Southern Hospitality

Somewhere in Mississippi across the River from Arkansas City, Arkansas
October 13, 2019

Dear Family & Friends:

October 12 was the bluebird weather day I had dreamed about over the last week. Sunny skies. Cool temps. No wind. Fast current. Few towboats and almost no wing dams.

 I felt like I was flying down the Big Muddy. In six hours, I covered 36-miles. At 5 pm, I pulled off the River and set up a campsite in front of another beautiful riverside home. I knocked on the door to seek permission, but no one was home.

I cooked a nice pasta dinner and enjoyed it while a dog guarding a nearby home barked at me incessantly. I tried to make friends, but he kept his distance. It was getting really cold so I climbed into my sleeping bag at 9:30 pm.

I woke up at 10:30 pm to the headlights of a car facing my tent. The driver asked if I was okay and invited me into his home. I gladly accepted the invitation.

Ed Robinson and his friend, Hunter Gramling, had been deer hunting. It is bow hunting season in Mississippi. Ed is an insurance broker and Hunter is the son of his good friend. Hunter is seeking a commercial pilot’s license.

The first thing I did was take a much needed shower. Ed served me steak strips and a glass of Dry Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Hunter quickly fell asleep, and Ed and I talked until nearly 2 am. He told me to make myself at home and stay as long as I like; and he offered to take me into Greenville if I need provisions.

Ed had received a call from a woman living alone two houses down the dirt road. She reported possible riff-raff camped in his front yard. I’m really sorry I caused her angst.

In the morning, I drove into Greenville with Hunter. He showed me around town and we picked up breakfast at McDonalds.

All-in-all, a great day on the River and I met more fabulous people, which has been the best part of this adventure.

I was back on the River at noon.

I hope to make it to Vicksburg, Mississippi in three days where I will meet with Jill Upton, who promised to give me a tour of this historic city. Jill has been following my adventures over the years through my blog.

I’m slowly inching closer to the Gulf.

My current location on map
Ed’s home on the River
Ed & Hunter
Ed to the rescue
Waiting out the storm
Bill, Gus, Courtney, Ed & Redigo



8 thoughts on “Southern Hospitality

  1. Bill,
    It’s so amazing how you make friends everywhere you go. I’m already a fairly friendly person, but you are inspiring me to really put myself out there even more.

    Safe travels,

  2. Bill, you may remember when Fred Roger’s received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, and he said, “The connections we make in the course of life, maybe, just maybe, that’s what heaven is.”

    You are in hesven– enjoy the blessing.


  3. Riff-faff….yep! Needed that shower for sure….just like on Everest those two week old undies tend to get a bit “dank!”
    Keep it up and you are doing an incredible job and I am sure the Sea Kings are learning from your trials and tribulations!

    “Keep on paddling!”


  4. Rick is right ;o)


    What a truly great adventure. Maybe better than Everest? No, but very close. So different, all the great friends you meet on the way.

    Maybe when you’re back in SoCal and you’re settled back in, Barbara and I can make a visit. We’re not too far away in San Diego. Hope it will come to pass.

    In the meantime, paddle on into the next new adventure.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


  5. Bill —

    Your daily reports from the Mississippi River read like a morning séance to start the day off for those of us following your blog.

    In spite of the daily rigors on the river, you encounter one remarkable friendly happenstance after another. That’s no accident, that’s Bill Burke in action connecting with people. With this water-borne adventure, you are indeed experiencing a Heaven on Earth. Can life be any better, especially meeting up with family along the way?

    Keep on keeping on “climbing down” the river. Your reports are like the morning sunshine glinting into the day’s beginning.

  6. Never heard of “wing dams” they sound scary for a person in a canoe. Will there be a book in the future? You have a ton of material! Best wishes on your trip.

  7. Bill
    Enjoyed our time together on the river.

    We hope to hear from you again.

    In your travels find you in the north delta or Memphis TN area looks us up.

    Hope you enjoy the books.


  8. Bill…like the others I have enjoyed following your blog and marvel at the adventure of it all. I am an “8 Summits” acolyte and a Sierra backpacker and know the details that must have gone into all your planning and am curious if you will be sharing them in a book or follow up account?
    I’m in my 70s and climbed Kili on my 70th birthday a few years ago and now find myself ‘hankering’ for another BHAG ( in sales we call it a Big Hairy Audacious Goal !). This adventure of yours has caught my imagination. Thank you!

    Details of your trip that I ponder:
    When you ‘lock up the canoe’ at a public dock….how do you keep it safe?
    Are your camping meals typical of a backpacking menu?
    Where did you find your maps?

    Sorry if I seem a pest…but if you have a ‘slow news day’ I would welcome your comments! God Speed!

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