GREENVILLE TO EUDORA
We had some time in the morning to pull out our laptops and write up notes—fueled by coffee from the nearby Double Quick. We hoped to catch up completely but it takes time to process the experiences of a community, especially one as full and engaging as Greenville, Mississippi. We took our homework over to Jim’s Cafe for a quick breakfast. Apparently Jim’s is the oldest restaurant establishment in Washington County, and a good place to grab your bacon and eggs! After our morning start, we headed over to our launch spot on Main Street just outside City Hall about 15 minutes early in the hopes of saying our goodbyes to Kyla and the mayor.
Kyla (with the help of Kyla #2) orchestrated our entire Greenville experience—two full days with many “audibles” called along the way. She was so very good to us and important to the Relay project. We wanted to thank her one last time before launching. But wait—the City Hall door is locked. Oh yeah . . . it’s Saturday. How easily we lose track of the day of the week on this journey!
Forced to abort the goodbye mission, Tom went ahead and launched the run out of Greenville down Broadway where the sidewalks were good in some spots and not so good in others. We went past our favorite Double Quick—thanks for the coffee, DQ, and the heat rose up once again (our smartphones said it’s a high of 95 degrees) and the south wind kicked in. These are tough conditions but this is an exciting day. Our new Greenville friend, Lonnie Smith, joined us at the base of the Jesse Brent Memorial Bridge for one more run together. This time he and Tom went up and over the Mississippi, grabbing the requisite selfie at the top. I waited at the base on the Arkansas side, getting ready for the run to bike exchange, my turn to head out for the next 15 miles or so. To my surprise, a pick-up truck rolled over the highway and pulled up right next to me, rolling down their window… it was none other than Terri McCullough, pilot of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, and her husband Will. They wanted to welcome me in style to Arkansas and make sure the Sheriff arrived for my police escort to Eudora.
I soon spotted the guys descending the bridge, with Sheriff Ron Nicholls just behind them. They all tagged over to us on the shoulder and we exchanged introductions and niceties and got to the business of changing places. Terri and Will headed home by the levee road, while the Sheriff and I headed on down the highway toward Eudora. Tom drove Lonnie back over the bridge to his car and a final farewell—that is, until he makes the trip up to Minnesota for vegetarian gumbo and a marathon run! (To be continued….)
The ride was smooth sailing at first, even a tail wind perhaps, but the winds shifted soon enough to push against me from the South and I slowed down a few mph. By the end of the ride, the heat was upon me, body sweating like rain. But I had to get off and run now—this was the hardest run yet. Suffocating heat, and yet I couldn’t slow my cadence at first. Eventually I moderated it but a painful run I’d like to forget. The sight of Tom at the turn to the Eudora Cultural Center was a welcome one, and running the last tenths of a mile was all I could do.
[Group Conversation at Cultural Center]
After this amazing group discussion, we broke to mingle with a number of other Eudora residents who had just walked through the doors. Refreshments were provided, and we all enjoyed a short documentary about the story of Eudora that had been put together by the Cultural Center in 2007. Saying farewells took some time, but eventually we made our way out to the home of Terri and Will McCullough, our hosts for the night. They had invited several friends from church over for a feast of fried quail and all the fixings! We didn’t go to bed hungry that’s for sure, and I got one more birthday cake with the candle numbers “39” on top, all alight for me to blow out…. I will never stop turning 39 at this rate!