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Wyatt Emmerich: To the northeast and back by air


Wyatt Emmerich



In April, I predicted a cool summer because winter had been so warm. Law of averages. Turns out, I was right. 


A warm winter offset by a cool summer is the best. Enjoy it while you can. A cold winter offset by a hot summer is the worst. 


Jackson's average temperature for the year is 65 degrees. It doesn't get much better than that. The only negative is our hot, humid summers just last a little too long. 


That's why I make it a habit to travel somewhere cool in August. This year, I traveled with my son John to Maine. It's a great way to escape the August heat. 


John loves to travel and Maine was his idea. He was fascinated by the beauty and history of Acadia National Park and its link to Louisiana Cajuns. It was a father-son trip. 


It's easy to travel with an enthusiastic traveler. John had his itinerary and was ready to go. He led, I followed. Made it easy. 


I'm a pilot and share a small 40-year-old Cessna with Dr. Judson Colley. General aviation is becoming a lost art in this country as our highways have improved. But it makes cross country travel more of an adventure when you pilot your own plane. 


Flying over the Appalachian Mountains was spectacular. Unlike Europe where human development never stops, vast stretches of America are wilderness with trees stretching as far as the eye can see. Flying a small plane with one engine, you must trust both technology and God. 


We decided to break up the trip by stopping in Charlottesville and visiting Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and the beautiful University of Virginia. We had no idea the city was going to be in the news a few days after we departed. 


Charlottesville has a magnificent pedestrian mall with dozens of restaurants, shops and a movie theatre where you can eat spring rolls and drink a craft beer while watching a movie. Every night, the walking street was full of people. It made me hope one day Jackson's downtown can have such vitality. 


Monticello was fascinating and well preserved. Jefferson was extremely wealthy for his time and owned 500 slaves. Slave labor allowed him to devote his life to politics. He sipped sherry in his parlor and discussed liberty and equality, while slaves where hidden by dumb waiters and concealed doors. How ironic. Yet if Jefferson had freed his slaves he would never have been the great political leader that he was, eventually laying the ideological groundwork for the equality America enjoys today. 


We then flew to Rockland, Maine, a beautiful little town on the coast. We stayed at 250 Main, a boutique hotel with the fanciest European decor imaginable. It's locally owned by a shipbuilder. Reminded me of the Alluvian in Greenwood. Every little town should have one really nice hotel for tourism's sake. 


Lobster, lobster everywhere. Lobster beer, lobster macaroni, lobster ice cream. They're not kidding. They eat lobster up there like there's no tomorrow.  


Maine's lobster industry is booming with a record 130 million pounds valued at $533 million. That's an average of $90,000 a year in revenue for the 6,000 lobster fishermen. 


From Rockland we drove up to Bar Harbor, the Seaside of Maine. It's so packed that you take a shuttle from your hotel to the quaint downtown which is going full-bore all night long with people, restaurants and shops. 


It's also best to take shuttles into Acadia National Park, which has some of the best maintained, most beautiful hiking trails I have ever been on. The August weather is perfect with highs in the 70s. The low mountains are perfect for hiking. We hiked by day, ate lobster by night. Invigorating and relaxing. 


The coastline is rugged with mountains rising 1,500 feet just a few miles inland. Granite is everywhere. There are a few sandy beaches, but they can't compare to Florida. 


Maine is more rural than Mississippi with 43 people per square mile compared to 63 people per square mile in Mississippi. The state's about three-fourth's the size of Mississippi. It barely went for Hillary in the election. The touristy, populated coast is Democratic. The more rural interior is Republican. Median household income is $50,000 compared to $40,000 in Mississippi. 


The architecture is completely different. I hardly saw a single house that looked like it could be in Jackson. They are typically clapboard with a lot of insulation. Rarely do you see brick. It was truly different. 


On the way back, we stopped in New York. John had never been in Manhattan and I wanted to catch up with a couple of old college roommates. We walked around my old haunts. The buildings hadn't changed a bit but almost all the restaurants I remember were gone. Life goes on. 


Somewhere along the way, I got shingles. At first I thought I was having a seafood allergy or a reaction to a fragrant hotel shampoo. There were bumps on my head and I developed a rash on my forehead and eyebrow. I looked worse than I felt, but my scalp was tender to the touch. 


Fortunately, my doctor buddy Scott Carlton phoned in some anti-viral meds to the Times Square Walgreen and it was a minor disruption to the vacation. Now the good news: I may be one of the last people to get shingles. A new vaccine that is 98 percent effective is about to be approved any day now. That's great news for the one-third of us who would have gotten shingles and the one-third of them who would suffer long-term effects. Technology is improving life every day. 


Soon after returning, I took the Cessna to Clarksville, Tenn. to watch the total eclipse with Kemal Sanli, Lamar Hooker and my son Lawrence. 


One of the great coincidences of the world is that the sun and moon appear as exactly the same size in the sky. This is God letting us know that this is his world and he created it. It's not an accident. 


So when the moon perfectly blocked the sun, I felt like God was communicating with me in an awesome and direct way. It was an intense moment both visually and spiritually, I will remember for life. Don't miss it in 2024. 


Wyatt Emmerich is the editor and publisher of The Northside Sun, a weekly newspaper in Jackson. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]



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