6:00am: Awake to the sound of 500 frogs and bullfrogs chirping as they did all night. The dock that I slept on was comfortable enough, but because of the pond, the mosquitos were thick. Thankful, so very thankful for the mosquito netting.

6:15am: Teeth brushed, cart packed, and body sun screened I head out. 13.3 miles till Mississippi. The pedestrian bridge is out, so I will have to get on the freeway, and cross the river…I hope there is a shoulder and that the cops don’t hassle me.

7:30am: Hit the free way entrance.

8:15: I run past weigh stations, I keep my face forward hoping if I am about my business, the cops at the station will be about theirs. There are about 9 cameras on the freeway, I keep my head down and plug forward.

8:40: I hit the first bridge over the delta; I thought at first it was the river…slightly disappointed it wasn’t.

9:00 The bridge is narrow, and there is no shoulder, but thankfully, there is about 3 feet between the semi trucks and the edge. Its not a lot, but enough.

9:10 The river isn’t so big. I thought it was going to be BIG like the Columbia.

9:15 The police cruiser parks sideways to block me and the lane behind her. She is nice though and asks me for my ID. I explain what I am doing, then she asks, “No really, what are you doing?” She smells nice, and I tell her so. She tries to look official because she doesn’t want to be partial to me because of my compliment. But she really did smell good…especially compared to me.

9:23 I’m not wanted in any states so she allows me to finish crossing urging me to be careful.

9:30 MISSISSIPPI! I stopped in the visitor’s center and talked with the young women working there. Every poster and piece of memorabilia on the walls was of white people “enjoying” the ante bellum south, or pictures of civil war generals. Not a single black person pictured, non of their accomplishments, and not even an acknowledgement of the history of the African American to be found. Judging by the pictures, you would think only white people lived in Mississippi…and yet all who worked there were black.

10:30 Find a McDonalds; get some hash browns and pancakes thanks to McDonalds card someone gave me. (thank you again) Not the most healthy breakfast, but there is a reason that McDonalds makes so much money…it does taste good.

11:00 I meet Richard, and in doing so, the trajectory of my day changed amazingly. Richard is the kind of man that makes you ask, “Sheesh, am I under achieving?” Richard is a successful real estate agent, was a vice president of an investment bank, owner of a construction business as well as a business of restoring and procuring fine rare automobiles. To top it off, he is a volunteer firefighter.

11:30 Richard and I talked for a long while and I asked him if I could paint something for his daughters. I painted some violets, and then Howard, a friend of Richards stopped by to say hi. Howard’s face was craggy from a life well lived. I asked to draw him, and he consented.

11:45 A couple of women were watching and liked what they saw. Unfortunately, they were on their way to a funeral, and the tearstains had left their tracks upon their cheeks. So I painted them some daisies.

12:00 One little boy saw what I was doing, and asked if he could paint and draw with me. We decided we would paint a wiener dog, and then exchanged pieces.

12:15 Richard left but promised to return with a frosty delight from the town’s secret purveyor of sweets. Brian, Sam, Ben, and Brady all wanted a picture since I did one for their brother. I painted two wiener dogs, a princess, and a green alien. The boys were happy and so was I.

12:45 A woman waited patiently for me to finish with the boys, and asked me to paint a frog for her grandson.

1:00 Richard returned with the berry smoothie, and asked if I would like to see the rest of the town? We loaded up his truck, and set off downtown to see the oldest art gallery in all of Mississippi.

1:30 We toured the naïve and outsider art gallery, and the coffee shop downstairs. We walked to the Coca Cola museum, an antique store, and a pharmacy that predates the civil war. There in, they have kept much of the instruments, vials, jars, and actual “medicines” from the early and late 1800’s! Many, not surprisingly, we now consider poisons. I wonder if in another 100 years we will look back at our drug hungry culture and marvel.

2:00 Richard offered to take up to see the Vicksburg Civil War Memorial National Park. We piled back in the truck and we drove around where the actual battles were fought. We saw the 2100 sculptures that mark important spots and perused the signs that gave exhaustive play-by-play descriptions of the siege campaign of General Grant. The north finally surrounded, bombarded, and subdued Vicksburg. At one point, grant actually cut a new river to by pass the Mississippi! By capturing Vicksburg, the North essentially won the war, because now supplies could be moved up the Mississippi to support the northern troops.

3:30 Richard took me to see an old ironclad war ship raised in 1965 in nearly pristine condition from the sand of the Mississippi river. The sand kept the oxygen and water from rusting the metal, and thus preserving it. The ship was a treasure trove of civil war artifacts as well because the entire contents of the ships holds were intact…even cloth survived.

5:00 Richard took me to Taco Bell for something to eat, and then drove me to the towns limits. We exchanged hugs and said goodbye. At the exact moment I met some guys hitchhiking across the country, hopping trains, and walking. I offered to go with them for a piece, but they were set on taking the freeway, as such we parted ways.

6:00 Ran 11 miles till darkness threatened to envelop the road.

9:00 I found a church, set up my mosquito net and sleeping pad. Used the hose to take a shower.

10:00pm Fell asleep…happy for a wonderful day. Knowing that everyday is an adventure, and I only wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

 

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