April 18 - 20: Mississippi

4/20 - Pascagoula (68 miles 2329 total)
68 miles from the best western in wiggins to the la font inn in pascagoula, MS
it was warmish out this morning when we first peeked out....& the fog was back. but this didn't stop mary (from boston) from donning her easter finery for today's ride. here's a photo of mary in her easter helmet; she cut apart a bouquet of artificial flowers from walmart & taped the blossoms to her chapeau.
we had breakfast in the motel's breakfast room. these days, besides packages of instant oatmeal, we're finding packages of instant grits. sandy's from georgia & she knows her grits; she says the instant ones aren't too bad if you add the right amounts of salt & butter.
most delayed their starts a bit because of the thick fog, but by 7, sari & i, the last to leave, were heading out. in this photo is the view...or lack thereof...that we encountered as we headed south down the onramp onto hwy 49, a divided 4-lane road with nice wide shoulders.....part of the way.
fortunately, we turned off hwy 49 in only 7 miles, then started riding through the beautiiful countryside that we would enjoy much of today. like the last 2-3 days, the roads were often lined with lots of trees & typically had no shoulder, but today's roads were, for the most part, smoother & less hilly, & there was very little traffic on easter sunday morning. i was looking forward to seeing churchgoers at some of the many little (& a few big) churches we pass these days here in the bible belt; in fact, i was hoping to stop in for one of their services early this morning. but there was no activity at the ones we passed, except for one later in the morning where parishioners were leaving a service.
a unique event occurred on the road today: i saw kathleen. usually she sails right past me at maybe 10 miles out, then the next time i see her is at the next overnight stop. but today, as you might suspect from this photo, she had a flat tire along the road, her first---&, she might add, her last---on this trip. by the time i came by, she had completed the fix-it job. notice the lush green along the roadside. today we also saw some nice homes out here in the countryside.
it wasn't 'til about mile 50 that we got into the heavier traffic near pascagoula. we were able to skirt hwy 90 for a long time, but finally had to join it in order to get over the bridge into town. there was a very large easter event going on here at the la font inn today; we in our sweaty bikewear made quite a nice addition to the crowd of locals in their easter finery.
shortly after sari & i arrived at 2:45, patty said she needed to go out in the subaru to find ice & stop at walgreen's; laura & kathy needed to go to walgreen's, too, so we all piled into the subaru & went out on errands. while out, we stopped along the gulf shore. how i love the ocean; living in iowa, i don't get much chance to see it.
in this photo you see patty standing at the end of the pier with the shore & beach behind her. patty, as you know, is one of the sag drivers on this tour.
sari & i met patty when she was a cyclist for much of the womantours transamerica cross-country tour in 2000 (norfolk, virginia, to florence, oregon....a 3-month trip). she wasn't able to join us at the beginning of that tour because she'd just had a double mastectomy, chemotherapy & radiation. but she met up with us at chester, illinois---with not much hair---& rode every mile to the pacific. since then she has provided sag support on some of womantours' rides. she's great at tending to the needs of the riders, & goes the extra mile to make it possible for us to do extra things that acquaint us better with the areas we visit....like driving us to dinner at prejean's in opelousas & taking us to the beach here in pascagoula.
catherine fixed dinner this evening, with patty's help---& a delicious one it was. then she told us, at the map meeting, that we'll have an opportunity to visit an alligator farm tomorrow morning. the staff has arranged for the place to open early, as it's only 8 miles from our motel here. we'll plan to arrive around 7:30.
kathy groen made the day's BITCH socks presentation to laura (on the left in this photo). kathy commented how happy she is to be back on the tour "chasing laura's back tire Biking In Trees, Challenging Hills."
after dinner & cleanup, patty offered to drive the van down to the shore if anyone wanted to go walk along the beach. 11 of us did. there wasn't much light left in the sky, but we walked out to the end of the pier & enjoyed the sea breezes & the lights along the shore.
here's a photo of our group, from left, rear, bryn, sari, sandy, caroline, & kathleen; in front, from left, roma, me, elaine, rita, carolyn, & kathy grubb.
tomorrow we ride only 40-something miles over to the condos on the beach at dauphin island, where we'll enjoy a layover day on tuesday.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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