ASimpleManHours of driving across Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, a land still with the scent of cotton and antebellum in the air and without road signs for miles. Not even “Yield” signs or billboards offering remedies for bad breath and “male enhancement” problems.

Just before dawn I pulled into an isolated convenience store to ask directions.

“Baby! Baby!” commiserated the plump clerk. “Baby, you is really lost.”

“Baby,” I responded with a laugh. “I been lost in every city in the world. Am I still in the United States?”

Whereupon, a crowd of black workers getting ready for the day gathered to buy me hot chocolate, joke, and offer advice. Being lost turned into a good morning.

I love a long-distance road trip. I travel the old-fashioned way—with a map. I won’t have a cellphone nagging my pocket, nor will I use a GPS with some cutesy female voice ordering me to turn at the next road.

Travel is about unique places and unique people you never meet when technology isolates you. I was on my way to Biloxi, Mississippi, for a TV special promoting my new bestselling book, Crushing the Collective. Adventure is all about attitude.

Years ago when I left home to enlist in the military, I promised myself never to touch foot in another cottonfield. I almost broke that promise near the town of Transylvania in Louisiana, which has a large bat adorning its water tower. I wanted a cotton boll for my library-museum to remind me of where I came from.

I stopped my car next to a field, tiptoed up to the edge, stretched out my arm, grabbed a cotton boll and retreated before I found myself dragging a picksack again.

My hosts in Biloxi, a doctor and his French wife Isabelle, put me up in their luxurious home on the bay. Doc is an old hippie. My bedroom was decorated with weird accouterments, lots of colors that glowed under black lights, and a gigantic peace symbol above the bed.

“Doc, I’ll have nightmares from the 1960s,” I warned.

On a day off before filming, I strolled the white sand beaches of Biloxi. I paused to watch pelicans fishing and gulls squabbling on the sand. I enjoyed a conversation with Destiny, an African-American girl with a camera who wants to be a journalist/writer.

I toured the home and museum of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the Civil War. So far, no protesters have showed up to demand it and its history be destroyed. A docent named Donna in 19th Century dress explained how the grounds had once been home to over 800 old soldiers from the Confederacy.

Brenda Lee Sargent, curator of the museum’s research center, showed me through the most complete library of books and documents on the Civil War in the U.S.

When I returned to Doc’s home, Isabelle asked me about my day.

“Went to Jefferson Davis’ house,” I narrated. “Walked on the beach and watched pelicans fishing. Talked to a girl named Destiny and a family from up North. Napped in the sun. Talked with Donna the Docent at the museum and told her I was an old soldier and ready to move in. She thought I was kidding. Found a dime on the sidewalk. Saw about a thousand earth worms that had crawled off this one lawn and baked on the sidewalk. Found this beautiful golden palm frond. . .”

Doc stared at me. “I’m a simple man,” I said.

Isabelle hugged me.

Crushing the Collective: The Last Chance to Keep America Free and Self-Governing is available at most bookstores,,, and My appearance on radio, YouTube and some TV programs are available for viewing on the Internet.