Elevation gained: 430/Miles: 55/Total Miles: 572
Play it Muddy – I’m in Mississippi.
There’s a gentleman I’ve been thinking about frequently over the last week. He has always been a wonderful mentor for me. I’ve learned much from his drive, discipline and remarkable sense of humor. And while, I may not agree with everything he says, I always enjoy the engagement. The reason he’s been in my thoughts is because I miss my family. I’ve only been gone for 10 days, but it feels like forever. Yet for almost a decade he was called away six to nine months every year for dangerous work. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for him to be absent for so long from his wife and children. I rode through Jacksonville and Pensacola last week. Both are places where he was stationed. Once he was forced to bail out of plane and parachute into a pine forest near Foley, Alabama, which I rode through this last weekend. What can I say Dad, but “thank you” and “Happy Birthday”.
I didn’t feel well this morning, but I had to get out of Bayou La Batre. No offense to the citizens of this town, but I really needed some new scenery and I don’t think my stomach would handle another night of pizza made in a video rental store. Rather than follow the ACA route as I described in my last post, I decided to head south and connect with Hwy 90 into Ocean Springs. I received an email from someone from Mobile who recommended it as an interesting community.
The route was easy, well paved and flat all the way into Ocean Springs where I stopped for lunch. It’s a small town with art galleries and restaurants and the most interesting place I’ve visited on this trip. After lunch, I rode through Biloxi. My first impression was how clean and beautiful it was – outdoor art, a pleasant downtown and a Gehry designed art museum under construction. The Biloxi beach is one long strip of sand the whitest color imaginable. But, interestingly, there were no cheesy bars, aged hotels or tourist shops that you see elsewhere. Just miles of white sand and all of it empty. As I looked more closely, I saw stately old homes supported with portable scaffolding, bracing holding up a brick building and homes in the process of being demolished. And, then I realized this was all the result of Katrina.
Later in the day, I stopped at Cyclist Choice, a bike store in Gulfport to have my front wheel trued. (Note to other cyclists – this is an excellent shop – great service and a large selection of gear.) I asked the mechanic about Katrina and he pointed to a location up Hwy 49 that had 38 feet of water when the storm crested. That location was two miles inland from the coast.