Day 22 - Ratliffe Ferry, Mississippi

Another perfect day of bike riding. Partly cloudy, high of 80. In the morning, it's warm enough to take off the fleece layer around 9:00. As I pedal along, the gentle warm southern breeze caresses my body. Who needs a shower anyway?

I am at a dumpy campground a mile off the Natchez Trace Parkway. There is a public boat ramp next door. It's alongside a man-made lake. Most of the RVs appear to be permanent fixtures, used on weekends by people who go out on the lake to fish in their boats. There was once a camp store, but it burned down. A lady who lives here collects money from the campers for the absentee owner. It costs $5. There are showers, so I am happy.

The road is pretty much totally flat now, so I can really make time. Today was my fastest average speed (12.5 mph) since Maryland. I went 72 miles, and got in with 2 1/2 hours of daylight left. This is very encouraging. Back on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was riding sunrise to sunset and only making 70 miles.

On the other hand, the scenery is totally unchanging southern pine forests, with big grassy shoulders on the parkway. Since it never changed, I never took any pictures of anything. There were no Indian mounds today. I will do better tomorrow.

However, today was fantastic for food. I got a sit-down meal for both breakfast and lunch. About 15 miles from last night's campsite, I came to the tiny town of French Camp, which is right alongside the parkway. I looked over into town, and saw people about, and a couple stores. I rode over. The people were a couple women folding laundry in front of a laundromat. I asked them if there was a cafe in town where I could get breakfast. They said "They serve breakfast until 9:00 in that white building right behind you."

Behind me was a white building surrounded by pickup trucks. It was the Masonic Lodge. I went in, and had a great time and a great breakfast. This is the town get-together every Saturday morning. A couple guys cook, and they just make whatever you want. I had biscuits and gravy, grits, and pancakes with sorghum syrup. The sorghum they make across the street at a kind of living history museum at the site of an old stand (i.e. inn) that evolved into an orphanage and school over the years. The cost of this breakfast is whatever you feel like contributing. One of the guys there treated me. (I paid again when nobody was looking because it was so good.) There was even another bike rider - a guy from the next town over rode in with his wife on a tandem. He was telling me how he and his wife rode a 44 mile rail trail by Hattiesburg the week before, and how many recumbents he saw. This place totally made my day. All the locals thouroughly examined the T-Bone.

About five miles later I passed the homeless hippie bike tourist from the night before. He said he thought I would be way ahead of him, but I explained how I was just eating breakfast at the French Camp Masonic Lodge. He was kind of in disbelief that I found such a place. I was way ahead of him in about 10 minutes.

Lunch was not so great. Kosciusco, Mississippi (hometown of Oprah) is about 20 miles from French Camp. It's a good-sized town, with motels and restaraunts. I stopped in at the visitor center, admired the mannequin dressed up as General Kosciusco, and asked the guy working there where to eat. He recommended a Mexican place right up the road. As I was leaving, the nice old lady from Weezie's Deli in Tupelo walks in, immediately recognizes me, says hi, and introduces me to her daughter. I think everyone in Mississippi knows me now.

Anyway, the Mexican place wasn't open yet, but there was Gaf's Restaraunt right next door that was. I should have taken it as a great big screaming hint that the guy at the visitors' center did not mention this place. Win a few, lose a few.

It's now 6:00. It's dark out, about 70 degrees outside, and the crickets are going. I don't think the first frost has hit here, due to the abundant bugs. I'm hiding in my tent. I found a stick insect inside my tent when I unrolled it today. Pretty cool. I wonder how it got in there.

Here is today's road traveled.

Actual22 (212K)