Holly Springs, MS to Memphis, TN
Day 13 – March 30
It rained during the night and was still raining when we got up, but it gradually lightened and by the time we left Strawberry Plains the sky was clearing and it was 63F.
Before hitting the road we met with Bubba Hubbard, the Director of the
, Andrea Schuhmann their Outreach person
and Audubon Center Chad
Pope, the center ecologist. We talked about how we might connect with them on
the bike trip. They recommended a number of people and groups – either bike
related or river. We appreciate these
local resources and the networks they can link us up with. Andrea is an avid
biker, originally from Kentucky
and she said she has found the ethic in Mississippi Very different than what
she was used to. She didn’t want to
scare us, but she just wanted us to know that there isn’t a lot of respect on
the road for people riding bikes.
A couple features of Strawberry Plains that we really liked were the rain chains and the chimney swift houses. On the pack porch, from each of the downspouts there was a metal rain chain. Each was different and all were works of art – literally – made by a local metal worker. My favorite looked like a string of dreamcatchers, but when I looked closer I saw that each one had a realistic looking spider (its body a stone wrapped in metal). They got smaller (both the webs and the spiders) as you moved closer to the ground. I always loved singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with the grandkids and here was a perfect illustration. There were several of the chimney swift ‘houses’ like we’d seen at the Pascagoula River Center. The chimney swifts are just starting to return to this area and soon they will be streaming into these fake chimneys each evening. We saw one or two flying overhead as we loaded our car.
We decided to backtrack to
to get back on the bike Trail. Plus
there were a couple places listed in the Feasting On Asphalt book that we
wanted to try. Greenville, MS
I noticed on this drive that the Spanish moss no longer draped from the trees. Instead we saw acres of dead kudzu draped over shrubs and plants like a vast brown netting. It appears to have engulfed parts of the landscape.
Black vultures hunched on branches of dead looking trees or clustered on the road around unidentifiable carcasses.
As we entered the community of
we saw a sign announcing the birthplace of Kermit the Frog! Then there was the sign pointing to the
Museum. How could we pass it by? Turning at the next corner we circled around
the block and came up in front of a small wooden building perched above Dream
Creek, Kermit’s birthplace according to Jim Henson. We went inside and were met by a friendly
elderly lady by the name of Dot who was a font of information when it came to
Jim Henson’s history. We videotaped many
stories she so happily shared, many we’d never heard about his childhood. Display cases held various Muppets and Kermit
was in a place of prominence. Jane Henson, Jim’s widow provided many of the
photos and artifacts and some financial support over the years. We couldn’t leave without visiting the little
store and contributing by buying a Leland, MS DVD
and book. Dot would have been happy to
entertain us with stories for another hour, but we needed to be on our
we were looking for honest to
goodness Mississippi Hot Tamles, but also excellent steaks (according to Feasting
on Asphalt). It was called Doe’s Greenville,
MS Eat Place. Mike’s mouth was watering for steak when we
stepped through the door of a tiny white sided building and into one room where
an African American woman was standing at a stove hovering over some very large
saucepans. A couple other ladies had
come in before us and were picking up tamales to go, which we found out was all
we could buy at this time of day. We
ordered a dozen and the owner put them into a foam container and then used a
scissors to cut the string that held each bundle of 3 together. Then she grabbed a handful of saltine cracker
packages and stuck them in the container.
I asked how they’re supposed to accompany the tamales. She said she had no idea, that’s just what people want. So I started to wonder. Is this the way white people eat their tamales? And if so, is this were the perjorative ‘cracker’ came from? Personally, I didn’t find the crackers improving the taste or texture of the tamales. We took them with us and found a picnic table at
. This is a place believed to have been a
ceremonial site in 1000 A.D. for early Indian cultures – known as the mound
builders. Winterville Mounds State Park
Our next stop was the town of
Rosedale – also on the bike route – at the
White Front Café, where we hoped to find Koolickles. Also from Feasting on Asphalt, they
were described as pickles made with Kool-Aid.
We were hoping to bring a jar back to our neighbor Dick Glattly. It was another small white sided building on
the Main St.,
but inside it had a few tables and looked more like a little café. We were disappointed again when the owner,
Miss Barbara said she had no koolickles available. She did have tamales though
– so we bought 6 more. These were better than the ones from Doe’s in our
opinion, plus they were wrapped in corn husks.
Doe’s had been wrapped in a paper of some sort.
As we continued up Hwy 1, we could see the levee off to our left across and past flat farm fields. Crossing a bridge into
the road took us onto CROWLEY’S
Mike saw the sign and stopped so we could walk back and take a photo with me
beneath it. The bridge itself is very
busy and there is no bike lane, so we will require a ride across when the time
Arriving in Helena, Arkansas we stopped to look at signage on the levee that talked about the Memorial to the Trail of Tears – another sad chapter in American history when the Indian tribes of the southeast were take from their homes and land and marched (and loaded onto flatboats towed behind paddlewheels) through Arkansas and over to Oklahoma. Thousands died along the way.
We followed the
River Road out of town. It took us past an old cemetery – the sign
said and next to it were two fenced
in cemeteries – one for the Catholics and the next for the Jews. We could not find the MRT route and suddenly
the asphalt ran out and we were on a dirt road.
This didn’t seem right, but continued to follow it. This was part of a National Forest and
Wildlife Refuge and we weren’t sure where we’d come out, but the Confederate Cemetery GPS showed us some other roads entering up ahead.
In the forest tufted titmice and blue jays called out. After this unexpected
‘shortcut’ our poor little Prius is very much in need of a bath.
We made it to
and our hotel on the far Eastern side of