Funny thing about Paul Neal’s plan to retrace his 1967 bike ride across the country: 50 years of change can sure get in the way.
Neal, who left Rock Hill a week ago Monday, in currently pedaling across the Mississippi Delta with a major river crossing dead ahead. When he made his first trek as an 18-year-old in 1967, Neal crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, home of the famous Civil War battlefield. That’s no longer an option for the 68-year-old Neal. His original route has become Interstate 20.
So Neal’s trip planners swung him north. He’s scheduled to cross the Big Muddy at Greenville, Miss., the so-called “Heart and Soul of the Delta.” The city is also the backdrop for “Lanterns on the Levy,” Will Percy’s seminal and haunting autobiographical look at the early 20th century planter South.
The river crossing will take Neal into Arkansas, and eventually to Texarkana, where he will cross into Texas and pick up his boyhood route. He’s already a day ahead of schedule.
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You can follow the ride – and Neal’s often colorful running account – here.