Almost to Birmingham, AL
Thunderstorms: 1 — Brie & Phil: Doughnut. Ultimately, it was the rain that kept us at the University Inn for a second night. With reports of flash-flooding and dangerous wind/tornado warnings, we thought it best to let all of that pass before venturing any further westward. One of the benefits of this extended stay was the joy of cooking dinner in the tub for the first time (via a camp stove) despite Gabrielle’s protests. It was either that, cook in the rain, or order Papa John’s, and we’re supposed to be on a budget, so logic prevailed. In any case, after eating all that we couldn’t carry, we woke up the next morning to relatively blue skies, so we anxiously packed up and left Jacksonville, AL for the last time.
This day of riding beat the shit out of us, basically. We were reminded just how out of shape we are, and it wasn’t pleasant. The whole day consisted of riding into 20-30 mph headwinds, and many, many climbs. On the brighter side of things, we could have been stupid enough to leave the day before, and had the same ride, coupled with torrential down pours. And, the reports of flooding were not false. Here is one example of an athletic complex we passed early on in the day:
As you can see, the one building there is flooded up to the roof. Alabama has been going through an extended drought, along with a large portion of the rest of the south, and this is what happens when you get days and days of rain, on hard, dry ground that is not ready to absorb that much precipitation. We rode past a number of properties that had flooded up to the doorsteps of many homes, and the funny thing is that the people outside would always smile and wave as we passed by. I have to think that I’d be pretty pissed at that moment, but maybe it’s a case of ‘you can get used to anything’.
We pushed through about 45 miles of Alabama on that day, and it truly was a fight the whole way against the weather, and against the dogs! So many dogs!! We are getting used to being barked at, but still it always feels like THIS will be the dog to bite me, and honestly you never know. If anyone out there plans to ride their bike through Alabama, be prepared for many, many dogs, especially pit bulls–try to guess which ones are friendly!
At the end of the day, we were in the middle of nowhere, and out of water, with no foreseeable chance of getting anymore, so we stopped and pitched camp for the night atop this cluster of property for sale. There were the remnants of former homes in about 4 or 5 spots, a great deal of tires and beer cans. We chose the highest and driest spot, that still had its electricity meter, and a clothesline: it felt the homiest. The sun goes down about 5pm in Alabama this time of year, so shortly after that is bedtime. We’ve been getting to sleep about 7. It makes you feel like Ben Franklin or somebody.