I most often take you down New Journeys on Old Roads, but in April, you can ride with me along some New Roads I’ve never traveled. We can stop and dip our toe in the Atlantic along Florida’s beaches, breathe in the salty magic of the ocean, ponder the history of the struggles of a people, and feed our soul on the blues music of the Deep South. We’ll drive Atlantic Ocean’s 1-A1 Route viewing Florida’s coastal lighthouses. We’ll visit the sprawling Naval Station Norfolk, largest naval station in the world. At the halfway point of the tour, we’ll enter the southern portion of the 2,000 miles of the Appalachian & Allegheny Mountains. Before I bring you back home, we’ll visit FAME Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals AL and see some musical collections in Memphis. But don’t worry…after I drive you out of the Deep South, we’ll celebrate more music in the dazzling and magical Ozark Mountains before we turn south to the Red River and back to TX.
Magical Musical Historical Tour
Beginning on the Historic Bankhead Highway Route, we’ll leave North TX along I-20 into the East Texas Forests, through Caddo Parish LA along Highway 80 to the Bossier Strip casinos.
We’ll cross the Mississippi River in Vicksburg MS where the river boats roll, and we’ll imagine the captain might be Mark Twain.
Just south of Vicksburg is Natchez, MS. The historic Natchez Trace Parkway is a forest trail extending roughly 440 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, linking the Cumberland (in TN) and Mississippi Rivers.
At the point where we pull onto the Trace, you’ll need to be ready to pause & reflect upon one of the harshest exercises of US laws—the Indian Removal Act of 1830. By 1838, over 100,000 Native Americans Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole were forcibly relocated from the rich fertile soil of their ancestral homes in the South to a newly cleared desolate dirt land called “Indian Territory” (present day OK). This “herding” has been called the “Trail of Tears”; more than 15,000 died on the trail.
At the Forks of the Road intersection in Natchez, in the decades before the Civil War, this marketplace was where enslaved Africans were brought from southern plantations to be bought & sold. For this reason, The Trace is sometimes referred to as the “Slavery Trail of Tears.” After arriving in the southern part of the Trace, slaves were marched to the Mississippi River to be placed on barges for delivery to owners. The 13th Amendment ended slavery in the US 1865.
I can’t be only a history seeker—I must feed my other passion—MUSIC
The most prominent highway in blues lore was U.S. Highway 61. With the advancement of the automobile & national highway system in the 20s & 30s, the blues, jazz & spirituals by African Americans singing about the riverboats, trains & railroads expanded. The sound, too long trapped in the Deep South, moved along this same trail as other historical migrations. From the Birthplace of the Blues in New Orleans, moving northward through Memphis, St. Louis and eventually to St. Paul changing music for centuries to come.
About 3 hours later, we’ll pull into Selma Alabama, the location of another type of cultural crisis occurring in the 20th century playing out in an ugly horrific scene on March 7, 1965. Known as “Bloody Sunday,” African-Americans seeking voting rights crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge to walk to the capitol in Montgomery. They were met by law enforcement on foot and horseback blocking the way off the bridge; many were beaten including now-congressman John Lewis. By March 21st, accompanied by the Alabama National Guard under federal command, the march was peacefully completed once again led by John Lewis and joined by Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King and Andrew Young. In August 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Voting Act.
The next stop on this Magical Musical Historical Tour is St. Augustine FL. I’ve never traveled to FL so I picked this scenic city with a rich history.
Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. Its prominence and location made it ripe for trade & settlement but also a target for invaders and pirates. The territory suffered through multiple turmoil during its history including marauding European Empires’ explorers, Civil War Confederacy, the Civil Rights Violence, and persistent developers trying to quickly buy it up as the “winter haven” for the northern rich.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The scenic drive along the Southeastern Coast’s A-1A features numerous lighthouses–a landmark I try to visit in all my travels.
When we leave St. Augustine by way of US Highway 17, I’ll do my best to not get lost as we cross rivers, inlets and bays tracking along the shore for most of its 1,000 miles parallel to I-95 from Punta Gorda, Florida to Winchester, Virginia. We’ll cover some 665 miles through places which are little more than a small country road, while in others it’s a main thoroughfare. I’ve identified some 15 bridges along the way…and may I say this is a “challenge” for me!
We’ll visit the sprawling Naval Station, the largest Navy station in the world, supporting 75 ships & 134 aircraft alongside – 14 piers and 11 aircraft hangars housing the largest concentration of US Navy forces. The air operations conduct nearly 300 flights a day on average totaling over 100,000 arrivals/departures each year.90 miles southeast of Richmond VA, Norfolk is about 18 miles from the Atlantic Ocean near the popular beach town of Virginia Beach bordered by Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Road Harbor.
Family Time – where life begins and love never ends
(unknown author but I’ve decided to make it mine!)
