Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Friday, March 21, 2008
Today was a LOT easier than yesterday, even though we went 8 miles farther. There was a lot more downhill today, for one thing, the wind was calmer, the scenery more pleasant, and we were more relaxed, knowing that tomorrow would be a rest day. So we took it easier, got a lot more pictures, chatted with more locals, and generally enjoyed the trip more. It was another beautiful, sunny day, starting out in the low 40s - in fact, some of the downhills took us into valleys where there was a little frost on the ground. It gradually warmed up to almost 70, though. The wind was very calm in the morning, although it did get gustier after lunch as usual and it was, of course, a head wind.
We started early, about 6:45, to get breakfast, but the advice we had gotten about breakfast places wasn't very good; we ended up getting a little sausage & egg sandwich at Hardee's in Bremen. We got better advice a little later on and stopped at a Jack's Restaurant in Tallapoosa, GA for a proper pancake breakfast. It turned out to be a very friendly place, lots of regulars, and a number of people stopped to chat with us - they couldn't believe we had come from Philadelphia on that bike. Tallapoosa was a pretty little town with a neat little main street. We crossed into Alabama about 6 miles later (mile 17 on the day's trip). Alabama was very scenic with large farms interspersed with forest. There were a larger number of horses, fewer cattle, and more open fields. The Talladega National Forest covered a lot of the AL territory we rode through today; it was refreshing to be in a rural setting again after the big cities - Athens and Atlanta - we went through in GA.
We saw 4 hawks today - and this time they really were hawks! We saw one pair fly into a tree near where we had stopped for the restrooms, but they flew off before we could get their picture. Then, on two separate occasions we saw a single hawk being harassed by crows. We only managed to capture one of them on film - check it out, all you bird experts, and tell us if we didn't get it right this time! We also saw some fields with stalks cut off close to the ground and some white tufts scattered here and there. From a couple of intact branches that were left, it looked like it might have been cotton - I don't know if we got a close enough view for someone to be able to verify that or not. We'd also like some help understanding the concept of these 'Title Pawn' shops we keep seeing. It seems like the idea is to finance a car by pawning something for it, maybe the car itself. Whatever it is, it seems like a very shady deal, sort of like the paycheck cashing places up our way. Cars seem to be a very big part of life down south; from all the auto parts dealers, used cars dealers, yards full of cars, cars with For Sale signs on them, etc., it seems like people spend a whole lot of their time buying, selling, or fixing cars!
Now for today's big news - we hit the 1,000 mile mark in Heflin, AL, about 32 miles into today's trip! We pulled into a gas station as soon as we made 1,000 and asked someone working there if he would take our picture. We made a crude attempt at spelling out 1000 (I'm pointing this out because you would probably never guess it from the picture), but in any case we did commemorate the occasion. We decided we would stop for lunch in Heflin and asked a local for a good place. It turned out to be another Jack's Restaurant, just like our breakfast spot in GA. This Jack's was just as friendly as the first, with a number of people coming over to ask about our trip. We also saw another Jack's later on but it was too early for dinner. Another 15 miles or so later, we passed the town of Oxford which was huge compared to the other towns we'd seen today. It was packed with the usual fast food restaurants and lots of businesses and cars. The road had widened to 3 lanes each way and the traffic jammed all of them. It was the only time today that felt frenetic. We turned off of Route 78 onto Route 21 in Oxford and after a few more miles the road narrowed back down to 2 lanes and the traffic lightened up as well. Most of the remaining 20 miles were just about completely flat, even though we could see the nearby Appalachian foothills on either side. We also still had the train tracks that were parallel to us a lot of yesterday; they appeared and reappeared most of the day, and they're nearby our motel in Talladega so we'll probably be hearing train whistles all night.
We reached our destination at about 5 pm tonight, although through the miracle of time zones, it was really only 4 pm - we gained back the hour we lost to Daylight Savings almost 2 weeks ago. We went 67.7 miles in about 6 hours, an average of 11.2 mph - pretty decent, compared to yesterday's 9.6. Tomorrow, we rest.