DAY 78 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

WEST MEMPHIS TO ANTHONYVILLE We gathered up our things and checked out of the Holiday Inn Express, accommodations generously provided by The City of West Memphis. Our run today started at the Skippy’s gas station where I left off on Sunday. Tom took off on foot, planning to run until the sidewalk ran out on Broadway out past the ASU Mid South campus. I took a detour over to Fred Leonard’s State Farm Agency to pick up a special package being sent for me. His receptionist knew exactly who I was and had it ready. Thanks again, Fred! I caught up …

DAY 77 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

WEST MEMPHIS LAYOVER It was a soggy start to our second day in West Memphis, Arkansas. Rain moved in early and didn’t let up until afternoon. Thankfully, this was a scheduled rest day we didn’t need to be out running in the rain. Our good luck continues! The schedule was light and we took time in the morning to run a few errands – drug store, grocery, gas, ice and a trip to the post office. The rain was coming down heavy as we made our way around the city, experiencing the rhythms of a Monday morning in West Memphis. We …

DAY 76 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

MEMPHIS TO WEST MEMPHIS We started our day in Memphis, Tennessee just south of the Great Pyramid. Is this Egypt? No, it’s Tennessee and this Memphis Pyramid houses a Bass Pro Shops superstore… Tom started out on the riverfront, running along the the east side of the Mississippi, heading downstream toward the Harahan Bridge. It’s Sunday morning and people are out traversing the Big River Crossing. Not a few miles in, and we’re in Arkansas now—state number eight out of ten on our Mississippi River journey. Tom met me alongside Hwy 51 at Bridgeport Rd for the exchange, and I started my run …

DAY 75 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

RANDOLPH TO MEMPHIS We woke up early in Munford, Tennessee at the Go Getaway Bed and Breakfast. I could smell the spinach quiche that Chris was preparing for breakfast, and both Tom and I were eager to get downstairs and try the CBD coffee that Chris had touted last night before we tucked in. Breakfast was slated for 7:30 and we were early to the table. We grabbed some coffee and took a walk outside to explore the “Celebrate Munford” festival that was setting up on the streets just outside. Several rows of pop up tents were already standing and Chris’ husband Isaac …

DAY 74 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

COVINGTON TO RANDOLPH The road from Covington, Tennessee to Randolph, Tennessee was populated with dogs, barking and chasing us as we passed. They probably just wanted to say hello, but we couldn’t be sure so we picked up the pace to stay out of reach. Our destination on this warm Friday in September was Chickasaw Bluff Number 2 at Randolph, Tennessee – a historical and natural wonder. The Chickasaw bluff is the high ground on the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River between Fulton and Memphis. It’s made up of four prominent bluffs that were named and numbered by the French as they headed …

DAY 73 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

FORT PILLOW TO COVINGTON Today we journeyed from our campground in Fort Pillow State Historic Park (pop. 3 campers) to Covington (pop. 9,000). We woke to birdsong under tall trees, passed through rolling hills, saw vast agricultural fields . . . and raced 18-wheelers on southbound US 51. We’re closer to Memphis, Tennessee and feeling the influence that a nearby urban center has on surrounding communities. Many Covington, Tennessee residents commute into Memphis for work, but there’s also a base of industry here that provides local job opportunities – employers like Unilever, Charms, Sugaright and Dyersburg State Community College. We saw a few of these industries as …

DAY 72 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

RIPLEY TO FORT PILLOW HISTORIC STATE PARK We launched from the Lauderdale County, Tennessee courthouse in the morning. Mayor Gaines passed by and waved as we went through our morning routine – hydrating, starting up our electronics, and confirming exchange points. As the Mayor went into work, Robbie, Susan and her husband Tracy gathered to see us off. Fort Pillow State Historic Park, here we come. The road conditions were good, even on the heavily travelled US Highway 51 – although the armadillos would probably disagree . . . It was plenty hot as we made our way along Illinois Route 87 along …

DAY 71 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

RIDGELY TO RIPLEY It was another warm day as we ran south toward Ripley, Tennessee. We transitioned from Mississippi River bottom land into rolling hills. The agricultural fields became interspersed with thick forests and tall trees. The intermittent periods of shade were welcome as the temperature climbed into the 90s. Hotter than average here, but maybe this is the new normal . . . Victoria ran the final segment into town with some steep hills to welcome her. We landed at the Lauderdale County, Tennessee Courthouse in Ripley’s historic town square. Victoria toweled off and changed, accompanied by a couple of mockingbirds (and …

DAY 69 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

HICKMAN TO TIPTONVILLE We started our day in front of the Kentucky Nut Corporation (the nut house). I ran down through old town Hickman and out of town past the ferry landing. Things are quiet on a Sunday morning. Everyone waves to me as I pass. We’re in the South now . . . We’re running through Mississippi bottom land—levee protected with lots of agricultural fields (corn and beans). There’s a beautiful pecan tree grove just south of Hickman. And it’s hot—mid 90s and humid. We’re in the South now . . . Victoria crossed the Tennessee border into the Reelfoot Lake …

DAY 68 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

COLUMBUS TO HICKMAN Another morning in Columbus-Belmont State Park. The kids are still up before us riding bikes, saying hi to me as I get set on my own. Today we decided to follow a route suggested by Greg and Norma that had us in the bottomland. It was different than what we had planned, but it was shorter and more direct. It required us to ride first, going until we hit gravel, then we ditched the bikes and set off on foot. I rode the first several miles, then Tom ran the first 5K, I picked up the next, and …