A few nice phone leads driving traffic images I found:

Deadliest countries to drive in!

phone leads driving traffic
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Evernote
  • Pinterest
  • Gmail
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon

Image by brizzle born and bred
If you’re thinking of travelling abroad, then you might be interested in finding out which countries are the worst for driving in or taking a holiday in. Depending on those you think are the most dangerous, the reality may well surprise you.

Deadliest countries to drive in. (per list just compiled by the OECD)

(based on fatalities per million drivers)

1. Russia
2. Slovakia
3. Poland
4. Turkey
5. Hungary
6. Korea
7. Greece
8. U.S.A.
9. Czech Republic
10. Belgium

United Kingdom

So despite what you might think about the UK’s roads and RTAs, Britain doesn’t make it into the top ten and in fact is consistently proven to be one of the safest countries in the world to drive in – alongside Sweden and The Netherlands.

The fact that the UK has such safe roads is partially due to the excellent road network and conditions, the high levels of policing and speed management (though this point is always hotly debated!) and of course the stringent tests that drivers in Great Britain have to pass before being allowed onto the road.

So why is Russia so bad?

Although Russian drivers also have to pass extensive examinations to earn their driving licences, it seems that there is a world of difference between what a Russian can expect to learn about the road while preparing for a test and what they actually find out there when they pass.

With around only 10% of their accidents being blamed on drunk-drivers, the other 90% seem to come from a combination of bad driving, terrible road conditions (in some areas it seems that the white lines that we expect to separate the lanes on a major road are worn away or completely missing) and a lack of policing.

The Government Auto Inspection (or GAI) the Russian version of the Transport Police does attempt to enforce regulations but has to do so with a small budget and old vehicles which makes it almost impossible. So until more money is given to the GAI it seems that Russia will continue to dominate the list of countries to avoid driving in if you want to come home in one piece.

In this crime-ridden, ex-Soviet state, no longer does the government stuff their Armani suits with rubles, but the vandals and gangsters. The Russian mafia runs amuck, there are more gangsters than police, and a Russian is assassinated every 18 minutes, averaging 84 murders per day in a nation of 143 million. The nucleus of Russian crime is stationed in the Republic of Chechnya, a region within Russia just north of Georgia. Prostitution, drug trafficking, and underground restaurants are arbitrarily controlled by the Chechens. Foreigners are kidnapped more frequently due to the higher ransom allocated. Crimes towards include but are not limited to: pick pocketing wallets, cell phones, cameras, cash, and physical assaults. From superpower to Third World country, think tanks are beginning to speculate if communism really was the cure for Russia.

Most Dangerous Countries to have a holiday

Afghanistan is the most dangerous country in the world to drive in. Keep an eye out for our noble soldiers will driving through Kandahar, but also make sure you keep your other eye on the traffic. See, for every 100, 000 people on Afghanistan’s roads, 39 people die. You don’t want to be one of them.

Iraq

It doesn’t matter whether you are George Bush, Pele or Chuck Norris – you are not safe in Iraq. Despite its rich history and its oil reserves, it is a ruined nation that is wracked with violence, despair and confusion. Since 2003, the United States has occupied Iraq which has led to a civil war claiming the lives of more than 650 000 civilians. Al-Qaeda, Sunni insurgents, Shiite security forces, Kurdish rebels, American soldiers, Turkish troops and criminals are involved in a cycle of violence that unfortunately, will not abate any time soon. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) and mines are a constant threat, as are suicide bombers who have slain hundreds. Kidnappings and random killings are reported with almost mind-numbing frequency. Since 2003, 2 million Iraqis have fled to neighboring countries and another 1.9 million in Iraq remain internally displaced. Depleted uranium used as armor-piercing rounds will poison Iraqi civilians and US servicemen for decades. Truly, a hell on earth.

USA

For the average traveller, the USA is fairly safe, but the numbers do not lie. There are more than 200 million guns in the USA and more than 50 murders a day, 10 times the rate of Germany. Nearly 5000 people die a year in truck crashes, about 6000 pedestrains die on the streets and 31000 people end their own lives. The USA now leads all nations in violent crime and leads all nations with incarcerations now standing at 2.3 million. American citizens also make up the greatest number of criminals serving time in overseas prisons. Militias, hate groups and other right wing radicals all spread their message of violence and are known to throw around the odd pipe-bomb. The government is not much better, spending a whopping 0 billion a year on defense in order to contain the handful of nations hostile to it.

