The Illinois Monument:
Looking down from the top steps it hit me that our bikes were Confederate Colors, Red and Gray. We were from Louisiana, would we have fought for the South? Which side would we have chosen? Which side was right and which was wrong? Would we have known enough to make a choice or would we have just went blindly with our neighbors to fight the Yankees?
Pop's response? "I don't think I could ever fight for Slavery. I hate Slavery in any form. I think we would have been deserters and we would have just Headed West. But you never know."
The park itself is beautiful. It was nice and cool, the little one way tour road wound its way up and down some surprisingly tall and steep hills. We were mostly 2nd gear 2K RPM and I was enjoying the slightly deeper growl of the GYTR mufflers on the shiny red bike behind me. They are not loud at all but they give the FJR a much deeper voice. I had some really happy thoughts for my friend G Squared who sold us that bike. He did us some goodness.
Finally, I found something I could relate to: The USS Cairo.
Look at how thick the iron plating is on the front of the super structure:
And again on the sides:
Boats make me happy:
Somehow I had not realized the Cairo was a Stern Wheeler.
Things were a little different Back Then:
Pop and I discussed how cool and pleasant it must have been during the summer working in the boiler room of this boat. They hand shoveled a ton of coal an hour when the boat was moving. They were definitely not benefitting from air conditioning down in the bilge of this monster.
I noticed Pop studying the deck. We were certain this was not part of the original decking of the boat, there is no doubt about that. But Pop was very interested in the nails they used. I wish I had noticed this myself.
We passed through the Cemetery. That sucked.
The Cemetery overlooks the Yazoo River. I got confused because I knew that Vicksburg was a strategic battle due to it controlling the Mississippi River. The Yazoo is just a tributary of limited significance. None of the Vicksburg Battlefield is anywhere near the Mississippi River.
Then I realized, as huge as this park is, enormous as it seems and as many deaths are documented throughout this place, this was only a small part of the Real Battlefield. I estimate the Vicksburg Battlefield we can visit today comprises less than 20 percent of the total original battlefield. The battle originally wrapped all the way around the city from the Mississippi on the South to the Yazoo on the North. That realization sickened me.
I wanted to see the Louisiana Monument and then Get the **** Out.
Of course it was on top of a hill and of course the road leaned so we could not get off the bikes without them falling over and of course it was a one lane road and of course we were holding up traffic. But there was a parking lot at the bottom of the hill.
I told Pop that I really did not want to climb that damned hill. We talked about the men who died here, the men that had to climb these hills carrying the heavy weapons of that time. The men who tugged and pushed those damned cannons into position and shot each other to pieces for no good reason at all.
I bitched some more about not wanting to climb that hill. Pop handed me his camera. At my lost expression he said, "You got it to do. No sense in wasting your breath bitching about it. Run on up there and get your pictures. And take some for me on my camera too. I will be waiting for you here."
So I climbed the damned hill.
This was Far Enough:
We rode the last loop but I was Ready to Go.
The Iowa Monument:
And how did Pop look after over 3 hours of this crap?
After that we headed home by a mostly direct route. We took part of the Natchez Trace, we took Hwy 33 and 24 thru Mississippi. We stopped for an excellent lunch buffet at Vine's in Centreville MS.
When we got to Pop's house he was fresh and strong. The new Cardo Freecom 4 had worked very well. The new bike had worked Very Well.
It looks like we will be making a little ride at the end of this month. But we will be a lot slower in the twisties than we were before February 12th.