Coming from the Midwest, you’d think I would have known about other sections of the country with the “mid”-prefix. I’ve heard of the Mid-atlantic, and I firmly disagree with anyone that would want to lump Ohio into that group of states, but that’s a different post. And as far as I know there is no Mideast (in the U.S.) or Midnorth. But, over the past few days of riding, I have come to learn that there is a Mid-south region. It includes portions of…
And Missouri (not pictured). So basically, we’ve been all over the Mid-South. And it is fantastic.
Things I’ve learned about the Mid-south include:
1) They do not like it if you litter—as most regions would concur—but they let you know in a way that only a Mississippi road sign can pull off:
2) People in the Mid-South are chatty. Yesterday we stopped in for lunch at the Blue and White.
The motif in the Blue and White is—you guessed it—blue and white.
It was recommended to us by a guy in a pick-up (though that’s not really so descriptive in the country), who pulled over to check on us when we were resting. The Blue and White was about 15 miles further than we wanted to go before eating, but he insisted it was worth it. So, we ate a cliff bar and saddled up for a 25-mile haul. The thing about the Blue and White is that while the food was quite good, what really stood out were the people. I think in the 45-minute stop we had more conversations and more folks (yea, people are folks down here) interested in what the hell we were up to than in the entirety of our ride to this point. It felt a bit like we were standing in a church greeting line. First to greet us was Ryan, and his buddy/coworker “Bony,” as his friends call him. Ryan was on his way out of the Blue and White and walked right up to us to inquire about our ride. We told him what we were up to and where we were heading. While he lives in Memphis, his company has an office in Greenville, MS. He insisted we take his phone number just in case we run into any trouble. He knows people all over Mississippi that could help us. We did not protest the kind offer.
Amidst the conversations, we did find time to eat. My dad got two of his favorite things: corn on the cob and chicken livers (I know, I’m not a fan either).
Look how happy he is.
3) Southern (or mid-southern?) hospitality is real. So, there is a point in every adventure where you just do something stupid. There is no way around it. It will happen to everyone. There was that time when my extended family (all 8 cousins and 6 adults) went on a little canoe outing to picnic on an island, but when we got to the island, we realized we forgot the picnic. That was dubbed the “stupid person relay.” Today’s installment of that series was when my dad and I were biking down route 1, about 17 miles south of the B and B we had stayed in the night before when my dad stops abruptly, realizing he left his handlebar bag somewhere. This is the bag with our money in it, so it’s pretty important. We pull to the side of the road and call the Edwardian Inn, where we had stayed the night before. Yes, the bag was there. No, we did not have the energy to add 35 miles to our ride to go retrieve it. Luckily, the proprietors, despite the fact that they were setting up for a wedding THAT day, drove the bag to us while we waited on the side of the road.
We, of course, offered some compensation for the hassle. She would hear nothing of it. While this good deed certainly put our love of the Edwardian Inn over the top, I will give it a little plug. Helena, Arkansas is a small river town with lots of history. Unfortunately the downtown has been sucked out like many small towns of America by Walmarts and casinos and poverty. But, there is some revitalization happening, and there are several big festivals throughout the year, including a blues fest in October, that can draw crowds. The Edwardian Inn is the last remaining B and B of the three that were there in 2008. And it is beautiful. It is also for sale if anyone is interested in moving down to Arkansas and keeping this gem going! Even if you aren’t in the market for owning a B and B, it is worth checking out if you ever find yourself in the Mid-South.
4) Southern hospitality does have its limits. We’ve been chased by many, many dogs. So far we are winning. But, we’ve also been warned…
Clearly, the Mid-South is charming me. While there is always more to say I am tired from a day of relentless wind and a mid-afternoon flash storm. We’ve gone over 900 miles now, and we. just. keep. pedaling.