Sunday, May 9, 2021

Not My Birthday On The Tanglefoot Trail


Sometimes I make good decisions.  Do I do better that 50%? Hmmmm.

I made a good decision when I decided to visit Jean Hawks on my journey north.  Jean is a more recent friend of mine. Of course we met through trike riding.

I don’t remember ever meeting someone so passionate about their career.  Jean, at 72 is a psychologist.  She specializes in treating people who have experienced trauma.  She is fascinated by the stories and delighted by the people she chooses to treat.

We were going to camp together along with her husband at Paul B Johnson State Park near Hattiesburg and ride the Rail Trail there.  But their RV needed some repairs, so Keith went off across country to get the repairs done and I ended up sleeping in their guest room.  Sleeping very well, I might add.

Jean took me for a trike ride around part of the reservoir near their home.  It was mostly trail.


I got to meet her friend, Sandy.  Jean had been talking about Sandy since we became friends.  Sandy has quite the history.  I would like to learn more about her life.   

By serendipity or divine intervention she got into a four year training for energy work.  Now she too continues to help people after retirement age.  She does healing, energy healing.  I wish we could have spent more time with her.  One thing about Sandy that fascinated me was when she makes a decision or a choice she is sure.  There is no waffle, no second guessing, she just knows.  I sat in awe.  Wow!

When I was riding with Jean we saw one big gator swimming.  I have been two days north of the gator line and I already miss seeing them. Some people say, “If you have seen one gator, you have seen them all.” But for me, I am always searching the fresh water for them, even when I get north I have to remind myself I won’t be sing them. In Florida we are aware that every fresh water pond or river or ditch could have a gator.

The last evening at Jean’s, Jean looked up where I was going and said it would only take me two and a half hours to get to Davis Lake Campground from her house.  I told her, no, it will take me much of the day because: 

1) I don’t take the highways, I take the back roads; and 

2) I stop often to hike or shop or do laundry or visit Anytime Fitness or site-see.

She said that is what her husband likes to do, travel the back roads, and it drives her nuts.  She likes to get the traveling over with and just get there.  For me, it is just as much about the journey.  If I rush through it, it is like I am putting my life on hold for those hours.  I don’t want to put my life on hold.


It was different when we were working.  Then we didn't have a choice.  We had to get somewhere fast, do our fun, and then get back home to work.  Now I am on the retiree schedule.

Jean told me she didn’t have my first book and wanted it. I had put a box of books in the car before I left Inverness.  I went out the car and fetched her the last copy I had with me on this trip. Alzheimer’s Trippin’ with George had been placed in Libraries and Little Free Libraries along my journey.  I still have a few of the 2nd book, The Journey Continues. 

 As I was taking Jean's picture I noticed the t-shirt had on was perfect.  We are meeting again in September at Tionesta in Pennsylvania.  We will be riding the trails around Oil City, PA. I stepped forward to zoom in on her chest.


Jean gave me two books: 

·        Use Your Brain To Change Your Age; and

·        Altogether You, which says it is about: “Experiencing personal and spiritual transformation with Internal Family Systems Therapy.”

I told you she was passionate about her career.


I took my time getting to my next camp site, driving much of the way on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

I pulled into one rest area that had camping (no electric) and a trail to a scenic overlook. Whenever I take off on an unknown trail, I message my friend Debra to let her know where I am and what I am about to do.  Then I tell her I will message her again when I am safely “out of the woods”.  It makes me feel I am not totally alone.  Thank you, Debra! She is with me just in case I slip and break bones and my phone or get lost.

The campground is free!  There is no electric, and the water is from drinking fountains.  This makes me want to explore solar and an inverter to run my computer and my refrigerator.
I was thrilled by the diversity of trees.  It seems I have been seeing mostly pine with oak and cypress.  Here there were... well, I don't know what all.  My friend Ann would know... or she'd find out.  She likes a challenge.


When I arrived at Davis Lake I was disappointed.  I was at this campground last year and I wanted to return and be on the lake.  I had reserved site 14 which was on the lake.  Then when I decided to go visit Jean I had canceled my reservation at one place, and moved up my reservation at Davis Lake.  I wanted to add days to my stay in Arkansas which is coming up next.  In order to shift my dates at Davis Lake I had to change sites.  At the time I was doing the change I didn’t have good cell service and could not see the map.  I selected site 12, which I found out when I arrived, is not on the water and is up a hill.  I had to back Lilac up a hill to the pad.  

My water supply had just been repaired and the area smelled like sewage or pond scum... but faintly.  I got showered  a few times hookingup the hose as the little plastic on off valve they had added, didn't work well either.
I found a tick on my water faucet.  I knocked him into the sink and cut him in two.  That will teach him to encroach on my territory!


It wasn’t a bad site, all the sites seem nice here.  I had dreamed of keeping my inflatable kayak inflated and going out whenever the wind was calm.

Oh ya, I forgot to tell you.  The Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) didn’t sell when I was in Pensacola. So I am giving it another chance. I have watched some videos on how to paddle and I am hoping with practice I can do better and control the board in a current or in the wind. In the demos they are paddling the boards in big ocean waves!  Certainly I can do this on a lake or calm river!

