Today dawned cool and beautiful. For the first time in weeks, I didn’t have to wear my jacket at the start. The first 18 miles were very difficult for me, up and down hills (yes there are hills in Louisiana). For some unexplained reason, I had not slept well, even though I was exhausted. I had a hard time turning off the riding and finding some relaxation. This is happened several times during the trip. Just can’t figure out what keeps me awake. Anyway, it was a hard start with lots of traffic (but, wide shoulders). After struggling for those 18 miles, we passed through Bogalusa and crossed the Pearl River into Mississippi.
Shortly after crossing into Mississippi, we turned onto a quieter road, but not so smooth. After only a few miles, the route had us turn every few miles, and every turn brought different road surfaces. Some were almost worse than South Georgia dirt roads! At one point we saw a ‘road closed” sign, recently moved from the center of the road. As we rode a few miles, we found the reason for the sign. The bridge had washed out and was repaired with dirt. Since it looked a bit difficult for skinny tires, most folks got off and walked. It was during this part of the ride that we saw some of the devastation from Katrina and some FEMA trailers still being used.
Our cue sheet gave us two options for the last 10-20 miles of today’s route, the long, scenic route and the shorter highway option. A number of folks chose the scenic route because they wanted the longer ride or because they feared traffic on the highway. I chose the highway option, along with about half of the group. It turned out to be a good choice for us. The traffic was not really bad and the road was smooth. And, the log trucks in Georgia could learn a lesson from those here. All of them went way around us, some even sounding their horns in greeting. Of course, the longer option folks thought their choice was the best. The last 4-5 miles had some big rolling hills, but knowing we were almost done helped me climb them without too much effort.
Tonight’s dinner was a bittersweet time for the group. The good news was that we had chicken and dumplings and collard greens for dinner. The group seemed to enjoy the dishes.
On a more somber note, one of the guides who joined us after Ellee broke her arm, left tonight. Patty did a great job and fit right into the group. Now she is going on to lead another tour. We had collected money as a gift for her. Since I was the organizer of the gift giving, it was my job to present it to Patty. She was a bit emotional as she thanked us and made a special request for us to be safe. The last picture is of Michelle, our main cook and guide, Barb, the sous chef, Patty, and Ellee.Tomorrow is a 68- mile day. I hope it will be a good one.