Trip 6--August 23, 2003

Highest Point in Mississippi

Woodall Mountain

806 feet (246 meters) above sea level

Traveling Companion: Sonic Boone
Vehicle: Boone's 1988 Dodge Caravan

The theme of this trip is "old," but first a little pre-trip stuff:

I started this trip in Nashville at my parents, having taken Supplemental Trip S1 a couple of days prior. Saturday came around, and I was supposed to get to casa de los Boones at about noon, but with my sister and brother-in-law moving to New York, I had to take a load of Emily's stuff over to Matt's parents' house where their moving van was. Unfortuantely, their house is in the opposite direction from Boone's. Boone called right before I was going to call him at noon, and so he knew that I would be running late. I finally got to his house in Franklin at 1:30.

Boone checks his oil.

Now, I emphasize that Boone knew that I would be at least an hour later than we had initially planned. As per the requirements of my streak, we were taking Boone's vehicle, the 1988 Dodge Caravan. When I arrived, the Caravan was blocked in their driveway so that the Caravan couldn't leave and I couldn't enter. However, with the help of his dad Dr. Boone, the parking was remedied. But before we can leave, we need to fill up the motor oil and brake fluid, as both are leaking.

Boone takes care of this himself in short order (he's quite resourceful, y'know) and tells me about the would-be new girlfriend who was perfect for him because she didn't know how to cook, which he could do, but she did know how to replace the master cylinder and would have shown him how if she had not abruptly transferred from Lipscomb to Western Kentucky. The Caravan is now ready to go, although the air conditioning doesn't really work. It blows air around but it doesn't really cool it.

I said the Caravan was ready to go. The driver then made two trips back into the house before we depart--for the bank. Then we have to stop at Sonic since it's "Happy Hour" from 2:00 to 5:00 and drinks are half-price. Cherry limeades in hand, we then have to run by the library to return a couple of books. Now we're ready to go.

We hit the Natchez Trace and roll down it with the windows rolled down just like people did years ago. This trip is all about history. Due to the lateness of our departure, we couldn't really stop at any of the historical markers along the way, but there was plenty of time for us to discuss my streak and the language that he has made up. Naturally, the verbs end in a vowel plus "l" and "joyl," pronounced "JO-el" is the word for "to be." He said that he took the names of the people that he knew and turned them into verbs for actions that are characteristic of that person, e.g. "pharrel" for our friend Jeremy Pharr means "to observe." Boone could not remember what "choatel" means.

I should pause here for those of you not familiar with this Boone fellow. I've known Joel Boone since we were two-years-old if not before. He's a man of a thousand nicknames, with my favorite being his superhero persona "Sonic Boone." He is quite literally the stuff of legend--when my friends get together with someone who doesn't not know Boone, and someone utters his name, the bottle is openned, and hours of stories flow forth. We've had our ups and downs over the ages, but I have to say that actually like Boone very much. We kid him a lot. He's been the punchline of more jokes by me and my friends, but he understands were I'm coming from more than anyone really can, and you have to appriciate that. That's what I mean when I say the trip is about "old" and "history." It's not the historic Natchez Trace or traveling a few hundred miles without using the interstate in an old car with no air conditioning and the windows down. It's the old friend that I don't see that often.

We get off the Trace at US-72 in Alabama and cross into Mississippi. My crude sketch of a map from yahoo maps that I got by clicking on the map at wasn't quite accurate, and once we realized that we had gone too far, just across the Tennessee-Tombigbee canal, which Boone views as one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer dollars, he says that we need gas, and so we stop and also ask the cashier for directions. This is the first of at least four different askings of directions on the trip as Boone is the quickest person to ask for directions that I have ever met. However, it was fortuitous that we asked for directions because not only did she tell us how to get to Woodall Mountain, she told us about the other point of interest nearby, which I'll detail later.

We then quickly found our way through a semirural residential neighborhood to Woodall Mountain (her directions were flawless). It's only 806 feet, but it's fairly steep and dominates the surrounding area. It's on private property but it's open to the public, or at least I assume it is since no one stopped us. There are three or four radio/cell phone towers on top. The trees don't really allow for much of a view except for a small place where they've been cut away to allow the high-tension power lines in. Through that small gap though, one can see quite far. apparently there used to be a sign indicating that it is Woodall Mountain, but we couldn't find it, leaving only the US Geological Survey marker on a small concrete pedestal which the gravel road circumscribes. With our goal now attained, we can goof off.

Boone emphasizes that he is higher than the state of Mississippi

The USGS marker sans Boone's foot

On our way to see the other attraction, we see a sign in someone's yard urging us to vote for "Jerry (10-Speed) Boyd" for Sheriff.

Now, to the other attraction. The cashier, with agreement by the woman behind us in line, told us to take the first left past the canal, go across the railroad tracks, go up a big hill and then down that hill where we will find a slight incline in the road. We will know we are there because a red brick house is on our left. Come to a full stop in the middle of the road and put the car in neutral. The car should then roll forward, up the slight incline, which is know as "Gravity Hill." I contend that Boone did not actually come to a full stop, but I must admit we did roll forward although whether we actually went uphill is debatable.

Then we went to Corinth, MS, where Boone recommended Russell's Char-Broiled Beef House, an excellent steakhouse. One of those red-brick establishments that serves nothing but char-broiled beef and has a line of locals backed out the door, always a good sign.

So it's eight o'clock in Corinth, Mississippi. We wind our way back through southwestern middle Tennessee, passing through the Shiloh National Military Park, although it was dark and so we couldn't see anything. In Clifton we see a road sign that says "CAUTION UNEVEN HISTORICAL SIDEWALKS." Sure enough, the sidewalks were very uneven broken concrete. I guess since they are "historical sidewalks" they have to be "restored" and hence don't get repaired. After two stops so that he can use the restroom and an additional one so that he can get a milkshake, we roll into his driveway at midnight.

It was quite an adventure, one which I'm sure you would rather read about in this missive than actually experience first hand. I had a wonderful time, but then again, I can sometimes be very easy to please.

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