Saturday, October 1, 2016

The title of today's ride is cotton and Kudzu.

I had never seen cotton in the field before.  On one side of the road was cotton just blooming.

On the other side was a crop closer to being ready to pick
Who knew the flower, before it goes to seed, looks like a rose bud?
This was NOT the largest cotton field I saw
I wanted to lead with the cotton, but before I rode through those fields, I spent a little time around Reelfoot Lake.  This lake was formed during a huge earthquake in 1812.  The force of the quake was so great the Mississippi River flowed north for a while.
I was fortunate to catch sight of this crane.  Unfortunately, he flew away when I tried to get closer.
I am fascinated by the bald cypress trees
I especially like their "knees"
For the next ten miles I zig-zagged on some of the flattest roads I have ever seen.
Unfortunately, the wind was out of the west and I zigged south with a crosswind or zagged directly into the headwind.  I finally turned onto state highway 181 where I got some relief from the wind because of the trees on the west side of the road.  Unfortunately, these same trees reduced the view I would have had a few years ago.  The highway is a raised road and once offered great views of the marshes and their waterfowl.  Now the trees are so thick and lush that the occasional glimmers of water at the base of the trees was nearly identical to the glimmers of sky at their tops.  Consequently, it was one of the least interesting 25 miles I have ridden.
When I left the highway and climbed the first hill I had seen in over 50 miles, I was on a bluff with views of "the vine that ate the south".  Kudzu looks innocent enough up close.
However, it grows so rampant that when not checked it engulfs everything in its path.  At home in Seattle we battle Morning Glory (AKA bindweed) and English Ivy but in our wildest dreams we have not encountered anything like this.
It produces some very unusual sculptures.

and even changes distant landscapes
I soon found myself riding near the Chickasaw Natural Wildlife Refuge.  It was here that I found myself on a road that caused me to re-rank "unimproved" dirt and gravel roads.  On those roads, you can usually find a relatively smooth track formed by automobiles and trucks.  For seven miles I was on chip seal so severe I was supporting myself an inch off the saddle and touching my handlebars only enough to keep control.  When I finally reached a "normal" asphalt road, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Tomorrow we get to Memphis where we are going to play tourist for a couple of days.
Today's data:

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