Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mobile to Natchez – off-the-beaten-path encounter

A couple of days ago we left Alabama on our way to Natchez, Mississippi, thinking we'd spend a little time in that river city. Our travel plan was to take the red roads once again, enjoying the hills and valleys and towns between Mobile Bay and Natchez. A day of 200+ miles through small towns is just about right for us. We usually have a rough idea of where we will stop depending on how we both feel as we progress through our day. It's not necessarily at a conventional campground or park. If it's going to be after 4:00 when we stop and only an overnighter, we may choose to stop at perhaps an Elks lodge, a WalMart or any number of other establishments that allow overnight parking. One of our options for this day was the Elks Lodge in Natchez, for our first night in town anyway. We have a directory that shows us which lodges allow RV parking. Some have electrical hookups, most don't. Some charge a nominal fee, some ask for a donation. Some have designated parking and others say park anywhere in the lot. Another option was the local WalMart that we knew would allow an overnight stop.

It was a pleasant drive. Along the way we decided to call the Elks Lodge just to check to see if our directory information was current. The person answering the phone mentioned that the two spots they had with electrical hookups were no longer there since they were “building a pond.” (Huh?) But we were welcome to park anywhere else there was room. Before we knew it we had made the 200-some-mile trip to Natchez and were on the road to the Elks lodge.

As we pulled up to the lodge we noticed folks standing all along the front of the property with signs. Were they picket lines at the Elks? Most can't even afford to pay employees. Guess what! The lodge was a voting location and there was a steady stream of cars in the lot. Don't you think that the person on the phone would have mentioned that? Not a word. After we finished laughing out loud, we pulled into the “empty” parking lot of the business across the road, and asked for permission to sit for a while. It turned out to be two hours.

We noticed from our vantage point that there were several banners and signs indicating candidates for sheriff being waved madly by the people on the road. (My photo is poor, through the window. But you get the idea.)  As each car passed or turned into the poll they would wave, smile and push their candidate's sign into a prominent position. As we watched more closely we saw that indeed there were only sheriff signs lined up along the pathway to the poll. It was time to get more information.

We walked across the street to introduce ourselves and learned a lot. These two ladies supporting their friend, Randy Freeman, were full of information. Sure enough, there were seven candidates for sheriff, no particular political party for any of them. Have you ever heard of that? It was great to see the enthusiasm of these supporters based strictly on their opinion of this man's character. They so impressed us with the positive experiences with Mr. Freeman we wished we could vote for him.

It turns out that these ladies come from a family that has sponsored fund raising events for the needy people of the community for many years. They told us the stories of their parents who raised 14 children, over half of them adopted. Their father died of cancer. And three of the children, including these two sisters, were cancer survivors themselves. Their parents taught them to help others. Despite their own situation, they had raised money to help numerous cancer, accident and disaster victims. One of these women had four adopted daughters as well. The stories were amazing. They had many funny stories to tell us too. The time passed quickly and the “Cox Sisters” went to have jambalaya at the election party headquarters. The voting closed. We pulled into the lot for the night and had a safe stay , wondering who had won.

You never know what and whom you will run across as you travel this country. This turned out to be one of those unexpectedly interesting experiences that you find – just a little off the beaten path.


  1. The former sheriff died in office, and this was a special election to fill the office. In MS, special elections are non partisan, in that all candidates run at once, and their party is not listed on the ballot. The top two vote gettors will be in a runoff in three weeks.

    Mr Freeman did not make the runoff, but he lost by only 100 votes, which wasn't decided until the next day after absentee ballots were counted.

    I was happy with the results since I favored the person who beat out Mr Freeman - although he is a very nice man and would have been a good sheriff.

    Thanks for visiting our city - and come back again soon.

  2. Hi Hurleys!
    That is a great story, and I enjoyed reading it.

  3. Thanks Casey Ann, for your clarification of the election. Very interesting. We've learned something again. Enjoyed all of our time in Natchez. Very nice city.


Hi: Thanks for your thoughts.