Day Nine: Butler, Alabama to Magee, Mississippi - Deep South - CycleBlaze

April 27, 2021

Day Nine: Butler, Alabama to Magee, Mississippi

I wasn't able to fall asleep for a long time last night. The young woman with the baby in the room next to mine paced outside for hours, speaking in an agitated manner to someone on her cellphone. I assume she was talking to the the man who put her in the situation where she was required to live in this terrible dump with a baby.

Last night I'd talked to my wife, who suggested I summon some empathy, and not be so angry with people in unfortunate circumstances who disturb my extremely self indulgent vacation. I will try to heed this advice going forward.

I was up and ready to ride long before it was light. Finally, around 6:00, I decided I couldn't wait anymore, turned on both blinking red rear lights, and climbed the hill into downtown Butler. It was foggy and misty. Soon I was out of town and onto empty country roads.

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John EganThe "Rock Gap Rd" sign wasn't there back in 2008 when i rode it. I was rather surprised how steep the hills were - all two of them.
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The route was quite hilly this morning. I like climbing on the bike, so I wasn't bothered by this. 

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At the top of one of one of the hills, I stopped at a genuine old-style country store. Despite my plan to do lots of miles today, I decided it was worth a stop.

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I walked in and one of the customers looked at me and said "You're pretty far from home, aren't you?!" Ha. And I hadn't even said anything yet to reveal my "northern" accent.

The owner of the store was a very friendly man. Despite the many signs in his store indicating that he and I are, uh, most likely not aligned politically, we had a nice conversation. I've talked to so few people on this trip so far that I'm not weary of answering what I usually refer to as The Usual Questions about bicycle touring.

I ordered a couple of cheese and egg biscuits and ate them while sitting at a table. They were very, very good.

I texted my friend Tom a picture of this sign in the store while I sat and ate breakfast, because it's the kind of thing he finds amusing / annoying. His response - "Did you inform them that he lost?" - is probably why it's a good reason that Tom does not do bike touring, especially not in rural America, and especially not in the deep south.
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I finally tore myself away from the store. The owner wished me luck, and I wished him luck in his competition with the ever-encroaching Dollar General stores. I love these kinds of country stores, and it's a shame that they are disappearing.

It continued to be a nice ride. The fog had burned off by now.

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There weren't many houses on the route. Among the few were some nice, well-kept places.

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At some point I left Alabama and entered Mississippi, but there was no state line sign.

I rode a few miles through a "construction zone" that was actually a couple of giant, extremely noisy sawing machines violently destroying trees alongside the road. Incredibly loud.

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Traffic began to pick up as I neared Quitman, population 2,323. The roads on my route on this tour have been so empty that even towns the size of Quitman seem shockingly busy.

I rode straight through town, taking only one photo. I wanted to do at least 100 miles today, and wasn't sure yet where I would end up, so I felt some pressure to keep moving.

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Back on country roads. I rode through a few rural communities. A few dogs came out and chased me. Nothing major.

Litter was, of course, present everywhere. That's also a problem where I live in Kentucky- frankly, it's a problem almost everywhere in the USA. Certainly it's noticeable when you ride a bike. When I was a kid in the 70s there were what seemed like constant television ads scolding people for littering (the famous one with the crying Indian, for example.) Maybe there needs to be a new anti-littering campaign.

A new approach to scolding people for dumping their trash: Don't throw your junk into the creek from this bridge, because children play under there.
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Pachuta, population 261, was a great stop.

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Image not found :(
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I walked into the cluttered store where three nice people, with accents that I could not identify -  Cajun? - were working. The young guy was especially friendly. I don't take photos of many people these days, because it feels like an imposition sometimes, but this guy was wearing a shirt that I found amusing, so he allowed a picture.

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I bought a couple of Little Debbie snacks, and a banana. As I was leaving the store, a lady walked out to her car and then turned around - "Lawd, I done left my keys in the store!" I laughed at this, but then later as I sat on the steps of a church eating my banana, I realized that I myself had left my bottle of cold water back at the store.

