While visiting Vicksburg, Mississippi to do some research for a Civil War Diary, my journey took me to Snyder’s Bluff, one of the places frequently mentioned in the diary. This is where my GPS took me that hot, southern day.
Dust settled over my gypsy car while exploring a dirt road not far from that grand Mississippi River that divides our country. With temperatures near 100 degrees as the sun beat down, I felt fortunate that the Chevy’s air conditioning worked properly.
Soon the road went through a narrow pass cut into the ground with sides ten feet high and trees extending their roots like tentacles reaching out to capture something or someone. Because of the desire to do research for the book, my curiosity led me forward. After a few miles, no end seemed to be in sight so when the road widened, giving an opportunity to turn around, I maneuvered the car back and forth until it was headed out.
Returning through the pass, a loud sound reached my ears and there was more dust up ahead. Around a slight bend headed straight toward me rumbled a semi loaded with logs. Imagine they were as surprised to see me as I was to see them.
Somehow we passed with inches to spare between us and between the banks of the road with tree roots waiting to grasp. No walls came tumbling down!
After that close call, it was necessary to stop for a few minutes. With my hand resting on my chest, I could feel the rapid heartbeat. The smell of dust filled the car.
My lips felt like sandpaper from the dust and heat, and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. Perhaps back on the main road, there would be someplace to buy a cold ice tea to wet my whistle.
You never know what you might encounter when taking a Gypsy Highway. It made me wonder how Pvt. George Painter, the writer of the diary, handled the dangers in the area back in 1863 when he was a member of the Mississippi Marine Brigade.