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.
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.
However, Clarksdale is no Vicksburg.
Hopefulness emanates here.
Signs of revitalization.
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.