Day 7: Ridgeland, MS to Columbia, MS

“Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … you can’t get fooled again,” as a certain smooth-tongued orator once put it.

But in fact, you can get fooled again, it turns out. Today was supposed to be a sort of moderate day, about 75 miles from Ridgeland to Monticello, MS. There I planned to camp at the Atwood Water Park. A quick quiz: when you hear “water park,” what comes to mind? Cabell suggested “a water slide,” but she wasn’t thinking minimalist enough. I’d say at a minimum, a pool. Atwood Water Park consists of some acres of sandy pine woods that have apparently just been bulldozed to clear out most of the trees, so they could put in some RV hookups, a baseball field, and a boat ramp for access to the Pearl River. Not exactly what I was looking forward to as I pulled into Monticello under a pounding noon sun.

So, I called the aforementioned Cabell* and had her look up hotels in the next town, Columbia, and made a reservation. This tacked about 30 miles onto the day, so I rode something over 100 in all. When I came into Columbia about 3:30, a bank sign said it was 97 degrees. I think they often put the thermometer on the asphalt in the parking lot for those things, but it was indeed hot.

The day wasn’t all bad by any means, though. I decided last night to revise my route, get up really early, and ride straight through downtown Jackson on the way south. This saved some miles, and was actually not bad at all. I got to see the state capitol, and since I started at 5:15 AM, the traffic was nonexistent. BTW, there will be a photo of a cannon.

Furthermore, in Monticello after I’d decided to continue on, I stopped at a convenience store for some Gatorade, and asked the girl at the cash register how to get to MS 587, the road I planned to take. She asked a guy who was buying cigarettes, and a big discussion ensued about the best way to ride a bike to Columbia. The upshot was that I should take River Road, which wasn’t even on my map, but the girl said she lived on it and that it was a) shorter and b) safer on a bike. With some misgivings, I did it.

She failed to mention c), which would have sold me on this road all by itself: there were so many trees on both sides of the road that for most of 20 miles I was riding in the shade. It kept crossing a good-sized creek with a gravel bottom and sand bars lining it, and at one point I was able to walk down and wade in the stream for a while. Idyllic.

Anyway, now I’m clean and ready to find a place to eat. You know, for all the camping I’ve done on this trip, I could have saved a hell of a lot of weight by ditching my tent, sleeping bag, backpacking stove, and mess kit, and just carrying a credit card. I’m thinking in future I’m going to travel lighter unless there are camping destinations that are guaranteed to be worthwhile.

* One of the stupidest questions I’ve ever found myself asking: “Cabell, can you get to a computer?”
to be a sort of moderate day, about 75 miles from Ridgeland to Monticell

One Response to “Day 7: Ridgeland, MS to Columbia, MS”

  1. Cabell says:

    Yeah, I mean, on a weekend or a weekday around 8:30 in the morning or 6:30 at night, I might be on my bike, but the rest of the time, I am probably within six inches of a computer.

Leave a Reply