October 4 Natchez, MS to Jackson, LA
Distance 60 miles, 41 of them on my bike, 10.9 mph average, 6:36 ride time, 20 miles south of Vicksburg I hitched a ride for 19 miles, actual time on the road 8 hours 05 minutes. Today’s Expenses $ -0-
Pre Civil War Slaves quarters on a plantation south of Natchez
Started the day with a hot and hearty breakfast at the Day’s Inn. Breakfast was available starting at 6:00 AM which allowed me plenty of time to enjoy breakfast and still get on the road by 7:20. No rain today, Yah! US 61 out of Natchez is a 4 lane highway with fast moving motor vehicle traffic with a decent shoulder for the most part. I did have to contend with some ill placed rumble strips. One idea I can not stress enough is to ride with an American Flag flying from the rear of your bicycle as it definitely helps drivers to see you and even if they don’t respect you as a bicyclist they do respect our Flag. Most passing drivers will move over to the passing lane when they went pass you as they did this day. Between the wide shoulder and the Flag I felt fairly safe even on this very busy highway. That said, about 20 miles into the ride when I came upon a large thick bank of fog which dropped visibility dropped to under 1/8th of a mile. Suddenly passing vehicles were no longer moving to the passing lane a good indication the fog was keeping them from seeing me. The Old Guy, at least I like to think so is not stupid and it was time to see if I could hitch a ride. About the 3rd or 4th pick-up that came by stopped. I asked the driver if I might have a ride through the fog area which he agreed to provide and even got helped me load Spirit into the bed of his pick-up. When I hopped into the passenger side of the vehicle, I noticed a pistol lying on the seat. I commented to the driver, “Nice piece you have, a Glock compact 40 caliber, right”? He nodded that was an affirmative. At the same time he picked up the pistol and stashed it behind him. He was surprised I was familiar with his handgun and further went on to state he didn’t pick up hitchhikers as a rule it being to risky now days. Side note here, this is the third time out of five rides I’ve received since leaving St Louis that the driver was carrying a pistol for self-defense purposes. There is a lot of mistrust between folks of color in the deep-south. Guess I’ve been pretty lucky as I’ve only met nice folks of both the white and black race willing to help an Old Guy in need of a ride. Anyway I told my newest “Road Angel” I understand the need to protect one’s self in today’s economic environment. After additionally sharing with Matt that I’ve been in the firearm business for over 40 years which is why I knew a little about the pistol he was carrying he felt more at ease having picked up a stranger. This led to a good discussion regards to self defense, the state of our economy and how much it lends to desperation of some folks to resort to robbery. All too quickly we arrived at the newWelcomeCenter forMississippi on the south side of Woodville. Matt helped me unload Spirit we shook hands, wished each other well and went our separate ways as friends.
Since leaving Natchez I deviated from the actual MRT route in order to stay at my next Warm Shower Hosts in Jackson, Louisiana tonight. Perry, the Warm Shower Host, suggested the route deviation as it was a more scenic route with less traffic than the actual MRT as well as cutting some mileage from my ride to the Gulf, sounded good to me so took her route advice. As I rode onto the road to Jackson there was a highway sign stating “Rough Road” what an understatement that turned out to be. This road had potholes every few feet the size of craters. I found myself weaving from one side of road to the other trying to avoid them as well as avoid being run over by big heavy-duty gravel trucks at the same time. The trucks also explained why the road was in such poor condition. After a couple miles the road smoothed out and the truck traffic ended at a quarry, allowing me to enjoy the rest of the scenic ride to Perry and Lep’s home.
Crossing into my 10th and final State on the MRT
Perry and Lep’s home sets about a quarter mile off the highway surrounded by woods with a huge open grassy area with a nice pond for camping. So cyclist don’t miss their place they have hung a bicyclist flag at the driveway to their home. What an idyllic setting for tired touring bicyclists to kick back for some Rest and Relaxation. Their home is on Adventure Cycling’s Southern Tier route for crossing America. Between Southern Tier Cyclists and folks following Perry’s advice to deviate from the MRT I learned so far this year they have hosted a couple hundred touring cyclists.
Perry was in the garden with her two cute little dogs, both well trained and with big personalities, all three were excited to greet me as their latest guest to lavish attention on. Being an experienced touring cyclist Perry immediately cut up some fresh pineapple added it to a dish of yogurt and handed it to me to enjoy and re-energize me. After gulping down this delicious treat Perry showed me around her touring bicyclist paradise. This day there were five other guests staying at the place. Perry suggested I might enjoy a little solitude in a neat little A-Frame camper sitting close to the woods for tonight. About 20 yard away from the camper was an outdoor shower for my personal use which was a really nice touch of making one feel like he/she is communing with nature in luxury.
After cleaning up I returned to the main house where Perry and I swapped stories from the road and visitors to her home for the next couple hours. About 6 PM Lep, Perry’s husband, arrived home. Lep’s family owns Blum & Bergeron, Inc. a shrimp freeze dried business down in Houma 150 miles southwest of Jackson. This year marks 100 years the business has been owned by his family. Houma is the town I’ll be in the last night before riding to the Gulf of Mexico. I’ll be sure to stop and take a picture for you.
Stories from the road and visitors to Perry and Lep’s home continued through dinner and evening. Lep plans on retiring in a year or so and than they will begin doing some long distance touring of their own. Until then they will continue doing week to 10 day long tours. Retiring to my little A-frame camper bungalow I thanked God for once again blessing me with new friendships and experiences while on the road. I love it!
Leupold “Lep”, Perry and the Old Guy
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