October 24, 2019
Dear Family & Friends:
The big storm arrived in Vicksburg as predicted. I departed Vicksburg on October 22 after thanking Jill for the great hospitality she showed me. I also thanked my taxi driver, Leonard, who ferried me all over Vicksburg.
My plan was to spend the night with the Andrews family in St. Joseph, Louisiana. Unfortunately, the distance was a little too far to reach in one day. Instead, I had lunch with Sharon in St. Joseph on October 23. Ron was working in Vicksburg. I spotted my first gator (or croc?) in St. Joseph.
I paddled 7 hours and camped on a sandbar. On October 24, I arrived in Natchez. I decided to spend two days in Natchez because another big storm is moving fast to catch up with me.
As I paddled into Natchez, I spotted another paddler breaking down his camp. Aaron Schmidt is an ambitious young man from Indiana who paddled down the Ohio River until it merged with the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois. His destination is New Orleans. We shared stories and paddled into Natchez together. I could not believe the amount of gear in his canoe. It included an umbrella that he uses as a sail and even a cayenne pepper plant that he harvests for hot peppers! A hot sauce soul brother for sure.
I found the perfect spot to dock my canoe and locate a lodging house. I am booked in the Mark Twain Guest House above the “Under the Hill Saloon,” which is the oldest operating saloon on the Mississippi River. I have a balcony that overlooks the River. The saloon keeper warned me that the band plays until 2am. I told him I’ll be the last patron out the door.
The Under the Hill district was once known as one of the most dangerous areas in Natchez because of the pirates, ruffians, ladies of the night and cut-throats that frequented this area from the 1840’s to the turn of the century.
The Mississippi Queen paddle boat was docked in front of the saloon. I enjoyed watching the guests depart from and board this magnificent vessel. This River boat accommodates 418 passengers and 116 crew. It will travel North to Chattanooga Tennessee. If you are interested, here is the pricing: (i) fifth deck, $10,000 for seven days, (ii) fourth deck, $4,000 for seven days, (iii) third deck, $3,000 for seven days, and (iv) second deck, $1,500 for seven days. I asked Brenda, a housekeeper, if I could sneak on board with her. Her reply: “only if you marry me.” The Mississippi Queen departed with great fanfare at 5 pm. I was sad to see it leave.
I enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the Pearl Street Pasta restaurant. Tomorrow, I plan to eat at Fat Mama’s Tamales. What are the chances of ordering tamales in the South.
Here is a nice piece of information: Natchez has banned fast food restaurants.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings in the rain.