Jim Ray Journal Fifth Installment

Jim Ray rides across America Day 17 | May 18, 2004

DAY 17
We left Picayune, Miss., this morning and ditched the Adventure Cycling map for a more direct route. We headed down Route 43 to Highway 90. We are now riding along the coast of Mississippi. We had severe rain again today. Jim got stuck in the rain three different times. Poor guy, and it was really raining hard too. We stopped in Biloxi, Miss., due to the rain and will pick up again tomorrow. The rain has been scattered but heavy when it hits. It was awesome to see the beach today. You feel like you are getting close when you hit the beach.  

We passed through Brett Favre's home town this morning, Kiln, Miss. We got a picture of me by the sign. We passed through the Bay of St. Louis (where are we?) and then into Biloxi. We didn't realize what a huge gambling city this is. Wow, you should see some of these casinos. Incredible buildings.

Tomorrow we are heading to Mobile, Ala., or even Pensacola, Fla. It really depends on the weather, wind and traffic. This route is definitely more direct but much more heavily traveled.  

The pictures today are of Jim riding in the rain and a nice coastal Mississippi picture. Hope you enjoy. Until tomorrow.

DAY 18
What a fantastic day. We spent the night in Biloxi, Miss., which is very busy with traffic. We knew if we wanted to make time today we would have to get up early and get moving. We left at 7:00 a.m. on a very busy Highway 90 which follows the coast of Mississippi and Alabama. We motor paced the entire way. Not too many happy motorists who had to go around us, but most were courteous. We made it through the whole day with no rain. It turned out to be a beautiful day. Jim averaged 20 mph today. Our course ended when we ran into water today. We got to Dauphin Island, Ala., and had to take a ferry across Pelican Bay and over to Ft. Morgan, Ala.  

Dauphin Island is rich in American history. On the eastern point of Dauphin Island stands Fort Gaines, which was begun under the administration of President James Monroe and completed in the 1850s. In January of 1881, on the eve of the Civil War, Alabama militia seized the fort to ensure control of Mobile Bay. The Confederates held the fort until Aug. 8, 1864, when Rear Admiral Farragut fought the battle of Mobile Bay and took Mobile. I've attached pictures of the fort for you to see.  

The ferry ride across Mobile Bay was awesome. Much different than the Anderson Ferry in Cincinnati. That was a very enjoyable part of our journey today. After we departed from the Ferry, Jim got back on the bike and rode another 21 miles to where we stopped for today in Gulf Shores, Ala. We are very close to Pensacola, Fla., and the end of our journey.

Remember, tune into Warm98 (98.5 FM www.warm98.com) tomorrow morning at 8:40 a.m.  Also, if you can't receive the e-mails and want to follow our trip, go to www.sparkcincinnati.com. They have the journal entries and pictures.

If you haven't taken the time to contribute to Special Olympics yet, we would appreciate your support. I am attaching a link to their website.

Thanks for all the supportive e-mails. We really appreciate all the encouragement we have been receiving.

DAY 19
Today started out to be beautiful. We spent the evening on Gulf Beach, Ala. It would make a great resort vacation spot. If you're looking for a fantastic beach, that would be the place to go.

After we talked to Warm 98 this morning, we headed out for today's ride. We got two miles into our trip and Jim had a flat. He ran over some glass on the side of the road. We had to stop and change the flat which put us about 30 minutes behind.

We got back on the road to find that Pensacola, Fla., was just a few miles up the road from where we were staying. It was no time and we were crossing into Florida. I cannot believe we are in Florida already. The days are flying by.  

Due to poor navigation by one Donna Ray, we got lost, again, today. I need to take a lesson in map reading (while driving and following Jim). I'll bet I got us 15 miles off course due to my error. I hate when that happens. You would think I'd be pretty good at map reading after doing it for 19 days.

Jim had to stop and help with the navigation, and we finally figured out where we were and got headed in the right direction. The roads that we traveled today were very busy. There was a slight shoulder for Jim to ride on, but the cars were flying past him at 55 mph. Didn't seem to bother him, but I was scared to death for him.

We made it safely to Crestivew, Fla., after passing through Pensacola (ugh), Pace, Milton, Holt and Milligan.

Not much to look at today, scenery-wise. We rode along the coast for a short period of time, but then we turned inland and mostly through towns. Today's pictures are not too exciting.

We're not sure where we will land tomorrow. We will figure that out tonight, but we are almost there.

DAY 20
Today was a good riding day, but very boring. We stayed on the same road, a straight shot all day today. Jim had a nice riding shoulder so I drove ahead a few miles and would wait then drive ahead a few miles and wait. The day was very similar to yesterday where we went through several small towns with not much to see. Most of the scenery today was a two-lane road lined with pine trees. The excitement for the day was my getting to chase another train for a picture, as seen in the seventh online gallery. The things I find to do to amuse myself. No toot toots today, though.

The towns we traveled through today were DeFuniak Springs, Argyle, Ponce de Leon, Westville, Caryville, Bonifay, Chipley, Cottondale, Marianna, Grand Ridge, Sneads, Chattahoochee, Gretna and into Quincy. Phew, that's a lot of small towns.

We are only 178 miles away from Jacksonville, Fla. and only 225 miles to St. Augustine, Fla.  We should be in St. Augustine on Saturday or Sunday at the latest. Isn't that fantastic?

This has been an incredible journey with memories to last a lifetime. Please, if you haven't already done so, help us make some incredible memories for the Hamilton County, Ohio, Special Olympic athletes by donating your time or money to this worthy cause.

Two days and counting.

The journal continues with a sixth installment.