Day 3 started with a 100+ mile drive from Greenville MS to Helena. I stayed on the east (Mississippi) side of the river for this leg. Click through for my pictures and stories from Day 3.
Of all 15 bridges along the way, the Greenville Bridge was the hardest to photograph. In fact, it was pretty much impossible as best as I could determine in the limited time available to me. I even went so far as to ask my waitress at breakfast if she could direct me to a view. Really now, when a man asks for directions, you know it's serious! So, here you go, a picture of the 4 cable towers that suspend the bridge!
I'll cheat a bit and include a picture from the bridge's Wikipedia page. This is an artists rendering made before the bridge was built. The old bridge shown behind it is completely gone now.
There were a number of long narrow lakes that looked on the map like leftovers from prior paths the river took. The look like they'd be great for fishing and boating, but I saw very little evidence that they get a lot of use.
That levy again, tantalizingly close. I can see the gravel road on top and I always kept my eyes open for roads branching off towards the river as I traveled.
Whenever I did see a paved road leading off towards the levy, I would take it, but they almost never went anywhere useful. This one, however, looked promising and I followed it a couple miles.
Soon enough, the pavement ended. On Day 1, I would have taken this road. On Day 2, I might have. On Day 3, I'm tired of following roads that end in "No Trespassing" signs, so I turned around and headed back to my route.
But then, an apparent jackpot! A paved road going over the levy and no signage telling me I'm not welcome? You know I'm all over that! I pointed my car up the hill and started up.
Once at the top, there were warnings about driving on the levy itself, but that's okay because the paved road kept going down the other side.
At the bottom, this is what I saw. I have visions of a nice park on the river, basically what I've been looking for since I left New Orleans.
And then this. There wasn't any attendant in sight, so I put $3 in the Honor Box and drove on, full of hope.
And then, not very far in, I come to a muddy pond and a locked bridge. WTF? No explanation, but the campground and all the other things described on the sign have to be on the other side of that barrier.
Reading the Wikipedia page for this park, I see there is indeed a park and view that I would have so loved to see. Sad that it wasn't available for this trip, but those are the breaks. So, this is the muddy pond. That's about all I got out of this little detour. Very disappointing.
So I did the only logical thing. I took some pictures of my car and then got out of there.
In my travels, I've seen plenty of man-made structures being reclaimed by nature. Masonry crumbles and wood rots, but rarely do I see an entire brick building like this being eaten by the vegetation. The picture doesn't do justice to what's happening here. Left alone, I believe that school will be invisible in a couple more years.
This leg featured plenty of awesome rural roads. It was 100+ miles from the Greenville Bridge to the next crossing in Helena and almost every mile of it looked something like the picture below. It was like traveling back in time.
I even found a few miles of genuinely fun curvy roads which gave me a great chance to downshift and get the revs up. Nothing too crazy, of course, as I'm too far from home and have way still to go to be acting crazy. Still, it felt good to hear the tires squeal a bit.
Another pond full of Cyprus trees. I found this while casting about, it was road over the levy that led nowhere in particular.
OMGXBOXHuge bales of cotton, and lots of them.
This is a cotton harvester, a fairly amazing machine that harvests and removes the seeds at the same time. The cotton collects in the hopper which is periodically dumped into the giant compactor that produces the enormous bales seen in the prior picture. Eli Whitney would be proud.
My favorite road sign!
No pictures of my car for today yet? It gave me a bit of a scare earlier in the day. I had washed it first thing in the morning, as usual, and a few miles down the road it stuttered and stumbled a bit when accelerating. I had experienced a similar problem a few weeks ago and my mechanic couldn't figure it out before the issue cleared itself up. Regardless, the problem again cleared itself in a few miles and hasn't reoccurred, so life is good!
Approaching the next bridge, the land flattened out into the familiar flood plain design so common around the footers of the bridges. It's hard to see, but that's the Helena Bridge, still a couple miles away, sticking up in the middle of the road in the picture below.
The Helena Bridge takes me from Mississippi into Arkansas. After crossing back and forth between Mississippi and Louisiana and Arkansas and back so many times, I say goodbye to Mississippi for good this time.
It was nice to cross a bridge that offered no fuss views for pictures. I have to admit, I'm growing a bit weary of the back and forth down service roads and alleyways looking for photo opportunities. Once again, it's over 100 miles to the next crossing. Next stop, Memphis!
Earlier we saw nature eating a schoolhouse. Her she is again, eating both the brick building and the steel silos behind.
One more and I'll stop with the nature gone wild stuff.
This is the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge, the first of two bridges in Memphis. This bridge is unique because it has a pedestrian walkway along both outside edges of the travel lanes. Walk across the Mississippi River? You just know I had to do that.
Pedestrians are separated from the vehicle lane by a single guardrail. The speed limit is 55, so it was a bit noisy and when big trucks rolled by, the bridge bounced perceptively. There's a railroad bridge on the other side that you can see in the picture below.
The view of the river from the bridge was excellent! Well worth the effort, in my opinion.
And here's a nice view of the walkway, itself. It's about a mile long. It was a beautiful day for it!
As I've seen for hundreds of miles now, commerce and industry are king on the river.
Kudzu, the vine that ate the south. It covers the hillsides, it covers the trees, it covers everything that doesn't actively fight back. Native to Japan, this stuff is a real pest in much of the southeast.
This is the other Memphis bridge, called the Hernando de Soto Bridge. It's about 15 miles from the other bridge and there's a very large waterfront park between them. This is the view looking north.
And this is the view looking south. The railroad bridge is obscuring the view of the old Memphis bridge.
That's Mud Island in the picture below. It's not really an island, but a peninsula that contains a river park, a museum, and outdoor amphatheater. I had planned to go and check it out, but the day was late and I was tired. It was time to cross the second Memphis bridge and find a motel for the night.
And so ends Day 3. Day 4 will be a short one, I only have one bridge and one ferry left to cross. Stay tuned!