November 8, 2022, York, AL. Today, I got up early and readied my bags and bike for the short jaunt to the Amtrak station. After saying “Au Revoir” to Karen and M.A., I hit the street. About 2/3 of the way to the station, my front tire went flat. Knowing I had only a mile to go and stopping to pump it up or fix it there might make me late for baggage check in, I walked Papa H to the station. Once there, I got checked-in but asked the clerk for 15 minutes to fix the flat. I found a beer bottle arrowhead embedded in the tire. At least it was easy to see and extract. I booted the tire where the glass came through and put my last new tube in. Had it ready with time to spare. I’ll need that time today as I don’t get into Meridian until 1:30 and then I have at least a three hour ride to York AL where I’m overnighting. Sunset is now just shy of 5 pm and it’s dark by 5:30.

The train was a bit late getting into Meridian, and by the time I retrieved the bike and loaded it up, it was almost 2. All I had known of Meridian before this trip was that it was the catch-line in the song Red Dirt Girl by Emmylou Harris. I learned from Amy (from the Po Boy Festival) that it was also the hometown of Jimmie Rodgers, “The Father of Country Music.” I went to his museum, but it was closed. Oh, well. There’s a clip of him below. Meridian was also famous for a trial in its federal courthouse:

On June 16, 1964, Michael Schwerner, who along with Andrew Goodman and James Chaney had come to rural Neshoba County community of Longdale to inspect a black church that had been burned to the ground, were killed. Their bodies were discovered 45 days later buried in an earthen dam.

On October 7, 1967 in the Meridian courtroom of Judge William Cox the trial began. A jury of seven white men and five white women, ranging in ages from 34 to 67, was selected. On the morning of October 20, 1967, the jury returned with its verdict. Seven defendants, mostly from Lauderdale County, were convicted.

    Seven men, mostly from Neshoba County, were acquitted.

The Meridian Star

The courthouse was closed in 2012 as a cost-saving measure, so I didn’t get there either.

Just as well. I needed to get on the road. I followed US 80/US 11 from Meridian to the Alabama border and on to York. It wasn’t a pleasant ride as there was a shoulder but it was made almost useless by foot-wide rumble strip that was placed in the middle of the two foot wide shoulder. I was at times able to do the shoulder dance and stay between the rumbles and the road or the rumbles and the grass (six inches if I was lucky), but it wasn’t always possible. Fortunately, the traffic was pretty light except for a number of logging trucks. My newly in-use mirror was very helpful in deciding if I needed to move off the road depending on oncoming traffic and what was coming from behind.

And, I knew exactly when I hit Alabama, even without seeing the sign. The shoulders widened significantly, and though they still had the rumble strip, there was enough room on either side of it to ride without having to concentrate so hard.

I stayed at the only motel in York, an “America’s Best.” (hint: it isn’t). It was the only option on the route from Meridian to Birmingham that wasn’t twenty miles out of the way and the best way to split the trip into three parts, and get in by dark. It all worked out. Not much in York to speak of, but there are a few pics below. Tomorrow, it’s on to Tuscaloosa.

Jimmie Rodgers