On the Road with Ralph - Part III

Ralph and I arrived at the Quality Inn in Corinth, MS about noon last Friday.  We were told we could not check in until at least 2PM.  Well, that irked me to no end.  So, Ralph and I walked around, I let him eat lunch and I got me something at the drive through at a fast food restaurant.  I left Vicksburg too damn early.  So, after walking around, and driving around the Corinth area, I called in and asked if we could check in about 2PM.  We were told our room was ready.  I was ready to unwind.  Ralph and I would not be going to the Shiloh National Park until in the morning (Saturday).  I wanted to see if maybe I could find out if the clerk on duty would watch Ralph for me while I went to a local restaurant for a good steak.  Well, I was told it was prohibited by him to babysit pets of visitors.  So, I hung up and thought about calling a nearby pizza joint to bring me a pizza and a coke.  Right before I did that, the phone in my room rung.  It was the desk clerk.  He said if I did not mention him keeping my dog to any other guests, he could pretend it is his dog and he would not get into trouble.  I told him I appreciate his doing this for me.  So, after about an hour of rest, I took Ralph to the clerk and went to a steak restaurant that he recommended to me.  Well, I've had better steak, to be honest.  But, it filled me up.  I stopped at a convenience store, got a couple of 24 ounce beers and headed back to my hotel room.

Ralph and I ate breakfast about 8AM.  I wanted to get to the Shiloh National Park before the crowd since it was Saturday.  It took about 40-45 minutes to get there from Corinth, MS.  It was largely a wooded area on the road we took.  I sure as hell did not want to break down there.  Ralph and I arrived at the park about 9:30AM.  There was already a sizable crowd there for that time of the morning.  Of course, I was still presented with the problem of not being able to go to the visitor center with Ralph.  I noticed a couple with their own beagle by their RV.  So, I asked if they would hold on to Ralph while I went into the visitor center.  They very graciously obliged me.  Of course, as soon as I started walking off, Ralph started with his baying.  The lady told me not to worry about it, they were used to it.  So, I went to the center and got some mementos of the park. I came back out, got Ralph and thanked the kind couple for watching him for me.  Each stopping point had a thing where you pushed the button and it told you what took place there.  It was very interesting along with the CD I bought.  This was a pivotal battle that saw the Union forces capture a railroad in Corinth that badly affected the Confederate forces ability to move materiel and men.  At one stopping point was a mass grave for Confederate soldiers.  It was a very moving moment for me.  It seemed the birds were not even chirping there.  I was greatly moved by this one particular site.  I also visited Shiloh National Cemetery.  It also was a very somber reminder of the folly of war. 

Like with Vicksburg, I won't go into what happened in each battle.  You can Google that.  But, my week's journey left an impression on me of the young men who gave their lives for what most did not fully understand.  Most of the down the line soldiers were illiterate and poor.  They could not fully grasp the meaning of the war itself.  I thought about the thousands upon thousands who died not knowing what the outcome of the war itself would be. One thing I will say, I did not like the way many people who visited each park disrespected the place.  I understand people and kids are going to make noise.  But, there is a time and place for everything.  The battlefield where so many men gave their lives is not the place to hoot and holler.  I was surprised that the park rangers did not come over to quiet them down.  I was disappointed to see this happen.

Ralph and I left Sunday morning to head back home to Mobile from Corinth.  It was a largely uneventful trip.  But, I could tell Ralph was tired of the constant driving.  That is strange because he loves riding in a car.  I imagine even Ralph has a breaking point though.  I stopped every couple of hours to let him stretch his legs, do his business and just take a break.  When we finally pulled into our driveway, Ralph was trying to jump out the closed window.  He was mighty happy to see he was back home.  I was happy to be back home also.  It is a trip I may make again someday, hopefully.  But, I'm not sure Ralph will be going with me.  He did pretty good on the trip.  But, he was a burden to have around when I wanted to go somewhere such as a restaurant.  Of course, that is not his fault.  The Civil War journey was one that I will always remember.  It is a trip that I had on my bucket list.  I can now scratch that one off.


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