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Lesson of the Day

September 12, 2012

We got out the door late today. I had to do last nights blog this morning because my blog site is giving me fits. The post just disappears while I’m writing it. Then it reappears after I’ve rewritten it. Ugh!

Anyway….we had another great road day today. Low mileage, great weather….just a fun day.

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Ross Barnett Reservoir

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We had the pleasure of riding along this reservoir for almost 20 miles. The landscape changes every few miles. Long straight sections, crop fields, thick stands of tall pines….a herd of deer crossed in front of us today, lazy s turns, lots of little bridges, wildflower meadows.

And then this…..the Cyprus swamp.

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When you pick up a Trace map at the visitors center, it gives you a milepost by milepost list of sites to see. We picked several things we wanted to see and chose this swamp as a way to get off the bikes and do a short hike. This picture was taken 1 step into the swamp, precisely 1 second before we were SWARMED by mosquitoes and ran, screaming like little children. The obvious lesson, don’t go into a swamp in Mississippi, in hot weather without mosquito netting. Or at all. We immediately scratched the other planned swamp stops off the list. I told Dorothy we should both end up with West Nile by the time we get to the Smokey mountains. She assured my they only have West Nile in NY and NJ.

We stopped at Kosciusko for gas and lunch. Not sure if that’s a reference to the famed Revolutionary War general. We found a down home place and I had my first chicken fried steak?
The lady seemed very upset and concerned for me when i declined both white and brown gravy. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here in the south, except for the fact that I can’t understand a word they say. Everyone just says “hi” to everyone. Its really nice but I’m glad its a graduated ride back to the northeast so I can reaclimate to ignoring everyone around me.

Back on the road, riding up the Trace…..the maintenance guys wave to you. Whether they’re working on the side of the road or driving in a truck. I think I’ve detected some envy in their eyes. Either that or they’re saying, I hope you enjoy the road……we built it for you.

Fifty miles outside of Tupelo, we ran into this…..

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This is damage from a tornado the struck in April 2011. Notice how the branches were stripped off the trunks and now they are regrowing these little stumps. There was a swath cut out on either side of the road for about 15 miles and then BOOM! Back into thick tall trees.

It was such a pleasant ride but I’ll never get use to the feeling of squashed bugs on my bare arms. First it stings when they hit you. You actually feel the “splat”. And then you feel their green, yellow, or orange guts (species dependent) wet against your skin. What’s worse is the fact that if it happens on your left arm….you have no way of wiping it off….right hands on the throttle. Ooooo, yuk!

As the day progressed, it warmed up, but lengthy stretched of the road were under a canopy of trees where it was so cool, I found myself hoping for patches of sun. In and out of the shade/sun, all the way into Tupelo.

Yes today was the day we went looking for Elvis!

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The actual house on the original spot

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The actual room were Elvis was born.

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The lady in the picture is Nina

The property is owned by the town of Tupelo. Nina here has been with the place for 14 years. She knew Elvis when she was an 11 year old kid. Her father was friends with him. Her favorite memory of him was the first time she saw him perform at a local town fair…right up on top of a flatbed truck. She said that was when she knew he was sent from God. I asked if she thought he was devastatingly handsome, she said she didn’t have to think, he just was. As a matter of fact, all the Presley men were handsome and apparently, women chased them all over town. I asked if Elvis stood out in the community or if he was just another teenager. She said he was like the big man on campus.

Elvis was a twin, his brother died at birth. He was buried in a local cemetery with a wooded marker that rotted away. No one knows were he’s buried exactly, so they were unable to have him reinterred at Graceland with the rest of the family. Very sad!

I asked Nina if Pricilla or Lisa Marie ever come around…..she said on the rarest of occasions. There is bad blood between the city of Tupelo and the Presley family. Apparently, Elvis gave Tupelo money for years to build a park out by his childhood home. He wanted the less privileged kids like himself to have swings and a pool. It didn’t get done. Elvis gave more money, it didn’t get done. Finally, Elvis came to town to confront the Mayor. There was no accountability for the money. Nina’s father was at the Mayor’s office when the confrontation happened. He said Elvis was cursing and just threw another wad of cash on the Mayor’s desk, disgusted and said he’d never perform in Tupelo again, and he didn’t. Years later the park was built, but not as discussed. To this day the town does little to play up it’s connection to Elvis. If you weren’t looking for him, you could easily miss him.

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Actual church were Elvis attended…moved to the property. At one point had been turned into a 4 room house before it was sold back to tupelo for preservation. The only thing that’s original is the pulpit.

Tomorrow, we head to Nashville and the end of the Trace. Then East!

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