USA 56, 15th November 2006

Now late last evening, and during the night, I developed a ferocious back ache. Every time I moved there was a sharp pain. Dreamily, during the night, I thought to myself, I don't get back aches any more. Dreamily I wondered, what has caused this?

In the morning it was still there. If I moved unthinkingly, it hurt like hell. I walked, bent over, as you do with a bad back. I yelled out loud
whenever I moved in a bad way. It's not true I thought. I don't have a bad back. I DON'T HAVE A BAD BACK!

So I forced myself to walk upright, normally. It hurt like crazy.

Then I started bending over, on purpose, doing things that caused my back to hurt even more. I'll beat you I said to myself, I know what you are up to. Sometimes I shouted that out loud.

I used to have a bad back. A really bad back. For 20 years I went regularly to my chiropractor, whether or not I had pain, he seemed to mostly keep it away.

One time, 25 years ago, it was so bad I couldn't crawl upstairs to bed. Another time, more recently, I needed to visit the restroom when I was in a very smart restaurant at La Jolla, San Diego. A VERY smart restaurant. I had to crawl all the way to the restroom, I couldn't walk, even when I tried to hold on to the tables to support myself. My legs just buckled. Beads of perspiration bubbled on my forehead with the pain.

Later on that trip I called by Christine and Brent Stockwell. Brent used to have a bad back said Christine. That's right said Brent. Now if I have a twinge I tell it to go away, and it does. He read a book said Christine, this one, here it is, it's a gift.

So I read it on the plane on the way back home, and that, in 1988, was the end of my 30 years of back pain. Until now. Today I yelled at my back, I told it to go away. I abused my back. I walked upright, even though it hurt more. If I was picking something up, and it hurt, I did the same thing but more. Damn you I said, I know what you are doing.

I thought back, wondering what event had triggered this unconsciously sublimated stress result? Got you, I thought. I realised what had done it. And the pain went. By lunchtime I was OK. Well, slight twinge remains, but no big deal.

The book is Healing Back Pain, by Robert E Sarno. It worked for me.

I don't have a lot of pictures today. So here's one from yesterday.

This is the highest point on the Nantchez Trail.

It's also a place quiet enough for me to have a strip wash alongside the van. That in itself is not terribly especial, but after I finished I put my washing up bowl in the sun to dry, then drove off and forgot it.

A new one cost $1.40. I would have been lots madder if I had left my camera.......

This the view looking the other side of the hill.

I decided to stop for the night at a Walmart in Jackson. It took me over an hour to find it. I got some directions but when I got there I couldn't see a Walmart. I asked someone else. She said you have to go back a few blocks. I did, and arrived at Sam's Club. I got more directions, similar to the first. I still couldn't see it. When I was a long way past I asked again. You take this road he said, 4 stoplights and turn left. I found it.

And you know what? It was right next to where the lady told me to go back several blocks. And I mean right next to it. On my way back, following her directions, I passed within 50 yards of the Walmart sign, if only I had been looking that way........

I am happy that I never, ever, had to deal with commuter traffic while I was working. Apart from a very brief spell of just a few months, the longest it took me to drive in to my business in the mornings was 6 minutes, and I generally didn't see another car on the way. Before that I was based at home, and before I had my own business I didn't work in town centres. Today I wasted almost 30 minutes just sitting in queues.

I don't think I have mentioned in these journey reports what I did when I was working. I made nice things mostly in wood for kitchen shops. I started with spice racks but made knife racks, wine racks, chopping boards etc. I was the second largest maker of pepper mills in the UK. It was not a big business but I survived..............Mostly by being more efficient than the competition............Better product, better value. But simply being better did not get me to be number one.............

Next day was overcast, so no photos. I stopped at the Clinton Visitor Center. Clinton? Oops, sorry Barry. I know just the mention of that name drives you wild. Bill has never been here, as far as I know, and he has no connection with the place.

I spoke with 2 charming ladies at the Center. Mother and daughter. Mum told me that several times. I also got to know quite a lot about her other children. But hey, I enjoyed talking with them both.

These are two pictures of the original Trace.

The continued drive down the Nachez Trace was pleasant, and leisurely. As always, I stopped at every point of view, every marker point. For the night I pulled off the Parkway on to a gravel track.

I planned to visit an old inn on the trail, refurbished as it might have been in 1810. It didn't open until 8.30, I was too early. But it was OK.


I called at the Visitor Centre in Natchez. The only people there were selling stuff, tours of Natchez, $20 for a 50 minute tour, or were in the gift shops. I took my own tour and found a nice house.

Apparently at one time there were more millionaires living in Natchez than in New York. The local millionaires made their money from cotton plantations. I actually visited one of the houses. I returned to look at a nice view over the Mississippi

While in the visitor center I noticed there was displayed a commemorative board showing the winners of the Great Mississippi Balloon Race, held in Natchez. The latest winner shown was Sam Edwards, who is on my circulation list. Hi Sam! Wow! I actually know someone famous!

We met at the World Championships way back in York 1977. But by now it's getting on towards the time for Sam, like me, to be giving up..............

More nice ladies in the next visitor center in Louisiana and I pottered along until stopped in a small recreation area next to a river. Day use fee $3 less 50% for Golden Age. The ladies had told me it was OK to park overnight so I parked and paid my $1.50

On the way back I picked up a paper bag holding a few cans, to drop it in the garbage bin. Oops! The cans were full. I looked at them. 5 full cans of Busch beer, someone forgot them I thought. Then I looked again. It was non alcoholic beer! Someone had bought them by mistake, found out, got mad, and dumped them!

I didn't feel too great in the morning, nothing specific, just didn't feel like lots of action so I spent a couple of hours messing around on the internet. I've in the last few days been getting a lot of spam on one of my addresses so I explored then downloaded some spam filters. Then I discovered that my ISP would run a spam filter for 2 Euros per month so I thought, hang the expense, let's set that filter in action. While doing that I remembered I had been offered a rather neat email address for 19 Euros per year so I took that on also. I think need to take control of my finances, all these extravagances...........That's 43 Euros ($53) per year I just spent...........

I pottered around Louisiana, visited 2 more visitor centres and parked for the night at the boat launch near Natchitoches. There was hot water in the restrooms! Oh joy! It's quite warm so I washed myself just about everywhere.

I've been doing some forward planning. 8th December looks a good date to return to France so I'll explore getting a flight back on that date. Eleanor has offered to meet me at the airport on the weekends, she doesn't have lectures at University then, and she has my van in Paris, so I will be able to drive the 500 miles back home. That is, after we have had some quality time together.

I've now spent a total of almost two years travelling in this van, whilst there is still lots more to see in North America I have now seen quite a lot, any more journeys may need to partly duplicate places I've already seen, I want to take a look around Europe and live in my house in France for a while.

So I'm thinking to sell the van. Anybody want to buy my travelling home of two years? I didn't pay a lot for it so I'm not looking for big bucks.

Best regards

David Barker
Travelling Louisiana

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