One Track Mind

So we're back on the bikes, rested taints uncomplaining. Strangely, the hiatus doesn't seem to have done much for my reasoning faculties, for 30 miles into today's ride a minor navigational error, the kind anyone might commit if they chose not to actually look at the map, led to what appeared to be two options:

1) A 3-hour detour involving the crossing of a 4-mile bridge on a 4-lane road with 4-inches of shoulder (we drove over it in the rental car, remarking that anyone who tried to bike it would surely be smeared silly in seconds) or...

2) A 5-hour detour on beautiful country roads, some of them, possibly, with shoulders.

Here's the thing: I don't know about you, but when one has been planning to ride from A to B and abruptly, owing to one's profound stupidity, one has to ride from A to Z, one is irritated; bad feelings ensue, nerves get frayed, lashing out occurs, grown children are treated like little children, and desperate, potentially-regrettable measures are considered.

It's like this...  halfway along our route was a river. A big river. The map showed Hwy 10 reaching this river and, stick with me here, carrying on from the other side of the river. What I didn't notice, because I didn't have my face pressed up against the laptop (we were off the grid of our ACA maps still) was the absence of a small line indicating a man-made structure actually extending over the body of water. My brain made an intuitive leap that a highway travelling up to one edge of the river and continuing from the opposite edge was, naturally, connected in the usual, post-industrial way.

Alas, no. Turns out, they used to have a ferry crossing there, dating from pre-industrial times, but the horseless carriage has been as unkind to Melville, La as it has been to Flint, Mi. Soooooo, as I was taking a breath between beatings of Seb (Adrian Peterson lent me a switch), I heard the sound of a train... coming over the water... how is that possible? 

Seb (arms held aloft in a defensive posture): Father, what is that sound?

Barc (massaging his cramping arm): It's a train, boy.

Seb (lowering his arms and crawling unsteadily toward the river): But it sounds like it's on the other side!

Barc (practicing lashes with his left hand): Of course it's on the other side, idiot child. It went over the bridge...


The bridge! The single track, old-school train bridge of story and song!! As it happens, a likely lad was walking by and I hailed him.


Barc: Likely Lad, can you walk across the train bridge?

Billy Joe McAllister: The Tallahatchie bridge? Well... I knows you can go part of the way...


So rather than cycle 3-5 hours, Seb and I sauntered across the bridge - if you can call ten minutes of epileptic quailing on a narrow metal catwalk sauntering. Wondering if we should lie down when the train comes. Wondering why we thought certain death was preferable to a 3-5 hour detour. Wondering why the colours never looked so bright...

But we made it. Obvee. And even though it was a dirt road on the other side, and even though the downed power lines sizzled as we descended from the train embankment, there was a Chevy on the levee and the levee was wet, and the colours remained vibrant for hours.