I followed that highway most of today and came through some beautiful green scenery with mainly pine forest. About 65% of the Mississippi area is forested and timber plays an important role in the state's economy. Jackson is the state capital and - not a big surprise - the state is named after the Mississippi River, which forms the western boundary between Mississippi and Arkansas/Louisiana, respectively.
|Mississippi country livin'|
|Simmons House - Queen Anne-style home from 1904|
Wikipedia reveals some interesting but certainly not praiseworthy data about Mississippi: the state ranks highest in the U.S. for obesity (more than 30% of residents have a BMI of >30 kg/m2), high blood pressure, diabetes, adult inactivity and teenage pregnancy rates.
This colorful farmer's market caught my attention and I picked up some local honey. The lady who owns the store is neighbor with the beekeeper.
Today was election day. I noticed that some gas stations did not sell beer because of this. Is this common?
When I spotted a herd of donkeys not too far from the road, I turned off the highway onto a side street to get closer to them. Suddenly, a guy in a truck stopped next to me. He looked rather grumpy and not like someone I would want to argue with. He asked me what was going on, aka, what the heck was I doing there, and I told him about the donkeys. My honest and somewhat naive answer must have totally disarmed him and he started smiling. Well, they seem to have a good neighborhood watch in this area. Good for them!
|Smiley-face beetle along US-98|
|Loud pipe saves life? Maybe?|
Shortly after I passed by a food stand and got some boiled peanuts, the cajun type (cooked in salty water + cajun seasoning and cajun crab boil). When I asked the guy whether there are still some peanut fields not harvested yet, so I could take a look, he pointed me to someone in Brookhaven, 45 mi (~ 72 km) up north. I found the store and started talking to the owner, who, although retired, still likes to help out in his store.
No fields with peanuts left to see in the area at this time of the year, but we had a good 2-hour long discussion about the peanut economy in general and some new business ideas he has, his family, the U.S. welfare system and work ethics in particular and what other nice places there are to visit in Mississippi. When I left, we hugged each other and he gave me a bag of yummy Louisiana Satsumas, some Mutsu Apples and many good wishes for the road. Thank you Wayne, you made my day!
Just before it turned night, I got into Louisiana, found my hotel in Baton Rouge and was pleased by this welcoming place, including complementary fresh fruit, ice cream and bottled water for their guests!
|Today's route with some spontaneous detours|
More to come.