Friday, September 29, 2006

Day 19 Pine Bluff, AR-->Lula, MS

Departure: 7:05 a.m.
Arrival: 3:45 p.m.
121 miles
750’ Climbing
Departure Temp: 63
Arrival Temp: 71
Winds 20-25 mph gusting to 30 head and cross winds

We were delightfully gifted at breakfast with a re-routing that would cut off 9.5 miles of today’s miles. No one complained.

To my surprise Arkansas is big into farming cotton and rice! I had no idea, which is commentary of my ignorance about my own country. The skies were bright blue and the sun bright, so through my dark glasses the fields of un-harvested cotton sparkled like diamonds. I stopped to pick up some cotton along the road for the grandkids. IL, OR, and AZ don’t have cotton fields. If we weren’t in cotton territory we were in rice paddies—miles and miles of both. A few soybean fields, too.

We crossed the Arkansas River which had a remarkably long bridge but that crossing had no impact on me compared to the crossing of the Mississippi at the end of the day. I have lived my whole life east of the Mississippi so crossing it felt very much like a homecoming. That our hotel was only ½ mile after crossing the Mississippi had something to do with my elation as we had battled strong head and cross winds for at least 2/3 of the day. No matter how hard I pedaled it seemed like I could just not make any head-way. I did turn in a 16.2 average for the day, however.

We are overnighting in the Isle of Capri Casino. It’s the only option around. Quite a sad commentary to see all these people glued to their chairs playing the slots, or whatever you call them. Many were obese; many were senior citizens; many were amputees, or on oxygen, or using canes or walkers, or motorized scooters. The clankety-clank of the machines was oppressive.Of course you had to walk through the casino to get to the restaurant. And then there were the signs all around that read: “Winners know when to quit.”

Tomorrow we’re heading to Winona, MS—a 114 mile day.

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