Tandem, An American Love Story

We stopped at a culture fair on the Trace, just north of Jackson, and enjoyed Indian social dancing, stickball competitions, and demonstrations of frontier crafts and skills.

The Bureau of Land Management had a booth, which surprised me. It seems the BLM owns mineral rights under lots of land east of the Mississippi. Anyway the BLM man had some interesting things to say about American history. When describing the siege of Vicksburg, he described the Civil War as, “…when the North invaded America.” I asked if that meant that he didn’t think the war was over. “Not with some people,” he said.

He was also of the opinion that the South was the only place in America where family values and family history was still alive. He thought the West was particularly devoid of these essentials to civilized life. Interesting.

I am still processing that conversation, as well as the one with a restaurant owner back in Tupelo. When describing why his establishment was so hard to find, (we got a reference at the post office), he suggested that he wanted to build his business slowly among those who could appreciate his type of restaurant (a Chicago style deli). His regular customers help him out with word-of-mouth advertising so he doesn’t have to publicly advertise. He suggested that it was best that certain people who didn’t belong in such a restaurant would not be able to find it, and that his regulars were more comfortable knowing those people would not be dining with them. Interesting. I am afraid that I think he means dark skinned people. I could be wrong, but the code seems fairly clear to me.

We are staying with League of American Bicyclists Hospitality Home hosts, Sue and Paul here in Jackson. They both teach and are very active in bicycle advocacy. Claire is happily listening and learning.

We went to a wonderful catfish supper at the place everyone here brings their visiting friends and relatives. We got an extra bowl of turnip greens that I practically devoured single-handedly. Nothin’ like a bowl a greens an sum hush puppies with yer caitfeesh.

The next day, we survived the traffic out of Jackson with the help of Sue and Paul’s directions and the fact that it was Sunday morning. We stopped for groceries and to eat a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s around noon. No shortage of black people there, at least two to one, all dressed up for Sunday Dinner out. I liked the little girls in their velvet and lace and the little boys in white shirts and ties. Everybody having a good time. Us too. A big open smile is all it takes to make a white boy, what is dressed up funny, fit right in.

Some interesting Mississippi facts: The town of Vicksburg did not celebrate July Fourth until sometime in the 1970’s. Even the U.S. Post Office did not close. Only in America.

The Governor of Mississippi recently justified the opening of casinos by saying they were just to “…fleece the Yankees.”

An interesting thing here, people think of us, Westerners now to the core, as Yankees. Huh? I guess the attitude is, “Ifn ya aint with us, yur agin us.”

Tonight we are at a Park Service campground near the long abandoned town of Rock Springs. Claire and Zippy were champing at the bit to ride some trail, so we took on a section of the old Trace that led from the new Trace up the hill to Rock Springs through the deep woods. Zippy did great on the trail, treadless tires (slicks) and all, and Claire wants more.


Tandem, An American Love Story — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories, and the update on your own adventures. That last few days back to Sequim was bitter-sweet after more than a year on the road. We’ve never been the same; a good thing.

  2. What a marvelous and beautifully descriptive article about a simply amazing woman – Karen Landis. I’ve had had the serendipitous experience to create and nurture a friendship with Karen after I underwent a hip replacement and three hip fractures and realized I needed to request the local “Meals on Wheels” service. And of course, if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Karen serves the Chino Valley community two days a week by delivering meals to people in my circumstance.
    I loved Karen the first moment I met her. And when we started chatting I knew I had met a soul mate. I’ve been looking all my life for a role model, a hero, an amazing example of humankind. I don’t know if she realizes what an outstanding example she is of a strong, independent, intelligent, talented woman. Sometimes as women, we have a dentency to undervalue ourselves. But Karen, I want you to know you are the real deal. You are just so beautiful in your authenticity. And I a so appreciative of the value you have added to our environment by caring for the land and the animals under your watchful care. Your abilities and strength simply boggle my mind. And thank you for your loving service to me these past four months. You rock girl!

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