July 4, 2020
Hey! I just remembered that I forgot to tell you something.
When I was driving from Florida (visiting Joan G.) to Mississippi (to visit Jean H.), I was starting to look for a gas station. It wasn’t time yet, but if I found a nice one that looked clean and big enough to maneuver my rig, I might pull over.
I am heading up Hwy 84 in Alabama. It is hilly and lined with forests mostly. I don’t know I am on Hwy 84, I am not paying attention. The Googlemap App tells me to turn and I turn, I trust it (most the time) to take me where I want to go.
I am listening to a delightful audiobook, How the Penguins Saved Veronica.
Coming up is a smallish-but-nice gas station on the left at an intersection. As I zoom by it hits me. I wonder if I should turn around.
It was how the side road angles, how there is a long incline in front of me. Could it be?
I look at the shoulder. There is probably a two-foot shoulder with 1/3 of it taken up with the ripples that make a hefty rumble strip. OMG!
This was the hill we climbed! This is the gas station we stopped to rest at! Memories of that day in 2014 when George and I were riding our trikes from Northern Illinois to Florida flood my brain. I start to cry.
Crying is good, crying is a surprise, crying is a release and a celebration.
It was August and hot. We were riding early and trying to get to our motel each day by noon or one to get out of the sun. We were usually only riding 30 or 50 miles a day.
This particular day I had mapped our route to take back roads and avoid this busy highway. We had to cross a river and I had discovered a Ferry crossing along the way. I tried calling the Ferry to make sure it was running, but no one answered the phone. I had asked around at the motel we were staying at and no one knew if the Ferry was running or not.
I just trusted that it was, since we had been having good luck. Hey luck was on our side.
The route took us down some back roads, more remote, there were trailer homes piled with junk.
The road side decorated with litter.
Every house it seemed had dogs that loved to chase us. Once when we stopped to rest and pee behind the bushes, a postman pulled up in his truck.
“Are you two lost?” he asked.
“No, we are heading south,” I tell him. “We are going down to the Ferry.”
By this time we were probably 25 or 30 miles into our ride.
“Is that still running?” he asks.
“The website had a schedule,” I told him. “I tried calling but got no answer.”
He said he would check and let us know on his way back. He took off, further down the road someone else stopped to inquire if we were lost. They told us it was dangerous in this area, drugs and no-goods.
We ignored them and kept pedaling. If people were sitting out on their porches, they would watch us go by with interest. I just waved. My pepper spray was handy, I had used it on a few dogs already this day.
We had put in 40 miles when the postman stopped on his way back through.
“The Ferry is closed,” he said. “It hasn’t run for like six years.”
I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. George didn’t criticize. Already the undiagnosed dementia was making him quieter and more reliant on me.
I studied the map. The only way for us to get to our next motel is either to retrace our route and stay again at the motel we stayed at last night. Or we could take a slightly different route and join Hwy 84 a little further south. I decided to try the different route, maybe it wouldn’t be so… seedy.
This alternative route had a huge and very steep hill we had to climb. Googlemaps didn’t tell me that! George and I would pedal a few strokes and then rest our screaming thighs. We were pulling our Burley trailers behind our trikes. A hill like this would be very challenging without the extra weight.
This was one of the days that George told me, “I am not doing this again.”
“What,” I asked. “Go on a bike adventure?”
We are out in the heat of August in Alabama or Mississippi. We get to Hwy 84 and take a left. It is going to be tough. It is the only route from A to B. The shoulder is only two feet and a good portion of it is taken up with a rumble strip. The highway isn’t extremely busy, but there is traffic.
We were eating our ice cream and George looked at me and said, “I love you.”
He always said that. It was reassuring since I had messed up our route and was beating myself up over it.
Then we climbed back on our trikes and headed the rest of the way to Monroeville. When I reached the motel I added an extra night so we could rest. We had done 82 miles pulling weight in the heat.
It turned out to be an ok stop, since the Museum is there with information about the Author Harper Lee and her book To Kill A Mockingbird. The court scenes in the movie were filmed in the Monroeville Courthouse. There was also information about Truman Capote too, who grew up in Monroeville.