Memphis and John’s Birthplace, Loranger, Louisiana

After leaving Cactus Canyon, we headed toward Louisiana. To break up the trip we decided on staying near Memphis, Tennessee. After some research, we found Tom Sawyer’s RV Park, located right on the banks of the Mississippi River in West Memphis, Arkansas. The park, a well managed, clean park, with nice size spaces. Our space was right on the river in a newly opened section of the park. It is interesting to note that the office, guest laundry and restrooms are all on wheels so they can be pulled away to safety during the frequent flood events.

Aerial view of new section. Our site was riverfront, 2nd from the right.

We really enjoyed being right on the river. This section of the river is very busy, with barges, some times five wide and six or seven long, being pushed along by massive tug boats. This is a 24 hour operation. At night, the tugs use high powered, long range spot lights to illuminate the water just ahead of the first row of barges. For some reason, watching a barge laden tug is far more interesting than watching a train carrying freight or an 18 wheeler rolling down the highway.

River Tug with payload

We did have a nice view of May’s Super Flower Blood Moon. Do you think that is enough adjectives describing the moon.Whatever! It was still beautiful. Bill took this with his phone.

I like the moon reflecting off the river.

One very nice advantage of the location of Tom Sawyer’s RV Park is its close proximity to the Mississippi River Levee Trail. This trail connects to the Big River Trail, connecting West Memphis, AR with Memphis, TN via the Big River Crossing Trail. Our plan had been to take these tails into Memphis and explore downtown, as well as the series of park trails along the river. However, once we rode up onto the levee, we realized the size of the gravel along the trail was not appropriate our hybrid bike tires, so we elected to use the South Loop Road, which parallels the trail until the point we could pick up the paved Big River Trail.

Bill and John at Big River Trailhead
Memphis from Big River Crossing

On the bridge, we crossed the Arkansas – Tennessee state line. I am a sucker for such landmarks, so we had to get off the bikes for a photo op.

This is the next best thing to having a line painted in the middle of the river
Bill at the line!

Once we reached the Tennessee riverfront, we made our way through a series of city parks using the Riverwalk Trail.

Looking back at the I-55 bridge. Just at its base you can see the Big River Crossing Trail.

When we reached Beale Street, we went went up the embankment to the Main Street pedestrian mall and street car tracks. We rode north along Main then headed back toward the river to reach the Greenbelt Park Trail.

Main Street Pedestrian Mall and Streetcar Line
Another angle – I was very careful crossing those diagonal streetcar tracks.
Our route across the river and up riverbank in Memphis

We did this ride early and many things weren’t open, but we wanted to beat traffic and enjoy seeing many beautiful homes along our ride. The loop at the north end of our ride was on the Wolf River Greenway Park Trail. We made that our turn around and retraced our path back to West Memphis. I noticed just as we approached camp the Bill was rapidly loosing pressure on his rear tire. If there is anywhere to get a flat, the final quarter of a mile, is the best.

Here is the link to our ride on Strava:

After two nights in West Memphis, we headed straight down I-55 to Louisiana. Our destination was Sweetwater Ranch and Riding Stables, near Loranger, Louisiana. The reason for this stop was to take care of a cracked photo on my Father’s gravestone. Some of you may know, I was born in a small farmhouse near Loranger.

While we were there, we had dinner with my Dad’s first cousin, Arlette Elston and her son DaRyan and his wife Amanda. It is a fun fact, that DaRyan, my Second Cousin, is married to Amanda, who is my First Cousin, once removed. Amanda’s Maternal Grandparents are Loren and Maxine Busbee, my Mother’s Brother and his wife. This may seem odd, but is a continuing tradition of couples from the Guthrie, Oklahoma area marrying someone from the Loranger area. This is due to a Church of God connection, as both towns have a regional meeting of the church. In fact, my parents were from this regional connection, as well as my paternal Grandmother, who was from Loranger, married O.C. Porter, from Guthrie.

After leaving DaRyan and Amanda’s, I realized that we were really close to River Road and the Hoffman Cemetery, where one of my 3rd great grandparents were buried. In 2017, when Keith, Dad and I rented an RV and took a trip to Loranger, we visited all the Joiner and James family cemeteries in the area. This trip I had not planned on doing that, but we were so close to Hoffman and there was still light, I thought we would make a quick stop.

At the graves of John and Sophia Arbuthnot Joiner, my 3rd Great Grandparents

It is through Sophia that Keith and I are related, although distantly, to Scottish aristocracy. John Keith Oxley Arbuthnott is the 17th Viscount Arbuthnott, Laird and Chief of the Clan Arbuthnott. He is our 15th Cousin, twice removed. Although my parents did not know it at the time, there is a long Arbuthnott tradition to give males Keith, as a middle name. So, my Brother, Howell Keith Joiner is in keeping with this tradition. By the way, Keith is our ancestry expert, so I credit him with knowing our exact relationship to Viscount Arbuthnott.

Our short time in Loranger was over, the next morning, we made our way to Bayou Segnette State Park, for our Memorial Day Weekend stay in the New Orleans area. And that is a good place to end. Next time, New Orleans, stay tuned!

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