WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderSouth 7 - Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Perdido Beach, Alabama
Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2002 19:22:56 -0800


    Hey, Wisconsin! Just because I was throwing some fun words at you a couple days ago about winter is not reason to throw winter at us. It was about 26 degrees when Lyle and I were working on my bike, and even though I am used to cold from growing up in New England, I do not expect below freezing in Louisiana any more than I expect ice cream to be tongue-burning hot. Sheesh.
    Nonetheless, Lyle is a serious man. He helped me solder the battery connection using an acetylene welding torch. At least then I got to complete the task which has brought me here. You may know Lyle as the mileage coordinator for the BMW Owners of America. He is also a mileage consumer, having his 800,000 BMW miles certificate displayed in his kitchen. (I myself am only a pup working up to my 300,000 award.) But Lyle is also an active member of one of my local clubs, the Central Cal BMW Riders, and I was here to present him with his Ten Year Membership pin. Lyle makes it to more of our club meetings (yes, in California) than some of our closer constituents.
    Miles are just a means to ride. Lyle then took off on his every morning 44 mile ride to breakfast with an impromptu group of bikers who meet at the Slidell truck stop. This man moves.

    After breakfast it was still too cold to casually enjoy riding. So I cut short the route planned for the day and holed up to wait for a visit with friend Frank. It is not that cold weather riding is more difficult, it is that the cold keeps trying to infiltrate and you have to work at keeping it away. Going *through* cold on a long trip is easier than wandering about back country lanes looking for interesting sights. This made for a very short travel day. There were a number of routes in southern Mississippi that looked admirably inviting with reasonable hills and measured curves. Oh well. Frank took me to the Crescent City Grill. I heartily recommend the Cajun Stuffed Eggplant with ettoufe filling. Wonderful.
    I asked for whom Hattiesburg was named. Hattie Hardy was the wife of the land baron who owned most of this area. He also named some other towns for his daughters, one of which is Laurel. Can you imagine if her middle name were Ann? Laurel Ann Hardy.

234 miles
Westwego US90 I10 I59 MS43 Columbia-Purvis MS589 Hattiesburg

    It is still setting records for low temperatures, but at least they are dry temperatures. I make it about 50 miles to an unnamed cafe in the town of State Line where I decide to warm up and remap my route for this day too. I'm no longer interested in a wide circuit of Alabama. As I walk into the cafe, the idea of warming quickly chills ... the woman says she doesn't open until 10 but she does have coffee. While I wait for her to pour, I see the steam from her lunch preparation cooking drift across the window - and freeze into frost on the glass. Hey Wisconsin! ENOUGH!
    At this point, the bike decides enough also. When I went to start the engine, the starter would not engage. It just whirred. Ever try to push-start a fully loaded touring motorcycle? Yes, that is one way to get warm in a hurry. Grumble. The starter clutch is a set of teeth that spin out of the way under centrifugal force when the engine is running and are supposed to drop in place under gravity when stopped. The engine oil which lubricates them was too thick from the cold. I normally use hot temperature oil. Gonna have to do something about this ... but for the rest of the day the teeth stay unstuck.
    While studying the computer map, I saw an interesting track of county routes through the middle of the Alabama River wildlife management area (almost a wilderness). The map showed a ferry between two tiny towns, but I was suspicious. So when I got to Jackson, I asked "Is there still a ferry from Gainestown?" Sometimes the simplest questions generate the most complex answers from simple people. "Yes, this road goes to Gainestown." Have you noticed how many people give the answer they know when they don't know the answer to your question? I may as well have asked how many alien abductions occurred last week. It seems I was speaking to a couple of the throwbacks. Eventually I found the police station and got the answer to the question I actually asked. "Boy, " An aside ... a lot of sentences start that way around here, and my gray hair is anything but youthful. "Boy, you mus' have on'hella 'f'n ole map. Tha' ferry quit runin' in the 20's or 30's." Hellooo, Street Atlas, there is such a thing as being too accurate and not timely enough.

    Enough of this. I headed for the Principality of Reed's Landing. You may have heard of the temporal constant in the universe, where time and space are bound by the speed of light. In the Temporal Consulate of Reed's Landing, time and space are unbounded by thought, which flies faster than light. Perfesser Corky (who, if you don't know, really was a university professor) is a fountain of youth waiting to be tapped for his outflow (and does it ever :):). Corky, at 82, has just purchased a new BMW touring bike ... and got the optional 3 year extended warranty. We exercised his Ph.D. (piled higher and deeper) well into the night on all the 'ologies', psychology, sociology, anthropology, epistemology, theology, and motorcycology.

265 miles
Hattiesburg MS42 AL56 US43 US84 CR1 AL59 US98 CR97 Perdido Beach
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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