Monday, June 9, 2014


Cold with light rain and a biting wind. Folks here are uncomfortable. Quite a contrast to the days of sun and humidity.

I was up very early, packed and headed to Rosedale for the park.


Rosedale, Mississippi

I am sitting in the cold wind of a Mississippi River park here. I am alone in the park and likely to stay alone. This cold snap dramatically changed the weather and I am once again thankful for my nice winter hat and for the Frogtog rain jacket since there is an occasional light rain.

I had a bit of chicken and grits at a local convenience store. I was too early for the park so I just ate in my truck. At daybreak while I waiting at the park gates up came a skinny and unhappy fellow with a bit of light rain gear and his hands tucked in his pockets so the sleeves of the camouflage rain jacket swung as he walked.

I could not decide whether he was going to open the gate or if he might be a homeless person who lived in the park.

When he did not immediately answer my good morning, I began to get a bit nervous, as all the folks here in Mississippi are polite, but he passed me and went to the place where the two gates were connected by a chain.

I fiddled around looking for my rain gear. It must have been ten minutes. He was draped over the gate. I wondered if he was homeless and liked to sleep that way. He could have died and just be hanging there in the crook of the two gates.

But finally he must have found the right key and off he went to somewhere in the park without a word of welcome or explanation of the honor box but just his camouflage sleeves swinging as he walked.

The view is not as amazing as was reported in the Mississippi book but that may be because the river has changed course since the park was created. The main water is a good bit away, then there is lots of sand and a smaller section of the river.

I walked down a trail to the water while cardinals played along the path. Geese hooked their way overhead. I could see that the water did come up rigfht to the path at times because there was debris there on the bank.

So here was another example of what Twain talked about in Life on the Mississippi.

Well, it is too cold to linger. I'm heading in to Clarksdale to fine the blues museum and some barbecue or catfish and then I'm just going up to Tunica and cutting the middle part of the trip short. I'll see Keith there and perhaps spend a night or two in Memphis.


Clarksdale too is very quiet although not as run down as Greenville. I went to the blues museum and discovered a cool little collection celebrating various artists. Each artist had a bit of space and some memorabilia including perhaps a guitar and some photographs and posters. Everything was well arranged.

In the beginning was a display of a mandinka kora believed to be an early version of the guitar.

In the center was the old shack house that Muddy Waters once lived in. The shack part was taken and reassembled here. It was small. This was the original one room shack constructed probably as slave quarters using hand hewn cypress. When Muddy lived in the dwelling more rooms had been added and it looked more like a real house.
It reminded me of the story of the Ashcraft place in Delevan which started as a very basic place that held five children and only later was expanded to what it was when that neighbor bought it and tore it down.
From this shack a video played telling about Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) and playing some of his music. This entertained us while we studied the details of the exhibit.
From Bluesdog (see was a collage of perhaps fifty harmonicas all signed by the players. This was created by a fellow and when I have time on internet again I'll put in the site. It was impressive.
I'll also want to do some research on some of the musicians that interested me including:

Eddy “the chief” Clearwater who was an Indian who went from country sounds to the blues.
James “son” Thomas who was also a folk artist. He had been a grave digger and much of his art reflected that experience. In the display was a coffin with a woman in it.

Big Momma Thornton. I have heard some of her music before.

Sam Chatmon

Big Jack Johnson from Clarksdale.

James “super chikan” Johnson along with a wooden model of a chicken house. He used to sign to his chickens and that is how he got that name.

John Hooker's guitar was marked in printed letters. It did not look like a signature.

There were many interesting poker posters as well. One of my favorites announced an event at Antone's and had BB King posted with two black king cards. He was with the Bobby Blue Band.

There were also many sorts of photographs. Again a favorite that had been painted as well was called “His hands are faster than you eyes puttin' that??” and showed an older black man holding up a nine of clubs perhaps in some game of three card monte, but only the one card showed. I have seen very few uses of lower cards in art.

