August 27, 2010
It was a Sunday evening and it was time to get off the road. Fast.
The two-lane Tennessee highway had been lovely. But now every resident in Memphis with a truck, trailer and boat was screaming back to the city after a weekend at the state park.
The homes along the highway were spread apart with plenty of land. We knocked on a door and an older woman peered at us through the barred screen door.
We explained our plight. There was a campground several miles down the road, but we didn't feel safe on the road. We asked if we could pitch our tent on her land.
She pondered a bit and then nodded "yes". She pointed out back.
We found a rather idyllic campsite overlooking a small lake.
We thought perhaps that was the last we would see of our hostess. But she wandered up later to see how we'd managed.
Her name was Francis.
After awhile she invited us inside for some sweet tea.
She regaled us with stories. She'd worked as a beautician for thirty-five years and had been deputized by none other than Buford Pusser, the legendary Tennessee lawman, known as the subject of the Hollywood movie Walking Tall.
We later asked her what was the most important invention that had come along during her lifetime? She didn't even pause.
Photos by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.