Monday, 17 December 2012

Mississippi: Vicksburg to Atchafalaya

On the whole trip we had free camped without any problem but on this short stretch we were "caught" twice. The first time I was just cooking dinner when a strong spotlight was shone onto the bank we were camped on. A boat was approaching and beached and we were soon detected by two hunters. They claimed that we were on private property that they had leased for hunting. Although they wanted us to move our campsite down onto the beach they finally just let us stay after we reassured them that we were not hunting. A couple of days later a similar thing happened  and we were detected by a farmer. Again we were told that we were on private property but his biggest concern was that we could be hunting. After telling him that we were harmless paddlers we were allowed to stay.

The three amigos in action
Although we had planned to paddle from Vicksburg to the end without any major stop the weather did not play along. A major thunderstorm and wind was forecasted. We survived the storm without any problem in a sheltered campsite but woke up to a very strong tailwind in the morning. Tailwind sounds good but turned out to be a big problem as we could not see the waves swamping us from behind. We might have muddled through the bad weather but after only 6 miles the town of Natchez was along the way. Grudgingly we decided to do the sensible thing and stop there for the day - which turned out to be the right decision.

We knew there was a campground along the river but the seawall prohibited beaching there. We finally found a beaching and boat hiding spot further along the river and settled into the very nice campground. For only 10$ for two persons we got a great primitive camping area, great showers and a warm laundry room to hang out. After some confusion we were even picked up by the casino shuttle bus. The AYCE casino buffet turned out to be cheap but rather disappointing. I decided to make the best of my town stay and indulge in some happy sightseeing. I started out with a posh antebellum house that turned out to be a big ripoff. For 12$ I saw a rather mediocre "Rosalie" mansion with an incredibly short 22 minute guided tour. My next stop at the free National Park William Johnson house on the other hand was a very interesting experience. Johnson was a free man of colour and his former house told about his interesting life. After that I walked around town but was rather disappointed. Natchez is a major Southern tourist destination and I expected posh villas - and encountered the usual rundown Southern town. Decrepit houses everywhere and an overall feeling of poverty.

The three amigos and Pizza
But we had a very unexpected meeting in Natchez - we ran into the "the amigos" again, the three guys in a canoe we had meet weeks before. We spent hours chatting about our respective adventures. They had lost their boat twice and had adopted a stray dog called Pizza. Pizza was very excited to meet me and of course received a lot of petting from me. The next day we finally saw the three amigos live in action for the first time - and what a wild sight they were! Three guys, one dog, a guitar and lots of gear squeezed into one 2 person canoe! They not only had a sail but also a pirate flag and sailed down the river to the sound of music from their loudspeakers. We looked lame in comparison and although they had had a lot more "incidents" than Brian and I they definitely had a lot more fun. Their enthusiasm was contagious and I do hope all their plans come true for them.


martin said...

Good to hear you weren't moved on from your wild camping spots. I'm enjoying this posts, keep them coming : )

Anne M. said...

Christine: I am again enjoying your blog spot, especially since I am holed up in my home during the pandemic of 2020. I am forever joined to the Mississippi river as I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. I had read a book a few years ago about a young man who paddled alone from Lake Itasca to New Orleans. I hope your blog stays available on the Internet for many years as it is timeless and gets those of us out of our rooms into your life. Happy paddling, hiking, and cycling. May you be forever safe and I hope we all come out of this pandemic alive and a bit wiser.