Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
We had a great breakfast at the EconoLodge we stayed at last night and were underway at 7:30. Back on Route 80, where we would be much of the day, it seemed like we'd have a real easy day of it. The road was a divided highway with light traffic and a wide shoulder. The shoulder did have some gentle rumble strips running across the width but with a flat strip down the middle. So Pat still had to navigate a fine line, but at least he didn't have to worry about traffic. And even if he went over the rumble strips, it was gentle enough that it just like getting a Swedish massage on our tushes! About 10 miles out, though, the road narrowed to 2 lanes, still with a wide shoulder but the rumble strips covered the whole shoulder with just a small flat strip right at the edge of the traffic lane. Right about this same time, we saw signs for a road work zone that would go on for 10 miles. It seemed that they were working on building another 2 lanes to extend Rt. 80 as a divided highway. Part of this effort was building a second bridge, already completed but not open, over the Tombigbee River, one of 2 rivers that come into Demopolis. The other river is the Alabama, but we didn't see it. The construction wasn't a problem, since it was off to the side of the road, and it did provide a very conveniently-placed Port-a-Potty about 15 miles out.
The scenery in the morning wasn't particularly stunning - some industrial places, a used car parts lot, very few houses, some trees with an occasional stretch of forest. We occasionally got a dogwood or redbud tree to add a little color. We'd seen a little wisteria in the last day or so, but at one point today, we saw a huge display, so much so that we could smell them from across the road. We also saw some deciduous trees finally beginning to leaf out today. We also saw some wildlife - a bunny hopped out from the brush by the side of the road and quickly hopped back in. We think we might have seen a flash of a deer's tail at one point. Other than that, the only wildlife we've seen to date are squirrels and lots of birds (I wish we could identify more of them). We've seen a variety of dead animals, however - possums, raccoons, skunk, a few small deer, some large birds (couldn't tell if they were turkeys or vultures or something else), and even some armadillo! We've seen a dead armadillo on each of the last 3 days, much to my surprise. I thought we wouldn't see them until Texas.
There were almost no places to stop for a bathroom or something to eat along Rt. 80. We finally came to one about 30 miles out in a little town called Cuba. We bought some bananas there that looked (and tasted) very good. We asked about places to eat since it was getting close to noon, and the woman there said there was a truck stop 4 miles ahead, but nothing else until we hit Meridian, which was our destination for the evening, and it turned out she was right.
Cuba was the last Alabama town on Rt. 80, and we waited excitedly to see the Mississippi border we knew would be coming soon. It was a big disappointment, however. We saw a sign for Lauderdale County, about where we thought the border should be, but no sign announcing the new state. We looked back at the sign going the other way and it clearly stated that Alabama started at that line, so we knew we were in Mississippi. We went on thinking there would be a welcome sign soon, but none ever appeared. So we entered our 10th state with not much to show for it. We found the truck stop in Toomsuba, MS and had a good lunch there. Toomsuba was a nice, little town, with the usual mix of houses in it, some very poor, some very nice-looking.
We had turned onto Rt. 11 in Mississippi - another narrow, 2-lane road, but this time with deeper rumble strips right along the traffic edge with very little shoulder to the right of it. You can see the rumble strips in the first picture of the houses in Toomsuba - there happened to be a wide spot there, though, so it looks like a lot more shoulder than there usually was. So we were back to riding in the road; luckily, there was still not much traffic. The day was pretty uneventful from there until the outskirts of Meridian, about 15 miles later. There, the traffic picked up but we arrived at a motel and got off the road for the night. The owner of the small Economy Inn we ended up at was intrigued by our bike trip and gave us a large Snickers bar and bag of chips each for free! The day had started out warm with a cool breeze and some clouds. The breeze got fairly gusty at times, and it ended up quite warm (about 74 degrees) and a little humid. It felt like a longish day, but it was only 5 hours of riding time and a total of 53 miles. We arrived at our hotel around 3 pm.