The encounters I have had with locals and visitors have been great.
Early in the day, I spoke with a local cyclist who plans to meet with me on Sunday. I'm looking forward to this. He has heard of our story and wants to get our event covered in the local newspaper. This is most welcome.
One thing I have learned on this voyage is that there is more to Heart Across America than raising funds to help prevent stroke and heart attack. It's also more than raising awareness. I am seeing that it is also giving hope to stroke and heart attack survivors.
I met a couple today on my ride. James and Debbie. Oh how I wish I had video interviewed them! We had stopped at a gas station for a quick break.
James walked up to our van. He is relatively young and walking with a cane. He stares at our van with curiosity. I'm inside taking a break and trying to cool off. I tell him that I have ridden from Palo Alto. He and his wife gasp in astonishment. I then tell them that I am riding for the American Heart Association to help prevent stroke and heart attack. James looks at me and proudly says "I've had both!"
We talk about what caused his stroke and heart failure and then go into Sean's story and his remarkable determination and recovery. Debbie looks at James and says "See! You can get better!"
They both laugh. It was a good moment. I wish them the best. Such a cute couple!
I have to believe that spreading the word on Sean's recovery and his "never give up" attitude has to be an inspiration to many who are struggling to recover. I have met dozens on this trip and that's not surprising. Stroke is the number one cause of disability in the USA.
Once in Natchez, I played tourist. After completing my first blog of the day, Dennis and I walked down the street and I grabbed a quick bite to eat at :Fat Mama's, a restaurant that supposedly serves Mexican food. I ordered chicken Nachos. I must have been hungry as even with Velveeta cheese, I thought they were great.
I got a chance to practice my french with a french couple sitting at the table next to me. I shared the HAA mission and they said "You're the guy we saw riding down the highway!" So now the HAA message has gone international.
As we left, I couldn't resist taking a photo of this sign:
After a short nap, it was time to eat again! Here's a shot of the bridge over the Mississippi as the sun was setting
Dinner was at a cute little bistro and as luck would have it, a couple was struggling to order their food. She was from Chile and he was French. Neither one spoke English and the waiter was struggling.
I offered to translate and suddenly I had two new friends. It was fun jumping from Spanish to French and then to English! They got their order right and the restaurant comped me a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. I was all smiles. I also handed out my HAA card. Other patrons came up and wished us well. Quite the splash.
Tomorrow it's time to do some much needed bike maintenance work, then meet up with Todd Nelson who will be joining me as we ride to Nashville. I also hope to meet some of the local cyclists.
If you want a good read, check out Todd's musings as he prepares for this part of the ride:
My Head In Mississippi