Once I got camp set up, I did inflate my kayak and walked it down to the water. There was very little wind and I managed to get it to glide over the water. It is going to take much more practice, and a build up of muscles and balance.  But it is worth giving it a go.

It was lovely being able to float without getting thrown into shore.  My sister called while I was on the water, I sat cross-legged and was able to just float while we chatted.

The next day was Saturday.  I packed some snacks and went over to New Houlka, Mississippi, only about six miles away, and got onto the Tanglefoot Trail.  I saw on the map that if I headed North it was 33.7 miles to the end.  Could I make it all the way and back? I set that as my goal, which means I would be biking 68 miles.  That is how old I will be this year.  I posted on Facebook that I was doing my birthday miles on the Tanglefoot.  Ha ha, later I found out I was getting a lot of Happy Birthday wishes.  My birthday isn’t for a few months, I guess I didn’t word that right!  It was nice to see all the folks sending good wishes.

Old beaver dams... old dams built by a beaver... were right next to the trail.

Just one set of trikers passed me going the other direction.


The towns have been revitalized partly due to the trail and the tourist traffic it brings.  I enjoyed exploring each town a bit. In Ponotoc there was only one restaurant open that I found and it was serving a breakfast buffet. No masks for staff or guests. I bought the buffet breakfast without looking at it. They had chicken, ham, bacon, two kinds of sausage, pigs in a blanket, and sausage gravy. It was a meat lover’s wet dream, for me a bit of a surprise.  There were no potatoes, and the only fruit was sliced watermelon.  I had scrambled eggs and pancakes and watermelon.  And then I saw they had the warm chocolate pudding-like stuff for the special treat.  Mississipians (or maybe Southerners in general) put that pudding on baking powder biscuits. I put some on a pancake.

I remembered the time we were introduced to this dessert.  George and I were riding our trikes from Northern Illinois to Florida.  We had just gotten off the Natchez Trace and found a mom and pop place.  The cook chatted with us trying to figure out what he could serve us vegetarians other than French fries.  Then he asked if we had ever had… what did he call it? Mississippi Mud?  Any way, he made up a serving for each of us to try… free.

I didn’t see much wildlife on the trail… some thrills there with a couple sitings of indigo bunting and blue jays (I don’t see those in Florida) and bluebirds. I also saw a very well-fed round groundhog. I saw a dead possum on the side of the trail, which I thought was unusual.  A vehicle other than a bicycle must have hit it.  There are no bars at road crossings to keep motorized vehicles off the trail.  My guess is that folks drive their autos down the trail at night.

I saw a group of about eight recumbent tricycles and riders on the trail.  But they were going the opposite direction as I was and we didn’t stop to chat. It would be cool if it was a local group and I could hook up with them for a ride.

After my ride I used the shelter at the trailhead to plug in my computer and do some internet stuff.  It was lovely there, with a nice breeze flowing over a lawn of white clover giving me blissful whiffs of their sweet scent.


Just as I was finishing up three black dogs trotted by, the back one with a bit of a hip injury back legs hopping in unison.  Strays?

Back at camp I saw that a couple sites on the lake had been vacated.  Even though it was seven I went to the hostess and asked if I could move. 

“Yes,” she said.

I was thrilled!  I took a load of stuff to the site and just sat for a moment soaking in the view, smiling.  Good decision, I thought. 

Hooking up the trailer was a challenge on the hill.  I had to power up the hill with the van, but not too fast or I’d run into the trailer.  Just a few more inches…

I reserved a spot on a hill at West Bay Campground in Wisconsin.  I chose it for the view of the lake.  Now I am wondering if I can change my reservation to a flatter spot. There are no sites on the lake.

 I have two more nights here. I am tempted to leave here early. My next site is a first come first serve place in Arkansas that was recommended by my friend Regis.  There I will pick up my mail being forwarded to the Post Office General Delivery.

Today it is Mother’s Day.  I got nice texts from my son and daughter-in-law.  It is good to be loved and to love.

Oh and thanks to all those on Facebook that wished me a happy birthday.  I certainly will remember I am loved when the day comes.

This morning the wind has picked up, there are white caps on this small lake.  I tried opening the back door and bent the hinge!  Fortunately I was able to bend it back and close the door.

Because it is Sunday the campground is getting empty.  Probably, if it weren’t so windy and threatening, people would have hung out longer here. But dark clouds blow over every once in a while. 

I walked to the dam and stood for a long time admiring the swifts or was it swallows as they flew and swooped and turned. There are two families of geese with fuzzy babies that hang out together at that end of the lake. It isn’t often that we slow down to observe and admire the wonderful world around us. I am glad for that moment.

It is a good day to write. And maybe it is a good day to site-see and maybe hike in the woods.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you were able to visit and ride with Jean - and then get settled in a nicer spot (after moving off the hill) in the next campground. You hand a beautiful ride on the Tanglefoot Trail, too. I looked at your tree photos but the only one I could identify was the oak. The other leaf photos did not show enough of the tree for me to make a guess. Sorry.


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