I spent about two years or so mapping out my cross-country trip and, then, not more than 2-3 weeks into it, cast most of that planning aside. And it has worked well — with small blips on the radar screen — for the most part. But the past week has found me checking in with Hurricane Gordon. His path, as is mine, has been tracking through parts of southern and western Mississippi and, notwithstanding a few bolts and downpours here and there, our paths have not been all that confrontational. From Natchez I headed north to Vicksburg, which is mostly a drive-thru national military park and scene of one of the most important battles of the Civil War (Grant’s tenacity in Vicksburg was what probably gained him Lincoln’s confidence), then northeast to Oxford, where James Meredith fought another amazing battle on the campus of Ole Miss in 1962, walking through a hailstorm of vitriol as he proceeded on his way to attend class. The Ole Miss of today is a far cry from the school that Meredith challenged more than 50 years ago. My main reason for visiting Oxford was to go to William Faulkner’s home, where he lived and worked for more than 30 years. In a very understated way, it was more than I had hoped for. I made my way back to the Ole Miss campus and dropped by the Sigma Chi house, where I met Mary, who manages the fraternity there. She gave me a wonderful driving-in-the-rain tour of the campus with wonderful insights about the school and students, eventually dropping me off at the Graduate Hotel, where I was staying, amid a soft rain. Shortly thereafter, at the hotel bar, I met a beautiful woman, who I had the great pleasure of talking to and dining with. Lessons learned: Plan, but not too much, and a kind hello never hurts.