South by Southeast: Mississippi to Florida

Day 3, August 7

The humidity was so bad, my glasses fogged up when I walked out of the motel to pack the bike. After a little time, the fog disappeared, and I pulled out to head southeast.

For a poor state, Mississippi has some mighty fine roads. Four-lane divided highways with smooth pavement. In fact, Louisiana had some nice roads too, as did Arkansas. Some of those state transportation folks from Ohio should come down here to learn a thing or two about highway maintenance and construction.


The day was pretty much one of travel. Thoughts ran through my head like a penny arcade. The landscape was beautiful, a treat for the eye. But in travels like this, you will often see things you don’t want to see. Maybe make you feel uncomfortable.

When I finally reached Mobile, Alabama, I needed gas, food and a restroom. Not necessarily in that order. I spotted a McDonalds in the near downtown area, pulled in, parked and went inside. It was nice and cool. The place was packed.

With the first order of business out of the way, I ordered my food and waited for it to be delivered to the counter. With food and drink in hand, I found a place to sit near the front window—it gave me an advantage point to keep an eye on the bike. There was a guy sitting near me like he was waiting for someone. Another guy sat in a booth with his head in his hands. Another seemed to be just wandering back and forth. It finally dawned on me that these people were homeless or on the street. They were sitting in the cool of McDonalds, but it was the next scene that reinforced my observations.

Another guy walked into the place, looked down into the trash bin, pulled out a crumpled sack, and went through it. No food, but a couple of cups. He selected one of the cups and shoved the bag back into the bin. Then he walked over to the drink dispenser area, filled the cup with ice and selected a drink.

What these guys were doing was waiting for people to throw their meals into the trash and then grabbing the leftovers. Surely the McDonalds staff and management know what’s going on. The whole scene was sad. I have worked with homeless and at soup kitchens, and it has always amazed me how people sometimes survive while trying to maintain their sense of dignity.

I rode away from Mobile with a heavy heart and much on my mind. On the other side of Mobile Bay, I found gas and proceeded down I-10 towards my destination for the night. There was no opportunity to stop on the Interstate with the state line in the middle of a bridge, so a quick stop at the Welcome Center provided the photo opportunity.


Florida … check.

About an hour from my destination, I ran into some rain. At first I thought it would be just a little spit, but it soon turned into a downpour. I pulled over and put on the rain suit. Before getting back on the bike, I documented the conditions.


Down the road, the rain was heavy. I proceeded on. I was ready to get off the bike after 10 hours of riding and nearly 500 miles.

Stay tuned for more tour reports. Coming up: Georgia, South and North Carolina.

See you on the highway.