April 7, 1999
|Waking up to a cloudy morning I found it difficult to motivate
myself. I kept waiting for the sun to dry the dew off my tent, or at least that was
my excuse for being lazy :-) Looking out my tent door, I saw a tug boat going by and
the guy waved at me after I took a picture.
As I was getting ready to leave, a couple walked over to me. They were staying at the other side of the park in an RV. Having permanent residence in Michigan, they go to Arizona every winter. Then, this time every year, they stop here at this campsite to watch some blue & gray shooting thing prior to returning home.
I rode out of the campground at 10:00am and stopped at a convenient store. Needing to add air to my front tire, all I could find was one of those 25 cent air machines. The air hose wouldn't seat very well on my valve stem and it just kept deflating my tire. I gave up and just used my hand pump which doesn't inflate more than about 35 psi. Then I went inside to buy my days supply of Gatorade or PowerAde, and all they had was All-Sport. The stuff is carbonated and just gave me upper GI gas every time I drank it. Going back out to my bike, I kept getting into a lot of conversations. Lot's of people just curious and had never seen a person touring by bicycle. I left at 10:40am and headed to 8 West.
While leaving town, the same girl from yesterday drove by in her silver Miata and waved at me. Then she came back towards me in the opposite direction and waved again. And then again...she must have gone around the block because she came back towards me and waved again! It's silly what young teenagers do. Almost made me feel like one of the Beatles in a way. Although I have absolutely no musical talent.
Following 8 West, there was very little traffic. People waved, even the local truckers, as they drove by. And, when a truck came up behind me, they usually got way over or would wait and drive slowly behind me until it was clear to pass. It was nice riding through there. I passed a Post Office in Trebloc that looked more like someone's house.
Arriving in Houston, I felt a bit tired even though I was still about half of my usual distance. The roads were hilly and I did have only about 35psi in my front tire. I never realized before how great a difference tire pressure makes! Stopping at the Rexall Drugstore, a nice lady directed me to their postcard collection....of 2 postcards. There were 2 stacks, each containing a picture of a different, restored old house in town. I think the lady at the register was trying to stand back when I paid for them. I guess I kinda stunk....Ya know? That's the only bad part about this, some people don't wanna get too close to ya when ya smell.
I decided to stay in this town for the night so the ladies directed me to the City Hall on the other side of the town square, when I asked for the Chamber of Commerce. At City Hall they told me to go to the Civic Center as it was acting as the Chamber of Commerce. The Civic Center was about a mile from downtown, next to the city park and across from the high school. At the Civic Center I met Lamar. He arranged for me to camp in the park for the night. He said he had to leave for a while and wanted to get someone from the local paper to meet me. In the mean time, I went back to town in search of a hardware store to get some hitch pins for my B.O.B. trailer. I lost one yesterday and was using my only spare. The local hardware store didn't have one with a small enough diameter and they referred me to NAPA. At NAPA I found the pins and bought the last 4. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of extras! While at NAPA, I talked with a lot of people, employees and customers. Everyone was taking an interest in my ride and most never heard of such a thing. One guy I spoke to outside the store kept shaking his head in disbelief.
Back at the park I met a relatively young grandmother that was sitting under the shelter watching her grandson play with the other kids. She brought him to the park and bought him ice-cream for his birthday.
Jan, the newspaper reporter, soon arrived and had Lamar introduce us. She took a couple of pictures and then began interviewing me. In the process, I kept getting off the subject a bit and was able to find out a few things about the town and this neat lady interviewing me. She sat with perfect posture and her words were articulated very concisely with a southern drawl. Although she was a sophisticated southern lady, I could detect a bit of kindred spirit with this smelly, grungy, very unsophisticated looking guy, on a bicycle. She too had interests in travelling and nature. She was wanting to go to Cambodia with a program provided through the university where she's taking some classes. Unfortunately, she can't go due to some family obligations. I wish I had journalistic skills like Jan so I could write better about travelling and adventure. Maybe I inspired her to be a bit more adventurous and to experience life more.
Come to find out, there's a nice road to bike that runs near this town of 4,000. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a two lane scenic road owned by the National Park Service. It was originally a series of hunter and Indian paths leading from southwest Mississippi at the Mississippi River to Nashville, Tennessee. Apparently, every year many people cycle on it. And it's too bad it's going the wrong direction or I could've taken it!
After Jan left, I sat under the shelter and wrote in my journal and on the postcards. All evening people came out here with their kids or to walk around the park for exercise. I got my ziplock bag filled with my personal hygiene stuff and went into the bathroom. The bathroom was dirty and the sink had a lot of dead bugs in it. I managed to get myself cleaned up and washed the clothes I was wearing in the sink. I put on my other pair of bike clothes and decided to sleep in them so I could get up quicker in the morning.
As the evening progressed and it got dark, there was still a lot of traffic in and out of the park. On the other side of the park there was a baseball game with a good sized crowd and lots of noise. High school kids were squealing their tires in a S-10 and yelling at the young women playing tennis.
After writing postcards and my journal entries, I watched two high school aged girls play tennis. They were very inconsistent and one had a hard time getting the angle right on her racquet. She had quite a few wild hits. Soon the baseball game ended, the girls left, and the park was empty. I decided not to set up my tent. Instead, I laid my thermarest and sleeping bag on the concrete between the picnic table and my bike. I was under a shelter, so if it rained, I'd be all right.
Today - 36.07 miles