The past few days, through various circumstances, I've had the privelege of wandering about several parts of these United States, both parts known (to me) and unknown until now. Some transcripts from these travels:
In my native Mississippi, my youngest brother and I went fossil and plant hunting along the Alabama-Mississippi state line, where Buckatunna Creek flows down to meet the Chickasawhay River, before their combined waters slowly make their way to the Gulf. We came across some nice limestone glades with lots of fossil shells, clams, and at least one shark's tooth. Yes, Mississippi has rocks and even fossils, though not very many. We get quite excited when we find some. We also went looking for odd plants, as Joseph (he's nine) is currently on a botany kick, and it's long been a hobby of mine. The highlight of our outing was a little bog outside of State Line, MS, where we dug up a dwarf red pitcher plant, one of several insect-devouring plants that inhabits South Mississippi.
Last weekend, my mother and Joseph took a short trip to Chattannooga, TN, which we had not visited in several years. We actually stayed at the venerable Roy Accuff Inn a few miles outside of Chattannooga, in Jasper. The Inn proudly announces "American-Owned"; or rather, it did when we arrived. The sign changed one night to "Owned and Operated by Accuff Family." Not exactly sure why either was particularly significant. At any rate, the place is pretty decent, though I ran out of hot water one morning, which was rather disconcerting. Still the continental breakfast was excelsior.
We wandered about the battlefield on Lookout Mountain, and later drove down to the Chickamauga. On the way there I happened to notice a sign pointing the way to the John Ross House, which lies just behind a gap in the famous Missionary Ridge. I'd never noticed the house before, so we drove over to look at it. It's behind a fence, tours on a prior arrangement basis only, and has a little lake in front swarming with ducks who beg for handouts. John Ross left the house- which is made of sturdy logs and fronts a lovely hillside- to join the other Cherokee on their forced expulsion by the US Federal government in the 1830's. He was himself only 1/8th Cherokee, but choice exile with them. A few years later the remnants of Rosecrans' army would pass by the house before settling into Chattannooga. A few months after that the remnants of Bragg's army would pass nearby fleeing into Georgia, and with them still more things would pass forever away.
Tonight I am in Longview, Washington, with my university's speech and debate team (which has done fairly well in competition, I must say). It is no longer raining outside but it has been for a couple of days. The local folks inform me it only started raining a couple days ago and that it had been sunny and lovely for a couple of weeks. Ah well. Portland, Oregon, had a wonderfuly large- gigantic- bookstore, where I purchased a few things. It was an exceedingly happy place. Longview is not very large and distinctive mainly for the quirky Squirrel Bridge and Squirrel Statue. Rather odd. This is my first time in the Pacific Northwest; interesting place, interesting people. Different. Many of the people I've met have had little if any contact with Mississippians, so that makes for interesting inter-cultural exchange. And of course, we've the whole Storm to talk about, which everyone has heard about. So now people have two things to connect with Mississippi: poverty and racism, and the Hurricane. Well... This part of the world could use more sunlight. We're thinking of going sight-seeing tommorrow, contingent upon the weather, which I predict will involve rain. Makes for magnificent trees though.