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Kosciusko May 30, 2012

Posted by marzwaggener in Mississippi.
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Kosciusko is a small town off the Natchez Trace Parkway. It has a really nice Natchez Trace visitor’s center right off the Trace, and that’s where Walt and Jo dropped me off after the shoot. It was having some construction work done but the construction workers were really nice and let us slip in and pick up brochures and information. When Walt and Jo left for their next project (Walt gave a speech at a graduation) I headed down the highway in search of Wi-Fi.

The search for Wi-Fi ended up taking two days. During the night between the two days I encountered my first unpleasant person – a cop woke me up and harassed me for a while, even running my driver’s licence to see if there was a warrant out for my arrest. He seemed disappointed that there wasn’t and told me to leave town in the morning. Leave town! Almost comical. Finally he left me alone but it took a long time to fall back asleep. It reminded me of one of my favorite videos from the Walking Fool – his first police encounter when he walked across the country:

Everyone else I met in and around Kosciusko were very helpful though. Perplexed, no doubt, but nice.

I went by the Natchez Trace Welcome Center on my way out of town on Saturday the 19th. The construction was finished and I got the chance to talk to some of the volunteers and locals. Kosciusko is the birthplace of Oprah Winfrey, several people pointed out. After chatting a while I headed back out to the Trace.

On Sunday I stopped at a campground called Holly Hill to wait out the heat of the day. With the high humidity in Mississippi, the 90° and higher temperatures can be dangerous for an out-of-shape hiker with 60 or 70 pounds of gear to carry. This kills most of the time I would usually hike so I travel even SLOWER than before. I met a handful of people at the park:
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Old Man on a Bicycle

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Tour group from Germany
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Tour group’s intrepid leader

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Some motorcyclist passing through – on the right is Joe, who lives just a few miles away.

Joe stopped by to offer help or information to any bikers who happened to be resting at the picnic area. He was very interested in my story because may years ago, a woman passed through town on a horse and stayed a night with his friend Charlotte. It had been such a positive experience for her that he called her up to see if she’d like me to stay a night. She said sure, and I took down directions, figuring it would be the next day when I would get there.

The bikers left and I gathered up my clothes (which I washed in the sink and dried in the sun) and full water bottles (about 12 pounds of water!) and stared on my way again. I hadn’t gotten very far when Joe pulled up.

“This is wild hog territory,” he told me, “I don’t want you to sleep out in a tent with the hogs!” (Wild hogs are vicious and can attack and kill a human. They are hundreds of pounds behind sharp tusks – and they will eat anything. Including people.) I had heard a lot of noise near my tent the night before, and it sounded louder than the cows just on the other side of the Trace, but I shrugged it off. Could have been the wild hogs but fortunately they didn’t bother me in my tent.

Joe took me to Charlotte’s place and we sat and chatted for a while. Then we drove out to Kosciusko and they very graciously treated me to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. That evening Charlotte invited her kids to come over and meet me – and her daughter had met me a few days before at Subway in Kosciusko! It was a really nice evening, and the following morning I got to meet her great-grandson as well.
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The next day Charlotte, Johnny, and Ruby drove me out to a campground called Ratliff Ferry, and my visit in Kosciusko was over. But it was a great experience meeting some wonderful people – enough to make up for being harassed by an unpleasant cop. :-)

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