Thursday, October 7, 2010
COUNTRY ROADS TAKE ME HOME
On Sunday 10-3-10 we rode from Biloxi to Poplarville, MS. A trifecta that no cyclist wants on a ride is a combination of hills/a strong headwind/big mean dogs. We, at least, did not have to contend with big mean dogs. The wind and hills on Highway 53 N toward Poplarville made this a challenging ride. 10 mph on the flats and 6 mph on the hills made for a long 62 mile day. It was, however, a bright sunny day with roadside black-eyed susans and an array of other wildflowers. At mile 35 we stopped for a banana & bagel picnic in the shade of tall pine trees near a small cemetery. Although Highway 53 had narrow shoulders, they were gouged with deep divots 6 inches apart apparently to wake up drivers who fall asleep so they would know whether they hit a tree or a utility pole. Straying onto these loaf-panned size divots can be a bone-jarring experience. After we arrive in Poplarville, Karen & Bill Gilmore picked us up and drove us 7 miles to their neat place in the country. Karen & Bill have 9 children ranging in age from 25 to 6 years. 8 of the children were home when we arrived. What a delightful crew of young people! They helped us with a computer glitch, played instruments and sang for us, put dinner together, did the dishes, and along with their parents, made us feel welcome into their family home. Bill works as an electrical technician for a rural co-op while Karen home schools their children. This is a hard-working, self reliant family. They have 30 chickens, a small heard of cattle, a huge garden, and a sawmill they built so they could harvest trees on their property that were used to build a house for their eldest son. One of our favorite stories of the evening was about how the kids raised the money for a family vacation to Colorado. They sold produce, picked blueberries to sell, put up hay, and even stripped copper out of discarded wire to sell. How many kids do you know out there who are hustling up bucks to take mom and dad on vacation? Neighbors Don & Mary Malley also joined us for dinner and it was interesting hearing their stories about the area. It was a great evening with a great group of people and worth every inch of ground we covered that day.