When I left the museum I walked around Clarkesville and visited some of the places in the Mississippi book. The book and music store was cool but the prices are out of sight at these places. Why don't they find a way to buy up some good blues books at a discount and sell them at competitive prices? The other gift store nearby was the same. I saw there a fish plate that interested me and it was $52. Who wants to spend that for a plate? Perhaps if it was a mozart museum area. This is a blues place.

I did write down these names of blues books I might like to read:

Ted Groin'd Delta Blues
Birney Imes?? Juke Joint – these were photographs.

Then I walked to the library and bought a couple books at their sale. I spent 75 cents. One is a bowling book I think Bill will like and the other is a collection of stories written in response to Hemingway stories. This seemed more what a blues lover might purchase.

The library was also a museum of archeology and held a number of interesting pieces of old pottery, arrow heads and such.

One case included celts stone heads used I think for grinding. I'll have to check that out.
Also there was a chunkey stone, a round polished stone almost like a ball but more like a disk which Indians used as a target for a spear throwing game.

I took some good photos, including a shot of the library and headed to Abe's for some the the pulled pork I had heard about.
It was good. I sat at the counter and got the plate which included beans and cole slaw. The cole slaw was not full of mayo as our Northern variety is and I liked it fine. With that they also gave “bread' which was hamburger rolls gilled. Those I left.
The bill was $10.
With the chicken and grits I bought early this morning at a Double Quick convenience in Rosedale, I've spend $15 for food today.
Rather extravagant and enough I think for today.

Abe's has been there since 1924. It is located right at the famous blues crossroads of 61 and 49. I was there a while taking a few pictures, but the devil did not show up to challenge me to a guitar duel. Nor was I inspired to go on the road next time with my uke singing the “Bluegill Blues.” once performed at a faculty Christmas party.


Tunica was a good bit closer than I imagined. They let me in the room right away and what a room! It is plush. How I can get this for $35 is just incredible. It even has a refrigerator. I hope the Terrace rooms are as nice but I think they are one step down. I overlook the little lake. That will make a good walk any morning I am up early and not busy with something.

These casinos are in the middle of wide open fields as far as we can see. They have been built scattered a long way from one another.

I hope tomorrow to go into Memphis early and check out the area around Beale Street and try to lock up a descent rate on rooms there. I have some ideas. If I can't get near Beale I will go up to the dogtrack in Arkansas where there is a hotel with some cheap rates. I'll look it all over tomorrow morning. Keith will still be asleep.

He comes in late tonight with some buddies and will be watching basketball while he is here, but I'll see him for a meal perhaps or to watch him play a bit of cards.

I crossed over the bridge near Harlow's in Greenville and saw the Mississippi River from there. I forgot to write it up then. It was an amazing sight. Along side they are building a brand new bridge and that is grand too. I really could see how the Mississippi can be very wide with land in between just as it appears in Twain.


I love this place. It is really well beyond my expectation especially after seeing so much of the other places.
This is Vegas with more open space, less worry about crowds of people and a better poker rate in upscale rooms.

The casinos are a bit far apart, but easy enough to drive to. I don't know how I would feel if I had no car here. I have not yet explored the shuttle. Harrah's has their own too that goes from these outlying hotels to the casino.

This is one fancy hotel! I expected something downscale but it is actually as upscale and the best here.

There is an amazing lounge right downstairs with a fireplace and comfortable chairs.


Up and down. I won thirteen dollars but pumped ten in a video poker machine so for hours of play I am ahead three dollars. Volatility is about a hundred although I did have one hand which I won by catching an inside straight on the turn with small cards. It had been raised and I had been squeezed preflop. By the flop I saw a small pair and the inside draw and knew everyone else had bet high cards. I checked raised the turn and trapped. On the river there was just this one talkative and annoying guy who had trip fives.

One thing I am doing right is leaving when the table is not what I want/

I left the Gold Spike when it was clear that the table would never be a full table and I left the Horseshoe when I saw that most of the players were fairlhy good. I was not the sucker at the table but I was a bit too respected to make good money.

I did like the Goldspike game better than the Horseshoe game. The Spike spreads that one-two blind four eight game with spread options on the turn and the river. Playing my tight self I will be able to better survive a drought of good cards there.

