August 10, 2007

Greetings from Southaven, Mississippi! If you look at a map and fine the absolute upper right-hand corner of Mississippi, you’ll find the city of Southaven. I have reached the final stop on this week’s road trip – two nights at my friend Pat’s house, and, since there are no good local dial-up service providers here, I’m sending this post out courtesy of his son Ryan’s laptop. (BTW, he has Microsoft Vista installed as his operating system, and all I can tell you is I’m glad I still have Windows 2000 on our machine back home. Vista is like Windows on steroids, and it clunky, bulky, and a ridiculously complicated for people who just use their PCs to surf the net, e-mail, and play solitaire, as ours does.)

Today was spent driving from New Orleans up Highway 61 through the Mississippi Delta, a place I’ve always longed to visit. My first mistake was to get on Highway 61 in Louisiana south of Baton Rouge – the traffic was horrendous (as I write this, it occurs to me that every city I’ve gone through this week – San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and New Orleans – has had horrendous traffic) and it put a real crimp in my plans to stop in at both Natchez and Vicksburg just to tool around the old parts of those old river towns. Instead, I had to put the pedal to the metal and bypass those towns so I could spend some quality time around the Delta and still arrive in Southaven before it got dark.

What to tell you about the Delta – it was an amazing place to drive around. Incredibly flat, with fields of dead cornstalks, cotton, and soybeans as far as you can see. I found me a rural dirt road and found myself at a crossroads in the middle of fields of cotton near the town of Leland. The only sound was the insects, and it was a beautiful, mystical experience – you can truly feel the pulse of the land and God’s gift to the people who make this area their home. I had gotten some honest-to-goodness southern-fried chicken at a roadstop a little earlier and relished the time spent in the middle of those fields muching on a hot, delicious piece of chicken. A cropduster passed low over me – fortunately he wasn’t dusting! – either enroute to or from his spraying for the day; probably doing a farmer’s late-season insecticide spray. Between the fields, the quiet, and the plane, it felt very timeless out there – the same scene could have been experienced by someone decades before.

After Leland, I checked out the towns of Greenville (right on the Mississippi River with a short detour across the bridge to Arkansas), Indianola (home of legendary bluesman B.B. King), and Greenwood – all fairly small towns with a modern section at the outskirts and a very old, dying downtown at the center; all very cool. I wanted to get down to Clarksdale, where legend has it bluesman Robert Johnson made his pact with the devil at the crossroads, but you can’t see everything; the sun was starting to drift towards the west and it was time to head towards Southaven.

Tomorrow, Pat is gonna give me a tour of the area, including a visit to the Mississippi River and a great view of it by a casino he once worked at, and then we head into Memphis for some beers, blues, and barbecue.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments (2)
  1. Baton Rouge traffic has been pretty horrendous for nearly 25 years and I don’t think it will be any better 25 years from now. Constant and inadequate construction is the culprit. Projects are long outdated and inadequate before they’re even finished. Adding to their traffic woes is a huge leap (100,000 or so) in population due to Katrina. New Orleans traffic is only recently very bad because of all of the new construction. Much, but not all, of the worst of it is avoidable if you know your way around. It will be better the next time you pass through. The construction along I-10 in the Greater New Orleans Area will be done in about a year.

    Comment by Rob — August 12, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

  2. Thanks for the comment, Rob – looks like I should have gotten some local expertise before I started out, eh?

    Comment by The Great White Shank — August 13, 2007 @ 10:46 am

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