Poplarville, MS to Bayou La Batre, AL
2310 ft of climbing
I have frequently been reminded during this trip that gifts come when you let them. This is certainly the case on our ride. Poplarville began as sanctuary from the storm and ended with our best dinner and most comfortable night yet.
I the morning, we got out at a reasonable hour and rode to breakfast at The Breakfast Connection which we had seen when we went to get dinner the night before.
We sat down and placed our orders. We came to find out this weekend is the annual Blueberry Jubilee in Poplarville. Poplarville being the blueberry capitol of the world, we were told. For breakfast we each ordered, among other things, a blueberry shortstack. The waitress asked if we wanted the blueberries in the pancakes or on top. We both said, "on top please".
A couple of minutes later, a women came out of the kitchen and asked if we were in town for the Blueberry Jubilee. I said no, but I was a little disappointed because blueberries are one of my favorites. She asked if we would like our blueberries in a sauce she could whip up. I thanked her for the offer to make a sauce and we quickly accepted.
When the pancakes were delivered, I noticed hard bits and figured them for pecan pieces, which they turned out to be. Pecans have been very popular since Eastern New Mexico. We've ridden many dozens, if not hundreds, of miles of groves. I suffer a lethal allergy to nuts, including pecans.
I asked the waitress if there were nuts in the sauce and when I explained my allergy it resulted in a burst of apologies and activity.
That was a good icebreaker. We learned our waitress's name was Megan. She was probably in her mid twenties. She asked about our ride and we explained what we were doing. She told us about her cancer diagnosis. Metastatic Melanoma. We talked about her surgeries and I told her about Deidre's. She said she had been told there was an eighty five percent chance of recurrence.
She told us one of their customers was a two time survivor that recently had a recurrence with a poor prognosis.
As I was paying the check I gave our waitress a Livestrong card with the blogsite address written on it. She said, "you know, the owner Debbie, the woman who made you the sauce, is a survivor also". The busboy said his mother was a survivor also.
We wished them all luck and went outside to get ready to ride.
As we got ready, a woman approached us. She said she heard us talking about cancer. She introduced herself as Irma Dodenhefer. She told us she had lost her husband to cancer and she herself was a three time survivor but that it was back and it didn't look good.
Irma told us she ran a produce stand in order to generate revenue to help people in need. Whether it be hungry people, sick people, or poor people. The name of her business is "The Blessing of the Harvest". Irma overflowed with generosity. She asked about our ride and commended us for our efforts. It felt good to hear coming from an authority on giving.
She wished us continued success and good luck and got in her car and put on her oxygen canula. She said she needed it all the time now but it felt good to spend five minutes without it to go in the bakery. We held each others hands, wished each other luck, and said goodbye.
It was a lovely day to ride. Mostly cloudy and cooler. Still pretty humid but cool enough there was some evaporative effect going on.
The first thirty miles were rolling hills. We came to a highway crossing where we expected to find water. Looking at the map, a town called Perkinston was identified as a food and drink stop. What you don't always see is that the little white dot marking the center of town is sometimes off route. In this case, about one and a half miles up the highway.
We looked to our right and saw something in the direction we needed to go and chose that option. Half a mile down we came to an RV park and sales lot. The fellow in the sales office was quick to tell us to help ourselves to water. We filled up and pressed on. It was another forty seven miles before services. We stopped in Vancleave to eat and fill.
Looking at the map, it was another fifty miles to Bayou La Batre where there was a place to stay for the night. It was five thirty before we finished eating and were ready to press on. I himmed and hawed and looked for a closer alternative but there was nothing but camping. Dry camping at that. The first seventy five miles of hills had left my legs feeling tired.
Facing the fact that we had another fifty to go, and that the last hour would be in the dark, we set out. Because we were at the Easternmost edge of the Central Time Zone, we expected dark around eight o'clock.
We started riding and the landscape was immediately flatter than it had been. Shortly we rode into the Pascagoula Wildlife Management Area. It was the kind of swamp land I expected to see more of in Louisiana. It was beautiful, wild, and teeming with life.
Shortly after exiting the park we crossed the Alabama State Line. One more border to cross.
We made god time to Grand Bay and pulled in to a gas station nine miles from our destination just as it was getting dark. A man rode up on a motorcycle and went in the store. When he came out he asked about our ride. Now that we can say we're twenty five hundred miles into it it tends to rock people back on their heels. He introduced himself as Tom Jones and asked for information about how to donate. He was a very nice guy and wished us luck and safety on the remainder of our ride.
On down the road we went to Bayou La Batre. We arrived, checked in, got dinner, cleaned up, and went to sleep looking forward to our first rest day since Austin.
More to come.