Where It All Began

Back in 1963, when I was only four years old, my daddy came home and announced that he'd taken a new job on an "island". I was ecstatic! My young mind immediately envisioned beautiful blue water, white sandy beaches and palm trees swaying in the breeze. But when I finally was taken there, I was astonished to find that the 'beautiful blue water' was a muddy old river, and the 'sandy white beaches' were banks of hardened, grayish-black gumbo clay with cracks so wide you could lose a small child in them. The 'palm trees' were thick southern hardwoods with heavy underbrush standing stoic in the stifling Mississippi heat. Gnats and mosquitoes as big as tropical birds were a constant battle. There were rattlesnakes too, giant ones! There was no electricity, telephones, stores or even people. It was a huge and untouched wilderness. It was Davis Island.

My daddy had a small house about 5 miles from the river. There, we had a generator (which we called a "light plant"), but it was strictly for utilitarian purposes, like lights on the otherwise pitch-black nights. It was also used to run an electric pump to fill a water tank which sat on a platform high on poles right beside the house for our gravity-fed water supply. I remember our shouts to Daddy, "Tank's runnin' over!", and we'd run to play in the waterfall it created until he could get the pump turned off. Daddy's house had both gas and wood-burning heaters and a big old gas stove. There was a refrigerator that operated on propane too, and it was always full of fresh cow's milk. So, despite its ruggedness, we had all the basic comforts of home.

There were also birds and tons of deer and other wildlife. There were alligators and fishin' holes and lakes with names like Gin Lake, Long Lake and The Blue Hole. We had lots of horses to ride and even an old buggy pulled by a solid brown Tennessee Walker named Cocoa. There were old Willys Jeeps, and we could drive them, even as kids. Little did I know at the time, but I was soon to realize that this was the most amazing, special, unique and wonderful place that I could possibly grow up! Both isolated and insulated from the chaos of the nineteen sixties and seventies that lay just beyond its borders, it was a paradise. John Denver might have described it as "almost heaven". I know I did. Most importantly, it afforded me a sense of independence and freedom that I might not have found without that wonderful experience.

For most of my adult life, I've been pretty much 'on the road' in one way or another. That's alright by me though. I'm invigorated by that type of life. It has gotten me this far. Now, I share two wonderful homes with my husband, Luc. One is in Natchez, Mississippi, and the other is far across the Atlantic in Erembodegem, Belgium. Luc and I travel throughout both Europe and America at every opportunity. My nomadic lifestyle is still a big part of who I am, and thankfully, Luc is a restless soul as well.

On a wonderful, long road trip in 2022, we traveled extensively throughout the American Northwest. Our van, Big Willie became our home for over two months. Despite the confined size, we found it very easy to do. The great outdoors was always there for us. With a desire to thoroughly document that long-awaited adventure, I committed to journaling each day about the magnificent places we saw and our experiences and feelings along the way. Every word within the pages of A Vanished Journey was written at the end of each day as I sat in the comfort of Big Willie's seats. They tell our story, and even for someone who has been as many places and done as many crazy things as I have, this story is still my favorite.