Yesterday we had our first 100+ mile ride of the trip, and it was a long but beautiful day. The last two hours were particularly memorable…rain had passed through before we left French Camp, a little settlement where there is a Baptist church and cafe and school for troubled students (and where Oprah’s mom lives, evidently)…we could hear thunder so rode as fast as we could through woods covered in mist, with little to no traffic, and it was eerie and beautiful and we were each in a meditative state when we finally exited the Trace, thinking about all of the tribes and troops and settlers who had spent time in those woods.
We were also really hungry, and Kosciusko had the advantage of having several restaurants next to our no-frills-but-clean hotel, so we opted for the one with the most packed parking lot and had a fine dinner of Mexican food with very green margaritas.
This morning we headed off after breakfast while it was still cool, and traffic was light. The first half of the day went by very quickly; I don’t think I got a good photo of the many fields filled with rudbeckia/black eyed Susan’s, though you can see the blue skies and hay bales and reservoir that we rode along for miles and miles, watching the boaters and swimmers with some envy (as that seemed much more pleasant than riding on asphalt in the afternoon). One of the highlights of the day was a stop in the cypress swamp, looking at these big beautiful trees growing in water.
And then we got closer to Jackson, and the traffic was crazy, and then we made it to Clinton, and the traffic was also crazy, and we got off the Natchez Trace and rode across busy roads to get to our hotel, where we were checked-in by a fellow who noticed we were from St. Paul and who spent about ten minutes telling us about the plots and characters and settings of the books by one of his favorite authors, John Sandford, the Minnesota mystery writer.
He asked about the Mississippi River Blvd., and asked about the Ford plant (“didn’t y’all have the plant shut down up there?”) and asked us if we knew this nun, and it took us a couple of minutes to realize that she was a fictional character. He had such a strong sense of place and people from Sandford’s books and an interest in visiting the Twin Cities as a result. It was amazing to hear these place names from home when we feel so very far away from there right now…and our encounter came at an interesting time, as I have been thinking deeply about the many authors whose work has created my understanding of the places we have passed through in nearly 1800 miles of cycling.
More on that on another day…. Tomorrow we are off to Port Gibson and hoping to arrive there before expected storms come into the area.