Memphis, Mississippi, Magicssippi, Mightyssippi

P5280240 [1280x768] I arrived in Memphis yesterday (May 26th) in the early morning after a 91 nautical miles day (168 km, 104 miles) the previous day to be as close to Memphis a possible.

The Mississippi is quite magic because it’s a very big and powerful river. Some areas are really wide.
In St Louis I asked a ‘fresh’ homeless man (he still had his suitcases with him and looked cleaner than me during my kayaking) for help getting my Kayak from the hotel to the river in exchange of a good compensation considering a 5 min walk. I thought it would be better than carrying it on my own, better than giving a smaller ‘tip’ to a hotel semployee who is already making some sort of living. When we got the kayak to the river and after questioning me the homeless man told me ‘Mississippi is a mighty river but it’s dangerous one as well,
I would reconsider if I were you’, all in a very ‘American’ accent. I won’t forget the way he sounded. He told me about ‘whirlpools’, ‘sucking holes’ and how he knew many people that had drowned.
For almost a sec I thought that maybe I should look into the matter a bit more. After all he was homeless there was really no point for him to lie to anyone anymore. As well this echoed what the hotel staff was saying earlier. I told him that I was going to be careful.
I left St Louis. When I was exiting St Louis I had to be very cautious there were barges coming from everywhere, and the waves they were making were quite big. Adrenaline was quite high and I was much focused getting past the ‘traffic’. It is a mighty river without a doubt.
I kayaked through whirlpools, sucking holes, areas where the current is flowing the opposite way. It is an interesting experience and going through the first day was a bit of a discovery for me but after the first day I got used to them and they are not really much of a big deal for a kayak. On the other hand even if you are a good swimmer and get caught in one of them they can still be very dangerous. They are very powerful.

This is going to be the 2nd night in Memphis birthplace of soul, Rock’n Roll… Hometown of B.B King, Elives Presley, Johnny Cash… Hometown of the still standing ‘Lorraine Motel’ (now the National Civil Rights Museum) where Martin Luther King was assassinated… Lots of culture. As well in the center and very famous for it’s BBQ… lots of restaurants serving BBQ, definitvely a great spot of meat lovers.

Memphis is the ‘middle’ for the US. FedEx has their ‘center’ located in Memphis. It has more character than I thought initially. The downtown area is very ‘quiet’. Not many cars going through so you can have very nice relaxing walks while taking over the antique trams (they are very old).

It is the ‘middle’ for this trip as well. There is about half of the distance to cover and the there are not many towns. I won’t stop anymore until New Orleans. As a result I will carry with me about 7 gallons of water (about 28 liter). Going in the small few cities past Memphis for majority of them is out of question. They are not really within walking distance. I will rely on them only in exceptional circumstances.

The Memphis – New Orleans will be the hardest part as the fatigue is slowly accumulating faster at the end of the days. The Mississippi is slowly loosing of its speed I have the impression. It’s very wide. The days have been really hot. One day it was so hot, I had to pour water on my head every 15 min and at the end of the day I went for a swim (I usually need very warm water to be willing to swim for the ones who know me).

On another note, there was a second MSR fuel bottle incident. This time it only involved me in the middle of nowhere.
Some days there are a lot of mosquitoes depending of the time of the day I stop. So I do ‘intra-tentous’ operations. I open a little space through the mesh of my tent and operate the stove and cooking just with my hands sticking out.
I connected the stove to the MSR fuel bottle and opened the valve to let the fuel go to the stove and as soon I light it up, ‘woooosh’ there was a flame going from the stove, on the tube connecting to the bottle and on the bottle.
It was my fault clearly (there was no one I could put the blame on… I tried to curse the mosquitoes but I don’t think they cared). It was my fault because you are supposed to use a safety mechanism that ensures the stove is fully connected to the bottle. I never used it because I usually just check it visually to ensure that the stove is all the way in the bottle. This time because of the ‘intra-tentous’ operation, the heat (very hot & humid) and the fatigue I did not pay attention.
So there was a nice flame 10cm high and about 30cm long in front of my tent. I did not have many options so I had to put my hand in the flame and disconnect the stove from the fuel bottle. I lost a few hairs on my hand….but no worries I still have plenty 😉
But the whole incident made me think of the Pekin incident and the mentally disturbed individual, the ‘firerorist fighter’.
There were no ‘explosion’… the top of the pump melted a bit and a tiny piece of my tarp as well but that’s about it.

Since the Pekin incident no need to say that the terror level was increased to Orange in the US. After the second incident the department of homeland security detected a few extra milligrams of carbon release in the air. As a result the terror level now is Red.

Now any foreign individual carrying a liter of fuel are subject to immediate arrest. No more 30min paper checking.
As well if you have a bottle of alcohol on yourself you are subject to the same treatment. If you smell alcohol on the mouth of a foreigner be very careful as he/she may try to fool you that he just had a few drinks. It is very most likely a suicide-terrorist attack attempt.
If you hear someone with a foreign accent, be very suspicious. It does not matter if the person could possibly be a US citizen. Call the police and get them jailed overnight.

Sarcasm beside, it was a good safety lesson for me, now I put the lock and it was ironic after all that I did end trying to set the whole thing on fire !

I met great people along the way… I will talk about them later.
I have to prepare for tomorrow morning, lots of packing after a haircut from ‘Down to earth barber’ on main street to keep things clean. Next stop hopefully will be in New Orleans, I should be there by mid-june. I hope you are inspired to see and experience Memphis!


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Landing in Memphis 

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Sucking holes

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Food or friend ?

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Kayaking on train tracks

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Sunset on the Mississippi

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Birds letting themselves float on the river

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Nice island in the middle of the river

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Life … despite the flood

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More sunset…

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Wide river…