March 2, 2010

WE GOT KICKED OUT OF MISSISSIPPI

We took off from Mobile on Saturday, February 20. My foot was still sore but I was able to pedal without too much discomfort. We had one last lunch at MELLOW MUSHROOM with Bucky, Todd, and Brad. After we ate, we made our way west on 90. There were more hills than I thought there would be. We made it to a huge cemetery that night—Lawn Haven. It's about ten miles from the Mississippi–Alabama border. There was rain in the forecast for the night. We made our way back into the thick of it all, trying to find a good hiding spot. We hadn't been on the move for four weeks, now so we were trying to get back into the groove of things.


I set up the tent and elevated my foot. The hills that day had put a lot of pressure on the toe joints that were still sore. The following day we took it easy. It rained on and off so we were able to get out and throw the tennis ball around this huge graveyard, and I did some rearranging with the rig. I've grown to enjoy the game of Tetris that this thing has become.


The following day we made our way into Mississippi. As we crossed into this unknown state, I was encountered by a couple of cars while we had pulled off the road to take a break. The first car had a couple of guys that were interested in the rig. They were trying to design their own to use around the shop and town. They asked questions and took some pictures. Then a little red pickup truck pulls up and Charles jumps out to say hello. He had ridden from Florida up to Massachusetts back in the ’80s, and he was interested in my travels. We talked for a bit, and then he asked if I would like some lunch. He informed me of a casino right over the bridge in Biloxi, which was about eight miles down the road. I told him it would take me just over an hour to get there, so he took off to run some errands and we took off down the shoulder.