I’m spending some time with my new great granddaughter. She’s a big part of this journey–pretty good reason.
After a while, we’ll say our goodbyes and I’ll begin a NW route where we’ll encounter the Appalachian Mountains, the Shenandoah River and into the Monongahela National Forest. The Forest comprises 1/3 of the Allegheny Mountains, and, as such, part of the Appalachian Range forming the East Continent Divide.
Family Time – where life begins and love never ends
In Elkins I’ll visit with my son & daughter-in-law who live on a piece of beautiful property backed up to the Monongahela National Forest with their horses & cats. Some TX sized stories will be shared and then I’ll load up for the SW run to TN.
The city of Knoxville is one of the gateways to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, its location at the confluence of three major rivers in the Tennessee Valley brought flat boat and steamboat traffic creating one of the South Eastern’s merchandising areas. Between the ridge-valley of the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau, Chattanooga is called the “Scenic City.
…a musical note here…city made famous in the 1941 song “Chattanooga Choo Choo by Glenn Miller. (if you don’t know or just want to hear again, here’s the song).
What is THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND?
It won’t surprise you that my Magical Musical Historical Tour calls for a detour here in Northern AL. It has been said of this lonely-looking building there is a quiet magic in the air. There are tours of this iconic studio so I’m going to experience the magic!
Artists from the Deep South and some from outside the South gathered with the local musicians to create their own sound at FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprise).
Detroit rocker Bob Seger’s signature song — “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” — began as a demo tape at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. An engineer’s mistake gave the song its distinctive da-da-da intro. Seger liked the sound and kept it in the final song.
Over the years, some of the artists who recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio included The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Dr. Hook, Julian Lennon, Oak Ridge Boys, Cher, Alman Brothers, and Glenn Frey
I could talk music all day, but I’ll leave you with a couple sites you can visit for more details.
Bet I’ll be singing some of those great songs recorded at FAME as I turn NW out of AL headed to a sundown in one of the most beautiful river towns in the Deep South—defined as a region stretching from Memphis TN in the north to Vicksburg MS in the south and from Helena AR in the west to the Yazoo River in the east. I’ll be entering the city on part of the Blues Highway 51 that carries the name of the undisputed King of Rock ‘n Roll Elvis Presley Blvd. Highway 51, a north/south terminus, runs parallel with Highway 61 visited in the beginning of this tour
There is no other thing that captures my mind and soul like music. That’s why I keep coming back to revisit the “never-since-replicated” music of the 50s & 60s. Not only is it part of my “coming of age” timeline, but these songs form the base of my musical interests. You’ll remember we began this Magical Musical Historical Tour on the Mississippi & Blues Highway 61. We now come back to visit more of the sounds of the Delta.
This will set the tone for the places I’ll walk:
Scholars disagree as to whether there is a substantial musicological difference between blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta and blues from other parts of the country. They note the defining characteristics of Delta blues are instrumentation and an emphasis on rhythm; the songs are typically expressed in the first person and often concern love, sex, the traveling, lifestyle, life’s tribulations, sin, salvation and death.
The list of musicians who got their start in Memphis reads like a Who’s Who of music royalty. Led by “the King” you can add Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Percy Sledge, Sam & Dave and B.B. King.
There are so many landmarks to visit, I’ll just mention a few:
- Beale Street (national historical landmark);
- Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio;
- Stax Records (soul sound grittier than Motown);
- Heartbreak Hotel;
I’m taking a tour of the Rock & Soul Museum; here is their site for details. You may want to make the museum part of your next trip.
While lost in my thoughts and the tunes of blues, I must not forget Memphis is home to Tennessee’s largest African-American population and played a prominent role in the American Civil Rights Movement. The city on the Mississippi was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination at the Loraine Motel. The city hosts the National Civil Rights Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate institution. There is also an outside museum at the Loraine Motel.
I’ll make my final crossing over the Mississippi as I leave out of Memphis, taking a NW road through the Mark Twain National Forest on Highway 60. That day’s journey will bring me to Branson MO.
It’s been called a “Nashville in the Ozarks” first developed in the 1960s, the theaters of Branson abound with various musical shows, revues & good food on the lake. Theaters bear the names of heavy weights in the industry: Andy Williams Moon River, Glen Campbell Goodtime, Roy Clark, Oak Ridge Boys, Wayne Newton, Ray Stevens, Mel Tillis, Osmond Brothers, Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet.
No matter how I love the music, nothing can surpass the allure of the mist on the Ozarks. Mountains, I hear your song!
This Texan always feels the flat lands of OK/TX calling me home. A turn southwest out of the Ozarks leads you across that territory I first mentioned called “Indian Territory” My grandfather was born there before it became the state of OK.
But we’re not through with rivers yet. We will cross the Arkansas, a major tributary of the Mississippi River flowing east/southeast across Arkansas and Oklahoma. At 1,469 miles (2,364 km), it is the sixth-longest river in the US & the second-longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri system…and the 45th longest river in the world.
