Day 36 – Off to Natchez

Many thanks go to Linda Vice who so graciously offered to scoop me up and help me out once again. Truly this is not a solo journey down the Alabama Scenic River Trail. Ever since the River Rally in Mobile this past May, I’ve been looking forward to this leg of the journey. The nature and beauty of these river systems and the warmth of the people and history here have put Alabama into a special place in my heart. I certainly could not be doing this without the solid network of river folks down in this neck of the woods. Alabama rivers are a win-win place to visit-tons of scenery and wild nature and fantastic people who have an intimate knowledge of the area-both of the rivers and of the history.

I now have in my possession a wonderful map of the Mobile Bay river system, which is perfect because my GPS is sparse and does not have charts, and iPhone can’t be counted on for navigation if service is lacking. This map that the Alabama Scenic River Trail puts out is indispensable. I am thrilled to have it!

Linda drove me to a car dealership where I was able to rent a used car, which was still way newer than my car. For the four hour drive I listened to “Hamilton” on shuffle, which kind of annoyed me because of all albums, that one needs to be in sequence for the story as well as the music. I’ll figure out my iPhone yet! Maybe going home I’ll have it playing the songs in sequence. The story of Hamilton and the creation of this country makes me think of our present time, where folks just can’t seem to get along. Maybe we should just go jump in our nearest lake, river, ocean, bay, cool off and take a break from all the hate and vitriol! I know this paddle is helping me keep my head and heart in the right place-calming water and wonderful people are the best medicine for any stressed soul.

I’m currently in Natchez, at the Mississippi River Mayors of Towns and Cities Initiative. Mayors from all along the Mississippi are here, including the Mayor’s of Grafton, IL, and Cape Girardeau, MO. Both have a true river culture and a ton of history. It seems that that is an especially vibrant mix- the waterfront, the history, and art-for any town’s economic health. So there are lots of officials here that deal with water, industry, and the management of transportation. It’s a real honor to be here, and I can’t thank Colin Wellencamp of the hosting org- the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative http://www.mrcti.org – for inviting me here. Needless to say, I’m the most casually dressed here. But hey, at least I’m cleaned and showered, so that’s a plus!

I can’t wait for today’s events-I so wish I could stay for the whole event which goes on until tomorrow, but I really need to be moving on. Today’s panels will focus on agriculture’s impact on our rivers and the potential for recreation, both of which are among my top interests.

Then I’ll hafta beat it back to Silas, AL. Tomorrow I’ll paddle to Jackson, then Mt. Vernon, which will hopefully be a quick paddle, because then it’s a race against storms from Friday until the Saturday, the 24th.

Paddles up! A battle to the end with this weather! But for now I’ll enjoy this awesome event and the sweet little town of Natchez, yet another place to bring the family.

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