The shoulders down here are pretty wide and smooth. But this stretch was pretty chewed up, so it took me close to two hours to get to the bridge. (There are some pretty huge, long bridges down here in the gulf.) We made our way up with no problem. Once at the top, I snapped some pictures. There was a huge amount of smoke in the air that day due to some controlled burning at a state park just north of us. I loaded Cooper up in the ride to prepare for our descent. As we started rolling, we were forced to ride through a huge pile of glass. I knew right away I was going to get a flat and sure enough the bike started to pull to the right. I came to a stop and took a looksee at the damage. I decided there was enough air in the tire to make it slowly down the bridge. But the joints in the bridge had other ideas. The first one my chain fell off, the second one I lost my sunglasses, and the third gave out a clunk on the rim. So we came to a stop and walked it down the rest of the way. As we got to the end of the bridge I spotted Charles on the corner waiting for me. He helped me push it up the hill to the Valet area and they directed me to the corner no charge. We got Coop put up with a couple treats and a bowl of water. We went inside to get our grub on. This was the perfect spot to take a cyclist to, all you can eat buffet. I loaded up 4 plates of protein, carbs, calories, and fat. Everything you gals try to avoid! As we ate we talked about his trip back in the '80s, and how he has the itch to "get out there one last time." I assured him that if he got out there it wouldn't be the last time. I can't see myself not doing this again. Granted I am going to take some time off the rest up, but it would be nice to do again. Hopefully with some other people, or maybe a family. After our meal we headed outside to get the tire changed. When we walked up to the rig, Coop was curled up taking a snooze. This is such a great dog. Granted he can be a bit of a spaz at times, but he doesn't bark hardly at all unless its needed. He listens for the most part, but when I do tell him to come he sometimes takes his sweet ass time about it sniffing and peeing as he zigzags his way back to me. But he is very well behaved and chill. I love that dog so much and couldn't imagine doing this trip without him. On the other side of the bridge there is a huge parking lot and a elevated patch of grass under a big oak tree. Charles came over and let me use his jack so I didn't have to unload everything. His dog was with him in the truck. So while we worked on the tire and talked about him going with his dog on the road the pups got to run around and play. After everything was running smooth and I made a mental note to find a half link for my saggin chain. Charles took off and I put up the tent and we had dinner. Well Coop had dinner I was stuffed so I had a snickers. It rained that night so the following day it took awhile to dry out the tent.
All along the gulf of MS there is a beach path the runs inches from the white fine sand that you can only find in the gulf. They rake the beaches down here once a week section by section. That's gotta cost. So this pathway is nice and wide, smooth and flat. They have new piers along them. One of the piers shot out about 40 yds over the water so we went down to take a look. While we where down there a guy came by on his bike to say hi. His name is Johnny, and he is a window washer and covers about 300 miles a wk all on his bike. He has a couple buckets up front and the pole along the top bar of the frame. We got to taking about the bike path and the new piers, he said its really the only thing being done down here right now. He said after Katrina its been a slow rebuild for most of the gulf. This part of the gulf got demolished by the winds. New Orleans got flooded. There is still pieces of people lives hanging in the trees and tangled in the bushes. He explained that the people of the gulf of MS are defeated. That's why they are kinda stand offish and bitter. After our chat I made my way west. We had been moving along for sometime now just going about 5 mph when I decided to take a break. My foot is doing much better but if I'm on the pedals for too long all the blood rushes to it and it begins to throb so I laid on one of the benches that are scattered along the beach path and put my foot up. While I laid there I let my mind wander to all the places I've been, the things I've seen and the people I have met. I have been on the road for 5 months now. I have gone about 2,700 miles, in about 2 1/2 months. I was in Mobile for a month and have stayed here and there for about a month and a half worth of time. But by my calculations that I did before I left I should be getting into New Mexico about now. So I am a little behind, and I think this might take longer than a year to complete which means I will be most likely pedaling in the snow in Pennsylvania. All part of the adventure. So here I am laying on the bench resting my foot and taking in some of that good 'ol vitamin D when I hear "how ya doing?" I sit up and block westward sun from my eyes to see a great site. Here was George from Tallahassee on a road bike with a trailer on his homeward leg of his trip east. I jumped up and excitedly introduced myself to the man. We admired each others rides as we told each other our routes. He was amazed at the Tricycle Tank that I have been pedaling about, and I was envious of his light weight and sleek mode of transportation. We talked for a bit and decided to call it a early day and find a good camping spot for the night and hang out. I suggested the beach as a good place to camp but he informed me he needed trees due to he fact he sleeps in a Hammock every night. I was blown away by this. I was excited to see his complete setup and pick his brain for tips and helpful advice. We made our way back towards the east where I had noticed a grove of trees in a good spot. We pulled in and set up our respective camps. I kept a eye on his progress of setting up and was truly impressed in his setup. Huge rain fly over his double sling hammock encased in a bug net. He had modified his mummy style sleeping bag to have room to bend his knees and had it secured at both ends to prevent slippage. He didn't have a good pair of wool socks, and I had an extra pair to spare and threw them his way, and in return he gave me a hammock that he had been carrying and not using. He told me it makes a great swing seat at the end of the long day. I don't have a seat other than my bike seat so I am looking forward to using it instead of sitting on the ground. That night for dinner we each made something from our food supply and split it between the two of us. I made a tomato sauce with sardines in a hot tomato sauce, over mini shells. He made a mushroom and kelp soup with buckwheat noddles. I had never thought of going to a Asian market to get food. A lot of the dry goods are dehydrated veg and fish and all sorts of nutritious stuff. We sat around the fire sharing stories until it was time to tuck in.
The next morning I got up early and fed the pooch. George got up and asked if I wanted pancakes? "Hell yeah bub. I'll make the coffee!" He pulled out a cast iron sizzle platter, like the ones at Applebees that the Fajitas come on and got out some pancake batter. He asked if I had any instant oatmeal and I did. So he mixed in a couple packs for flavor and texture. We made a fire and I got to boiling water as he heated up the cast iron skillet. We both have travel french presses for coffee and the pancakes where great. After a filling breakfast we broke down camp. Bucky and Todd where meeting up with me that morning to ride with me for a day to Bay St. Louis. Just as we had finished packing up Bucky and Todd pulled up. I made introductions and we swapped rides for a minute to see what it was like. We said our goodbyes and he headed east and I headed west. I wish we could of been going the same way and spend some days together. Hopefully soon I will find someone who is on the same path going the same direction as me. The 3 of us set out in that westerly way that I am headed and road along the beach path all the way to the bridges stopping here and there to take a break and take it in. As we approached the first bridge we were happy to see a good sized bike lane on the side. As we got to the beginning of it I noticed that it was barely going to be wide enough for us. As I made the slow ride up the bridge I cringed because on the edges of the path it was littered with broken beer bottles, and because it was so tight I wasn't able to avoid it to well and could hear my back tire running over it. When we reached the top I stopped to take some pics. Bucky and Todd had gotten to the top a couple of minuets before me and as I was snapping pics they slowly started to creep forward. I turned to them and jokingly