I know the last river I’ll cross is the one mentioned in the songs of “Western Swing” and “Cowboy Songs” my daddy sang.
Waylon Jennings sings about that place in his lyrics:
But when you cross that ol’ Red River hoss, That just don’t mean a thing
Once you’re down in Texas, Bob Wills is still the King
Crossing the Red River joining OK/TX makes my heart beat a little faster, my feet feel more solid, and draws my gaze to the sparce vegetation. We’ll quickly begin to see a line of 200-300 ft wind turbines utilizing all the wind-swept vastness of these plains.
Magical Musical Historical Tour
As a seeker of history, I must remain open to other’s stories and other’s experiences. That is the only way we humans can mend our differences and understand what happens around us.
The musical portion is not a side “note” for me but an integral part of my being. I listen to music not only for the beat or rhythm but for the depth of someone’s soul displayed in the sounds of words or relationship of the notes & chords that come forth.
If you have visited some of these areas, please let me know of your experience. I’ll come back to this post and give you some highlights of this
Note: please read my comment policy under “My Rules”
There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.
Angels are like lighthouses passing by in the storms
Don’t let anyone rob you of your joy;
Don’t let anyone discount your ability;
Don’t let anyone discredit your knowledge;
Don’t let anyone reduce your security & comfort;
Don’t let anyone prohibit your future safety net;
Don’t let anyone make your choices for you;
Don’t let anyone denounce you or ridicule you;
Don’t give away what is rightfully yours.
It’s your life ~
take control ~
be courageous ~
be honest ~
be fair ~
When I find it hard to go on without those who’ve gone,
I turn to songs.
I mix a potion to heal my wounded heart by melding
lyrics to those songs.
When I seek to bring hope and peace to others,
I write words that rhyme.
But when I try to say how you touched my life,
I find the music is out of tune and out of time.
I know this dissonance surely can’t be right.
But I know One who can calm the troubled shores~
One who loves no matter what – and then even more~
One who says, “You don’t have to do it all alone.”~
I’ll stay with you through the darkness of the journey home.
I can feel when we’ve turned the corner into light.
I reach deep inside for the music that strengthens my heart.
I listen quietly, the prayers take rise, and the music starts.
With your memory close inside me for the lonely times,
I’ll come back again and sing to you the words I’ve I turned into rhymes.
It is often hard to distinguish between the hard knocks in life and those of opportunity. ~Frederick Phillips
Seize every opportunity along the way, for how sad it would be if the road you chose became the road not taken. ~Robert Brault
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. ~Harry Truman
Grasp your opportunities, no matter how poor your health; nothing is worse for your health than boredom. ~Mignon McLaughlin
Today is the first anniversary of this blog, so I wanted to let you know I appreciate your spending time here.
If you’ve been traveling with me for the last year, THANK YOU for hopping on board.
If you are reading this post and visiting this blog for the first time, WELCOME to my journey.
If I could write a blueprint for living, I would wrap it in love, tie it with ribbons of hugs & present it to you anytime you need to be reminded you are God’s child.”
I hope my message has been clear, both to my children & grandchildren. I believe in treasuring the wonderful times & even the troubled days…for how can you know you are blessed if you haven’t seen the other side.
To say that I’m in my second “life” would be an understatement…I’m living again and maybe fully for the first time…but I can clearly see it’s right for this time.
When I retired, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. I thought my purpose was over. Now I’m finally understanding that I am here EVERY DAY for a purpose. It has amazed me the people who have followed my blog or tweets who connect because of a comparable belief, thought or interest. I never imagined some of those casual contacts would become true friends across the miles – but that’s what has happened. I didn’t imagine either that old acquaintances would re-visit me emerging from this new tool.
I’m honored to hear from my readers with comments such as:
- “I needed your thought today”
- “Thank you for caring”
- “ Welcome to my world”
- “Hope to meet you”
- “Good to see your post”
With a dream in my heart, I knew it was time to live it! Nothing fades faster than an opportunity not explored. Writing has been my passion, so I began this journey one year ago. It is here on these blank pages I can pour out my thoughts, beliefs, ideas & words. It has become my peaceful place to offer a word of encouragement or a lesson learned in my life.
Having come through some health issues, daily I’m grateful I’m still standing upright & even standing! I’m really careful about where I step, walk & things I do…but for the most part…I’m trekking down paths I never thought I would be able to explore.
New Journeys on Old Roads has become more than just a title for my blog; it has come to describe my life more than I ever imagined.
- Sometimes the roads are rough, so I slow down and approach with caution.
- Sometimes they have detours, so I look for an alternate route.
- Sometimes they are brand new black-topped roads over what used to be dirt, so I speed up a bit.
