I called Greenville, Mississippi, home for six years, spending the formative years of my adult life in that historic city on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Greenville Mississippi cypress

My path there was simple. I had just graduated college with degrees in Spanish and anthropology and had no job. With absolutely no teaching experience or training, I joined a program called the Mississippi Teacher Corps, and agreed to teach for two years in a high-needs school district somewhere in Mississippi. They placed me at T.L. Weston High School in Greenville. Thanks, Kim Harris, for sending me this pic from my teaching days at Weston. I think I still have this tie, though most of the hair is long gone.

Steve as TL Weston teacher

For my work, I’d receive a teacher’s salary, a tuition and expenses for a masters degree from Ole Miss. (Hotty toddy!)

When I signed on, I’d planned to stay for only the required two years. My plan was to use that time to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. Well, I stayed in Greenville teaching for six years, and wound up spending 21 years in public education. Funny how life works.

Needless to say, when you spend six years somewhere, it has a huge impact on you. Throughout our marriage, Ann has been forced to listen to tales of my time in the Mississippi Delta. So when we decided to drive to Florida for a cruise, it only made sense to plan a route that would take us through Greenville.

Seeing old friends

One of the main things I hoped to do in Greenville was introduce Ann to some of the people I knew while there. I set up a time and place to meet some folks and was tickled that people actually came to visit! I saw two former students, Frederick Crowley (and his beautiful family) as well as Lucas Winters. It was so nice to connect with them again and see the good men they’ve become in life and I’m glad I can now call them friends.

Greenville Mississippi

In addition, two former co-workers and mentors of mine, Jerry Stephenson and Ken Kable also came to meet up with us. We had fun reminiscing about old days and just catching up. The years melted away as we sat chatting, enjoying the time together.

Because we were there on a Sunday morning, we also attended church at First Presbyterian, my church when I was in Greenville. It was so nice to be in my old church home and to chat with church friends, as well.

Greenville Mississippi

Old favorites

I loved that I got to take Ann to see my old stomping grounds. We made stops at the school building where I worked, and the athletic fields and courts where I coached soccer, tennis, track and football. (Again, no real prior experience.) Because we were there on a day over Christmas break, we couldn’t get inside the school.

Greenville Mississippi

With the building having been turned into a middle school, there hasn’t been need to maintain the tennis courts where I spent so many afternoons coaching.

Greenville Mississippi

It was a little surprising to see that my classroom was gone, although I’m not sure why. I taught in a portable classroom, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised that it had been ported away from the end of the sidewalk I’d traversed so many times. I mean, it has been 17 years.

Greenville Mississippi

The other shocking change I found was to the fields where I coached and refereed soccer. They’d fallen completely into disrepair and it looked as though no one had done anything to maintain them for years.

Greenville Mississippi

After we took these pictures, though, I learned that the city built a new soccer complex. I was glad to know there was a good reason this complex had been abandoned.

Tour of Greenville, Mississippi

Another highlight of our visit to Greenville was just taking Ann around town. We drove by the apartment complexes where I lived. Then, we drove north of town to find a house where I lived for two years with some other teachers. Not wanting to scare the current residents of my old house, I just snapped a couple photos from the car as we drove by.

Greenville Mississippi

There’s a neat archaeological site called Winterville Mounds near that house, so we made a quick visit there.

Greenville Mississippi

We drove past the schools, stores, theaters, and restaurants that I remembered from my time in Greenville. Sadly, so many places I remembered are now closed. The years have not been kind to Greenville; population is down and many buildings are vacant.

Down by the river

Being on the river, Greenville is home to some riverboat casinos. I have often told Ann how on Tuesday nights we’d go down and eat a $5 all-you-could-eat buffet and then get a coupon for buy $5, and get $5 in free tokens at the casino. We’d take the coupon, get the tokens, then cash them in, effectively paying only sales tax for our meal. I wanted to show Ann where we found this unbelievable deal, so we drove downtown to find the casinos. When we crested the levee, I was shocked to find that two of the floating casinos that been docked there had been floated away. It was a view I’d never seen in all my years living there.

Greenville Mississippi

Finally, we had dinner at a classic Greenville restaurant called Doe’s Eat Place. That was an experience in and of itself, and I know that Ann has a post just about that dinner planned. But I thought we’d toss in one gratuitous photo to get your tastebuds going. For what it’s worth, it tastes even better than it looks.

Doe's Eat Place Steak

I’m glad we stopped in Greenville. Yes, it has changed over the years. Everything does. But Greenville was, for many years, my home. It’s an integral part of the person I am today; I count myself lucky that I got to teach at Weston. And I’m glad I got to share that with Ann.

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
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What's your happy place? ⁣
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