Friday, January 30, 2009

Parked among the horse trailers

We are at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds, in Jackson, Mississippi (map).

We chose this site because it is just a six block walk to our club downtown, where Louise took me for a nice birthday dinner last night. Although while we were paying our camping fee for the night, the guy advised us not to walk out of the fairgrounds -- "too dangerous." When I pressed him further on this, he just reiterated that he certainly would not walk here. We got told the same thing in Montgomery, one capital further east.

We normally ignore these sorts of dire statements, but, as a precaution, we made the decision to leave a few minutes early to walk the outbound trip in the last of the daylight. Rarely have we seen such a clean city -- there was not a single graffito or piece of litter the whole six blocks, and the route took us past a phalanx of gorgeous old buildings, including the old capitol building (now a museum, and under exterior renovation) and the governor's mansion.

Dangerous. Bah. We passed an internet cafe full of yuppies, a couple of people walking home from work, and one moderately crazy destitute person talking to himself. We are convinced, although we would that it were not so, that when these kinds of people tell us a place is "dangerous" it really means that we will encounter people of a different color. Wow, that must be dangerous -- "that man's not my color, he's, umm, the same color as ... the President of the United States." Very dangerous.

I know we are a bit jaded. I grew up in the New York City area, where one develops a sixth sense about what constitutes real danger when walking down the street. Louise has lived enough places to know the difference. And we get the impression that some of these folks who are so paranoid about their own cities have never been to New York, or Detroit, or LA, where you can get shot for wearing the wrong colors in the wrong neighborhood. I would guess there are some rough parts of Jackson -- hoodlums are hoodlums, regardless of skin color. But the capitol district doesn't appear to be one of them.

We had a lovely drive yesterday on US-80. West of Cuba, AL and the state line, US-80 follows I-20 fairly closely, and we have noticed that when a US highway and an Interstate are that close, not only do we usually have the highway to ourselves, but it is often more of a country road than a highway. Relics of roadside businesses long decimated by the Interstate make for interesting scenery, but some of the infrastructure is not up to modern standards.

Thus it was that, for example, I had to slow to 20 or so to avoid destroying the CB antenna on a 13'-6" railroad bridge. I was not so lucky, though passing an SUV on a very narrow two-lane bridge. I had Odyssey squarely in the "middle" of our lane, which meant my left mirror was hanging directly above the double-yellow. If I had been passing another 8' or 8.5' wide vehicle, I would have adjusted for this, slowed a bit more, and moved to the very right part of the lane, putting the right mirror over the bridge rail, and the right wheels perilously close to the curbing.

I saw no need to do so for a mere passenger automobile. Why he felt the need to crowd the left side of his lane, we will never know. But that's what he did, and our mirrors collided at a combined closing speed of over 100mph. We got a barely noticeable scratch, the mirror folded in somewhat, and the little stick-on convex mirror I had put on four years ago got knocked into oblivion. We had to stop in the next town to fold the mirror back out properly. I have no idea what happened to the other bloke's mirror, but I hope, in any case, it was enough to convince him to drive in the center of his lane next time he crosses a narrow bridge, especially with an oncoming heavy vehicle.

A couple dozen miles east of here, I started to get nervous about arriving too late to get a spot -- we had called earlier in the day, and were informed that the camping was nearly full due to the Paint Horse show and one other event going on here -- and so we hopped on the freeway for the final twenty minutes. We also chose to bypass the Flying-J in Pearl, in favor of swinging past there this morning; it's only a couple of miles east. We need not have worried; the fairgrounds are immense, and, with the shows going on, they told us we could park more or less anywhere.

We drove around until we found a light pole with an available power outlet, close to the pedestrian gate we needed to get to dinner. Many eyes were upon us as we circled, and so I also had something of an audience as I repaired the power outlet, a hokey affair hanging loose from the panel on a piece of NM.

It turned out to be disconnected at the breaker, which was a simple fix, but then my tester revealed hot and neutral were reversed (probably why someone had disconnected it). Two quick twists of the screwdriver were all it took, since the deadfront was long since missing from the panel, presumably to facilitate temporary power arrangements for events.

Today we are ruminating about the route west. The deep freeze that has gripped most of the country has blanketed Texas in cold, and we are considering swinging even further south than our previous plan of staying more or less in the I-20 corridor. If we do, we may well hop on our old friend the Natchez Trace Parkway, which will bring us south to Natchez, and we can pick up the familiar US-190 corridor west of Alexandria, LA. That would take us through Livingston and Austin and onto the I-10 corridor through west Texas. Warmer, but we've done it several times and would like to try something different.


  1. Hey if you do decide to head to Austin, swing a little further south and come to the NuRVers Gathering the first weekend in March.

    We're with you on not going into north Texas. Here at the Slabs it's so warm and nice right now, we're loving it.

  2. the offer still stands to spend a night or 2 at our ranch in the Hill Country an hour north of Austin. It is close to Topsey, TX. My family won't be there, but the caretaker would roll out the welcome mat for you.

  3. Regarding your alighnment....
    Krause Bus Sales
    2301 Nogalitos
    San Antonio, TX 78225
    Try here for advice...good luck.

  4. @LiveWorkDream: Unfortunately, we need to be in Phoenix by 2/11, and San Diego by 2/26, so it's looking like March in TX is out of the question. Things have been known to change, though...

    @MELackey: We'll see where we end up and what the timing is like. We chose to stay along the I-20 corridor, so probably will not get down that way.

    @Anonymous: Thanks for the suggestion. Again, not likely we will get down that way, at least on the westbound leg. Who knows, though -- we might have to cancel the San Diego gig, in which case we might head towards Texas after Phoenix.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!