Actually, I would love it if I manage to get enough poker in this trip to get the Gold Spike poker rate when I come back as that it a perfect spot to be with no car. There are three casinos.

At the Horseshoe was my kind of band. I loved that music and sat and listened after I had become too tired to play well. The female vocalist is absolutely sexy and had a great voice. She sang, “Crazy” and it was so great.

Now tomorrow morning I am going to go in to Memphis and try to find a good motel near Beale Street. I checked on the dog track poker machines but a fellow who goes there said the games are short handed and rarely full. The weekend might be a bit different but I think I am better to be based near Beale Street. I may spring for a decent hotel and cab it to and from late night blues. But I have to go and see for myself. So much promised good stuff on this trip has just been wishful thinking by small town promoters.

I am very proud to have planned with such perfect flexibility that I could abandon the middle Mississippi part of the trip when it looked like a dim experience and in no time know where these cheap rates were and how to access them.

No word from Keith yet. I'll hear from him tomorrow I am sure. Now I need a good night's sleep.


It is cold and rainy here. Very uncomfortable. I am meeting Keith for breakfast in a few minutes.

The Gold Strike internet costs a bit so I'll wait on that. Perhaps I'll find some free hotspot in Memphis tomorrow. I don't know exactly what to do. The weather discourages me from wanting to be in Memphis for much poking about. I may just drive far enough to catch an inexpensive motel if that can be found perhaps half way between Memphis and here. Perhaps there is a welcome center. In the meantime I'll just stay here up until checkout.

I looked for a game this morning but it was short handed and I only played a few hands as the guys were mad aggressive. Lot six dollars.

Great sleep in these rooms. Very nice. Nice wide screeen television. I listened to a bit of the Bill Clinton interview last night and enjoyed hearing him again. He was not in great oratory. It was funny. Here he was like all of us old guys talking about his health and holding up his hands to show perhaps a slight tremor or not. Just like the guys on the poker table he spent way too much time with the details of his health. We all get caught. We are so surprised to be so failing. We look for hope, and somehow talking about it helps.
Still, I'd rather play poker.

Last night at the poker game a guy went into extensive details on his health. He also talked about what a low tax life he lives in Arkansas. So much cheaper than Florida. He discouraged me from the motels over by the dogtrack but they would be a cheap alternative. I could probably go over late tomorrow. I guess if it is this rainy and cold I'll just call them as I have that information from the last wifi.

I better like being well planned than winging it as I am this weekend. I did plan on having some free wireless here and the ability to search around.


I met Keith and his two buddies for breakfast at the Horseshoe. His friend had free buffet passes so I was treated.
It was good to see Keith and hear a bit of how Bernie and the baby were getting on. They had a fine trip into China and saw many of the classic sites. Keith was very impressed with a huge park that functioned as a senior citizen center. There people exercised, did exercise dance, heard music, played cards, and met each other. Sometimes it was cold, but they were stilll there.


After breakfast I played the Gold Strike game. The players were good but not aggressive. I expected to break about even. My edge was that I played very tight while they played low kicker high cards.
However, this was the worst disaster of my playing tour.
I can't see that I made many mistakes. I overbet one hand and pershaps did not get what I might have. But I also might have seen folks draw out on me had I let them stay.
I bluffed once, betting on the river with a busted flush into a weak hand. I found the guy calling me when all he had was a small pair. That puzzled me.
I played few other hands except my run of pockets. Queens were beat with a king on the flop. Then kings with an ace. Then pocket aces were beat when pocket sevens drew out on me. I caught one straight and saw it beat by a full house.
No other hands of mention really. A few folded hands developed, but generally I just folded for over three hours and ended losing $376 which meant a $382 loss for the morning. My worst loss of the trip and ironically it came on a very passive and tight table with low blinds.

It is after six and I”ve had a good nap. I did not go into Memphis. Keith can put me up one evening so I just have Saturday to juggle. Elizabeth found some rates for me. Here it will cost me $135. I am tempted to just skip the Memphis run because the weather is so cold and rainy that I can't see poking around much. There is a hotel 25 miles East that I can get for $55. In a place called Hernando.
It is a dilemma. I am worried about the safety issues of having all this stuff in my car.


