Map of Our Natchez Trace Bike Trip

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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My tire changing partner
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Day 19 - We got up at 5:15 AM and packed up quickly, but we were delayed by low air pressure in both tires on the bike.  I aired them up hoping to get us through the day instead of delaying our early morning departure.  While we were loading the bike, a farmer named Kendric Proctor stopped by and talked to us.  Little did we know he was about to become an important part of our lives today.  We left Roy's Store Campground and enjoyed a peaceful ride next to a huge oxbow lake on a road with little traffic.  We reached Glen Allan, MS. and that is where our problems began.  I made the first wrong turn on the entire trip.  This route took us past the largest cotton field we have seen so far.  Geri and I joked that the reason cotton T-shirts are so cheap is because of this one field that could produce enough cotton for all the T-shirts being made on the planet this year!  We ended up following a lady doing a morning workout run to the top of the Mississippi River levee.  I knew we were not on our proper route.  The lady tried to help us with directions, but she thought it was best for us to backtrack nearly the entire distance we had already traveled, which was close to 20 miles.  This was not an option that I wanted to follow, and according to my GPS, we could travel on top of the levee to a road several miles south and get back on route.  My choice, however, was a poor one.  The levee road had deep, loose gravel and it was difficult to pedal a weighted tandem bike on.  We struggled for nearly 2 miles when a man in a pickup truck drove up beside us.  It was Kendric Proctor, the same man we talked to this morning, although we did not recognize him right away.  It so happens that the lady running was Michele Proctor, Kendric's wife!  When she got home and told her husband about the couple she met on a tandem bicycle, Kendric knew it had to be us and he knew our route choice was going to be very unpleasant.  He came after us to invite us into his home for the night, so we could get a fresh start in the morning on the right road.  My thoughts flashed back to the many wonderful people we met on our transcontinental triathlon in 2004, who helped us out and it was an easy decision to accept Kendric's generous invitation.  We pedaled back to the Proctor's home and enjoyed their hospitality the entire day.  The series of coincidences that brought the Stewarts and the Proctors together seems greater than to have occurred by chance and it seems to provide evidence for Divine intervention and micromanagement in our lives.  In that regard, within minutes after arriving at the Proctor's home, Geri and I were observing his free range chickens and Kendric commended on the huge number of birds he has lost.  At that very moment, a raccoon climbed out of a tree in broad daylight with us standing only 25 yards away and crouched in a predatory position.  Within seconds he attacked a chicken right before our eyes.  Kendric was able to grab a rifle and eliminate the raccoon just in time to save his chicken.  We were all amazed that the raccoon was so bold as to make his attack in broad daylight right in front of us.  Kendric then commented, "If it hadn't been for you guys, I would have lost another chicken."  He would have been in the field on his tractor and come home to one less bird in his flock and falsely blaming the alligators.  It seems we were all brought together by something more than random chance.  I spent the day helping Kendric do repair work around the farm as best I could and Geri stayed at the house with Michele.  We were treated to a great BBQ dinner in their comfortable home and given a large bedroom for ourselves for the night.  The only negative of the day is that I returned from my day with Kendric to a bike with a rear tire completely flat, but I enjoyed repairing my tire with an armadillo only 10 feet away!  I've only seen those animals as road kill in Missouri!!  I thought about having to change the tire on top of the levee in the heat of the day with no shade instead of in the comfort of the Proctor's home.  Coincidence or intervention?  Think about it!!!

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