Monthly Archives: August 2012

Natchez to Florida

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And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

This is the last page of this leg of the journey.. We have arrived and have settled in and now that we are back up and running after a week and a half of traveling this beautiful country of ours, I have the opportunity to write the last post of this road trip.

It was fun, but after a while, it does get old sleeping in mediocre hotels and motels, eating fast food, and sitting for hours in a car, so it is awesome to be able to hug my kids after such a long separation and see them on a daily basis…

Well, back to it…. We woke in Vicksburg after spending the weekend there and headed out to Natchez, MS.

On the way we passed some really nice towns one of which was Port Gibson which had some lovely tree lined streets and some very interesting buildings.. One church had the weirdest steeple I have seen.. I get it.. that the hand of God is pointing towards Heaven… but I have never seen anything like this..

Then we saw a building that was a Synagogue.

We chose to stop and look around Natchez after Bonnie couldn’t stop talking about how lovely it was, and she was right.

Natchez is a beautiful old Southern town with antebellum homes and manicured lawns. Beautiful tree lined streets.

Our major problem was that it was Sunday.. and everything (or almost everything) was closed, including some Plantations that I really was looking forward to seeing. By now you all must know just how much I love old houses and architecture. Well, Natchez is the place to see it, from beautiful wrap around porches to old Victorians.

Look at the wrought iron work on these windows below and a canon in front of your house, no need for an watch dog!

The Plantations weren’t open when we got there, it was too early.. so we drove into town and found these lovely homes.. way too many to show here, but this is a small selection.

My favorite tree in all it’s glory!

So many of the houses are for sale, which is a shame. The atmosphere was not the same as in Vicksburg but maybe it was because it was Sunday and all shops etc were closed. But one place was open…

As it said on the side of their delivery truck:  “SWINE DINING AT IT”S BEST!”  The smell of the BBQ was killing me and I couldn’t do anything about it!! UGH!!! But there was the most beautiful old Buick in the driveway and the owner was just pulling out… the car was in perfect condition, the owner (a woman) said the car was beautiful but what a money pit.. I can believe it..

We went down to the Gazebo and the Mississippi river from there …. what a beautiful River!!!

K standing in front of the Gazebo on the Mighty Mississippi..

We passed a small field which said.. Forks in the Road.. had no idea what it meant and decided to stop and find out.

OMG, who knew that it was the spot where they sold slaves, I got chills up my spine, it was so creepy..

Even though it was just a small field it was sacred grounds, that’s for sure..  It was at the fork in the road where the buyers gathered to buy slaves..

OH, I forgot… as we headed into town we turned to see the Rosewood Plantation, of course, it wasn’t going to open for a couple more hours but the road was beautiful and we could peek through the trees at the house. (couldn’t take a good pic sorry). The house was surrounded by a scalloped brick wall, I never saw a scalloped brick wall before..

At the end of the road was a little one room church and I can just picture the slaves of the plantation gathering on Sunday for worship in this little church on their one day of rest.. and that they still worship there is just fantastic.. what a great tribute to all the worshipers throughout the years.

We finished our day in Natchez and since I was so tired of the trip already, we decided to drive straight through Alabama into Florida.

It seemed as if the weather decided to help us along with our decision and it started pouring…

Mobile Alabama…..

The sky cleared up enough for us to pass the US Alabama Battleship Park in Mobile, AL.

and the Memorial for the fallen at the Field of Valor. It really is a moving site, seeing all those flags flapping in the wind, knowing that

each one represents a fallen solider!

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Once it got dark and we were starving I begged not to eat another veggie burger at Burger King, we found this great Thai restaurant

in Mobile.. the food was great the atmosphere was great and we had our last dinner in a decent restaurant..Spicy Fish and Tofu! Yum

The drove as far as we could go, entering Florida and heading for I 75, with just a quick nap to get us over the hump.

Rained all day long, but finally we arrived…

It was a great trip with some really interesting and beautiful stops along the way.

I am sorry we couldn’t visit with some of my friends but I know (hope that) there will always be a next time..

We had a great time but it’s great to finally stop and settle in for a while and spend quality time with the people and pets you love.

My boy Roscoe!!!                                                                                     Happy Trails, till next time!!!

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Vicksburg, MS

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We arrived at 10:30pm.. (We always seem to arrive late at night)

We checked out one motel and it actually had roaches.. UGH, so we quickly left and found another motel that was way better than expected.

The next morning we started exploring Vicksburg. Vicksburg was the site of a major battle in the Civil War, and the whole town looks like a page out of “Gone with the Wind”.

It was hot and humid so we just drove around town. There is a whole park dedicated to the battle with plaques all around showing where the Union and Confederate troops were positioned at Vicksburg, as well as plaques commemorating the Generals who fought in the Civil War.

We saw both amazing Civil War homes along side …

There were some really cool sites along the way.. We were walking down a street in the center of town and came across

YARN BOMBING. I tried to find the person who did it, but everyone said that the woman was out of town.

Around town there were a few very interesting quirky places, here is one of them.

We read about this other quirky place just outside of town called “The Tomato Place” and had to check it out.

