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Road Trip Part 7 - Vicksburg

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Leaving Little Rock is easy. There is nothing to hold us especially the unceasing rain. Our true journey starts as we take Wilmot in our sights. John’s family springs from there and we hope to find graves of his paternal grandparents. We never do find the graves in a flooded backcountry cemetery and move on to Louisiana and east to Mississippi.

 

Being in Vicksburg MS, even in non stop rain, it seemed bad form to ignore the Vicksburg National Military Park. After all 20,000 Americans gave their lives defending their homes, exerting their independence and enforcing the emancipation of slaves. John made the point that it was odd that the Union defeated the South at Vicksburg as they were simply carrying out the orders of Washington whilst the South was defending homes and a way of life. Nevertheless it is a beautiful solemn place, basically a mass graveyard with markers ornate and simple, large and small, for individuals and for entire companies of soldiers from states throughout the Midwest both Union and South.

Following our early morning tour we hitched up Heath and headed south through the back roads of the back country of rural Mississippi; we are experiencing the antithesis of our gay Wilton Manors. The ride is actually quite picturesque, the roads generally in good shape flowing easily through beautiful rolling countryside. Surprisingly, signs of poverty were few though, when apparent, they were abject. After some miles through one-corner towns, all out of cell signal range, it became oddly eerie even worrisome wondering how we would respond to a problem like a flat tire. Happily we didn’t have to deal with anything of the sort and eventually we surfaced off a one lane blacktop onto I-55 heading south to Osyaka. All this while hauling a 35 foot 12,000 pound fifth wheel trailer mind you.

After an hour southbound on I-55 we exit at Osyaka and find the two-tone green house with brick red trim in a tiny one store town a few miles from the highway. There we meet 87 year old Joy who John has found is his second cousin. She is a sharp well-cared for southern lady who has made sandwiches – with crusts removed – and has more knowledge of the Holt lineage than perhaps Ancestry.com. The house is from 1869 and though in need of maintenance as one might expect from the home of an 87-year-old who lives alone, it is gorgeous; antique door knobs mounted on the inside of hand made plank doors with skeleton keys, plank floors, enormous rooms with high ceilings, front porch for sitting with rockers. She treated us to an entertaining and enlightening afternoon of history both family and general and we were both a bit saddened to leave her alone there in her childhood home to continue our journey.

Taking the US highway, eschewing the back roads as enough is enough, we make our way to Hattiesburg and finally back into a small RV Park next to the regional highway just before dark. We take the last spot with the owner kindly directing the backing. When we are in he asks if there anything else he can do for us tonight and I quip ‘not unless you have some hot pulled pork’. Minutes after we finish hooking up and climb aboard there is a knock at the door and the park owner has a plastic container of pulled pork and a foil wrapped pack containing four slices of white bread.

He said, “The Missus just got this off the stove.” We were happy to find a southern Mississippi local so thoughtful and you can’t buy pulled pork sandwiches that good.

Photo by Ric Reily.

Ric Reily

Ric Reily is the author of two books, Money Is The Root Of All - Skip The Debt Habit, and Gregory’s Hero; and two blogs, LGBT Opinion In A Gay World and LGBT Personal Finance In A Gay World. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of Stonewall National Museum and Archives serving as Treasurer. His firm CFO On Call provides small business finance and operations consulting. Ric is married to John, his partner of 26 years, and lives in South Florida. You can reach Ric at ricreily@gmail.com

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