Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Thursday, March 27, 2008
Meridian, MS to Laurel, MS
61 miles (1306 total miles)

A pretty eventful day. After breakfast with Pat's friend, Ronald (we couldn't find anything else close enough, ok?), it took us another half-hour to find our way out of Meridian. As we finally got close to Rt. 11, winding our way through a modest neighborhood between the highway and the train tracks, we kept hearing this horrendous roar every 10 minutes or so. I told Pat it sounded like a jet plane was getting ready to take off just a block away. It turned out that that's exactly what it was; soon after we turned onto Rt. 11, we passed a National Guard Complex and airport where jets were taking off. Later that morning, we'd occasionally see them overhead. We also had trains going past us from time to time, mostly freight trains, but we also saw an Amtrak train heading north. We passed a large swamp soon after the airport, and several smaller ones during the day. At a couple of them, I saw what might have been blue herons - they were heron-shaped and had a bluish tinge to them. Wasn't able to get a picture of them, though.

It was a warm day with a cool breeze that started being gusty earlier than usual but was definitely worse in the afternoon. The road was pretty easy starting out; the traffic was light, the road was smooth, and it wasn't very hilly. Even though we had to ride in the road because of the man-eating rumble strips, the drivers didn't seem to have any trouble getting around us. The scenery was mostly forest and a few homes tucked in here and there. It was very pleasant riding. We came upon our first town, Enterprise, after about 20 miles, and stopped in a grocery store to use the facilities and buy some donuts. Very friendly folks there.

Our highlight of the day, though, was at our next town, Pachuta, another 10 miles down the road. We saw a little cafe called Yesterday's and pulled in. As it happened, the pastor of the local Baptist church was in, picking up lunches for some of the kids at the church school. Apparently, about 40 kids of all ages, from first grade to 12th, get home-schooled by the pastor and other volunteers at this school. We got to talking about our trip and got invited to talk to the children about the bike and our journey. We went over after lunch and immediately got swarmed by a large group of children, all asking us questions. I tried to take a picture of the kids crowded around the bike, but as soon as I got the camera out, they quickly organized themselves into a group shot. Oh, another thing the pastor told us was that one of the guys in the cafe (the one with the black shirt on in the first cafe picture) had just caught a 40-pound catfish in the local river, so we had to get a shot of that as well.

We had a hilly stretch after Pachuta and the wind had gotten worse, so we didn't take many pictures, but the scenery was as beautiful as it was earlier. We saw lots of wisteria and some kind of vine with pretty yellow flowers. Many of the houses, especially closer to Laurel, had huge azalea bushes and dogwood trees in their yards. We also started seeing some big red clover plants along the road, some with flowers as big as strawberries (the picture we finally took of them wasn't the best example by far). The rumble strips stopped after a while and the hills got easier, but the wind was still bad at times. There was also one ten-mile stretch that was very rough; the road had been tarred and then spread with fine gravel. It had gotten very warm, although it was cloudy sometimes, which cooled it down a bit. We had one more small town, Sandersville, before getting to the outskirts of Laurel. After almost 61 and 1/2 miles, in 6 hours of riding time, we arrived at our motel in Laurel at about 4 pm, hot, sweaty, and tired. Nothing a nice shower and hot meal couldn't fix, though.

Tomorrow, we're due to be at a campground and we may have the same problems connecting to the internet as we did at the last campground. In fact, we expect to spend 2 days there (our rest day is scheduled for the day after tomorrow) and the night after that, we should be at another campground. So, we may have trouble getting our site updated for 3 days in a row. We'll do our best, but didn't want anyone to worry if you don't see updates when you're used to them.

Guess where we had breakfast this morning?

The National Guard Complex just sourth of Meridian

National Guard planes lined up at the airport behind the building

Some small private planes were stored at the airport as well

A train came past us as we left Meridian

A large swamp and our early morning shadows

More of the swamp

2 vultures (or buzzards?) hanging out in a tree

Pine trees in bloom

An abandoned bridge across a creek

Some interesting houses along the road

Another house

A road picture, with tire-eating rumble strips

Inside Yesterday's Cafe in Pachuta, MS

Another shot in the cafe

The local pastor and our server

One side of the menu at the cafe

A 40-pound catfish, and other smaller catfish caught by one of the cafe customers

The children at the Pachuta Baptist Church school

Sandersville - the last town before Laurel

A flock of goats walk between some fishery ponds

Some local flora coming into Laurel, blowing in the wind

Large red clover (right?) along the road