M…I…crooked letter, crooked letter…I…crooked letter, crooked letter…I…P…P…I

You can laugh, but you know you learned how to spell Mississippi that way!

Still feeling content after quality time with my family in Louisiana, I headed towards more family, this time in Mississippi.  My Aunt Ruth and Paran Wayne (‘Paran’ is Cajun French for Godfather) moved from Louisiana to Mississippi a few years ago, which provides a great pitstop on my route to and from North Carolina.  I had taken backroads through Mississippi last time I went to their house, which was the maiden voyage for my camper during my Easter week trip to Louisiana (blog post HERE).  However, with the clock ticking, and several more historic sites to see between the Gulf Coast and my home in North Carolina, this time I stuck to interstates for most of the ride to their house. 

Stopped at the Mississippi welcome center for a bathroom break and to snap a selfie with the welcome sign. I opted to pose with the “vintage” sign in the parking lot, which was refurbished in 2012 and then repurposed here at the welcome center. Its original location was MS Hwy 923 in Amite County, around 1970, according to the sign accompanying it.

As I merged back onto I-55 north from the welcome center, I kept feeling like I had seen this historic sign before, but outside of this context.  Suddenly, a jogging scene from the movie Forrest Gump popped into my head.  That’s it!  My dad and I caught the last half of the movie while I was at home- that must be why it was so fresh in my mind.  After getting back to NC, I looked it up, and sure enough, it’s the same “vintage” sign from the movie 😊

The “welcome to Mississippi” sign at the MS-LA welcome center is the same type used in the movie ‘Forrest Gump,’ although it was in South Carolina instead of Mississippi :-/ -Explore Beaufort SC website

I rolled off the throttle for a half a second when I saw the sign for the Lynrd Skynrd Monument; I’ve been wanting to visit this memorial to the famous band, built on the site of the plane crash that killed its lead vocalist and others in 1970, for a few years.  But the desire to be reunited with Paran and Aunt Ruth was stronger than my urge to sightsee, so I continued my northbound trajectory, determined to stop another time.

As y’all know, I love giving context to the things I see and experience.  I particularly enjoy delving into roads and routes designated as byways, or trails, and unified by a single theme.  So, when I once again noticed the El Camino sign as I turned off I-55 onto US-84 East, I remembered that I promised myself when I last saw it in April that I would look up the story behind it.  According to Wikipedia, the section of US-84 “from Brunswick, GA to Roscoe, TX has been designated by five state legislatures as part of the El Camino East-West Corridor.  The designation was in recognition of its history as a migration route from the Atlantic coast to the present Mexican border, one of the routes that Spanish settlers called ‘El Camino Real.’…The designation is intended to promote the route for both tourism and …trade with Mexico.”  So, although not the cultural tour guidance I was looking for, the experience of investigating its meaning was still fun and worthwhile.  And now I (we 😊) know the story!

Sometimes, road designations guide us through cultural and historical journeys, and other times, they simply denote economic and marketing ambitions, as is the case with the El Camino East-West Corridor designation.
With Paran Wayne and Aunt Ruth in their amazing home, that they built themselves, in the backwoods of Mississippi.
It doesn’t matter the time of the year, or the temperature, we always sit around the fire on their back porch for morning coffee and to wind down with a visit in the evening 😊

After a wonderfully unrushed visit for a couple of days, it was time to hit the road once again.  Next stop… the Civil Rights Trail.

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