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.