South Africa

Any nation described as the ‘rape capital of the world’ should be one to take extra special care in. Although rape had shown a declining trend to 113.7 in 2004, it increased in 2005 to 118.3 per 100 000. Another damning statistic for South Africa is its appallingly high murder rate. The 2010 World Cup host is consistently in the Top 5 list of countries by homicide rate. Most crime is confined to poor areas but it hasn’t stopped gated communities springing up all over South Africa and armed guards protecting wealthy tourist groups. Farming in South Africa has become one of the most dangerous professions in the world. The murder rate for farmers is 313 per 100 000 – about 8 times the national average. And like anywhere, sex can be very dangerous in South Africa, where more than 10 million people are infected with HIV.

Burundi

This small, densely populated and poor nation has giant problems. A civil war between Hutus and Tutsis tore the nation apart between 1993 and 2006. A ceasefire was declared however most provisions have not been implemented. Mass murder and mayhem compete with environmental problems as the biggest headaches for the people of Burundi. The list of assassinated leaders is extensive, and control of the nation has changed hands numerous times in the last 50 years. Crimes committed by roaming gangs and armed children are risks for visitors. Muggings, carjackings and kidnappings await, so you are advised not to stop the car for souvenirs. Should you be injured or harmed while in Burundi, you may need to be well trained, as local clinics have almost no resources to assist you.

Antarctica

While murder, rape and robbery may not be a big problem in this part of the world, the hostile conditions are. Antarctica is home to some extreme weather conditions, with the mercury regularly dropping below -60 degrees Celsius (-100F) and winds tearing in at more than 100km/hr. If exposed to this weather for more than an hour, you will most certainly die. Antarctica has no hospitals, no food to forage and if you get lost, not a lot of hope. Stay with the tour groups. At least there is a McDonald’s at Scott Base if you manage to find it.

Somalia

Somalia is a failed state known for its anarchy, corruption, lack of government, and starvation. Travelers are warned against entering Somalia, the self-proclaimed “independent Republic of Somaliland” or even sailing near the Horn Of Africa. Pirates patrol these waters armed with AK-47s and will seize craft and hold crews to ransom. Inter-clan fighting has claimed thousands of lives in the north of the country, while territorial control in the capital, Mogadishu is carved up between many clans and warlords. Ethiopia attacked Islamic troops in Somalia in late 2006, resulting in hundreds of casualties and the internal displacement of thousands. Heck, if this place is too much for the Marines, what chance do you stand? Make sure your insurance is fully up to date.

Sudan

Desperation, death and destruction are synonymous with Sudan. Terrorism is a mainstay of this nation, which has been controlled by Islamic military regimes since its independence. Some of the worlds most famous killers have earned their stripes in Sudan, finishing with degrees in car-bombing, rocket launching and genocide. Violence is rife in the Darfur region between government-backed militias, government troops and local insurgent groups. Sudan has been in open warfare with Chad partly due to the Darfur conflict. Since 2003, 230,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to eastern Chad from Darfur. More than two million have died during the 2 civil wars that spanned the last 50 years. Along with its bleak desert conditions, Sudan is one of the worst places on the planet.

Brazil

For anyone traveling to Brazil, it is not a matter of whether you get mugged, it is a matter of when! Grinding poverty still lives alongside incredible wealth in a country that is riding a wave of economic growth. But with prosperity, rates of crime have also soared. Street crime is rampant in parts of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, and whilst many victims are left unharmed, having a broken bottle put to your throat for your bracelet is not pleasant.

The incidences of “quicknappings” has risen in major cities. This involves being abducted and taken to an ATM to pay your ransom. If you can’t pay, thanks to mobile technology, your family is only a call away. Along with street crime, organized criminal groups have waged wars against police and public institutions that were unable to be bribed. Prison riots are brutally suppressed, drugs and narco-terrorism claim civilian casualties and if you survive all that – the piranhas are waiting.

Brazil is a beautiful country, with sunny beaches, clear waters, lush rainforests, incredible culture and many other attributes that make it a lovely travel destination. Unfortunately there is also a down side, a dark side of Brazil you’re bound to experience if you ever go. Despite the accelerated economic growth of recent years, poverty is still a serious issue here and people will do just about anything when their survival instincts kick-in.

You could end up with a switchblade pressing hard on your throat and be forced to surrender your wallet and valuables in order to keep your life. Kidnappings aren’t unusual in large cities like Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo; you just get pulled into a car and taken to the closest ATM in order to pay your own ransom. If you can’t do that, well, you better hope your family can or you’re in serious trouble.

