I sneaked around in Sam’s place during the wee hours packing Ginko and stealing ice from his freezer. It couldn’t be a better place to start; the walls are covered with memorabilia from the #TransAmericaTrail.
So I stuff the banana The Saint gave me into my mouth as I head off for the trail head of Mississippi through the morning mist, not knowing what the day would bring and in the excitement forget my tank is almost empty. I head north into Tennessee and an old skool filling station with Lucretia at the helm.
She has a big Harley and dreams of heading west the long way too but her son thinks she’s crazy. Such a sweet lady. She saw the lock of hair stuck to my windscreen that has been my totem of Anne and offered some of her own.
I say to Lucretia- take that Harley and go. Go West.
Whilst I was talking to her I noticed some swanky earplugs on a string round the neck of one of Lucretia’s gas station regulars, commented that I keep loosing mine and he just gave me a pair. What lovely people.
Onward to the #TransAmericaTrail with the weird hum of the knobblies adding to Ginko’s growl we turn onto the trail itself and are instantly presented with rough washed out dirt, fallen trees, creek crossings and sand.
BANG! You’re on the #TransAmericaTrail. Through forests, wide dirt, narrow dirt, shale, stones, sand, pebbles. Up and down the Mississippi lands I too soon run out of water because it is so hot.
Bear in mind I’ve lived in Thailand; it’s hot there but nothing on this. Yesterday was the hottest I have ever been in my life. I drank coming on six litres of water and pee’d twice.
I was searching and searching for water but there was not a soul to be seen. They were all cocooned in their air conditioned mansions and trailers. A dirty creek provided some relief as I splashed water over myself and continued until I saw a dude cutting grass. He asked where I was going and I replied ’Oregon, the hard way’. Turns out he was an Oregon native, a musician who just finished recording at Muscle Shoals. He was on his last sip, so I asked for directions and ended up at a sweet little gas station where the owner and her husband fed and entertained me. Her Philly Cheesesteak was excellent and I scored some ice. Her husband recounted stories of bikes and mower dude told me of his Goldwing.
Then a group of younger Mississippians arrived. These are the people your parents warn you to avoid with their thick accents and tattoos. They were the nicest, most friendly and generous people of their age I have come across. Genuinely interested and happy to see someone traveling, they could only offer support and their most sincere best wishes. Billy (in the red shirt) was in the army and traveled to Hungary and Ireland; he collects artefacts and gave me a precious Indian Arrow head which he suggested I could sell but would never dare. These are the totems by which to remember such great people.
Gary, Stephanie, Billy and the twat in the tinfoil suit.
The all told me to avoid the next road because they were finishing bridges but I told them there was probably adventure there and I set off to find the bridges were, indeed, out but by the power of Ginko we conquered by deftly avoiding bulldozers and ploughing through the fresh soil.
Motoring down the dry trail full of ice water and cheesesteak I suddenly encountered a bit of damp road. This very quickly turned to the slick slimy sticky mud that I believe Mississippi is famous for and in very slow motion Ginko was in a ditch of slop.
The stuff is hard to walk in.
Off come the panniers and within 5 minutes appears Honey Waggon Billy. (Please correct me if I’m wrong with the name!)
Another fine specimen of southern friendliness, he muddies himself to help a complete idiot who dropped his poor bike in a mud ditch.
We needed all of his 6 wheels driving to get my two out and towed Ginko by her sturdy steel frame. I push-motored her to a safe spot, loaded up and by-passed what Honey Wagon Billy told me was much worse up the trail. Apparently they had just graded the road and it rained so hard it was all under water. Nasty.
More very remote trails through the woods ended me at Kathys Kwik Stop and a very bored Becky, who made me a very tasty sandwich. She spends her day looking listfully out the window or surfing the web in her phone, then selling dirty fuel (Ginko hates it) and chewing tobacco.
More trails and me getting to the point where I needed to stop and pushing on ensued. So I dropped her again.
Deep deep sand and a very hot and tired Jason resulted in so much sweat it was dripping off all my fingers and I couldn’t see. The panniers and my suit ended up on an ant hill and the extreme effort of getting Ginko out of that sand resulted in me coming off the trail and into a motel.
Location:Highway 6 E,Batesville,United States
To read the next exciting instalment click here – Arkansas to Oklahoma – Saas and Okies