Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Alabama to Mississippi (Days 5-10)

Today is a layover day (our first day without required miles to pedal) so I will attempt to catch you all up with my progress...

[Note: When I state my "time on the road," that includes time spent cycling, eating, resting, taking pictures, etc.--everything once I leave one camp until I reach the next camp.]

April 17, Day 5, we cycled 36.5 miles with 1,877 feet of climbing and 4.5 total hours on the road. We camped at Coffeeville Lake Corp Campground in Coffeeville, AL. 

April 18, Day 6, we cycled 57.5 miles with over 3,000 feet of climbing. It rained pretty much the whole day and we had gone a few days without showers so we stayed at the Linden Inn in Linden, AL, which very conveniently had a laundromat next door. The two joys beyond compare in my life right now: a hot shower and clean laundry. 

April 19, Day 7, the sun shone all day (temps in the 70s), and we cycled 75.3 miles with 2,369 feet of climbing to get to Cochrane Recreation Area in Cochrane, AL. 8.25 hours on the road. 

April 20, Day 8, we cycled 59.3 miles with 2,172 feet of climbing and crossed into Mississippi to stay at Town Creek Campground outside Columbus. Another sunny day. 6.5 hours on the road. 

April 21, Day 9, we cycled 33.3 miles (including two stretches of walking over deep gravel) with only 958 feet of climbing on a sunny, in the 70s day, to get to Blue Bluff Campground in Aberdeen, MS, where we are staying for two nights. 

April 22, Day 10, layover day. 

We have cycled through some amazingly beautiful countryside. Quiet, picturesque, bucolic. Most towns have been very small (blink and you miss it kinds of places) where everyone knows and looks out for everyone else. The people I've met have been very friendly and helpful, and eager to learn what we are doing (even if they think we are nuts).

Here are various photos from the last few days. (Photo credit for the next two photos and the one of the flooded camp road: Ron & Zoe.)

I'm not sure the following photo really captures just how impressive these towers/walls of logs appeared. 

In the photo below, one of our riders demonstrates that the camping area in this campground is flooded. This meant the shower house was inaccessible and we had to camp in a playground area. More rain fell overnight and, sure enough, we had standing water around our tents in the morning. The ground is saturated; it just can't absorb more water. 

We cross-crossed the Tombigbee River throughout Alabama, and even camped beside it. Below is one of the barges that passed our camping area. 

Another spot along the water. Some people heard such loud, dramatic splash sounds during the night that there was speculation about alligators. The sound I really keyed in on was the screeching of hunting owls. 

There are more Baptist churches than people down here. Here is my one representative shot. 

We have crossed dozens of creeks. 

The roadsides are covered with these pretty red flowers. I've been told it's clover; it does not look anything like the clover we have at home. 

There are many historic markers along the route but none are about the Underground Railroad. This makes sense because, by and large, slaves did not escape from the Deep South to the north. Most slaves that successfully escaped to the north came from a border state. This particular sign is about Woodbury, a Morgan Horse. 

I have many photos of crossing the Tombigbee River; here's just one of them. 

Two nights ago, we camped at this spot where we cooked on one side of the water and had to haul our gear a long way (and across two bridges) to camp on the other side of the water. The weird thing was that the primitive camping area had three street lights that stayed on all night!

A couple of views from the road yesterday. Very rough road, but no traffic. 

And some of the gravel I had to walk...

The Blues wall in Aberdeen, where I ate lunch yesterday. 

Our layover spot--Blue Bluff Campground. 

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