Altered States

Mississippi, the first state where we've encountered the southern tradition of calling a lady - any appropriately-shaded lady, of any apparent age or relationship status - "Miss" Something. As in, the 400-year old lady at the campground in Vancleave - Miss Lacie - will be here all night if y'all need anything. There seem to be a lot of unmarried-sounding maidens around these parts, more than these two Northern gentlemen can handle: Miss Heather's Cafe, Miss Lucy's Salon, Miss Matilda's Mud Wrestling and Bingo - like that.

Many of the private homes and plantations have really impressed the country mouse in Seb and me.

Some real...

Some imagined...

Speaking of imagination, we pulled into Franklinton, Louisiana, population 3,857, the other day with the full intention of staying the night at a campground, or at least pitching our tent on a relatively-level patch of ground, whether or not we paid for the privilege. It took me about 34 seconds to decide that there was something wrong with the town. You know how you arrive in a place and it speaks to you, often in a wonderful way, as in "I'd like to live here!" Well, this was a town that, for reasons more Stephen King than Martha Stewart, said to me "You're going to die here!" So we packed up and carried on another two hours to Bogalusa, mostly cuz it's fun to say.

If you listen to this little voice too often, your useful life, your functioning role in society, may grind to a halt. But heeding it when it speaks clearly is probably a good idea. We'll never know what fate might have befallen us in that strangely discordant town, but I can live with that.

The picture below was taken as we overtook the trailer in our rental car outside of Baton Rouge. The two thoroughbreds, Spot and Fido, were gulping the air on the interstate at 70 mph - a spectacle neither of us had ever seen. Seb, always kindhearted, fed them each a cube of sugar as we passed.

I wrote my previous post, One Track Mind, amidst the hanging gardens in the gazebo pictured below, part of a little Eden connected to a take-out-only Cuban and Cajun Cuisine joint in Grand Bay, Alabama. The startlingly pretty wife of the proprietor had both Seb and I a little tongue-tied when ordering, as we'd encountered precious few Southern Belles who hadn't chosen The Waffle House to cater for their wedding. Amongst the cognoscenti, the Fatkins Diet is pretty popular down here.

Barc's Touring Tip of the Day: Dark pants hide urine stains. 

Our route through Alabama has been gorgeous, marred only by the occasional brush with vehicular death. The "OVERSIZED" loads, the one's preceded by a pickup or cop car with flashing lights, are the most likely to cause unintentional voiding.   If the truck driver happens to have a casual attitude with respect to the fragility of species positioned on the shoulder of the highway, the shock to your system is positively electrical, then liquid. Unhappily, I've learned that if I look over my left shoulder, I often unconsciously turn the wheel to the left too. Combining this inanity with the aforementioned "SOUTHERN BELLE" load, on a road with no or narrow shoulders, has led to near-cataleptic seizures at times - being a nose hair from death will do that to you.

We enter the state of Florida shortly. Even though we still have 700 miles to go (actually, more like 900 cuz we're probably going to cycle from St. Augustine to Tampa to make up for the 180 mile hitchhike we did in Texas), it's a pretty cool benchmark. Florida is WIDE along the top, like many of the grain-fed Misses we've met along our merry way (and that's my last slam at the calorie-dense Southern Belle, y'all). Sunshine State, here we come.