Sep 24

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Diagonals, surprises and a respite

Trying to relate the events of the last three days will be tough.  However, the title does pretty much lay down the ground work.  I have been traveling in a diagonal across Tennessee and Arkansas.  Had a wonderful  change in pace while in Memphis,l and all of that peppered with a couple of surprises that gave a special color to the trip.
Two days ago I continued my journey back home, heading out of North-Eastern Tennessee.  Since the region is towards the Western transition line between EST and CST, I woke up to a very dark morning.  Further, a peak out the window of my small cabin revealed a very dense fog all over the area.  A quick check of the weather on my phone brought warnings of very dense fog and low visibility until 9 in the morning.  This gave me the excuse to sleep for another hour, but after that, it was time to get out and face the road, if I wanted to make it into Cordova, East of Memphis, at a decent time.
I confess that all my negative thoughts about interstates were challenged on that day.  The road, even when enshrouded in a complex matrix of cobweb-like fog was just magnificent.  The Northern section of Tennessee is further enhanced by endless lines of blooming golden rods on either side of the roads.  However, the price goes to the section between Knoxville and Nashville.   I have no words to describe the wonderful slopes and forests.  This area was made even better by the sun burning through the clouds and painting everything in a saturated set of colors.
At around 5:30 in the afternoon I found my way to my cousin Armando’s home in Cordova.  He had just pulled into the driveway.  The timing was perfect.  Shortly thereafter, Amy arrived with little Owen and little Lilly.  Big and excited hugs, and calls for ‘tio Pincho’ warmed my heart enourmously.  We spent the rest of the evening catching up, and then called it the day.
Yesterday morning was my day to cross the final T on this trip.  I had scheduled a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, at the location of the old Loraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  I readied myself, and as I was loading up my camera and few other items on the BeMWu, I dropped Mr. GPS.  ‘No biggie’, I thought, ‘Mr. GPS was built to take the weather and knocks of adventure travel’.  Well, biggie it was.  Mr. GPS refused to show his informational screen to me after that, and nothing I have tried has made him change his mind.  So, the main problem was to find a way to navigate to the museum from Armando’s house.  Mr. Telephone came to the rescue.  Using headphones and the cell phone’s built in GPS, I was able to get to the museum by just listening to the spoken instructions from the phone.
I had visited the museum eight years ago, but at that time my heart, mind and soul were in a different place, and while I appreciated MLK’s work back then, it did not have the significance that it has had for  me in the last several years.  I had listened to the “I Have a Dream Speech” on my ipod three times while I rode across Tennessee the day before.  The words still rang in my mind while a approached the site and saw the Loraine Motel sign.
As I walked through the different exhibit section, the enormity of the civil rights movement became a more tightly knit fabric.  Sandra’s choreography on the life and work of such central figures as Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth, created a stronger set of fibers, along with Steve Rooks work on the “The Little Rock Nine”.  In my mind I now struggle with ways to translate those momentous achievements into a movement that struggles against the underground oppression that defines modern day slavery.
After me museum it was time for a visit of another type.  Rufus Smith, who had been our pastor at City of Refuge in Houston, moved to Memphis about a year ago.  So a visit with him was mandatory.  I met him, and his wife Jacqueline for a mid afternoon lunch, and we spent an amazing time talking about the new abolition movement, humanitarian work in a church centered context, and the role of patience, and obedience to God’s will.  Time flew by, and before I knew it, it was time to go join Armando, and the rest of the family for little Lilly’s last soccer game of the season.  The whole family was there, and it was such a joyous time, watching 5-year olds play 3-on-3, with such spirit and energy.
After the game we went home, and spent a very pleasant rest of the evening doing laundry and talking, until it was time to go to bed.

At the Cross

This morning I said my good-byes, wishing I could stay longer, but also feeling the need to be back home.  Without Mr. GPS to guide me through, I had to navigate by written directions, and use the sun as my affirmation for proper heading.  I spent most of the day on route 79, which carries travelers through areas covered with vast cotton fields, and other crops.  The greens, yellows and browns combined to create a live pointillist tapestry that Seurat would have been proud of.  Small towns and granaries were magically placed to avoid a sense of monotony.
This went on until I reached Pine Bluff.  East of the city, an almost apocalyptic scene of what seemed to be thousands of piles of pine trees greeted me. All of the sudden, the destination of the rows of trucks carrying piles of trees I had seen many times during my travel, had become evident.  This was the processing a shipping place for all the logging I had witnessed.
Right after Pine Bluff, the landscape radically changed.  The road started undulating, and the planted fields gave way to forests.  While I rode this path filled with joy, the lack of any feedback from GPS or maps kept pushing a little button in my mind.  At around 3 pm, a white tail deer stood next to the road before jumping back into the forest.  A bit further up, another deer laid dead on the side of the road.  Now I had something else to worry about.  Apparently deer in this area have not heard about the fact that they should only challenge drivers, and riders, towards dusk and at night.  My eyes and brain entered scan mode, constantly on the look out for these four legged kamikazes.  Thankfully we all got spared.
Tonight I am signing off from Texarkana.  Tomorrow I ride into Houston.  Thanks again for all your prayers and support.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2011/09/24/diagonals-surprises-and-a-respite/


  1. Diane Davis

    So glad you had such a safe trip. Sandra was definitely looking forward to having you home today. Blessings on your courage and committment: you are an inspiration. In His Name, Diane

  2. Ade

    The Seurat reference made me smile.
    Perhaps you will listen to A Sort of Homecoming tomorrow on the ride in?

  3. henry organ

    don Carlos,

    you reference Little Rock Nine in the report. Be advised that it was on this date in 1957 that Central High School in Little Rock was desegregated! Great timing.

    Will you be returning through Marshall, per chance?


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