Drug cartels have a firm grip over the slums of many of Brazil’s large cities and the police simply don’t have the power to bring them to their knees, so you might be unlucky enough to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time and become a victim of their crossfire.

Poland

Poland’s ranking is not a surprise. Its decades-old, mostly two-lane roads are poorly marked and not built for today’s heavy truck traffic. Last month, on the four-hour main route from Breslau to Poznan that is entirely over winding narrow roads, we frequently witnessed impatient auto drivers pass long lines of trucks without sufficient clearance.

Crashes were often averted only when vehicles in both lanes moved onto the road’s shoulders. Beware if you plan to drive “east.”

United Arab Emirates

Sure, they may be the most prosperous of all Arab nations, but you’d think they’d be able to afford some better road safety programs. The land of oil, excess and seven-star hotels also happens to be one of the most dangerous places to get behind the wheel, with an estimated 37 out of every 100, 000 drivers and passengers dying on the road.

The Gambia

Memo to the chicken who crossed the road: don’t in The Gambia. Massive car pile-ups are so frequent there that officials created a "road safety week" this past November. The West African country has a road fatality rate of 36.6 per 100, 000 citizens.

Angola

Malaria a major cause of premature death in Angola, but believe it or not, car collisions aren’t far behind. In the past five years, a staggering 10, 000 Angolans have died in driving accidents. Bad roads, drunk driving and speeding are some of the main causes of the country’s road traffic death rate of 37.7 per 100, 000 citizens.

Niger

As if famine and overpopulation weren’t enough, Niger also has to put up with reckless drivers. If you’re thinking of cruising down the scenic African country’s dusty roads, keep in mind it has a traffic fatality rate of 37.7 per 100, 000 people.

Iraq

Okay, so chances are you won’t be spending your holidays in Iraq, but if by some odd chance you are, try hiking everywhere instead of driving. The main stage of the War on Terror has a traffic fatality rate of 38.1 per 100, 000 motorists and passengers.

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

In 2007 alone, 2,138 Libyans died in auto-collisions. Among the reasons cited by Libyan authorities are excessive speed (oh really?) and poorly planned roads. Libya ranks as the second most dangerous Arab locale to drive in, with a fatality of rate of 40.5 per 100, 000 people.

Egypt

Blazing through the desert in a jet black jeep may have looked really cool while playing Tomb Raider 4, but about 42 people per 100, 000 die on Egypt’s roads. That just drains all the fun right out, doesn’t it? Considering the country’s estimated 6,000 traffic-related fatalities a year, some curse-happy Pharaoh must have a huge chip on his shoulder.

The Cook Islands

They’re renowned for their friendly people, tropical weather and relaxed pace of life – that is, when vehicles are smashing into one another. The Cook Islands have a road death rate of 45 per 100,000 drivers and passengers.

Eritrea

With an estimated 48 road traffic deaths per 100, 000 people, the small, poor African country of Eritrea tops the list. Oh, they also don’t have a publicly available pre-hospital care system in place, so try not to get into any smashups.

Colombia

Its not the driving you have to worry about? Kidnapping is the main worry in Colombia. There were 2338 kidnappings in Colombia in 1998. Of the victims, 138 were killed by their captors. Ranked Fourth in the world for murders with 69.98/100000 in 2006, the popular targets are mayors, with dozens of them being slain each year. And of course, who can forget cocaine? Colombia supplies 75% of the worlds supply and thanks to Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel, paramilitary groups have waged war on the government in a bloody conflict with no end in sight. Even those working in the name of charity are not excluded from the frenzy. In 2005, 5 Catholic missionaries were murdered, down from 9 in 1999. Colombia’s beautiful coast and rugged mountains should make it a tourist paradise, instead it is among the most feared destinations you can visit.

World’s most dangerous roads

Bolivia The Old Yungus Road 50-mile mountain road that connects Coroico to La Paz

Brazil Interstate 116 Potholes, poor signals and heavy traffic in southern Brazil

China Sichuan-Tibet Highway A rough, high-elevation road between Chengdu and Tibet where landslides and rock avalanches are common.

Costa Rica Pan American Highway Called the Hill of Death, the stretch from San Isidro de El General to Cartago is full of potholes and steep curves.

Croatia Coastal roads Adriatic Coast roads are narrow, curvy, and congested, and many lack shoulders and guardrails.

Ecuador Cotopaxi Volcan road 25-mile dirt road that crosses a swift-moving stream at the Cotopaxi National Park entrance.

