Two More Days in Mississippi
October 12, 2015 Day 39
Cleveland, MS to Chatham, MS 68 miles – Total Miles 2,448
Weather 89 degrees, sunny and strong head wind
Got up early and left Cleveland by 7:30am because we knew we would have a long, hard day ahead of us. First we had to travel approximately 20 miles to get back on route and then we could start heading south again. Our route today was primarily on SH 1 which travels thru the agricultural areas of Mississippi. All we saw all day was cotton, bean and some corn fields. It is amazing to look around as far as you can see and see nothing but fields of crops. It is also nice to have very few cars on the road there really is not much of a reason fore anyone to be out on the roads except for the farmers. There are no homes and the small towns are few and far between. We traveled 30 miles on SH 1 at one point and had no cars pass us – it was very nice.
It is said that Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the US and I can believe that – the poverty we see in the small towns and the homes (shacks) that people are living in is very sad. When we stop at the one gas/convenience store in town it appears to also be the town gathering place and people are there watching the world go by – they are always very kind and welcoming but you can see how limited their world is.
Our lunch stop today was at Winterview Mounds State Park and Museum where we got to watch the video about the mounds, get a personal museum tour from the park education director (a young woman from the Milwaukee area – in her first job) and a walk to see the mounds. The mounds were built in 1000 A.D. and there are twelve mounds at the site. The largest is the 55 foot high Temple Mound. You used to be able to walk up to the top of the mound for a great view of the delta farm land but the walk way has been closed for two reasons one is a young boy got hurt when he fell down the walkway and the other was the request by a local Native American tribe to not have everyone walking on this historic site that is so important to their culture. Sounds like good reasons to me.
The last 25 miles of our ride stayed on SH 1 but by this time the head wind was stronger and the day was hotter – it was a hard end to our ride and we stopped ever 30 minutes to take a short break. We finally made it to Roy’s Store Cabins and Campground and it was like stepping back in time. The store had memorabilia everywhere and served as a grocery store, diner and gas station. I bet the store served the residents in a thirty mile radius – there just was nothing else in the area. It was a busy place and locals as well as fisherman from all everywhere kept the place busy. Evidently Lake Washington which is where Roy’s Store is located has the best Crappie fishing in the United States.
It is very strange at the campgrounds that we have been able to find in the south they all seem to have lots of construction workers living at the camp in trailers. There are many construction projects going on in the area and places to stay are hard to find so many of the companies put their employees up at the campgrounds. It ends up being a very strange group of people at the campground. There for work not play!! For the first time while camping we did not feel real comfortable and safe – the campground owner made a comment about being aware and we have had several people warn us lately that Mississippi is not the safest place to be and camping in a tent is probably not the greatest idea. We have not had any problems, but we are not so sure we will camp again on this trip maybe if the campground is nice but otherwise we will try to find somewhere else to stay. Would definitely would not stay at a place like Roy’s again.
October 13, 2015 – Day 40
Chatham, MS to Vicksburg, MS – 88 miles – Total Miles – 2,536
Weather 89 degrees, sunny, tail wind
It was another hot day on the bicycle and we wanted to make it to Vicksburg today, so we got up at 6:00am and were on the road by 7:30am. The first part of the ride was along Lake Washington – it was a beautiful ride with amazing views of the lake and our first views of multiple Cypress trees. It is so strange to see trees growing and thriving in the middle of a lake. They are interesting trees and look very different than our Midwest trees. I will try to attach the video of a portion of our ride, that shows the trees and the beautiful homes along the lake. Again we traveled on SH 1 and then on to SH 465 which traveled on top of the levee. Unfortunately we did not know they were doing construction on the levee – making it taller and the road was gravel and unpassable in one section.
So began our ride on SH 465 and discovered the first 4 miles were in gravel – we could ride the bike on it but it was a challenge. They we got to the middle section and it was paved again – by this time we had been traveling on 465 for about 20 miles. We then saw a sign that said the road was closed four miles ahead- oh crap. We were so far into it that we decided to just continue on and deal with it when we got there. We got to Chotard Landing a campground/resort just off the levee road and right before the road closed. We bicycled down to the resort and took a break and talked with the manager for awhile – he was a great guy and very interesting. He also gave us a gallon of water to fill our water bottles. He told us about other bicyclists that had stayed at his place and was bummed we were not staying but we told him that we needed to continue on.
Now the problem was how did we get thru the construction site and how long is it. He suggested we check at the construction trailer and ask them for help and getting us thru – he told us they had helped out other bicyclists and hopefully would help us out also. So on to the construction trailer where the project manager contacted the Quality Control Manager and asked if he could get us thru. He said he would and told us to wait at the trailer. He arrived in his construction pickup and said we could put our bicycle in the back and he would give us and the bike a ride thru the construction area. It was great we would not have been able to get thru on our own and it was at least three miles long. He was a great guy and was onsite to make sure the project work made the required quality level – he is from Florida but his company won the bid for the project. He will be there until next January when the project is complete. He drove us to the other side where the pavement began again – YEAH!!
At this point we had about 15 miles to go to our end point in Vicksburg, MS and planned to try to find a place to stay in the city so we could check out the historic homes and area. We got into town later than we planned because of our “road closed” problem and everything was shut down in town for the day – so we made an executive decision to spend an extra day in the city.
Now where to stay – we have found that the local Chambers are great and the employees are very helpful – so Tracy called the Chamber and got some suggestions on where to stay and where to eat. We ended up at a beautiful bed and breakfast right downtown. The Bazsinsky House was built in the 1860’s and survived the Civil War because it was across the street from the Court House where the south was holding the northern prisoners of war therefor the union did not shell the area and the house survived. It is beautifully restored and has two rooms for rent. We are in a large room that has a great view of the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers. Looking forward to spending two days in the city and beautiful home. The owners are great guys and very kicked back they even have our tandem stored in the middle of their downstairs dining room!!
Day off tomorrow and then we head to Natchez. More to come.