August 1, 2005 – Monday – Day 37

48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 384 – Total Miles: 9573 – Average: 258.7 (travel days)
8:30am-4:30pm (8hrs.)
SARDIS, MS (south of Memphis) to GULF PORT, LA
(-staying at an EconoLodge-) MS,LA (39/48)

It was a basic keep-riding and make-time day today. All interstate at 80-90mph and a couple truck passes at 100mph. We wore our orange cool vests for the first time for awhile since it was pretty darn hot.

At a Taco Bell in McComb, MS, I put my head down at the table and just fell asleep. Did that the other day, too, at a lunch stop. My body must really be fighting off the probable virus in my belly (which ranges from just okay to very painful at times). Now, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t get sick very often so this is something pretty unusual. But I’m also the kind of guy who can just put his mind ‘somewhere else’ to tolerate a painful situation – like, for instance, no Novocain for even the occasional root canal! So this has been more of a discomforting nuisance and something Karen has to put up with, more than an actual illness.

A woman came up to Karen while I was sleeping and Karen got in the usual conversation with her. Marilyn Jackson had said she had seen the motorcycle (and sign) and that she just wanted to come over and “welcome us to Mississippi,” and that she “was glad we included Mississippi in our trip.”

At a gasoline stop right after lunch I came into the station with a little herky-jerky motion and then came right up to the pump and stopped very short. Well, it just hit Karen kind of funny the way that happened, and she went off on a laughing binge. I got into it, and helped it continue with a few deadpan, “What?” comments. And then a few wry and deadpan jokings, “Are you making fun of my driving?” questions.

Ran into spots of rain between New Orleans and Slidell. They just cooled us off and then we dried out on the other side. But just before Gulf Port there was a bigger storm with no blue that could be seen on the other side. What COULD be seen, however, were long dull orange bolts of lightning splitting the skies. We pulled off and much to our good fortune there was a Waffle House and an EconoLodge (with laundry facilities, to boot!). We stood wondering, in light of only having 3 days left if we should stay, but Karen had our miles figured out, and she said that we’d be able to do it.

From all the trips I’ve taken in the past I know that these last few days are the most important to a journey’s success. I mean now is when home is looked forward to the most, and concentration on the travel at hand can become sloppy. With all the successful days behind, it’s darn easy to become over confident and miss little important details. Also, weariness is at its greatest point now, and problems can develop from being tired. So, as we head into these last few miles of what seems like it will be 11,000 or so, we have to be even more on guard than ever. More perceptive to our surroundings, to sounds and performance of the Shadow, and keenly aware of ourselves and our goal. (But ahhh… ever so looking forward to sitting in our favorite chair again in the cozy tv room at home with a bowl of warm popcorn in our lap watching a favorite show and knowing that we don’t have 420 miles to go when the program is over. mmmmm… )

Author: Joel Perlish

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