Egypt Luxor-al-Ghurdaqah road Many crashes on this road to the Red Sea occur at night because Egyptians drive with headlights off.

England A44 More than 25% of crashes on the stretch linking Leominster and Worcester are head-on.

Greece Patiopoulo-Perdikaki road A steep, gravel road with an unmarked edge in the Agrafa region.

India Grand Trunk Road Heavily used by trucks, the country’s busiest road is overloaded with ox carts, animals, bicycles and pedestrians.

Kenya Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret Highway More than 300 die annually in crashes commonly caused by speeding, improper passing and drunken driving.

Mexico Highway 1 A winding, narrow potholed road from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas that lacks guard rails, shoulders and road signs.

Morocco Marrakesh-Agadir Road Heavy truck traffic and buses and taxis that pass on steep, blind curves

Namibia Swakopmund-Walvis Bay road Heavy truck traffic and frequent head-on collisions when drivers misjudge distance between vehicles while passing.

Nepal Prithvi Highway Landslides and road cave-ins during the rainy season are common on this narrow road with heavy traffic linking Kathmandu to Pokhara.

Nigeria Lagos-Ibadan-Ogbomosho-Ilorin-Jebba-Minna-Abiyo Expressway A congested road with deep potholes and a median in disrepair that links northern and eastern Nigeria. Drivers may drive on the wrong side to avoid traffic.

Pakistan N-35 (Karakoram Highway) Landslides, floods and mud can block this northern Pakistan mountain road that passes through deep gorges and is a route to China.

Peru Kuelap-Celendin-Cajamarca road Narrow, gravel mountain road with sheer drops and hair-pin turns on descent from Barro Negro Pass to Las Balsas.

Portugal IP3 Steep, deteriorating road with no barrier between lanes linking Coimbra and Viseu.

Scotland A77 A winding single- and two-lane road in southwestern Scotland with varying speed limits and many fatal crashes.

Spain Carretera Nacional N340 A narrow Costa del Sol coastal road where drunken drivers and tourists unaccustomed to driving on the right have caused many crashes.

South Africa N3 Between Warden in Free State Province and the bottom of Van Reenen’s Pass in KwaZulu-Natal Province, there’s a high crash rate because of fog, rain, wind and winding stretches.

Turkey Bodrum-Milas-Soke road Winding coastal road without barriers on many stretches that’s especially dangerous when wet.

Provisional Head of Navigation of Wolf River, near Canaan, Mississippi

phone leads driving traffic
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Evernote
  • Pinterest
  • Gmail
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon

Image by Greenway Guide
photo by Ray Skinner

This is in the upper part of the Holly Springs National Forest in Benton County, Mississippi. The river flows north from there into West Tennessee’s Fayette County and into Memphis, where it spills into the Mississippi.

Here is my account of this canoe trip, published in Oxford Town and the the Wolf River Conservancy’s newsletter in the summer of 1998.

A River Creeps Through It

by Gary Bridgman

OT editor’s note: On May 1, 1998, Ole Miss graduate student, William "Fitz" FitzGerald, became the first person in recorded history to travel the entire length of the Wolf River. Wolf River Conservancy board member and Oxford, MS, resident, Gary Bridgman, became the second person to do this…about three seconds later (he was in the back of the canoe), as the two completed the "Wolf River Survey." Gary and Fitz hiked and paddled from Baker’s Pond to the foot of Union Avenue to help raise awareness about the river as a whole. Sponsors included the Wolf River Conservancy, Outdoors Inc., Ghost River Canoe Rentals, and BellSouth Mobility. What follows is Gary’s rather unscientific, non-chronological account of the trip.

There’s a distinction between being drunk on a river and being drunk with a river. One does not need alcohol or drugs to have mind altering (or life changing) experiences in a canoe. Fast moving streams like the Nantahala and the Ocoee are what I call "adrenaline rivers," while the Wolf is an "endorphin river." It offers canoeists a priceless glimpse of what all other rivers’ headwaters in this region looked like before the Corps of Engineers channelized them.

William Faulkner described such swampy, untamed rivers as "the thick, slow, black, unsunned streams almost without current, which once each year ceased to flow at all and then reversed, spreading, drowning the rich land and subsiding again, leaving it still richer." They are intoxicating, to say the least.

The Wolf River is teeming with wildlife and wetland vegetation, but my favorite part about our recent "expedition" was not its biodiversity, but its psychodiversity: all the interesting people I met in the process — interesting people like the two cops who almost busted us for vagrancy.

