Day 11(?): Gulf Shores, AL to Vancleave, MS

Hello blogaroos.

Ugh, long day. I've already laid down and the stats are outside and it is cold. But there's really only one you need to know: 97 miles. Seems a shame to come so close to the century mark twice now and not conquer it. I thought about riding another 3 to get it but my stomach disagrees. And it was all an accident. Kinda, sorta.

When I left this morning I thought I was going 87 miles, a long day in it's own right. But I had miscounted somewhere. Yesterday I was trying to get to Dauphin island but fell short by 20 miles because I didn't think I could ride that distance quickly enough to make it onto the last ferry across Mobile Bay. I guess it was more than 20 miles.

Some big stuff happened today. Mostly good. I woke to the coldest temperatures yet, right around freezing I imagine since there was ice on the tarp covering my bike. Packing up camp was nothing short of miserable. Cold, wet things everywhere to be folded and rolled and put away. But whyyyyy. Well, it took some doing, so long, in fact, I had to skip breakfast to get on the road for the ferry, once again racing the clock. I left camp at 6:30ish and the first ferry ran at 8:45, and the next an hour and a half later. I really needed to make the first one if I was going to get 87 miles in today. Well, I thought I had plenty of time. 20 miles in a little over 2 hours? No problem. So I started off slowish cause it was cold and my legs were protesting. After about 11 miles I realized I had about an hour to finish out the last 9 miles. Wrong again. It was 15 miles! Gah! I "sprinted" at 17 mph for the next 15 miles and barely made it onto the ferry. Lucky. And tiring.

Even after a 45 minute ferry ride where I chatted with a man who charters dolphin tours out of Orange Beach, AL, I still hadn't fully recovered. I also hadn't eaten. But there were miles and miles to cover! And I'd only ridden 26.
Well, by mile 36 I was ready to pass out so I pulled over by a power station to eat some peanut butter and lay on the ground for a while. Whilst snacking, I look up at the car heading towards me that was furiously honking to see some guy's bare ass hanging out the back window. I'll admit it. I laughed. And then laid down.
A few minutes later I heard voices calling to me, real voices! There were four cyclists standing on the side of the road, heading east! We chatted and exchanged info about the roads ahead and behind for each of us. Two of the riders had started in California and were almost done. I'd be lying if I didn't say I envied them. None of them were from Kentucky.
On and on I pedaled. Over the next 20 miles or so I found so many reasons to stop. I mailed a postcard in Coden, AL. The postman was thrilled by what I'm doing so he paid for my stamp. Killer! I got ice cream in Grand Ridge. Awesome! I took pictures of signs, like this one:

Best sign yet. Alabama is great.

But the miles rolled on. Finally, I crossed into Mississippi but my moment of human-powered glory slipped painfully from my grasp when, to my utter horror, I realized there was no "hey, welcome to Mississippi," sign. There wasn't even a sign that said state line. Really? That's how you're gonna live your life, Mississippi?! Well, I settled for the county sign:

Yeah. That's Jackson County, Mississippi!

20 miles to go yet. Passin through wildlife refuges in swampland, but first, three giant great Pyrenees type dogs come viciously chasing after me on a state highway (responsible dog ownership, these people don't get it) One was nipping, and yeah, I maced it. And yeah, it was pretty awesome how effective it was. I love dogs but I hate them when biking. Look out dogs, I will mace you and not even feel bad about it. Ok, maybe a little.

Around about mile 92 something strange happened. It mightve been the fact that I knew I was so close, or that the music I was listening to was totally killer, or that the sun was setting and i needed to get off the road, but I felt the best I had felt all day and I cranked out those last five miles real quick.
Well, now I'm in Vancleave at White Sands Campground. My tent is still wet from last night and my stove decided to quit working on the 97 mile day and not any other, when large amounts of food are less necessary in preserving my sanity. Sardines in a tortilla is quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten. But you do what you must and, gotta say, right now that is to sleep deeply. 60 miles to Poplarville tomorrow. Oh yeah, Mississippi, let's do this.

Adios Amigos,

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