Yesterday my 12 year old son made an accidental homeschool field trip when
we returned a generator borrowed to use after Katrina, now to be shipped to
relatives in the path of Rita. We found ourselves just 20 minutes from the
National Military Park at Vicksburg, MS so we spent the day there. For lunch
we made a picnic of Katrina MREs, then we looked at the Mississippi River
and saw how the upstream barges make crossings at bends to take advantage of
the slack water, outside the main turbulent channel, something we had read
about in Mark Twain. I've read Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and other Twain
books aloud in chapters as bed time stories and we have Mark Twain Tonight
on audio and video. It gives us much to talk about, especially irony and
human nature, but also quality. Seeing the river adds to the experience.
Inside the ironclad ship Cairo on display at the military park helped my son
understand some of the dangers of streamboat life. We talked about how hot
those huge boilers must get and what happens when a hole in the hull causes
cold water to hit them, and how Twain's brother died from a steam explosion
in Memphis, just up the river from where we were.
Be kind. Be of good cheer.