Weekend Wheeling: Jackson, Mississippi
On my way back through Jackson, I stopped and checked on the machine, which was still running smoothly. Convinced I could leave town overnight, I decided to forgo getting a motel room in town. Instead, I would put my camping gear to good use and get a campsite at Clear Springs Recreation Area in the Homochitto National Forest about an hour and a half southwest, near the tiny town of Meadville, Mississippi.
Back on I-55, I drove south 53 miles to the US 84/98 exit at Brookhaven. Turned west for approximately 25 miles, I eventually reached Meadville. I continued about 4.5 miles west of Meadville on US 84, looking for the left turn to the south on County Road 104, which was 4 miles away from the recreation area. Before I arrived at the turn I saw a sign pointing to the District Ranger's office in Meadville (601-384-5876). I followed the signs to the building, where I stopped and got a map for the two trails: Clear Springs Trail (12 miles), and the newly constructed and adjoining Mill Branch Trail (5 miles). As night was approaching, I pitched camp at one of the 22 sites nearby, opting for a beautiful place on the banks of the lake.
The next morning after breakfast, I rode the two trails. Both of them wind along and through the lake—feeding Richardson and Tallys Creeks. Along the ridges that funnel water into these creeks, I nearly forgot I was in Mississippi.
I rode up and over the creek ridges, never staying level for very long. Several sections fell off sharply and went along narrow banks. Tall pines stood over a mixture of smaller hardwoods. Naturally, there were no really long, steep climbs; the highest ground in the state only reaches a few feet over 800. But there was enough elevation change and scenery to suggest the ride you get in parts of Tsali Recreation Area in North Carolina's Nanatahala National Forest. It was certainly not like anything I thought I would find in Mississippi, and certainly not southern Mississippi.
After the ride, which had made me and my bike more than just a little muddy, I took advantage of the mountain bike wash station and gave my steed a thorough cleaning. It was about this time that I happened to look up and sawmuch to my amazementmy boss walking toward me and wagging his finger. All he said was "Jones, Jones, Jones, Jones, Jones," and shook his head. When he got to where I was, he grabbed me by the shoulders.
I thought of taking the hose and aiming it right in his face. What stopped me I'll never know because it was then that I suddenly realized I was back in my office. My two buddies, Skip and Scooter, were standing over me saying, "Wake up!"
"Man, to think you get paid for propping your face up in your hands," Scooter said.
"Guess what?" Skip asked.
"No, even if you ought to be. Scooter's cousin from Jackson just called. She's got three tickets to a blues concert for tonight and can't go. She asked if we're interested. Want to go?"
"Uh, yeah," I said rubbing my eyes, "But let's don't forget our bikes."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication