Friday, May 14, 2021

Lake Chitoc State Park: E-Biking Mississippi River Levee's

We are headed out on our deep south tour. One thing I have always want to do is ride bikes on the Mississippi River Levees. Doing this with our new Ebikes is going to make it a lot more exciting. Most of the Mississippi has a levee system that keeps the low land next to the river from flooding every year. We stop at Lake Chitoc State Park, in Arkansas which sits on the largest Oxbow lake in North America.

Riding these levees is fun and flat. I definitely have to get my bike behind back; it seems it's been a while since I been in a bicycle saddle for this long. We are on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi. Before flood control; the construction of the levees and drainage canals, the delta farmland would flood every year. Mostly becoming part of the river.

It was a short ride outside the State Park to get to the Levee. The levee road goes for miles with beautiful views of the river and the low land farms. We ride 20 miles south one day and then 20 miles north the next. The levee cuts through farmlands, forests, and river swamps. It has its own biodiversity of plants and animals, it is a very unique experience.

The river is alive, changing the landscape daily. Lake Village, the current county seat, was eventually moved there in 1857. The county seat was moved several times because the river claimed the other towns. If you look at the state line between Mississippi and Arkansas, you can see how much the river has changed even since the states were created. Oxbow lakes are formed when a large river, in this case, the Mississippi, changes course. They do this by cutting through a river bend and rejoining the river farther downstream. The man-made levee system now keeps this from happening.

The state park we are in has an old steamboat boiler. Navigation on the river took a lot of skill, as Mark Twain noted in “Life on the Mississippi.” Riverboat Captains trained for years, learning every part of the river before they were allowed to captain their own boats. When the river was wild and untamed.

We ended up staying here three nights, enjoying the evening sunset on Lake Chitoc. We'll have to make it back here. There is lots more levee to ride, but now it's off to Vicksburg and Natchez with a step back into time.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Selma a Place of Civil Rights History

If you're following on Facebook, you probably figured out we were in Selma, Alabama, on our way to South Carolina. The pictures are undeniable. The Edmund Pettus Bridge is a civil rights icon. Completely by coincidence, we were here on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, 7 March.

In 1965, 56 years to the day, a nonviolent voter registration protest was met by police in riot gear refusing to let them cross the Edmund Pettus bridge. They were savagely beaten. We have all seen pictures and videos. I grew up watching the civil rights movement unfold on television, from the relative safety of Whidbey Island, Washington. I remember at 9 or 10 years old thinking, why can't these people just get along, not completely understanding the situation.

It was a powerful thing to see what people had to go through to gain the vote. They were often killed trying to exercise their right to vote, which many people just take for granted.
It is a reminder that these new voter suppression measures are coming from the same place. We always must be on guard for this type of oppression in whatever form it takes.

From here, we are off to Hunter Islands and a few days at the beach with the grandkids.