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May 22, 2013

Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 3: Blytheville, AR to Monticello, MS

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Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly on the banks of the Pearl River in my hometown of Monticello, Mississippi, in the house I grew up in.

I wake up this morning in Blytheville, Arkansas, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Want to get moving before the afternoon thunderstorms set in.

Last night, I hung up all of my sopping wet clothes, and somehow, this morning, they're completely dry.

So I get back onto I-55 heading south towards Memphis.

As I roll south, I study the thunderstorms forming before me. The eyes seek out the darkest clouds, to tease out the dangers and threats it might harbor. What's likely to come of these clouds, the brain wants to know. Rain? Hail? Lightning.

The brain pushes the eyes hither and yon. Looking for the most menacing part of the storm. Will we have a repeat of the nightmare of yesterday where I

What makes them so ominous? Why is dark such a sinister color? How is it that the brain equates the color black with evil? Why is that?

I get to Memphis, and I know I've got to get down to Monticello today, but I want to check out Memphis, because I have vague memories from watching the ducks climb into the fountain at the Peabody Hotel. But how old was I? Maybe 5 or 6?

So, I'm in Memphis, and I want to check it out. But I also want to beat the thunderstorms and get down into Monticello. And always, this. This is the crucial struggle, I think. To know when to push on, and when to hold back. There's no way to know, of course. Only it comes from within. I decide to turn back and eat lunch in Memphis.

I stumble onto Beale Street, and walk into the first restaurant I find open. The waiter sees that I'm on the road.

"Where ya headed?"


"Panama City, Florida?"

"No. The country of Panama," I clarify. I get this a lot. But I don't mind, of course. It doesn't matter or anything. Nothing really matters, of course.

"I'm trying to get to Monticello today. About an hour south of Jackson," I offer.

"Are you going down Highway 61?"

"I'd like to, but I'm not sure if I have time. I'm worried about the weather."

"Get off the interstate, man. Take 61 down through the delta. They're saying no rain today. It's supposed to be clear."

And this is what I love, of course. I love when locals give me advice on where to ride. I have always wanted to see the Delta and I have never seen it. The attraction is strong. But I don't want to get into Monticello too late, or I'll miss my birthday dinner. Slowly, a plan comes together. Local 463 in Madison, at 7:00 p.m.

So, basically, I just ride like a bat-out-of-hell down I-55 all day to Madison, and I ignore the advice of the waiter, which sucks.

I don't get to see the delta, but when I show up for my birthday party in Madison, everyone is there, and we're all drinking and swapping old war stories. Just a roaring good time, and then we say our goodbyes and I roll down to Monticello, knowing that I have to drive to Panama now, and the only thing stopping me is they have to FedEx me a new passport.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 22, 2013 at 4:28 PM


Happy Birthday!

Posted by: TETJr on May 23, 2013 at 11:33 AM

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