2019 Tour of Honor Ride 4

What better way to help ease stress than to take a bike ride. I have a few things on my mind and need a chance to do some clear thinking. Weather is going to be great today, and there are a few sites close by that I could visit. No time frame, so I can spend a little more time.

I hop on the bike a little before 10 as my bride is heading out to her knitting club. I have a full tank of fuel, so no need to stop for gas, but I do need to stop by the bank to get some cash before heading out.

I take one of my usual route to US-72, then head west. I pass through Iuku, then Corinth. I make a turn an head south west toward Ripley. Usually I don’t like being behind farm trucks, but this morning I don’t care. It manages to help keep me focused on riding. I get a chance to enjoy the sights and smells of the country. I ride into Ripley and follow the GPS to the courthouse. At first, I see a statue of a Civil War soldier. I ride around the block and see a pair of Doughboys guarding the main entrance, but I don’t get a chance to stop. I’ll make another loop around the block and find a good spot to park. As I round the back of the courthouse, I see another pair of Doughboys guarding the other entrance. I park next to “Judge Parking” and get my picture.

Doughboys guarding the rear entrance to the Ripley Courthouse

I head toward Walnut, MS. Country roads, slow and enjoyable ride. Listening to Van Zant and Willie Nelson, seems very apropos. The Huey in Walnut is my first repeat visit from last year. This was one of the sites that I visited last year on my first Tour of Honor ride which was interupted, but I did get my picture here last year. As I make the turn through town, I watch some kids from the high school running. I pass them and pull around the Huey, memorial marker, and the tank. As I park, I see the kids running their lap toward me on the other side of the memorial area. Then I hear barking. I had noticed one girl stopped, and other ran past her. Then the first girl started running again, with a dog in chase. The dog was more teasing than attacking, but the girl is too scared to realize that. Then I see the owner calling the dog. The dog runs off and the girl heads to the school. The owner keeps calling Max, who is more interested in not being caught. I call Max, thinking that if might entice him to approach a new voice. Max starts toward me, then runs between the owner and me back toward his home. A brief chat with the owner, then I get my picture and ready to hit the road.

I head north from Walnut toward Bolivar. The 20 or so miles is straight, the few curves seems so minor that it could be considered a straight road. The GPS posts that TN1 is going to be on my right once I get into Bolivar. As I approach, I see the courthouse. With it being lunch, I find a parking spot directly in front of the memorial. I was born about 45 miles from Bolivar in Savannah. Growing up, the draw to Bolivar was the West Tennessee Mental Hospital. I don’t ride toward there since it is on the west side of town and I will be heading east. I walk around the courthouse, I never realized that the courthouse was built in the mid 1800’s. In front of the courthouse, there is also a bust of Simone Bolivar which was a gift from Venezuela at the centennial celebration of the courthouse. I take a few more pictures of the area, then head east.

Over the years since I was traveled US-64 between Savannah and Memphis. Outside Bolivar, I would travel through Hornsby. A well known speed trap in the 70’s and 80’s. Hornsby town limits were only about a mile or so on each side of the highway, but it seemed to go on forever, but actually about 5 miles or so. The issue was that the speed limit was 25 mph, and VERY strictly enforced. Now, the highway is state maintained and patrolled, as well as going around the “downtown” section of Hornsby. I travel this stretch of road at 65mph without fear of blue lights chasing me.

As I reach the outskirts of Selmer, another little town that I would pass through. Instead of taking the bypass, I opt to take the business route through town. I pass a few churches and houses that have a bit of dark history. I see signs that the area has changed. Growing up, I don’t remember any Mexican restaurant in the area.

I continue to Adamsville, the home of Buford Pusser, of Walking Tall fame. I met Sheriff Pusser once as a kid with my Pawpaw when we had to make a stop at the bank. Sheriff Pusser was a big man, as was my Pawpaw. Being a little after lunch, I know it is time to get a bite to eat. I pull into the parking lot for River BBQ Company. Great staff, good food, and a nice place to relax for a few bit. I enjoy a pulled pork platter. River BBQ Company is on the county line for Hardin and McNairy Counties.

After lunch I head to Crump. My grandmother was living in Crump when she met my grandfather. I never heard how they met, or why she was in Crump since her family were farmers south of Crump closer to Iuka. Last year, the Huey bonuses were just for Huey helicopters, this year the Tour of Honor has added Cobra helicopters to the Huey bonus. In the 1980’s, a Cobra was presented by WWII veterans to honor the Vietnam vets of Crump. It was placed in front of the Crump Police/Fire station. I have been driving and riding past hear for several years, but never stopped to examine the Cobra. Today I take the time to check out the Cobra and read the plaque. I get my picture and head toward Shiloh after a gas stop.

Shiloh is about 5 miles south of Crump. I have been on this road many times. My dad has been in Korea when I was in the 2nd grade and we stayed with my grandmother in Savannah. He came home about the time that the school year ended. He had a little vacation before we had to go to Arizona. I remember the last day of Vacation Bible School. Mom and Dad picked us up from the church and we were heading toward my uncle in Aberdeen. Between Crump and Shiloh, Dad started to pass a farm truck that suddenly made a left turn onto a farm road. There wasn’t much left of that Chevrolet. Other than my Dad having a bloody nose, everyone was fine. The ambulance was driven by my Mom’s uncle, who took us back to my grandmother’s. When we walked in, still in blood covered clothes, my grandmother’s words were “I just cleaned the house, don’t you get any blood on anything” then she fainted.

I make the left turn into Shiloh NMP. I take the required picture then head to the Visitor’s Center to get my passport stamped. I look over the maps on display. I see markers for the Army of Tennessee and the Army of Ohio. Stories about them will be another story. I find out that the stamp is in the bookstore. I head to the bookstore, get my stamps, and ready to head home.

I was expecting to turn left onto TN-22, but the GPS wants me to head back to Savannah. A request I can’t turn down. Whenever I go through Savannah, I have two stops that I have to make. One being to visit my grandmother’s house, I spent so much time here growing up. The other being the family cemetery. Along my ride, I have had dark skies to the east, but the weather map indicates that it is much farther east than Savannah. WRONG! As I cross the Tennessee River, I see that the road is wet. I smell the sweet aroma of a fresh spring rain shower. I have a meeting with a friend this evening, so I decide to just stay straight and head home. With only a few light showers, I make it home.

With just a short ride of about 250 miles, I visit one Tour of Honor Site (TN1-Bolivar), one Doughboy (Ripley, MS), and two helicopters (one Cobra and one Huey). Some of the stress I had to start the day is gone. It was a good day.