Feels like home .....
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
Couchsurfed with Rose and room mates
I arrive into Jackson bus stop and can't see my host Rose. I pop to the other side of the station then walk back to my bus and I am welcomed by a welcoming committee of three people with a banner saying welcome to Mississippi Anthony! I guess that is my host??
I am greeted like a lost friend by my host Rose, her house mate Claire and another couchsurfer Pete. It turns out they damaged Pete's bicycle when picking him up a few days ago, so it was in the repair shop. He is cycling from Buffalo to the West Coast and keeps being chased by dogs!!
Claire has a car and offered to come and pick me up with the committee! It's hard to describe couchsurfing unless you've actually done it, but you are treated like they have known you for some time. It felt great, I could just be myself and relax. We drove back to their house first.
Rose and Claire share this large student house with two other people. There are four large bedrooms, a very large lounge/dining room and of course a kitchen and bathroom. They have garden at the front, a garage and garden at the back. Everyone seems to own a hammock, but none have yet to put theirs up.
We hang at the house for a while, getting to know my hosts, and it turns out Rose has bought a large quantity of cabbage, so I was offered a mix of eggs with cabbage, sure! I'll try anything.
Rose is a wonderful host, hang on, I mean a wonderful person. I'm not giving feedback on couchsurfing.org on here. She is from Alaska and went on a road trip to find a college. She spent some time in India a while back and that changed her and the way the way she interacts with the world. I tell her about how my trip has changed the way I look at my life and others around me, she is the kind of person you could lose a day or two talking too! Seriously! She seems so at peace with herself and the people around her, she loves without condition and being in her company for a few days was very inspiring, but also, a pleasure! I loved conversing with Rose and felt like we had been good friends for a long time. An amazing person and I felt so lucky to be staying with her.
Her house mate Claire grew up in Jackson, she spent some unhappy times in Wisconsin before moving to New York City for four years. She went there for her acting career and worked at a bar near Wall street that I used to frequent once a month or so. I would not have stood out, I would have looked like the investment banker idiots that work there, talk to women like objects and think they are Gods gift. A brief chat with the Ginger banker would have opened her eyes to someone who wasn't like all the guys in suits. She returned home and is studying Spanish now but has decided to study medicine. Her father is chief Neurosurgeon at the local hospital and during my stay, Claire got to witness two brain operations and some outpatient care. When she told me about her operation day, her face had this huge grin and you know that this is the career for her. A very talented individual, she is also a pianist. Whatever she wants to do, I know she will be a success. She is also very inspiring to be around, is extremely kind, considerate, very generous, is beautiful inside and out and so much fun to be around!
We head over to Claire's family home, to change cars so she has a larger car to transport Pete's bike and not break it again. The family home is like a mansion, a pool in the back. Her mother is from Scotland and I also got to meet Dr Harkey! Very pleasant people who even offered the use of their pool whenever I wanted! We then head over to the bike shop to get Pete's fixed bike, then grab some beers from the local supermarket. Claire is house sitting for a family she knows and is walking their pet dog, Biscuit. The house also has a hot tub, yes you know what is coming, I've never had a hot tub party before, so I was an excited little British man!
Back at the house, Pete and Rose go off in search of a nearby lake and I join Claire to go walk the dog. It took 15 minutes to walk over to the house, and I'm not the best with dog types, but he was big and had soft fur. He wasn't so sure of me, but of course he recognised Claire. We walk him for 30 minutes and drop him off back to his back yard freedom. He wears a collar that prevents him from leaving the compound, I guess he gets a shock??
Claire and I walk back to her house. On the way, she sees an open field that hosts American football games. Now, she mentioned something about not being able to resist running across an open field. I thought she was just talking but before I know it, her flip flops were off and she was gone! Disappearing into the distance. Oh man, what to do! Can I at 29 still run? Will I pull something, crack a hip, I look at my tired trainers, will they survive! There was only one thing I could do, so I leap out to a stride and before I know it, I was sprinting. I can't begin to explain how good I felt. It has been such a long time since I've run, let alone sprinted. Before I hit my teens, I could run the 100m in 11.7 seconds, I even got published on a list of times with other kids around the country in an athletics magazine. I have dreams frequently where I need to run fast and I can't and I hate that dream! It didn't take me long to catch Claire and overtake and I continued to push on. It felt awesome! Amazing! Exhilarating! Claire didn't seem too happy that I was going to beat her across the field, but what a character she is. I reached the end of the field, turned around and waited for her to catch up. I felt so influenced by her, so inspired and I had a huge grin on my face (while taking gulps of breath!) Next time I see a field like that, I will do it again, just run! Run like you have no care in the world, run like it mattered, run like it didn't matter! I felt so alive and for something so small, like running across a field, it was a highlight of my trip and I can't remember feeling physically as good as I did after that run!
Post run, I bored Claire briefly about my sporting youth before we arrived back at her house and met another house mate Hannah. She works two jobs around her studies and we sat in her room figuring out her room and teaching Claire how to play chess. It was late now, around 8pm.
The last house mate was already in but having a nap. Her name is Roxanne, a fun character, great with the jokes but has a tough job as a 'Community Custody Program Specialist' for the Rankin County Juvenile Justice centre. As an example of her work, she met a woman who has a fantasy about being raped in a car with her two kids watching. There are some special people in the world like Rozanne who deal with these people, I don't envy her but have so much respect for her. The household I stayed in, such amazing people, a very lucky gingerman!
Rose and Pete returned and we all squeezed into Claire's car and drove over to hot tub heaven. Biscuit seemed very unimpressed that we were hanging out in his garden, but the hot tub was comfy and warm. We drank beer, chatted, I tried my best not to spill any beer and it was a fun night. Eventually we all got too hot so had to get out but not before a picture for the blog. Now, am I really that tanned???
