Friday, February 1, 2013

On the road again

It has been a while and the Mary Joan has languished in the driveway. Now, however, she is back on the road and she is taking us to more beautiful places.

The current journey began both much later and much earlier than planned. The weather was probably the most important factor that affected the change of our itinerary. I promised a friend that I would help him get his new sail boat from Maine to the Bahamas in the early fall. The plan was for him to get the boat to Massachusetts late in October. However, hurricane Sandy forced him to delay his departure from Maine for a week. We met in Buzzards Bay and took the boat to Point Judith, Rhode Island. Then, a major Nor' Easter came up the coast that forced us to stay put for another three days. After waiting out the storm, we sailed south along the coast to Norfolk, Virginia then entered the Intracoastal Waterway to avoid the dangers of Cape Hatteras. We made good time, but when we reached Beaufort, NC the weather would not allow us to leave for a full week. The winds were out of the North East and crossing the Gulf Stream would have been uncomfortable at best and extremely dangerous at worst. We spent Thanksgiving in Beaufort rather than in the Mary Joan in Louisville, Kentucky as we had planned. Louisville was our favored spot because our son John is stationed at Ft. Knox and it is just below the latitude that snow regularly occurs.

The Mary Joan suffered the cold and snow of late December in Massachusetts. The weather forecast for the week following New Years was for cold clear weather for the entire distance between Massachusetts and Kentucky. This provided an opportunity to move her south without exposing her to a thousand miles of salty slush on the highways. On the morning of our departure, we awoke to -7F. With the truck and trailer hitched the previous day, I went out at 8AM to start out journey. The truck would not start. I instantly knew that the problem was frozen diesel fuel. The last time I put fuel in the truck was during our last trip in the early fall before the fuel companies begin putting anti-gel compounds into the diesel fuel. I used a tarp to enclose the motor and under-carriage and placed an electric heater beneath the motor to warm it and the fuel filter. After three hours, the truck finally started.

We made quick time to Louisville and left the trailer at Grandma's RV park where we had been before. John was able to join us for dinner on Sonday evening. Then, it was a quick trip back to Massachusetts. We planned to return in early to mid February to start our trip to Arizona. But, John asked us if we could come earlier and tow a U-Haul with his and his bride's, Becca, household belongings. (They were married right after Christmas and Becca was moving to Kentucky).

Sarah and I completed the delivery, picked up the Mary Joan and headed south on January 28th. Another Airstream owner told me about the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Natchez Trace is an old 'highway' that connects Natchez, Mississippi with Nashville, Tennessee. It was an important conduit from the 18th until the 20th century. The trace was the perfect route to get us further south before heading west. It is a smooth two line highway with extremely limited access. This made driving very relaxing because we didn't have to constantly be alert to other vehicles entering or exiting the highway. Also, it is restricted to non-commercial traffic. So, no semi-trailers to deal with.

One of the most intriguing features of the trace are the mounds built by ancient North American inhabitants. These "Indians" constructed both burial and ceremonial mounds out of earth. We found our first mound at Bear Creek. It is an impressive mound that was built for purely ceremonial purposes. 

Bear Creek Mound
This ceremonial mound measured about 70' by 70' on the top. It is perfectly square.

Further along we came upon the Pharr Mounds. These mounds were used as burial mounds as early as 1 - 200 AD. 

We left the trace and stayed at David Crockett State Park. At about 3AM my cell phone weather alert awakened me. I grabbed the phone and saw that we were in a tornado warning zone. Sarah and I quickly dressed and went to the bath house that is constructed of concrete block, believing it to be the safest place should a tornado strike. The wind raged for nearly an hour and we could hear trees crashing down in the forest nearby. Thankfully, no tornado appeared and in the deluge that followed the wind we ran back to the Mary Joan and slept until 9AM.

In the morning, we returned to the trace and continued our journey south. We saw numerous trees that had fallen across the road during the storm the previous night. Fortunately, they had all been cleared before we came upon them. We stopped in Tupelo for lunch at great Mexican restaurant, D Casa Mexicn Grill. Along the way we paused at Meriwether Lewis' death and grave site. Sarah believes he killed himself because he foresaw the genocide that was forthcoming after his exploration of the west.

Roosevelt State Park in Mississippi was our home for the next night. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the small lake. Sarah met a young man who is walking across the United States to promote world peace. We invited him to dinner to learn about his mission. His name is Javier Janik. Javier joined us for dinner and we had a wonderful time learning about him and his endeavor. See more about him here:
Javier is also a standup comic (search for him on Youtube).

Early in the morning we returned to the parkway to visit the Mississippi Craft Museum in Jackson. There were many artists and media represented. However, one artist caught our attention. Harold Miller of Brandon, Mississippi is a wonderful artist. If we could have safely transported one of his sculptures we would have bought it.

Our next stop was at Poverty Point National Monument:

What was unknown and we couldn't learn in American history when I was a child,  is that about 4,000 years ago native Americans had a highly organized civilization that built some monumental structures. These people traded with other native peoples over great distances and built ceremonial mounds whose efforts and communal skills rivaled that of ancient Egypt in the building of the pyramids.Most astoundingly, they were able to achieve an organized effort without having first become an agrarian society. At the time these massive projects were coordinated, these people were still, primarily, hunter gatherers. This was only possible due to the abundance of flora and fauna in the southern portions of North America. Along the trace were many mounds, the Bear Creek Mound is a fine example of the effort that ancient North American people put into building them.

The scale of the work done at Poverty Point is a remarkable achievement of these ancient people. It is estimated that it took over 5 million man hours to move the soil required to construct this impressive monument.
Image copied from:
The mound below is what remains of the prominent mound at the apex of the semi-circle of lower raised mounds.

Erosion has greatly diminished this elaborate mound.
It was a perfect day, clear blue skies and 65F. Sarah and I had hoped to reach Shreveport, Louisiana but fell short and have now settled in at beautiful Claiborne State Park.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate all comments whether about content or style