|On the way back from New Orleans, went north via Jackson Mississippi then east back across Louisiana before coming down through the north east part of Texas. Overall, after a hectic weekend the trip was pretty quiet, just camping in small towns along the way.
What struck me on this trip is how much 'American' culture differs from state to state. I guess the perception that I had had before the road trip is that it was all some sort of amorphous mass, but Mississippi in particular was quite different from Texas and Louisiana. Texas has much more of a 'Western' feel, whereas Mississippi is really part of the South (so in some ways even more conservative, religious etc).
Walked into an information centre in Mississippi and when they learnt I was from New Zealand the response was "booy, yourrr a loong way from hooome" in a Deliverance style accent. Mississippi was the last state to go for equal rights for afro-americans, and this was only after being made by the Federal government. In fact, being a 'Red neck' was an actual political movement in Mississippi's past, so termed because supporters wore red neck ties. In a somewhat strange combination, what red necks were known for was promoting better public education and overt racism.
One night I camped to the Northwest of Jackson and in the middle of the night a massive thunderstorm broke. Luckily my Macpac tent is bombproof and did not leak at all - which was a significant achievement given that 3-6 inchs of rain fell in a few hours. More concerningly, given that I was in a clearing between some trees, I was awoken by the sound of thunder and lightning. Started counting between thunder clap and lightning bolt to determine how close it was:
At 12 seconds the rolling thunder was disconcerting, but not frightening.
At 10 seconds I started to worry a bit more.
At 6 seconds the lightning was pretty much continuous.
At 3 seconds I decided to put on my shoes and get dressed.
At 1 second I was bolting across and leaping in the car!
Never have I been so scared in a thunderstorm!