asked "are you rushing my adventure? You guys wanted to ride with me and this is what I do. I go slow and stop a lot!!" They laughed and we got to moving on. We came down the bridge and my chain popped off again. At the bottom I got off and put it back on and crossed the street, as I came up the ramp to the sidewalk that lead to the bridge bike lane it popped off again. I keep stopping at these bike shops and either they are out of business or don't have a half link for that chain. After I had got it back on we made our way up the bridge. This one was newer due to the fact that Katrina had claimed the original one as hers. So the new one had a much wider and litter free bike lane. What a sight from the top. We made our way down into Bay St. Louis and decided to head downtown to find a place to eat. We rode thru town asking where a good place would be to eat to whoever we saw. People kept saying to head over to Benigno's. Always ask a local for where the good stuff is. We parked out front and went inside and sat at the table by the window so Coop could keep and eye on me. People are amazed at how well behaved he is and how he just sits there and watches me wherever I go. But I have learned to park up front so he won't bark for his dad. We got the menu and some Sweet Tea, I didn't know what to get so many great choices. Po-boys, Muffaletta, Fried Sweet Potatoes, Fried Pickles and so much more. I love Muffaletta and haven't had one in over a year I'm sure. So I ordered a Cat Fish Po-boy for there with a order of fried Pickles and got a 1/4 Muffaletta to go for my dinner that night. While Todd, Bucky and I ate, Todd got a text from Lindsey she was on her way back from New Orleans on a biz trip and wanted to see where we were. He gave her directions and she was on her way. When the waitress came over she said her mom had read something about me somewhere in the paper a couple months ago. Its amazing how people are starting to hear about us before we get there. Lindsey showed up right as we where getting done with our lunch, we were all stuffed and having to get back on the bikes. The Fontenot family that owns this great eatery asked if I would bring Cooper in for a group picture under there sign that hung on the wall. They are planing on putting peoples pictures on the tables and we will be the first as soon as I can send it to them. (Its on the way as soon as I can down load it!) I said my goodbyes to Todd and Bucky, I will miss all my new friends that I have made on the road but I would have to say I'll miss Bucky the most. If it wasn't for his open mindedness and great personality I would of never stayed in mobile for 4 wks. Thanks again Mobile and mostly you Buck! The guys headed back the 13 miles they had ridden with me that day to Bucky's car trying to beat the rain that was moving in. Lindsey had time to kill and wanted to talk about a trip she is planing on taking with her daughter Ella in a month or so. She was my forward observer and drove 5 miles ahead to check on a State Park that I heard might be closed. She came back to me after I had gone a couple of miles and informed me that it was. There was a storm on the way in so I didn't want to sleep on the beach. But there is still a bunch of empty lots from houses that had been destroyed that never got rebuilt so I found a good one that would hide us from people and the wind. I set up everything and got into Lindsey jeep and she told me her idea. Ella will be going into K next year and so Lindsey wants to spend this spring and summer driving around the US and taking her to all the places a child should be taken. It brought back memories of my childhood when my grandparents from OK would take my sister and I on a trip somewhere in the US. We stayed in motels and had a cooler with lunch meat and snacks for the time in the car and my grandpa always drove, and my sister Vanessa and I would fight in the back. They taught me a lot about the US as a child and I thank them for putting this in me to want to go and see it. So I gave her as much advice as I could but she seemed to already know most of what I was getting at. I think they are going to have a blast and look forward to reading about their adventures on the blog she will be doing. Good Luck Gals!! As the rain started to fall we said our goodbyes, I'm glad I got to meet Lindsey and Ella, they make quite a team.
The rain came and went before sunrise and we got a move as soon as we were all dried up. I needed to go just under 30 miles that day to get to the LA state line. The ride was quite now that I was off the gulf and there was more hills in the days pedal. I didn't make it to the state line but did make it to PERLINGTON MS. Now the reason this is in caps is because they are the ones who kicked me out of the state. So we pull into this small community about a hour or so before sunset. I rode down the only paved road they have and saw a Fire Department, next to that was the community center with a wedding reception going on, and a couple blocks down was the church. The community center was out due to the reception, and I don't like to camp at churches on Saturday nights because the last thing these people need to see before going to pray is we crawling out of my tent and scratching my butt. So the Fire Department it was. I have stayed on many FD, PD and even hospital lawns before. This is considered a safe haven for road travelers. So I banged on the door and no answer, everything else was fenced off so I set up on the grass out front no more that 15 yards from the main road. I got the tent up Coop and I fed and crawled in to read. About an hour after sundown 3 cop cars and 4 POVs pulled up. I put on my shoes and was getting out of the tent as they all approached. Coop was barking like a mad dog and I told the lead cop "he'll keep barking till he gets to smell you and then he'll calm down, you gonna let him smell ya?" "Fine but if that dog bites anyone out here I put a bullet in his head." was his response. Not 'I'll shoot him' but "I'll put a bullet in his head." So right there I knew I had to walk softly with this crowd. They asked me what I was doing so I handed them my card with my info along with my ID and the cop stepped off to call in the numbers that goes with my name. I showed the rest of the group the sign on the back and explained of my travels, making sure to include some of the places that I have stayed like FD, PD and so on. My name came back clean and a couple of them stepped off to talk. One guy seemed interested in my travels so I answered some of his questions. I was thinking I was gonna be ok, when they two coppers came back to inform me I need to move on. "Why" I asked. They said it was "state property and that I was trespassing." I told them I and other travelers see it as a safe haven, and from some where in the back of the group I heard"Home land Security" "Give me a break" I hollered. I then said "I'm not vandalizing the place, I'm picking up my trash, I'm not building a fire, and I didn't take a dump on your doorstep. When I leave in the morning you won't even be able to tell I was here." They said no good. "Fine, I'll go down to the church then." "No your not welcome here in this community so you might as well get moving on over to Lowezanne." was his response "Your kicking me out of the state?!?" I asked. "Yes sir." My New York mentality flew out of my mouth. "So your telling me I have to load up this giant tricycle and pedal down a shoulderless road over shoulderless bridges in the dark in a state that is known for running down cyclist with their trucks?" "Yes sir, there is a boat launch about 3 miles from here you can camp at." I started swearing and saying how messed up it was. When one of them tossed out the "calm down or I'll arrest you." I literally bit my tongue on that one. I asked if they were going to give us an escort over the bridges and his response was "you have enough lights on the back of this thing you'll be fine. YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! What a bunch of backwoods hillbilly assholes. So that's what we did. It was scary and the cars where flying by. We made it to the boat launch and set it up again. The whole night people would pull off there to pee or make a phone call. One truck even backed up right next to the tent and they had sex. I rolled a cig and stepped out to mess with them but he didn't miss a stroke and she threw up a wave.
So that's how we got kicked out of the state of Mississippi. If you would like to let Senator Thad Cochran know how you feel about it follow this link to his contact page and send him a message http://cochran.senate.gov/email.html . That put a real sour taste in my mouth and if it wasn't for Casino Charles, Johnny on the pier, pancake George, the ride with my friends and the great lunch, I would say the hell with MS. But its all about the adventure.

