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What not to do in Oxford... and a few things you might or might not be able to do

 

Last weekend, I set out with a clear intention. The plan was to think of some fun, out-of-the-norm activities to do around Oxford, do them and document them. Through what I’m going to staunchly declare as “no fault of my own,” I probably didn’t meet that goal but, damn it, I tried. The complications arose when the four things I had planned to write about turned out to be, respectively: legal, of questionable legality, outright il- legal and nearly impossible. Personally, I blame it on natural disasters and laws, but God and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would probably disagree with that. Alas, let the misadventures ensue. 

Recreation and General Chillaxing at Sardis: legal

 

This was the most mundane of the activities I had planned and, therefore, the most legal. There are many places to go around Sardis Lake, so I have narrowed it down to my personal favorites. First, there is the Sardis Lake Marina. To get there, go down Highway 6 west toward Batesville. Take the first right after the Crossroads gas station onto Blackjack Road and follow it until it hits the Marina. This is a decent spot for fishing because of a conveniently located spillway that drags all of the fish into the lower lake. My friend claims that all he’s ever caught there is gar (which are carnivorous fish that don’t have much meat on them), but while we were there, two people caught brim. Besides, who wouldn’t want to catch a gar just for novelty of hooking a fish that can bite you back? Gars need catching, too. 

The next stop on our list is the End of the Road. Take Old Sardis Road for about 10 minutes until you reach County Road 182, which is on a sharp curve. Keep going on 182, which turns into a dirt road, until you reach the lake. Stop at the lake, and if you decide not to, film it and send it to me. The End of the Road is a local favorite for getting wasted and going mudding, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you also have the option of getting wasted and watching people get stuck while mudding, which is funny “an’ I don’t care who y’are.” 

If you have a bold enough soul, you can brave swimming in the murky waters, but I wouldn’t recommend it. On account of the aforementioned wasted-getting, people tend to throw their bottles in the first direction that angers them. They never hit the offending direction, but the bottles still hit the ground, which makes for some hazardous walking conditions. There are also some cool sand cliffs at the End of the Road, but I’ll get to that later. On a side note, never take Sudafed and chase it with Nyquil. I feel as sick as a dog right now.

The final stop is at Hurricane Landing, which is at the end of County Road 108 off Highway 7 north. Hurricane Landing is probably my favorite spot at Sardis just because of the scenery. Depending on the water level, it’s either a lake just like the rest of Sardis or a barren wasteland that resembles a hard-pan desert. I’m partial to the desert wasteland look, simply because it’s some of the most exotic scenery to be found around Oxford. Between seasons there are small creeks that run through it that can be fished in and, when the water is at its highest, it’s good for boating and fishing. 

 

The Underground Tunnels of Oxford: of questionable legality

OK, you’re probably wondering what exactly “of questionable legality” entails. Well, I don’t know if this is legal, but I don’t know that it’s illegal either, and I don’t care to ask. Not to be confused with sewers, the Tunnels are drainage systems that run through the eastern side of Oxford. 

They can be accessed through a ditch at the northeastern-most corner of the graveyard off of North 16th Street, which is every bit as sketchy as it sounds. That’s kind of the allure of the Tunnels; the whole thing is sketchy and more than a little creepy once you’re down there in the dark. The first tunnel is about five feet tall, which requires most people to hunch over for a good 200 feet. After that ends, there is a short stint that turns into an uncovered channel, which leads to the main tunnel. 

The main tunnel, which is tall enough to stand in, boasts a plethora of elegant graffiti. The main theme of this particular collection of artistic splendor is reproductive organs, R.I.P. notes, drugs, love poems and people making fun of the people who wrote love poems. It’s a great place for first dates, children’s birthday parties, etc. 

 

Rappelling on Sand Cliffs at Sardis: outright illegal

Yes, that’s right. Illegal. I won’t spend much time on this because this is supposed to be an article of things people can actually do, but we did it, and it was really fun, so there. We drove to the sand cliffs, which are down the right side of the shore at the End of the Road, and proceeded to attempt rappelling. The last time I had rappelled was at summer camp when I was 10 years old, so I didn’t exactly remember all of the nuances. I do remember that a harness was involved, which we didn’t have. After Googling how to fashion a makeshift harness out of rope, we successfully rappelled down two smaller cliff faces. As we were preparing for the largest and most dangerous cliff, a ranger from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pulled up and eloquently informed us that what we were attempting was illegal and that he’d better not catch us doing it again. So, there you go. There will be no having of the fun, if the Corps has anything to say about it. 

 

Kayaking Down the Yocona River: nearly impossible

It sounded like a great idea when it was conceived, but our ill-fated adventure was doomed from the beginning. The Yocona River is about 10 minutes south of Oxford. We put in by the bridge on County Road 445 and our planned stopping point was the bridge over County Road 337 in Taylor. The first mistake we made was starting three hours behind schedule at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The second was that two of my friends were in inflatable vessels. One had an inflatable kayak, which worked pretty well, and the other had a circular inflatable raft, which didn’t. Due to the inflatable raft, and to the fact that I plotted our course through a part of the county that the tornado hit, the going was incredibly slow. 

Circular vessels aren’t meant to be paddled, and fallen trees have a habit of making you drag your kayak over them. As darkness descended and the temperature plunged, we made the decision to ditch our kayaks on the riverbank and walk to the nearest road we could find. We trudged pathetically across a harvested corn field, savoring our defeat with every step. 

You see, there’s a reason that the only thing people do for fun in Oxford is get drunk and go to the Square. Most everything else to do around here is of questionable legality, outright illegal or nearly impossible. 

Nevertheless, as we ambled doggedly on through the corn field, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “This sure beats the hell out of homework.”