Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
“My daddy knew T. J. hooker”, Justin Vassel told me. “Daddy said he couldn’t play and never did figure out why he became famous”. Justin also built the small restaurant/house where he lived. “I used to work in a box factory. Little by little I took the scrap home, learned about electricity and plumbing, and build my home” Now this is America!
Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
Finally, fertile farms. Harvested corn fields dot the country side as I trot still west along highway 8. At lunch, I divert toward Greenwood, a bigger town. It was worth it. I got The Blues Trail Map, a historic treasure for blues fans like me.
Friday, March 21st, 2014
The rain came down hard before the sun came up. The wind did not help either. The temperature was about 38 degrees. I waited drinking Waffle House coffee until the rain stopped a little. Bravely I headed out into the cold. The nastiness continued for the morning. Afternoon brought sun and the narrowness once again of Highway 8. On I pushed.
Friday, March 21st, 2014
As I walk along Grenada Lake heading into the town many recreationists clog the road. A group of fifty motorcyclists in The Cristian Motorcycle Association assemble at the foot of the dam for a bike meet. They are accompanied by flashing police motorcycles. Fisherman dot the spillway hoping for a bite. Large RV campers fill every available spot adjacent to the lake. The more elite buzz by in flashy pickup trucks towing high speed water craft. Then there are the dogs!
I tried to determine what was inside the narrow stainless steel carriers fastened on top of pickups and flatbeds. From the adjoining woods men and women dressed in camouflage fatigues paraded toward the containers. Inside were retriever dogs. “We train them to get a rating to show their proficiency in duck hunting” a trainer named Clint told me. I sold Mo last year to an insurance salesman he used him last season. Now I have Mo to continue the training.” Clint was an aircraft fireman at the local Navy air training base.
Recreation is big in the south. People live a different life style from the hustle of the north east.
Thursday, March 20th, 2014
I am in big fishing country. Pickup trucks towing swift boats for fishing dominate the narrow roads. There is a tournament at the large Lake Grenada. I find my way on a parallel road, old highway 8. Apparently the Corps of Engineers after completing the Granada Dam blew up the bridges on this road to help prevent vehicle access. The tactic does not deter four wheelers which race by on the rough surface burying me in dust.
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Northern Mississippi is a land of contrasts. Starkville at its heart is a thriving university town. But, walk just five miles north and the image changes. Many abandoned farm barns and homes dominate the landscape. The soil here is poor. Agriculture seems to be nonexistent. As I walk I reflect on the rich growing lands of the mid-west U.S. and how fortunate a people can be is they are simply blessed with the rich dark, mineral laden, thing we refer to as dirt and, of course, plenty of clean flowing water.
Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
I am back in the Deep South in the city of Starkville. This is the home of Mississippi State University and believe me the fans are rabid. Seniors too wear the state sweatshirts, jackets and of course hats. When last I was here in 2012I finished my walk 6 mile east of town on highway 182. Now at the town center I am heading north, up highway 389, then hopefully west into Arkansas. Well, that is 140 miles away. Nothing to do but Keep on Truckin through Dixie.
Friday, November 29th, 2013
Several months ago when I was walking south through Alabama headed for Florida, I missed a 20 mile stretch of lovely Georgia road.So here I am today making up the terrain that I did not yet cover by walking.
The November weather near Donaldsville, Georgia is nippy. My just purchased Wal-Mart coat keeps me snuggly warm. Alas, my hands, covered with a light weight glove, tingle as the cold numbs my skin. I move forward finally completing the walk, as short as it is, across the state of Georgia.
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Thursday, March 29th, 2012
It is dark as I make my way through a park and then onto an almost deserted highway. I see the lights of an eighteen wheeler rapidly approaching and step far to the side of the road. I am glad I am wearing my recently purchased Wal-Mart reflector vest. It gives me a sense of security even though I am fully aware that the responsibility for my safety is all mine. Drivers at this hour of the morning have likely never encountered a lone walker along this stretch of busy road. The early rain keeps me alert and the hot cup of coffee I carry gives me the perk I need to complete seven miles before breakfast. Yes, this is real life on the road.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
It was hot as I wobbled by the peanut farm on the noisy but straight route 84 just East of Duncanville. Desperate for shade as the 1 PM sun blistered above I suddenly noticed a desolate yet parallel road on the North side of the highway. The dusty dirt surface wasn’t the best but the tall trees broke the monotony. Then the dog attacked.
An African American man repairing a beat up pickup truck in front of a run down, but neatly kept house, called off the beast. I waved my gratitude as we exchanged friendly greetings. Five hundred paces later a group of porch sitting elderly women, also African American asked me if I was OK. “I am coming from Alaska and all is well”, I replied. Then two more local men, working under the hood of yet another pick-up, waved congenially. I saluted them back. All was fine. That is, until I headed back on to highway 84 and the police arrived.
When the officer in the highway patrol car saw me and made a quick U turn in the middle of the highway I knew he would be topping to check me out. “What’s going on? We had a call about you”, he asked pleasantly. In a speech rehearsed many times I explained My Dream Walk and thanked him for taking the time to stop. He nodded. Then he speed off down the highway.
The moral of the story â€“ neighbors everywhere are weary of strangers.