What a day! I didn't see any of downtown Jackson, but I didn't care. This part of the journey across the USA is to meet people from different states and gain a small peak into their life. I love the life in Jackson already!
Miles walked 1.4
Day 127 May 10 - Ok, this day was a lazy day. I borrowed Claire's Mac and caught up on my blog, Rose was due at work at 4pm, so after she said farewell to Pete, we threw a Frisbee around at a local park for an hour. I slept some, relaxed, Hannah came home from work and I chatted to her some. Claire got back from seeing the operations so I chatted to her some before there was no-one left in the house, so I helped Claire walk the dog again before she dropped me off at the Mexican restaurant where Rose and Hannah work. I figure, I could chat to them, eat some food and down a couple of Margaritas. I sat away from the bar to begin with but was unaware the Bulls were on the box in a play off game, so I sat at the bar, drinking Margaritas, chatting to Rose or Hannah every now and then and watching the game. The plan was for all of us to go out after but Claire was tired after a meeting and the girls were no longer in the mood for a night out. So I was pointed in the direction of their house from the restaurant. It should only take 15 minutes, but with an unknown neighbourhood and it being pretty dark, it took me 30 minutes, but at least I still made it.
Day 128 May 11 - I should have been on my way to Memphis, TN, but my host didn't respond to my messages and the place was flooded so Rose and Claire let me stay one more night. Again, another lazy day but staying another day has great positives and sadly one negative. I again had a lazy morning or resting, feeling at home, spending time on Claire's MAC before I had a shower and I always take my itouch into the bathroom, I usually place the device in the sink to amplify the speaker so I can hear the music while showering. Stupidly, I placed it behind the taps, where I thought it was dry but sadly it was not. After 5 minutes the music stopped, the screen went crazy and I had messed it up! I wasn't that bothered, I was having such a fun time that I just thought I could dry it out and it would be OK, hmm, with a touchscreen?? Anyway, it never worked again! My lifeline of my trip, all my music for those long bus journeys and access to the Internet to keep in touch with people and couchsurfing hosts!! Oh well!
The house was empty most of the day, except again for Hannah and a friend coming home for lunch and then Claire came back from spending the morning with out patients. We hung out the rest of the afternoon, chatted loads and even erected Hannah's hammock frame, well I did!
The evening, a friend of Rose, Samir from Pakistan came by and while the girls were getting ready to go out, we chatted extensively about cricket. He does not enjoy being in Pakistan but of course follows the cricket!
We headed out to a bar, and cheekily, the girls were hungry so asked for free bread and the guy gave them a box full, it was about to be thrown out! Sweet! The night was fun, I spent a while drawing and trying to explain cricket, the USA people have no idea how great the game is, and yes, 5 days is what makes it so fun to watch! Two of Claire's friends came by and the night continued with drinks and good conversation.
Day 129 May 12 - I spent the morning sleeping loads, then hung out with Rose and Claire before it was time to pack up my stuff and head to the bus station. I said goodbye and farewell to Rose and Claire kindly offered to drop me off at the bus station. The line for my bus was rather long and I just assumed I would still make it. Claire stayed with me till my bus went. I feel so lucky to have spent a fun three days with her. I am now at a point where I cherish the time I spend with great people than dwelling upon wanting to spend more time and the what ifs and if onlys. She is a star in my eyes, she will have a successful future in whatever she decides to do and I will enjoy following her life with much interest, you know, from stalking on facebook!! I will always remember running across that field! Always!
Right, so Greyhound have this awesome policy of not limiting the amount of tickets they sell for a bus. So my bus to Little Rock via Memphis was booked three times over. I was last in line for the bus but first in line for the reschedule counter. I had to wait 8 hours for a connecting bus that instead of taking 9 hours to get to Little Rock, would take 18 hours! crap!
I told Claire to go, I can easily kill 8 hours and I even had an $8.50 food voucher to spend! But no, she didn't go. She found me a phone repair shop, so we drove there. No luck sadly, so we went and found Rose at a cool little coffee shop. Another great thing about Jackson, is that it is such a small town and community, that everyone knows each other. Almost everywhere we went, Claire recognised someone, but she is a busy lady with many hobbies and commitments so I'm not too surprised she knew every resident!!
We went to a thrift shop and while they were trying on some items, I text my brother Pete about my itouch issue. He suggested buying a new one, as they now had a camera and Skye ability. Without even considering, I told Claire we needed to go to an Apple store. I always go to Pete with electrical or technical issues and always takes his advice.
We found an apple store, bought a new itouch and Claire let me steal her music from her library. It took a while to do this and I delayed them heading off to a gig at a cafe but I was desperate for some music. Luckily, Claire has some great stuff, the Davincis, Tokyo Police Club, Big tree, Vampire Weekend, The National, so some new music to enjoy and some Dane Cook comedy too!!
We are back at the greyhound, I say goodbye to Rose again and say farewell to Claire. I had a wonderful time in Jackson and leave feeling more inspired than when I arrived. I have promised Roxanne that I will be back again, and it was a double pinky promise, so my hair might turn orange if I don't go again.....oh wait!! It is a great feeling knowing that you are welcome back again, whenever and wherever. Thank you to Rose, Claire, Roxanne and Hannah for making me feel so welcome and for a great 3 days in little Jackson. The lonely planet gives Jackson half a page, I would give them a whole book!
I spend my food voucher and throughout my 3 days in Jackson, I barely ate, I completely lost my appetite. I was more interested in fluids as it was so hot, but even the girls got concerned that I wasn't eating, anyway, a tasteless burger and fries was all I could buy with my voucher.
My bus was ontime and a fancy one with wifi took me for the first two hours.