When the temperature and humidity are both the same - 94 - wearing vented motorcycle gear feels like I'm sitting in a convection oven. I guess that's to be expected when we're riding the BMW in the South in August.
Our day started in Natchez, Mississippi riding east on U.S. 84 on a 4-lane divided highway lined with thick stands of trees.
These weren't the usual forests we expect from our time spent living in Vermont; these are forests exploding with a variety of vines and trees growing thickly all over each other, competing for space and covering every spare surface with leafy green.
It's a Sunday morning, and there is almost no traffic on the highway, making us wonder why it's 4 lanes. The miles sped by, and when we crossed into Alabama the road narrowed to 2 lanes.
We turned south on County 1 in Perdue Hill, and suddenly all of the side roads were a sandy red dirt, again lined with thick forests.
We left Natchez at 7am, and by noon we were starting to wonder if we were going to find a place to eat lunch because our route didn't go through any towns. We finally spotted the Stagecoach Cafe in Stockton, at the intersection of AL 59 and AL 225, and enjoyed the best lunch, if not the best meal, of our trip.
The Stagecoach features a Sunday buffet with fried chicken, corn, cabbage, green beans, potato salad, lima beans, rice and gravy, roast beef, Caesar salad, macaroni and cheese, and corn bread. The food was delicious, the service friendly and fast, and a lovely woman played old-time favorite tunes on the piano.
The entire meal was Southern home cooking at it's best, and then there were the desserts: chocolate buttermilk pie, banana cream pie with meringue, and warm peach cobbler. We took a portion of each dessert and shared so that we could sample everything.
The waitstaff wore t-shirts with 'Stagecoach Cafe: where macaroni and cheese is a vegetable' emblazoned on the back. When we left, the woman at the cash register encouraged us to come back, and if we're ever in Stockton, Alabama again we definitely will eat lunch at the Stagecoach Cafe.
Back on the road we continued on AL 225 to U.S. 98, and then onto the scenic U.S. 98 that took us away from the standard fast-food restaurants and shopping meccas that line the 4-lane highway as we got closer to the coast, to winding our way through residential streets lined, and sometimes covered overhead, with shade trees.
As soon as we checked into our hotel in Gulf Shores and unloaded the bike we headed straight for the beach: white sand that squeaks when we walked on it, big waves that knocked us over, and finally respite from the heat and humidity while riding the motorcycle.
Tomorrow we plan to ride into two new states: first Florida, then we turn north into Georgia. Today is the only day of our entire trip that we'll be at the ocean, and we took full advantage of the sand and sea. Here is today's route