Swarms In Unlikely Places

I said I would not document our journey back to Canada unless something “different” happened. Apart from a near miss from a tornado (which is quite common in the mid-South), we encountered swarms –not of killer bees, but of cyclists, cubs, and more cyclists.

We like out-of-the-way spots, and Fort Clark, in West Texas is such. As mentioned in other postings, it is a rather quaint old military base, dating back to the mid-1800s. We like the space (2,700 acres), the stream with water-lilies, Par-3 golf course, and quiet RV park with some friendly folk that we know well. In the main area by the office is a picnic pavilion, king-size “smoker”, and a patch of scrubby grass and dirt.

Like Mushrooms - 200 Tents

Like Mushrooms – 200 Tents

Then, one lunch-time some cars and trucks arrived with half-a-down young workers, who erected 40 matching tents. They were the advance crew for a bunch of older cyclists (men and women both with an average age of 65) who were on a little trip … from San Diego, California to Saint Augustine, Florida. Ask me not why, since it was almost 90F with a head wind, and frankly, not my idea of fun. The catering truck arrived and cooked the evening meal, the cyclists arrived, ate the meal and sank on to their air-mattresses in the tents. The next day they headed out at the crack of dawn, the crew took down all the tents and stowed everything in the truck, the chuck-wagon truck packed everything up, and by noon, Fort Clark was back to its usual sleepy self. The crew went ahead to the next planned stop and apparently did it all again. Strange, but no problem. It added interest, and, let’s face it, they were not as noisy as motor-cyclists!

A week later we were trundling East through Texas, and came to a nice quiet State Park on a bayou arm of a lovely lake. Fortunately we like children, and with over 400 little Cub-Scouts from Houston, it was not as quiet as we expected. But they were good, had fun, canoed and fished, and, like the cyclists, vanished in the early morning, tents and all.

We decided to stay a few days at Grand Gulf State Park, in Southern Mississippi. It is an historic military place with a museum and many relics of the Battle of Grand Gulf in the U.S. Civil War. It used to be a town of about 2,000 in the early 1800s, but then cholera decimated the population, a tornado took out half the town, and a Mississippi flood washed out 55 city blocks and reduced it to less than 200 people. To complete the destruction, there was a significant battle between the Confederates on the bluff above the town, and the Union “battleships” attempting to pass on the Mississippi to get at Vicksburg. The Confederates won that one, and the ships retreated, apart from one that sank. Then General Grant attacked from the rear, and won the land battle. He burned the remnants of the town, so all that remains are the old earthworks, the museum, and a small and quiet RV Park.

Sleepy and picturesque, it all changed on Tuesday morning. I got wind of this by listening to the local gossip, and told Elaine there was a surprise awaiting. She thought it might be an enactment with guns and the like, but I did not let on. A surprise is a surprise … right? So at 8.30 a.m. we got in the car, and drove the quarter mile to the muddy bank of the Mississippi.

American Queen at Grand Gulf Park

American Queen at Grand Gulf Park

There was the cruise boat. Five decks of luxury for rich tourists, traveling from Memphis to New Orleans!!

Cyclists from the American Queen, with Tour Buses

Cyclists from the American Queen, with Tour Buses

The last of the steam paddle boats on the Mississippi, tied to a tree against the bank, for all the world like a canoe. This was surprise enough, but apparently this happens every ten years or so.

Boat Travel -OK.  Cycling??

Boat Travel -OK. Cycling??

This boat carried another huge bunch of cyclists, who had bicycles-made-for-two, and headed off down the Natchez Trace to the boat’s next stop.

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The Boat Headed to Natchez

The Boat Headed to Natchez

Many of the passengers toured the area in the luxury coaches that materialized in the early morning, and some traveled by coach to the next port of call, Natchez Mississippi.

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Tour Buses Met the Boat

Tour Buses Met the Boat

We tried to get a tour of the boat, but there was heavy security, partly because the Mississippi Governor’s wife was there, and also because it seemed like a very expensive ship!!! In fact the organizer of the stopover asked, “How did you hear about this?” Clearly they did not want hordes of the local unwashed and scruffy campers getting close to the high-paying cruise customers!

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Oh yes, we found a bunch of bees near Tupelo, Mississippi. Not a regular swarm, since these were bumble bees –the ones that physicists say could not possibly fly. Since it was Spring, they seemed to be looking for partners, and were generally uninterested in us, except for one that hovered around Elaine for the longest time. I did not think she looked like a bumble bee, but maybe it was because she was wearing a flowery T-shirt. (No picture of a bee, since my camera is not up to such dangerous stuff).

As mentioned before, I won’t ramble on with routine travel stuff, and perhaps nothing else dramatic will happen on the last half of our journey home.

John, with constructive additions by Elaine.

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2 Responses to Swarms In Unlikely Places

  1. Goran and Judy says:

    Elaine and John.
    As all ways a delight to read about and follow you.
    Take care.
    Judy and Goran

  2. Margot Naylor says:

    Hi John

    Always enjoy your travelogs. I am sure you are making your way home slowly….not interested in our not so spring-like weather. We still have patches of ice around the property, much less now after last week’s warm spell. We are still wearing our wool socks as Winter in the south has thinned our blood.

    We left Phoenix on the 1st of April and arrived here the afternoon of the 4th. I could see us pulling a trailer….motels are getting very pricey and hard to find. Parts of the trip require 10 and 11 hours of driving in order to get to a decent size town/city for good accomodation. With a trailer we could stop at our convenience more or less.

    I assume you will be home soon. We must arrange for you to come for a visit. Take care and happy camping.

    Margot

    Sent from my Sony Experia Tablet

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