I played for a while in the game at the Gold Spike and should have known better. A fellow there Gregged me with very aggressive play on a table on only five. That meant the blinds were folded because he raised them. I should have left before losing almost a hundred.
The Horseshoe was a better game but I caught no cards and then the game changed. I lose there too.
So I am way down for the trip now with very little hope of getting back into the positive.
I canceled one of my days here so I have more time in Hannibal on my way to see Frank in Chicago.
My fantasy of breaking about even at least is now busted.

Saw Keith tonight. He won a hand with a pocket pair of fours. Amazing.

Well, I planned out a trip down I 55 where I should be able to get a room for little money. One is advertised as having internet and a laundry,.

I stayed at the Horseshoe tonight.
I lost again.
I played for about four hours. I was in some huge pots, but missed by small edges. Twice rivered straights were higher than mine.
Once I held three eights and an open ended draw when I check raised the guy who always bet anything. The river gave me a straight but also gave a fellow a straight who had stayed the entire distance with a queen and a gut shot river card.

Full houses and flushes would have been the cards to get. Everyone stayed. Pots were often big. My pocket pair three queens were beat on the river. I had no flushes, only those two straights, and only two pocket pairs above seven. I thought I played well. In the end I was down a #121. Psychologically, I could have used a win today.

The players were less interesting than at other tables. Three were from the NY city area. There was one older Black man all dressed in a suit and playing with his tie still on. He had a book in his back pocket and seemed to me from his mannerisms that he might be a preacher. He was fun to watch. The rest were uninteresting.

I have enjoyed meeting the locals in each region, but I do think that no table groups have been as much fun as they are in Vegas where so many are on vacation and in a perpetual party mood. And no table has the local characters that the El Cortez draws.

The players here were not bad. Some were too loose, but generally they followed the game. No passive calling stations as I find in Foxwoods on some days. At one table one fellow was just giving money away. He loved to raise on gut shot draws. But at the same table were two very good players who talked about playing four hands at a time on the computer and were also surprised at how loose the games were.
And while alcohol was freely given, there were few taking much of it. I suppose the need to drive somewhere rather than walk, even just to another casino, makes people a bit more conservative.

Even on Saturday night I had the sense that many of the players had come to play poker rather than come to vacation and just happened to be at a poker table.


It was hard to decide whether to go down I 55 for some more of Mississippi Back Road book travel or into Memphis. I went in to Memphis in the morning and took a look around. I decided to treat myself to a place from which I can just walk out to Beale Street and where my packed van is watched by a guard most of the time. I reserved the room. $109. My most extravagent all trip.

I hoped to sleep a bit longer this morning as I rolled in about three am. I slept yesterday from about five to ten. That is a good pattern for poker playing.

Helping me sleep was a huge plate of beef ribs from the Interstate BBQ near route 61 and route 55. This was recommended on one of the discussion boards and it was really good. I had only been snacking for two days and was very hungry too so it went down easy and then I was very sleepy.

This morning I have a free breakfast buffet at the Horseshoe. The poker room is very free with food comps and I don't think it comes off my Harrah's points.

I shortened my final Tunica stay by one day which will make it easier to have some time in Hannibal and to make Chicago on time to see Frank and perhaps Keith. I can better negotiate the drive around St Louis and avoid the tighter traffic times.

Okay, I'm situated in Memphis. I thought the parking was free but it is twelve dollars. So this is extravagance for solo me.
Still I am excited.
I stopped by a river park dedicated to a nonswimmer who saved a number of people. I watched a few ships pass. ONe was a tug pushing twenty barges. Amazing.
I did my good deed for today. A woman walked into water and soaked one foot. It is cold here. I gave her a pair of my socks and she was delighted.
They took my photo so I'll have proof I was here.
Off to walk the streets of Memphis. I may need a nap after playing losing poker until three and still waking up at seven thirty. But I may just need a lot of coffee.

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