"Good Cop/Bad Cop"
Memphis, May 1, 8 miles from the Mississippi River: "Hey! Get up! MPD!" shouts a Memphis police officer.

William FitzGerald ("Fitz") and I are stumbling out of the tent into the glare of their Mag-Lites, my left leg is still tangled in my sleeping bag.

"What are you doing here?" the other officer calmly asks.

It’s 3 a.m. We are camped illegally in a city park located on the Wolf, having built an equally illegal campfire. I’ve explained that we aren’t vagrants and that there is a canoe hidden in the tall grass over there and that we’re paddling the entire length of this river on behalf of the Wolf River Conservancy.

Now the policemen are more relaxed. They’re even giving me pointers on how to delay being raped or murdered in case some of the local toughs come by. (It didn’t look like a rough neighborhood from the river.)

We had been at it for six days by the time the police woke us up in Kennedy Park: hiking and paddling (and wading) some 90 miles by that point. Just a few more miles to go to reach the Mississippi River . . . .

"Thirteen Weeks Earlier"

Moscow, Tenn., January 24: The whole thing started when my friend Chris Stahl, who runs a canoe rental service on the Wolf River, asked me how he could attract more people to the river. "Canoe the whole thing in one lick, man," I said, not very helpfully.

Chris was asking me for ideas about popular day trips for families and church groups, not about some kind of pilgrimage out of the heart of darkness into the middle of industrial North Memphis. There were remote sections of that river no one had navigated in decades — too shallow, too narrow, too overgrown, too full of fallen trees. We could count on crawling out of the canoe to lift it over logs several hundred times in the process.

Chris liked my thinking anyhow, but business commitments and common sense kept him on the shore for most of the trip. So I enlisted Fitz to make the trip with me instead. From January onward, one or both of us spent nearly every weekend scouting different sections of the river and meeting peculiar people.

Walnut, Miss., February 8: "You can put this in the Bible if you want to, but I like snakes more than I like most people," said one man we met while scouting a swamp. "You can trust a cottonmouth; all you have to do is know how his mind works." He viewed our "People’s Republic of Oxford" Lafayette County license tags with suspicion, wondering if we were more "dope smoking a__holes" trespassing on his land, but we’ve since developed an interesting friendship.

"Gary, so far I think you’re a decent person, but if you ever cross me, I can give away one of my motorcycles to someone in Memphis who’ll do anything to you that I ask!" Great. I gave up being a Republican for this?

"The Trip Begins"

Baker’s Pond, Holly Springs National Forest, April 25, 98 miles from the Mississippi River: We had to hike around and wade through 18 miles of swampy bottomland this first day of the actual trip. (Our canoes were waiting for us downstream).

When we scrambled up to the first dirt road that crossed the Wolf, a nice lady in curlers skidded her old pickup truck to a halt beside us. "Are y’all the canoe people?" she asked with a disbelieving smile. We were now 30 seconds into our 15 minutes of fame.

Canaan, Mississippi, April 26, 80 miles from the Mississippi River: This was the hardest day of canoeing in my short life. Fitz and I were joined by Ray Skinner (pictured above) and Bill Lawrence, who is something of a Yoda or Ben Kenobe figure in the uppermost Wolf and an invaluable guide to us for this section. We pulled our gear-heavy canoe out of the shallow water and over fallen trees almost every 150 feet of river channel. We only made five miles that day. It rained its butt off that night, which was good. Come Hell or high water, I’ll take the latter.

"More Cops, Three Mayors, and a Waitress"

LaGrange, Tenn., April 27, 60 miles from the Mississippi River: I was driven up to town from the river bottom by a Fayette County sheriff’s deputy at the end of a long, but very productive day — triple the mileage of the day before. The deputy had been dispatched at the request of Mayor John Huffman of nearby Piperton, Tennessee.

John, who is also the president of the Wolf River Conservancy, was having a lot of fun keeping track of us via walkie-talkies. Here’s an excerpt from and e-mail he copied to dozens of people two hours later: "Who would like to bet that this was the only time in young Bridgman’s life that he was happy to find out that the Law was looking for him? With the lightning and heavy rain present in Fayette County, they are no doubt thinking about how it might of been if they had not made it to LaGrange and been forced to camp along the river."

Actually — at that very moment — I was thinking about pouring another glass of cabernet while that massive thunderstorm was making the lights flicker. Fitz and I were holed up in a bed & breakfast two miles upland, owned by a Conservancy member. I refilled the glass of LaGrange’s mayor, Lucy Cogbill, who stopped by to check on us and enjoy a dry view of the passing monsoon from the back porch.

