Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day Seventy-nine, 090518 - Gasque, AL

Day Seventy-nine, Date Monday, May 18, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:06
Distance for the Day: 60.81 miles From Moss Point, MS To Gasque, AL
Accumulated Trip Distance: 3513.55
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 8’/10’, Highest: 135’ Accumulated: 1606’
Speeds: Avg: 9.9 mph, Max: 35.1 mph
Weather: 54° overcast, clearing to partly cloudy, breezy, warming to 74°
Expenditures: $17

I woke up around 7:15am, about when everyone else was getting up. I got my things together, and prepped my trike for takeoff. They would have offered me breakfast, but didn’t have anything really organized, but that was okay, I wanted to get an early start, anyways. I thanked them for their kindness, and was invited to drop by again, if I ever passed that way. With that, I left at 7:30am, and began the day’s ride up Hwy 90 towards Dauphin Island in the Gulf of Mexico. At 9:20am, I passed from the state of Mississippi into Alabama, and the sign marking the occasion said, “Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful.” Unfortunately, on one side of the roadway was a failed bar joint called the Blackwater Saloon, complete with a weedy, broken cement parking lot, bits of crap and broken bottles to grace the terrain, while the building across the street was an ugly cement block building with no windows called The Borderline Club, with a lock and hasp on the smudgy front door and a couple of run down looking mobile homes on the side. I hoped the rest of Alabama was even more beautiful than this, and pushed ahead. By the way: while Louisiana was almost totally flat, Mississippi and Alabama had mild “rolling” terrain, but nothing severe. I called my next Warmshowers host, Cho, and let her know I would probably get to her house sometime in the afternoon, and to leave me a message if she needed more info, or wanted to let me know anything.

Unfortunately, I missed a turn, and had to backtrack several miles once I discovered my mistake. I passed through the town of Bayou La Batre, and then on out to the coast. At a mini mart along the way where I bought some supplies ($7), I found out that I’d have to take a ferry from Dauphin Island over to Ft. Morgan, and since the day was getting later, I should hurry, as I didn’t want to miss the last one at 5pm. I could see a long roadway that was elevated above the waters out to the island, and a pretty high bridge to cross, but not too bad. When I made it to the ferry at about 3:50pm, I found out I’d just missed the previous one by 10 minutes (Demitol!), and would have to wait for the last one (5pm). Well, at least I’d make it over, today. I bought a hot dog and soda ($5) and hung out. They had some interpretive info boards out on a walkway by their pier, so I perused them to find out about the local flora and fauna. I chatted with a couple guys who were also waiting for the ferry, and eventually, it showed up. I waited for two cars to load on before riding my trike on board, paid the passage fee ($5), and we took off. The gulf waters were brown and opaque. All over the region, out to the horizon, I could see oil rigs sticking up from the surrounding waters. It was kind of ugly. Made it to Ft. Morgan in a half hour; got my bearings from StreetAtlas, and took off to try to get to Pensacola before it got too late, but it already was too late. With sunset coming on in 2 hours, nearly 50 more miles to go, and a headwind stiff enough to cause the fine, white sands along the road to drift across the surface looking like the bloody aurora borealis, I realized I would never make it. So, I called Cho up and let her know I’d be in sometime around 10am to noon the next day, and continued on for as long as I could before looking for a campsite; there were plenty of opportunities, to be sure. The road was beautiful: brand new, smooth, and had a decent shoulder. There were lots of nice shorefront homes along this narrow peninsula, and they were mostly elevated a good 15’ in the air. I thought it was kind of a waste, though, since the view was of brown water and oil rigs out to the horizon, but I guess waterfront property is waterfront property, and maybe it doesn’t always look like that. Most of it was new, some of it even still under construction, and there were lots of ‘for sale’ signs. Right about sunset, at 7:20pm, I found a small parking lot next to a public interpretive center for the wildlife in the area. There was an outside electrical outlet on the building next to the front door, so I plugged in my notebook and blogged a few hours. I put my headnet and jacket on to keep the mosquitoes off my face and torso, but a few still got my ankles as I worked until about 11pm. I then set out my ground sleeping stuff, but it was still just a bit too warm to completely cover up, so the mosquitoes kept me up a while, until I decided to wear my headnet with most of the rest of me in the sleeping bag. That worked enough to let me get to sleep. Can’t wait to get my hands on that tent, hopefully as soon as tomorrow. For the first time since Texas, I was able to see the stars, again, which made them seem the more beautiful for their absence.

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