rumble strip started.

Between Blakeley and Redwood, there were a couple more small hills to cross over. Once I crossed the bridge over the Yazoo River, I got into the Mississippi River Delta area. It was totally flat. The highway was sort of on top of a levee that protected the East side of the highway from possible flooding. The winds were coming from the Southwest and they must have been at least 15 mph. In some places it was hard to keep up and not be blown off the highway. It was a struggle when trucks went passed me and I got caught in their draft. By noon, I had ridden a little over 22 miles. Farmers were planting cotton. In some areas, I had to ride through dust storms.

There wasn't any place to stop along the way for lunch. I was a bit concerned about the clouds because they were getting storms. There was a threat of possible storms in the afternoon. I stopped for a short break at the store-restaurant in Onward. The store was called the birthplace of the Teddy Bear because Pres Roosevelt almost killed a captive bear close by in 1902. I called my friend with the MS Extension Service. She told me that she had gotten in contact with the Extension Service in Rolling Fork. I called Emilie and she told me that she would get me a room at the motel in Rolling Fork and would also pick me up to take me to the meal and prayer service at the First Baptist Church.

From where I got back on the road, it was 12 miles to Rolling Fork. The miles went by quickly because of the tailwind. In some places, I was coasting at 12 mph. I was a little concerned about the sky because it was getting dark behind me. I made a fast ride through the small town of Cary. During one of my previous trips through this area, I tried to do some volunteer work at the Cary Christian Center. It was five miles between Cary and Rolling Fork.

Once I got into Rolling Fork, I called up Emilie and I met her at the motel. I got to to the motel around 3:30 PM. I might have stayed at the motel back in 2010. Around 5:15 PM, Emilie picked me up and took me to the First Baptist Church. We got to church before the meal was served. I got to meet the pastor before the service. The pastor was going to talk about Abraham but instead he wanted me to talk for about 20 minutes and then have a short q&a. Since I was the guest, I got to get my food first. The meal was pretty good. There was a lot of people because there was a lot of kids. Emilie went with the kids because they were getting ready for a service next Sunday. The pastor had the prayer time for about 15 minutes and then I got to talk for about a half hour. It was pretty good. There were a lot of questions afterwards. The pastor found a cap and he called for a love offering. I was really amazed at how large the love offering was. Before Emilie's husband took me back to the motel, I talked with a smaller group.

It was interesting to find out that Emilie babysat Matt (the pastor at the Meadville Baptist Church) when he was a child. She is also going to decorate for the wedding reception. Small world.

I'm going to be riding to Greenville tomorrow.

April 07, 2016 : Rolling Fork, MS to Greenville, MS : 48.27 miles (77.23 km)
Trip Total: 859.22 miles (1,374.75 km)
Year Total: 1,613.10 miles (2,580.96 km)

I had an okay night even though my lips were burning a little bit from the nicotine in the pillows. I woke up early but I was able to fall asleep.

I got on the road a little after 8 AM. The sky was really clear and there was a slight tailwind that might turn into a headwind. The ride to Hollandale went well. I got into Hollandale a little after 11 AM. I stopped at a gas station for a sit down lunch.

I turned West on MS 12 to MS 1. Traffic was light and there was a headwind of about 10 mph to deal with. I rode through the Leroy Percy State Park. About six miles before getting on MS 1, I had to stop to put a new inner tube in the rear tire. It didn't take long to get the tire fixed. I got to MS 1 aroud 2:45 PM.

The ride South to Greenville went okay. The highway became a divided 4 lane highway about 5 miles out of Greenville. Traffic was really heavy in Greenville. I stopped at a Taco Bell for an early dinner. I turned East on US 82. I was going to stop at a Days Inn but I saw a good rate at a low cost motel so I decided to stop.

April 08, 2016 : Greenville, MS to Cleveland, MS : 32.19 miles (51.50 km)
Trip Total: 512.79 miles (820.46 km)
Year Total: 1,266.67 miles (2,026.67 km)

I had an okay night at the motel. I was mildly surprised at how good the room was even though things were run down. I went to bed around 10 PM. Before leaving the motel, I checked my Warm Showers account and saw that I had a message from the member in Cleveland. They couldn't host me.

I left the motel a little after 8 AM. The temperature was in the upper 50s. The high was only going to be in the upper 80s. I had to ride my mirror on the way to Leland because of heavy truck traffic and narrow shoulder.

In Leland, I rode through the downtown area along old US 61 because there was road construction on the East side of town. I stopped to take some pictures of some signs because Leland was the boyhood home of Jim Henson and the birthplace of Kermit The Frog.

Once I got back on US 61, I had to deal with a really strong head/crosswind coming from the Northwest. The wind had to have been between 10 and 15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph. I was either stopped in my tracks or being pushed off of the road because of the wind. The wind caused dust storms and some dust devils (mini tornadoes).

I was still able to get 21 miles in by noon. I stopped at a gas station in Shaw for a sit-down lunch. The afternoon ride to Cleveland was short but it was still a little tricky because of the wind. I saw some flags that were almost torn off from their poles.

I got into Cleveland around 2:40 PM. It was a little late to try and see if there was anybody at one of the local churches. I opted to go ahead and get a motel room at one of the motels in the South side of town. I paid a little more at one motel because I didn't like the look of the possible cheap motel.

I'm going to be riding to Clarksdale tomorrow. I'll be looking at crossing into Memphis, TN Tuesday.

April 09, 2016 : Cleveland, MS to Clarksdale, MS : 35.37 miles (56.59 km)
Trip Total: 894.59 miles (1,431.34 km)
Year Total: 1,648.47 miles (2,637.55 km)

I had an okay night at the motel considering the problems with the room. I might have gotten a cheaper room at the motel across the street but I wasn't sure how clean the rooms would be. There wasn't any breakfast.

I left the motel a little before 8 AM. The temperature was in the upper 50s. Once out in the open, I got slammed by a pretty stiff cross/headwind coming from the Northeast. The wind speed was between 10 and 15 miles per hour. By noon, I got close to 20 miles in. I stopped alongside the road for a quick snack.

The afternoon ride went okay. There weren't that many places to stop and take breaks along the way. The route of the highway took it away from towns.

I got into Clarksdale around 2:45 PM. Stopped at a Wendys for a late lunch/ early dinner. Decided to go across the highway to a motel next to a shopping center and get a room there.

Will not be making any attempt to head out of town tomorrow. The weather service is calling for a high wind advisory with projected wind speeds between 20 and 45 mph.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between April 16th and April 23rd.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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