But I was also thinking about how the mayor of Rossville, Tennessee (25 miles downstream) didn’t give a crap about our expedition because he was having to supervise the partial evacuation of his town due to flash flooding.

My friend Naomi visited briefly, then drove west back into Memphis along the length of the river’s floodplain. "Driving out of LaGrange," Naomi wrote in her own mass e-mail report, "the radio was reporting: flood advisories for Collierville; tornadoes in northern Mississippi; and flash flooding, evacuations, and possible road closure at Rossville. This should make for a speedy and exhilarating ride for Gary and Fitz tomorrow."

Rossville, Tenn., April 28, 45 miles from the Mississippi River: Exhilarating. Right. More like "intimidating," as we constantly ducked under tree limbs that were coming at us at twice their normal speed. I took the only unplanned swim of the trip after being swept out of the canoe by one of those passing limbs.

Fitz is a very even-tempered First Lieutenant in the National Guard, but he sounded more like a drill sergeant as he coached me up onto a half-submerged tree. "Get up on that tree, Bridgman! Let’s get some adrenaline flowing!" he shouted. I obeyed both commands. Fitz carefully maneuvered the canoe underneath my unsteady perch, enabling me to flop down into the boat like a stunned raccoon.

That night, near Rossville, we stayed in a hotel after stuffing ourselves at the Wolf River Cafe. Our waitress, Dorene, was the first of many people to give us the once-over, trying to figure out why we were wearing two-way radios and carrying cell phones while our shabby personal appearance suggested that we lived in an abandoned station wagon.

Earlier that morning, Fitz and I floated through the most amazing stretch of the river, known popularly as the Ghost River section.

Keith Kirkland once described it this way: "About halfway through the trip, small braids of river begin to split off the main channel, disappearing into a dense, standing-water Cypress-Tupelo Gum swamp just before the river abruptly hits a dead end. Only one among the dozens of narrow, twisting corridors splitting off to the left of your canoe will lead you through the full mile of swamp. The rest dissolve into a forest of impassable knees and floating islands of Itea and Buttonbush. The river seems to be everywhere, but nowhere – like a disorienting funhouse hall of mirrors."

April 28 was my 35th float through the Ghost River section and in our haste we paddled it in near-record time, but it’s never, ever a "routine" trip for me. I see something new and wonderful every time!

Germantown, Tenn., April 29, 15 miles from the Mississippi: The next mayor on our itinerary was Germantown’s Sharon Goldsworthy, who fed us her prized beef stew and corn muffins while hearing about our progress.

The next cop on our itinerary was at Germantown Centre, the city’s sprawling performing arts and recreation complex.

"Hello, Mayor!" he said in a cheerful-yet-bewildered tone as Sharon walked us through the health club on the way to the showers. It was fun watching his eyes dart back and forth between his commander-in-chief and the two muddy hoboes trailing her.

"The Voyage Home"

Memphis, May 1, 0.5 miles from the Mississippi: The journey began where the Wolf River is three feet wide, in a county that hasn’t a single traffic light. On this last day, in the shadow of the Pyramid, it was nearly 300 yards wide.

I was glad to see that Wood Ducks and Great Blue Heron were thriving on the river all the way downtown.

As we passed under the Hernando DeSoto Bridge (which also spans the Mississippi) and then the monorail bridge leading to Mud Island, within sight of the mouth of the river, we heard a terrible racket: screaming school children.

"Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? Gary and Fitz! Yeahhhhh!" they chanted, having been tipped off about us earlier.

This "endorphin river" was becoming more of a hallucinogenic river. Speaking of which . . .

The night after my first float through the Ghost River section, in 1992, I had a weird dream. No plot to it really, just an image of the water slowly flowing in the darkness, beneath the canopy of trees and dense shrub and rotten logs, while I lay safe in my Midtown Memphis home.

I remember feeling strangely guilty that I wasn’t still out there with the current, but also relieved to no longer be in that stygian gloom. I’ve since come to love that gloom, and all the surrounding light that defines it. And as Fitz and I neared the Mississippi River, I knew that I had finally accompanied that current all the way to its home.

Gary Bridgman is a WRC board member whose devotion to the Wolf River’s protection is only equalled by his penchant for getting gloriously lost in its swamps.

Copyright 1998, Oxford Town, Wolf River Conservancy, Gary Bridgman

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This