Till next time
love and licks
Sean and Cooper

4 comments:

Sean said...

You are telling us nothing new there are some real asshole cops in that state stay away from Morgan City Louisiana too they drink the same water and they want you to kiss their ass then they still treat you like a criminal real white trash. Ever hear the song by Johnny Cash about Starkville city jail he ripped them a new one in a big way with that song that state had some real hateful people there I have never gotten along with those people always hung with the outsiders when I lived in Gulfport Biloxi for a number of years. Had you treked through there pre Katrina you would have gotten nothing but grief from that area the only people they are frendly to are ones with money Katrina blew plenty of those snooty bitches down the road. You should have gotten those cops names so when they show up somewhere else expecting hospitality they would get charged every penny they can pay.I will be sure to keep Pearlington in my memory maybe I can send the mayor a letter of how big a dick they were. It is shameful to show your ass that way to people that are just passing through.
The hammock dude had it right use a hammock stealth camp in the woods away from eyes and you are less likely to encounter the police. Taking 190 across the Atchafalylia basin is going to be a real challenge they drive real fast tons of tanker trucks and the road is 2 narrow lanes. That construction on the other side of Krotz springs is better to exit then get back on I use to work that site Traffic Control Supervisor. Real pretty country but that is a real busy road it is 20 miles shorter to go that way rather than driving I 10 when going to Dallas. Man I don't see you making it through west Texas with that rig you are going to have to change things that rig is way too much I am a former OTR trucker and you are going to have your mind messed when you get west Tx the legal speed on the Interstate is 80 mph in the day on rural routes.I am cdltpx on youtube check out my favorites I even have an interview with a man passing through town doing what you are he was light weight.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly the place you are talking about. I live in Louisiana. Used to have a house in Waveland, MS, & drove through that exact road in Pearlington to get there. Sorry you had that bad experience. Pre-Katrina, we had our house only a few miles from the boat launch. You would have been welcome to stay. We're not all backwoods hillbilly assholes. :)

Unfortunately a few bad apples definitely spoil the bunch. "I'll put a bullet in his head" is a pretty common expression unfortunately. As a dog owner/lover (we have many and they go camping with us), it is those sorts of narrow minded assholes who make the South seem so ignorant that make me want to scream.

Living in Louisiana near some of the places you've traveled, I hope you've had better experiences where we are.

Good luck on your travels.

Lynn said...

My husband and I were in Biloxi at a conference when you passed through and took a picture of you in front of the Biloxi sign one morning.

When we met you we were struggling with the lack of services and hospitality (this while staying at the big casino/resort down the street) in the area and probably weren't in a very talkative mood.

We left the state with a bad taste in our mouths, it definitely ranks up there as one of the worst trips we have taken. Your experience confirms our impression of the people and their attitudes toward travelers in general, wow... Not a place we will be returning to.

We were sorry not to see the picture my husband took posted on the site, believe it or not, that was the highlight of our entire trip! Swing through Minnesota and the Twin Cities sometime, I think you would find it a much more bike and traveler friendly place!

Good luck on your travels, we will continue to keep up with your progress!

Rickshaw USA said...

Lynn,
I remember you and your husband. I did put that picture on the blog, it is in the slide show titled Mobile to Austin. I don't have a lot of pics of coop and I together, so I was happy to put it up. I am glad you have seen the blog and please stay tuned. I plan on being up your way next summer I guess. Who knows at this point. Thanks for the comment.
Sean and Coop