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    Clarksdale Hopefulness

    July 13, 2016

    I found a place to stay! 


    Despite the pricey costs advertised online, I was able to secure an entire cabin for $50 a day.  I took a risk and sent an email to an airbnb host who had a large piece of property. 


    The risk worked. 


    The owner had no one staying for a few days, so she (I learned later) worked within my budget constraints.


    Her "farm" was less than 10-miles from downtown. 


    Talk about luck!


    I jumped back on 61 heading north on the continuously rural highway.  Besides the lush, fertile scenery, one exciting point came when I drove by a man on a giant-wheeled, vintage-looking tricycle. 


    It was both the coolest and oddest sight I had seen on the road. 


    I desperately wanted to ask him questions and take some photos; however, it's tough to accomplish that on a 65-mph road with very little median room. 


    Not sure the tractor trailers would have appreciated our tete-a-tete. 


    Instead, I looked back at my right rear-view mirror and absorbed the memory I had of him.

    When I arrived downtown around 1 p.m., I stopped to eat at a place called Yazoo Pass. 


    It was an upscale bistro. 


    Not something I expected to see based on the dilapidated scenery I had passed seconds before my arrival.  I just stumbled upon the place as I made various rights and lefts along the main square. 


    I sat alone along a large bar facing the street eating a BLTA (avocado). 


    A couple of guys to my left were discussing ideas -- about what -- I do not remember.  I had only been half-listening.  


    Then, a man plopped down across from me. 


    A minister. 




    We spoke for a little while about the local culture, public education in the area (and Mississippi), and entrepreneurial opportunities.


    Originally from New York, he and his wife home-schooled their now adult children.  He offered some advice regarding what to do and what to see.


    We shook hands, and parted ways.


    I strolled around town for another 10-minutes -- not long.


    Frankly, I wanted to unload my gear and shower, so I headed back on the bike.


    On my way to the cabin, I took what I would call the scenic route.  The roads around here change names constantly, so let's just say I arrived 30-minutes later than I had expected.


    My housing was perfect.


    Serene and secluded, yet close to downtown.


    As instructed, I left myself into the open cabin.  I tidied up the place, unloaded my gear, started some laundry, and cleaned up.


    When I jumped back on my bike to head back into town, it was just after 6 p.m.  On my way out, I ran into Eric.  He introduced himself and offered grilled hamburgers and beer or wine if I was interested.  (Apparently, he was intrigued about my journey.)  I agreed to the offer; however, I told him I wanted to ride back into town to enhance my spatial awareness.


    He understood, and said he'd have dinner ready around 7.


    On my way back into town, I felt much better about where I was and how to get around.  I parked the bike for about 30-minutes and took shots of abandoned and dilapidated buildings -- a common sight in rural Mississippi. 


    The one below is located right across from Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero.


    Unfortunately, many of these (sometimes architecturally-interesting) structures serve as a reminder of what once was.



    Namely, prosperity.



    However, Clarksdale is no Vicksburg. 




    Hopefulness emanates here. 


    Signs of revitalization.


    Literally, signs.


    Signs that hint:  A change is gonna come




    On my way back to the motorcycle, I saw a small convenience store and purchased some milk for tomorrow's coffee (the cabin had java and a french press!).  


    I asked the young clerk if it ever snowed here.  He said it has, or rather it does, but it never seems to stick.


    I drove back to the cabin with a luxurious sense of freedom.  I knew where I would be for the next four days -- I knew how to get around -- I had a beautiful place to relax. 


    I played a game called dodge the dragonflies along the curvy and smooth road. 


    Within a few minutes of my cabin arrival, Eric stopped by to see if I was ready for some burgers. 


    He's a data/numbers guy for the owner of the property.  


    Basically, I learned that the owner -- a woman -- essentially had a sophisticated method for "flipping farms." 


    She buys them low, makes them profitable, and sells them high.   


    Granted it takes her anywhere from five to seven years. 


    Originally from Nebraska, I wondered whether she was part of the Warren Buffet clan. 


    Back to Eric.


    He hails from the Chicago area and provides the data his boss needs for risk-taking and decision-making. 


    He grilled our burgers to perfection (medium rare), and offered me a cucumber salad, too.  We even had a nice Syrah with our meal. Eating heartily, we exchanged travel stories. 


    He's trekked just about everywhere. 


    Five marathons in five continents (two more to go!); hiked the Camino de Santiago (in about a month); explored the mountains of Japan; traveled throughout Peru, too. 


    This guy has been nearly everywhere, and he's still not done. 


    In other words, he understands the importance of the journey.


    I explained my reasons for this trip -- basically telling him that the reasons seem endless. 


    In fact, I keep uncovering more reasons for why I had to do this.


    He seemed to understand my perspective. 

    After dinner, he drove me to a blue's joint and ultra dive bar called Red's/Redd's (both spellings were seen inside).  It was a place both the cabin owner and Minister Larry suggested earlier that day. 


    Red's was cozy, lit-up in red (of course), and divey.


    We paid a small cover and found some velvet-covered bar stools.


    I had a water and later some delicious Mississippi beer.


    The place -- the mood -- the Blues -- the vibe -- alerted me that I was very far from the familiar.  Like watching that tricyclist, I absorbed the memory of it all.  


    We left before midnight and walked to a nearby cemetery. 


    Reading some of the tombstones, Eric and I reflected on the history of this place.


    During our ride home, he caught me up on current events since I have been out of the distorted news loop.




    Providing me (in his words) -- ultimate concierge service -- he dropped me off at my cabin door. 


    We said our good-nights.


    I rested soundly in a pillow-lavished bed.

    Until we meet again, my friend.   















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