One Mississippi, Two Mississippi . . .

On this Indiana to Louisiana Ride, we’ve biked 399 miles so far.  (We biked another 124 in March in California.)  This morning we entered Mississippi, our first time ever.


“I” is Russellville, Alabama.  The blue dot to its left is Belmont, Mississippi.

We left Russellville at dawn.  We decided to stop in Belmont after only 34 miles.  With an 86F (30C) afternoon forecast, it seemed sensible to sit on a veranda with a Southern mint julep . . . minus the mint julep.  (Neither Jeffrey nor I drinks alcohol.  Not out of principle.  We just aren’t interested.)

About 15 miles before the Alabama-Mississippi line, Alton and Ryan passed us, pulled over their truck and trailer, and struck up a conversation.


L to R: Ryan and Alton (Ryan’s father).

Alton built houses until the Great Recession, which coincidentally began about the time he found a niche building and refurbishing school stadiums.  School funding continued even when the housing market dived.  Alton’s son, Ryan, joined him in the business.

You gotta like Alton.  He is friendly (he stopped us to talk, as he said he stopped someone walking from Georgia to California a couple of years ago), has a sense of humor, and cares about people.  He leads a Baptist group that spends a week each year building a house for a poor famly in a different state.  His travels have shown him, as our travels have shown us, that Americans have good hearts, even if sometimes we are pulled or pushed in the wrong direction.

After Jeffrey explained the plight of asylum applicants who have no lawyer, and talked about helping the stranger, Alton spoke of his grandfather, who in nearby Vina, during the Great Depression, took in a young black wanderer.  Alton said tongues must have wagged, there were no other black people in Vina and perhaps none in Franklin County, but Grandpa took care of that young man for months as one of Grandpa’s own, until the kid decided to move on.

Alton said that immigrants are the backbone of Alabama’s construction industry, and told the story of a hardworking Mexican, a devoted father, who has spent a lot of money and tried for years to get lawful status, and there’s just no way.  People say, “Get in line!”  But there is no line.

Alton and Ryan want our country’s representatives to be generous and fair in our names, to treat the foreign-born as we know to be right.  They reinforced our view that Alabama people are better than their leaders.  They sent us to Mississippi on a high note.


A bike, a kangaroo puppet, a border: the 35th state reached on the Ride for Human Rights.


Soon we came to Belmont, a quiet old town of 2000 people, and took a room at the charming 1924 Belmont Hotel to wait out the heat.

We’ll head west tomorrow morning, before the heat sets in, on the famous Natchez Trace.

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