I looked around Pachuta some more, then continued on the country roads.

I was surprised to see another store out in the middle of nowhere, so I stopped there, even though I really didn't need anything. The soft spoken couple running things there were nice, although the man tried to give me detailed routing instructions to the next town, even after I told him I had a route figured out. He was one of those men who just love giving people directions, I guess.  I wonder if he's bothered by the fact that smart phones and mapping software have made his expertise obsolete.

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There wasn't much happing in Paulding (no population listed.)

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Paulding has certainly changed since it was the "Queen City of the East."
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I eventually had to leave the empty country lanes and ride a state highway to Bay Springs. This was a frustrating section, not because the traffic was so terrible, but because it took FOREVER to actually reach Bay Springs. First I passed a sign announcing the "corporation limits", then miles later another sign announcing "Welcome to Bay Springs", then what seemed like many more miles before I finally arrived in town. There I found a long, long line of cars and logging trucks backed up waiting for the world's slowest train to pass through the tracks in the middle of town.

Fortunately there was a nice little park with some shade where I parked the bike and sat, examining the route on my phone. I'd done 80 miles by now, but the motel in Bay Springs was supposed to be truly dire. Most online reviews that I read specifically mentioned roaches running up the walls, and everywhere else. That's too much for even my degraded standards.

There was an RV park in the area, and I called them to see if they allowed tent camping, but, as is typical with those kinds of places, they didn't answer.

So I decided to press on.

Nice park in Bay Springs.
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I got out of Bay Springs and onto a state highway that was a little unpleasant, at least at this time of day. Lots of logging trucks.

It was even busier getting into Taylorsville, which I didn't much like the looks of for some reason. 

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Outside of Taylorsville was pleasant riding in the country. Green fields and some unusual cattle. I remember seeing this kind of cattle on a bike tour in 2008, in Florida, but I've forgotten what they are called.

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Bill Shaneyfelthttps://www.thecattlesite.com/breeds/beef/67/brahman/
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1 year ago
Kelly IniguezTo Bill ShaneyfeltTrust Bill to know the answer! some things are right with the world.

Kelly
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1 year ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Kelly IniguezRecommended change:

Delete "know" and insert "find."

(Years reviewing Army procedures and recommending changes... Just had to do it! -grin- )
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Somebody lost all their french fries. Sad!
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Around the time I observed a full bag of french fries lying in the middle of the road, three dogs came out and gave chase. One of them appeared to be a Great Dane. That thing was huge. Fortunately they backed off when I yelled at them. The Great Dane was practically at my eye level. Yikes.

I stopped in Mount Olive, population 928. 

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There was a shaved ice place that was 20 minutes from closing. I went in, accompanied by a 20-something woman who seemed very excited by the prospect of getting a "snow cone". The three of us talked for a while about my trip. The high school girl working there was ultra-polite, calling me "sir" whenever she addressed me. She was interested in photography, and had several questions about my Canon DSLR. Of course, since I basically just use it as a point-and-shoot, I didn't have much insight for her.

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I decided to go off-route and ride nine miles on the shoulder of an incredibly busy divided four lane highway to the Magee and get a room at a nice motel. The last mile of this ride was hair-raising, but I eventually got there, checked in, then walked next door to get a pizza, which I certainly needed after 120 miles.

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Today's ride: 120 miles (193 km)
Total: 669 miles (1,077 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 5
Scott Anderson120 miles, yikes! Oh, to be young again.
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1 year ago
Mike AylingTo Scott Anderson+1. But you are getting an ebike aren't you?

Mike
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1 year ago
Jeff LeeTo Scott AndersonI'll be 55 in about a month, so not young, haha.

I was very tired today, and only did 50 miles. I could have done 70-something, but there were zero places to stay inside, or even camp legally, in that mileage range.
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Mike AylingTime will tell. Not in the cards yet, but then I’m only 74. No rush.
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Jeff LeeI stand corrected. Oh, to be 55 again.
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1 year ago