River Crossings

If I had to name one of my favorite things about making these horrendously long drives from Oklahoma to Florida and back again, it would have to be my Mississippi River crossings.

The first time I crossed this river I was just a baby, obviously unaware that my parents’ overheating car was the only means my mother had at the time of warming up the milk bottle that fed me during various stops at rest areas between San Antonio, Texas and South Florida. Luckily for me, my trusty trooper of a car has fared much better during these long hauls and my kid is old enough to feed herself.

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Our most recent river crossing took place in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It kind of blows my mind to know that over 19,000 soldiers were killed on this land now occupied by a frenzy of McDonald’s restaurants and Pinch-A-Penny Pool showrooms. Even Elle tried to incorporate a bit of our modern-day luxuries in a fun rant in which she claimed all the soldiers probably slept in a Best Western across the street from a Laundromat that conveniently sat next door to an ammunition shop. Oh, the ridiculousness of strip malls taking over sacred ground never fails to boggle the mind. But at least Vicksburg gets a thrill (and a few tourist dollars, I’m sure) in showcasing how it all went down back in 1863.

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one of my favorite photos of Elle

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I’ve never had so much fun at an interstate welcome center in my life! After having been confined to a zippy little car for 9 hours at that point, Elle and I raced each other to the top of the hill where a replica of an old Civil War cannon had been placed in the actual spot where the real things were fired. We took photographs of ourselves with the Mississippi River in the background and eventually found a spunky elderly man who was willing to photograph Elle and me together with the Mighty Mississippi directly behind us, of course.

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Vicksburg cannon

As soon as I called Matt to let him know that I planned to continue driving to Hattiesburg that evening, I mentioned to him that Vicksburg was our fourth city to have crossed over the Mississippi River.

Me: Hey, we could totally make a fun thing out of this Oklahoma to Florida driving deal by finding new river cities to cross over!

Matt (possibly with a hint of sarcasm):   Oh, yeah…great! Pretty soon we’ll be going up and down back roads just to do this.

Me: Do you realize how many large cities are situated on the Mississippi? Seriously, this adventure could take us all the way up to Minnesota one day!

Now keep in mind this conversation took place after only 9 hours of driving. The total drive from Oklahoma City to Jacksonville, Florida was approximately 20 hours. Reality has set in and I’m not quite prepared for that kind of adventure just yet. I am still trying to bring blood flow back into my lower extremities after that two-day trek, but you have to admit that a Mississippi River chase would be kind of fun.

Here is a list of my river crossing cities so far (some cities have been used to cross over more than once):

  1. Memphis, Tennessee
  2. New Orleans, Louisiana
  3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  4. Vicksburg, Mississippi

There are plenty of opportunities coming up that will allow me to expand this list. I have to get back to Oklahoma City soon and once I do that, we’ll all be leaving shortly after that for Indianapolis.  Do you know what that means?!!!

5. St. Louis, Missouri (pending!)

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