Well we reached our camping, Askew Landing, near the town of Edwards and find that it is a very pleasant place in the woods. There is also a small lake here with some very noisy geese! Drives Fred crazy, but as I say, it is a short putt! He has decided to consider them as walking froi gras! Most of the folks camped here, about 50 sites, are either retired or are here temporarily working for a nuclear plant that is some where on the Mississippi. We have seen this before that workers come in and camp near the work site. These folks have come from other parts of the country to work here, some with and some without their families. We met some of the folks and learned there are 3 home schooled kids here. It is kind of wet here and muddy, so we are starting to get a farm look about us.
|Roulotte is setup so out for a walk in campground|
Next day, we decided to go see Edwards. Well, the town is really really run down and there are no stores or restaurants. It does have a gas station, a police station and a post office. It also has an occasional nice house but most of what we saw were run down shanties. Lots of black men of various ages, hanging around with nothing to do. We saw this same thing in Louisiana, which is disturbing when you are not used to seeing this. These areas that we are traveling thru are poorer than either of us have ever seen before. We often get the feeling that we are not welcome in some of the areas we are driving through and I guess we are seen as "tourist" driving by, which is exactly what we are. Poking our noses into things that are none of our business sometimes. I just read this to Fred and he says its more that we are in places that people do not recognize us, so are not sure about us. We are in some extremely rural areas and they all know each other. We're the unknowns and the wrong color!
Reading the link below is astounding to us...there were 3 antebellum houses in fair condition and then nothing. Businesses? There were none to be seen now. Reading the website is a far cry from how they are today.
Took a back road thru town and headed to Vicksburg. This was the site of a major Civil War battle. Lincoln needed to end the supply route for the south and so needed to control the Mississippi. Winning this battle gave him the victory that was the turning point of the war.
The visit starts at the Vicksburg National Military Park. The museum has a really good docu-reenactment movie that they show. There are also numerous displays to see before you head out on a 16 mile self guided auto tour of the battlefield. There are markers everywhere, blue for the Union and red for the Confederates, to show you where and how the fighting took place.
There are large monuments erected by each of the states who participated in the battle. In addition, families, friends, others, have erected statues and busts of the many officers who participated here. These were put on the battlefield about 50 years later and are everywhere.
Since this battle was about gaining control of the river, there was also a naval contingent. We thought that one of the most interesting part of the tour was to visit the USS Cairo (pronounced kayrow). This was an iron clad battleship that was sunk by one of the first torpedoes. The boat was retrieved in the late 60s early 70s from the river bottom. You can actually walk thru the boat! Quite worth while to
We left the park and headed for Vicksburg. I expected to see a historic southern town with lots of white mansions. Okay, yes, I was looking for Tara and Scarlett. Well this town has long been on hard times. A few mansions, not necessarily doing well, though a few are now working at being B&B and they look nice. Most of the town seems closed up, other than a few fast food places and hotels that are right along the highway and the Military Park. Amazingly, we did find a really good lunch in the historic part of Vicksburg. Even the downtown historic part is pretty much closed up, with just a few shops and restaurants. Seems as though the big activity in town is the casino, located right on the river.
Today we started off exploring the Natchez Trace Parkway. This road, which is a National Park, extends from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, 444 miles. This was originally an Indian trail that got expanded by the farmers who came down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to sell their goods either in Natchez or New Orleans. When they sold their goods, they also sold their boats since they could not navigate them back up the rivers. The people in New Orleans and Natchez used the wood to build their houses and make things with the wood. The boat people now walked back up the Natchez Trace route to their farms. We walked a bit of this historic trail, which is a woodland route and quite beautiful. The driving road is right next to it. Beautiful and a definite must if you are in this area.
We only did about 100 miles of it today, from Jackson to Natchez. Will try to do more of the other end of the Natchez Trace Parkway when we are in Nashville.
|emblem shows the mail man on the Trace|
|view from top of Emerald Mound|
|another view and Fred is still not at the bottom level!|
Natchez is a beautiful town, with lots of what we all have in mind when we think of southern mansions. There are actually houses dating from the late 1700s here, all really beautiful and many with large white columns in front! Lots of B&B sites here that are very inviting. This looks like a great place to spend a night or two as you explore the area.
We did a house tour of the Melrose Estate, which is a national park site. Had a really funny ranger give us a very informative tour, with lots of insight into the families that lived in the house based on diaries the wives kept. Most of the furniture was original to either the first or second family to live in the house. The story of the house is one of eventual ruin for the first family due to the Civil War. This house was never occupied by any Union military, so remained in great condition.
Here we learned that plantations mean that the family raised some crop on the land, be it sugar or cotton or something else to sell to others for profit.
An estate on the other hand, may grow some crop, but it is for their own use, not to sell to others for profit.
|fan over dinner table to provide air and shoo away flies; cord by mantle was pulled by slave child|
|rococco style was loved in these houses!|
Well, that was Mississippi. We are already in Alabama as I finish this blog. We continue to see 24hr security at the rest stops. We are in an RV park, attached to the Hoover city baseball stadium just outside of Birmingham. We have just had a great Chicago pizza ( go figure) in a local place. There are all kinds of stores and banks and people again...I feel as though we have just come out of the wilderness.
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!