Newspapers lend hand to world traveler
By Meg Coker
The Tunica Times
Photo: Tunica Times publisher Brooks Taylor with Mick Barrett
He did not travel down the Mighty Mississippi in a literal sense, but the Big River brought Mick Barrett to Tunica County and the home of a local family as part of his multi-state trek on foot.
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, Barrett stopped by the Tunica Museum seeking a place to pitch his tent for the night. Director Dick Taylor offered him a warm bed at the Taylors’ house instead and a hot meal at the Blue and White Restaurant. Barrett had come from Memphis and beyond, where he’d been following the path of the river.
With a deadline to get to New Orleans looming, Barrett knew that making the journey on foot any farther was virtually impossible.
“I have five days to get from where I am now to New Orleans where my flight is leaving from to Colombia, and seeing the next 2 or 3 days are forecast as rain and thunderstorms, there is no point in waiting for them to pass and then walking another day or two if I am lucky,” Barrett wrote in his blog on Tuesday, Dec. 13. “So the Tunica Museum will be where I will need to come back to in 2012 to continue where I left off. I still have around 500 kms to go more or less. Seeing I have already covered over 2000 kms, the last 500 kms, I hope, will be a nice, enjoyable stroll. This, I hope anyway.”
On Wednesday, Barrett departed Tunica with Times publisher Brooks Taylor, who drove Barrett to Clarksdale, Miss to meet Bolivar Commercial publisher Mark Williams who would take him on to Cleveland. Meanwhile, Williams enlisted the help of Mississippi Press Association Executive Director Layne Bruce to get Barrett the rest of the way.
In an email to members from Leland, Rolling Fork, Natchez and Vicksburg, Bruce asked for help from the press corps.
“Mark and Brooks are hoping to cobble together a network of MPA members who might be willing to help take him along on his journey down US 61. The thought was that it provides great feature story potential, too,” Bruce wrote. From Cleveland, Barrett was given a hand and a lift by Leland Progress publisher Stephanie Patton, Deer Creek Pilot editor and publisher Ray Mosby, Vicksburg Post general manager and MPA President Jimmy Clark, and Natchez Democrat publisher Kevin Cooper and circulation director Sam King. In Woodville, Barrett caught a lift from a publisher in Zachary, La. The Louisiana Press Association then took care of getting him to his destination in New Orleans.
Barrett’s story is certainly interesting. The 29 year old is originally from Torquay, Australia, but came on this journey after teaching English in Colombia. Barrett said the decision to “Journey Down the Mississippi” was born after a series of events and his walk goes to support and raise awareness for the “struggling communities in Colombia.”
“Here I have a blessing to combine two of my dreams, one to attempt a huge physical challenge of trekking and exploring one of the largest rivers on our planet, the other is to help some great, inspiring people from Colombia to gain access to some of the basic tools in life that we take for granted everyday. I am so lucky to have this stage in my life. It is a gift,” Barret writes in his blog.
He began the journey in late September in Minnesota. Since then he has traveled through Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.
To view his full story, including the next chapter in his adventure, check out journeydownthemississippi.blogspot.com.