- Sometimes I get lost…but I get out my map, connect to my GPS, and try again…a lot like what happens when you fall down or fail.
If something I’ve presented here has been helpful, I invite you to post a comment or contact me in other methods listed here on this blog.
THANK YOU FOR TRAVELING WITH ME ON MY
NEW JOURNEYS ON OLD ROADS!
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
― John Donne, No Man Is An Island
Sometimes it feels that the world gets smaller each time a person’s life is lost. I appreciate that it’s human to feel a twinge of sadness even if you didn’t know the person. Even if you knew someone that knew the person, it should render us at least sympathetic.
Then sometimes we go for a while and the memory gets less. Maybe we should pledge to never let the memory become so vague it walks out of our thoughts.
Home is one of the hardest words to define. Is it the building? Is it the geographic location? Is it where I’m from but not where I am at the moment? Is it the collection of people who are relatives? Can it be a group of people who aren’t related? What if you can’t define home?
Being a product of the “baby boom generation,” I finished high school in the mid 60s living in a peaceful, suburban area where all the kids looked alike—middle income and white. There was another world out there that most of us never saw—the race riots, horrors of the War in Vietnam, new discoveries in space and astonishing acts of violence that took the lives of a president, a presidential candidate’s and a race relations leader.
I was on the tail end of a generation where young women were making their choices of an advanced degree in college or homemaking and motherhood. I never regretted the road I chose. I just see it so differently now in a generation twice removed how the roles have changed & women are allowed/accepted women in many roles i.e., professional wife/mother; single mother; adoptive mother to children of the family or from other families and even foreign countries. Lines are more blurry now of who is related to whom and who is a good role model.
I know the definition and the difference between home & family. I know the words don’t mean the same to everyone. For me, the choice was part of who I was growing up to become. I completely felt the need to follow my young husband first to college, then into the ministry, then the military, and back to college to complete a degree.
Before I was old enough to vote, I was a mother. I became a mother the second time 2 years & 8 days from the birth of my first child. I reveled in that role with full commitment and understanding. How could I achieve that so young? Because I had seen family and home in my life as being the safe place where we live. It is the place we hone our skills of personality & acceptance.
There is forever that “leaving” that happens when children reach a certain age. And who in the world can find what that perfect age is? For me it was a way to be with the man I loved and start our family. Those little tiny packages that came on hot summer days in the years of 1967 & 1969 were the most precious little human beings I had ever seen. They were the perfect companion for a life I was to live. They were sweet, loving and so cute; they had tempers, crying spells and their own little personalities. And, in the end, I was left to build and modify the mold in which they would be shaped.
Experiencing some changes just as the beauty of glass comes after the heat of the elements, I was alone to take them into their teen years & adulthood. How could I do it? Who would I lean on and turn to?
…there’s no other word that conjures up for me the feelings of peace and strength. In family I find encouragement and understanding. I had such a huge lesson to teach my children and I didn’t know where to start. How could I instill in them the importance of relying on each other? How could I be sure they would always do the right thing when I wasn’t always there? What would be their choices when I let them make those choices.
Suffice it to say I was in fear of this huge responsibility. But, time was marching on; and as each orbit marked a day upon a day, I knew one of those days was THE moment when I let them choose and make their path.
Oh, how could I be sure they’d ever come back home? What would I do if they failed? How could I be there for them when time & space wouldn’t allow it?
…the never-ending self-sufficient heart-warming kind of feelings that would translate to trust and safety. Did I need to worry about them in their lives? Of course, I would but I didn’t NEED to because I had equipped them with the best tools I knew: love, trust, faith, friends, family and a HUGE amount of self-worth and purpose to which I added load of hugs. I then added my words of trust and confirmed to them that I knew they had made good choices. It was such a hard time, BUT I EVENTUALLY GREW UP!
Forty plus years later I can see I need not have worried about how and what they would choose. They have gone through the same questions I did. They have made good and bad choices. They have learned from certain mistakes but they have kept their faith and love close to their heart and have given it to those with whom they surround themselves.
I didn’t need to worry at all. I didn’t need to lose sleep waiting up for them. I had no real reasons to check on them even when they said “it’s all good.”
I didn’t have to…but I wanted to! I wanted them to remember that home & family are the place you find the strength to take your first baby steps and those young adult bigger steps and the huge giant steps when you create your own little human beings.
I humbly say, “I’ve done well.” But so can they…they can be proud of where they are in their life now and what it took to get there.
Want to come home? Need to come home? Sure that’s an option, but I’m much happier they’ve made their own homes with those they love.
Good job, kids!This post is dedicated to my children who recently had August birthdays..and to my granddaughters who are on their own now making choices. My advice is: pray about your life; work at it; stay true to yourself; think of others…and most of all…learn how to love and be loved. Life is a fabulous gift…use it well. Johnny Mathis “I’m Coming Home”