Back in the saddle, and another state in the rear view mirror.

Feb 11 (RD10) (AFHD 31)

A very special day it is, as Ms Fiona Clare McClellen turns a whopping 7 years old today. Gramma and Grampa were able sing Happy Birthday to her and remind her we miss her every day. {A post script here will note that Gramma Susan is really filling in for Gramma Cathy’s absence! Thank you, Susan!}

The Mobile Bay Ferry called the tune to today’s dance. With the advent of the full moon last night, the tides in the bay are pretty much at their extremes. So, unless Cathy wanted to wait til the high tide in early afternoon, she would have to take the “long way around” and drive STella through metropolitan Mobile. Even then, the ferry personnel weren’t sure the tide would be high enough to have an adequately level loading ramp to get her aboard the ferry. Decision made: “long way around” it will be then. It made no difference at all for loading me and my bike, so I left the friendly, home-like, vacation abode of Tom and Sue at 0730 and headed for the ferry 12 miles up the road. Tom gave Cathy a ride to the RV Park, Island Breeze, where STella has been parked during our R and R at Tom and Sue’s. The lovely folks there charged us a mere pittance for the service and we thanked them profusely.

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An early morning “Fair winds and a following Sea”, between a pair of old Salts. He always has looked better than me.

I arrived at the ferry landing early enough to catch sight of some frolicking dolphins just off the jetty guarding the landing. That was a nice treat. They were too quick for the camera to catch them, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The 0830 ferry was about 2/3 full and the ride across the bay was smooth in the warm early morning sun. I enjoyed chatting with several other bike riders who were interested in my journey as well.

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Within a few miles of debarking from the ferry, I encountered my first “mountain” of the ride. The center section of the cross-bay bridge goes over the intercoastal waterway and requires a 200 foot clearance over the channel. So, not exactly a mountain, but a pretty steep hill of a bridge to get over. Factoring in the winds, it was enough thrill for an early morning ride.  Payback was a kick tho, as the bike speedometer hit 36 mph coasting down the other side!  Wheeee!

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Several miles of salt marsh on the far side of the bridge provided glimpses of two bald eagles, some belted kingfishers, white ibis, and the real kicker, a 5 foot shark (species unknown) swimming in the shallows of low tide.

We had planned a pretty long leg to ride today, counting on the full day and a half of rest to get all muscle groups cranking in unison, and it was very nice day to get that accomplished. Things were scoring “ten out of ten” for the whole morning, and I met Cathy at the pre-arranged meeting town for an early lunch. “Too good to last” is a widely known phrase for good reason. Within an hour of that pleasant stop, I had gotten off the trail 3 times going thru an unusually complex series of turns, aided and abetted, as always, with the unbelievable paucity of road signs. Nothing for it but to turn around and re-ride the “wrong way” miles and start again. Throw in a wind direction change and a couple brief bouts of showers, and the happy face of morning had disappeared.

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As one of my favorite Alabama characters, Forrest Gump, would have said “And just like that, we were in Mississippi”. (No editorial comment here regarding the use of this sign for rifle target practice and the rather large pile of empty beer bottles at the base of the pole.)

One of the worst things about forming certain “expectations” is, that when they don’t turn out as you had expected, they seem so much worse than they really are. Case in point, I “expected” that entering very rural Mississippi would find a condition of secluded winding roads and little or no traffic. Well, I was only half right. The roads were indeed narrow. And winding. And having no shoulder at all. But the traffic! I felt like every single person who even owned a vehicle in this end of the state had it out racing up and down this one road I was on. And there just wasn’t room enough for all of us. I was literally riding on the verge of the grass edge and a car still couldn’t pass me while staying on his/her side of the road. Those conditions are more tiring than riding hills or head winds.

Cathy had tried several possible campsites and come up short, so she picked me up and we started looking for alternates. We found a unique one in the DeSoto National Forest that provided a very basic, primitive experience. Not even Russ’s magic Wifi Hotspot will let us get connected to the internet, since it isn’t receiving any signals from T-mobile’s towers here. The location was used during WW2 to house German and (we’re told, but skeptical) Japanese POW’s. It is a very beautiful spot, and as quiet as can be.

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One of the best pix of Cathy so far on the journey. She’s just The Best!

A very pleasant good night to all.

Thanks for being along.

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