Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Our first camping experience, at Payne Lake, was pretty uneventful. Given we were off on our own, on the opposite side of the lake from everyone else, we didn't have any options for socializing, so we turned in pretty early. It was chilly when we went to bed, but our down sleeping bags kept us toasty until we had to get up in the morning. The ground wasn't too hard or rocky and our thin air mattresses kept us quite comfortable. We both slept pretty soundly, dozing off to the sound of owls hooting. It was quite cold when we got up, though (a low of 30 degrees had been predicted). We got dressed quickly inside the tent, putting on more of our cold-weather stuff than we'd used since the first week of the trip. We found the tent fly wet with condensation but the tent poles had iced over! We packed everything up and left the site, biking a mile back toward the entrance to the water station to fill up our camel-backs. We had a little trail mix to tide us over until we could get some breakfast. Having gotten up at 6:30, it was 8:15 by the time we headed out for the day.
We started out on Route 25 again, but Payne Lake was at the southern end of the Talladega Forest, so the trees were getting sparser and there were more houses. We were also in a new county, one which clearly had better things to do with its money than maintain the roads. They had been "repaved" by applying two strips of asphalt to the road surface, where the car tires would be. This made for a fairly bumpy surface at the edge of the road, where we were. The traffic was fairly light, though, still with some logging trucks but not as many as the day before.
We had breakfast in Greensboro, AL, a smallish town about 20 miles from Payne Lake. We found someone in a shop along Main St. and asked about nearby restaurants. He pointed us to one around the corner called Flava, after the owner. It was a tiny place that we might not have noticed otherwise, but it was excellent. One first good sign was the enormous cup of coffee I was served. The pancakes were also huge and delicious, and the breakfast was incredibly cheap. We left feeling much better than we had going in.
After Greensboro, we were now on Route 69. The road was about the same, still rough and narrow, but the scenery quickly changed. We were clearly out of the forest, there were large fields and farms on either side of us. Catfish farms seemed to be a big industry here - we passed a number of them, each with several large ponds. The cattle farms often had large ponds as well. It was interesting to see a different landscape than what we've been seeing for several days now, although the forest was pleasant to ride through. About 8 miles from our destination, we turned onto Route 80, a divided highway with a wide, smooth shoulder - such a relief after the narrow, bumpy road we'd been on all day. The traffic was much faster but still not very heavy so it wasn't a hassle. We ended up staying at an EconoLodge, as the Holiday Inn we had planned to stay at was booked (first time that has happened!). But we got a very pleasant reception and a very nice room - with a wonderful shower! - so we felt we lucked out again. We settled in by 2:30 after a very short day of only 43.5 miles.