It’s adorable,  we decided to have lunch and what a lunch it was. They had Salmon Po’boys, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried yams.. frito pies and fresh squeezed lemonade. Terrible for you but so good.. There was a sauce on the Po’boy that was amazing. It’s called Mississippi Fever and of course we had to buy some..

Our lunch corner

 

Notice the “Shoo Fly” on the window sill?

We come to find out from the owner’s daughter that her father open the place years ago after he spent some time in the Caribbean. Loved the shacks and colors and decided to open here and serve great food.

They also sell jams, jellies, sauces and fresh baked breads, all handmade by the Dad.

 

Mallory writing a label on the Mississippi Fever we purchased.

 

 

To me the craziest thing in Vicksburg is the levees. Imagine that this concrete wall holds out all the water that could flood the entire town if the Mighty Mississippi decides to crest.. SCARY…

 

Right on the other side of this Levee is the river. and across the way from the Levee are houses.

Tomorrow we head out to Natchez, MS. B talked so much about it, we have to spend some time there.

Murfreesboro, AK

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We arrived in Murfreesboro, MS… A little place that is a big tourist site for hunting for diamonds… It’s the only diamond site that is open to the public…

The town is very cute with B&Bs and shops selling stones and tons of “crap” (otherwise known as adorable nicknacks).

We stayed in the Queen of Diamonds Inn. It got great reviews on Traveladvisor, but when we got there the room was totally shabby. The thing I hate about traveling like this, is that you will never quite know what you get. We try to check the rooms before we agree to pay but sometimes it just doesn’t work.

But the next day we headed out to the Crater.

Here are some pictures of my prospector searching for diamonds…

K working at the wet sifting station, determined to find diamonds for me!

He worked and worked like a busy little beaver going back into the field to dig up more dirt and then sift sift sift until he found……

Absolutely, NOTHING!!!! But we had a great time playing in the mud..

We clean ourselves up from all the mud and headed out to Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Santa Fe, NM to Fort Smith, AK

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K’s Breakfast in Santa Fe before we headed out!  Huevos Rancheros – all vegetarian and according to him, REALLY YUMMY!  I had 2 eggs and a biscuit.. couldn’t resist the biscuit… Homemade and warm.

After breakfast we headed out to Amarillo, TX.  No pix, no nada…. We were very disappointed when we got there, as there was no room at the inn… not just at the inn, but at every single hotel motel and everything in between.. because there was a teacher’s conference in town.. Do you have any idea what it is like to try to sleep in the front seat of a van that is full to the gills and the temps are in the high 80s/90s at night???!!!

We just tried to take a nap and then to keep on driving till we found something.. So we drove a couple more hours, then crashed in a rest area along the highway and slept 3 hours with the a/c on. (There wasn’t a hotel in sight for miles and miles and we just couldn’t stay up!)

Next time we’ve got to get us one of these!

But… then we hit a very little known National Historical Park called, Pecos National Historical Park… ( Just for your info.. I am not sure if this was before or after Amarillo, TX or after Santa Fe.. but, since this is not a cartography lesson does it really matter to y’all the exact order??? )

For most of this trip we are following Hwy I-40 which roughly follows the path of the old and famous US Route 66… many times during this trip we have wandered off I-40 to hit the back roads of RT. 66 just to go back in time and see what’s up.. and that is how we bumped into Pecos National Historical Park. Otherwise we never would have seen it.

Pecos NHP was originally an Indian settlement located near the Pecos River, with over 2000 people living there as a pueblo community for hundreds of years.  Then the Spanish Conquistadors showed up and brought their priests along with them who decided it was their mission in life to show these perfectly content Indians, the way into heaven….

So they built a Church on the edge of the settlement which is below…

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Do you see how they built bricks with mud and clay?  All the rooms were interconnected.

From there we continued on RT 66, driving through a time warp…

Would you take your car to a mechanic named for a clown?

We moseyed down the road on the way to the Ozarks went straight through Oklahoma without stopping .

But we had to stop at a Walmart to get a prescription filled for K, and I can tell you that those emails we all get that show how people dress at Walmart, is totally true.  The people are strange, but every single one of them was so nice. Everyone was eager to please and help any way they could. We  met a really cool kid from the area who had lived away for many years and just came back from California.  He is a photographer, and I hope I made him realize that he has tons of subjects to work with right here in his neighborhood.  The Ozarks are beautiful with rolling hills, lakes and mountains covered with pine trees.

One thing we did notice was just how dry everything was because of the drought in the area… corn fields were burned out, and the trees were turning brown already and it’s only August.  It really hits home when you truly see it with your own eyes.

There were so many great photo ops in the Ozarks, from people to houses to landscapes.. I just couldn’t stop… There is so much poverty in the area but also so much beauty.

Actually we went to Van Buren and Ft Smith before we hit the Ozarks, so my sense of what we did first doesn’t exactly match the pix.. but I am sure you will get the idea!!!

Van Buren’s Main St  is a Historic District and quite charming..

But there really wasn’t much to see so we moved on to Fort Smith..

Fort Smith is a really cool little town..(80,000 people!)

Fort Smith was an Army outpost in 1817 and then abandoned and moved, then started up again when the military was trying to remove all the Indians and relocate them to the reservations… BAD MOVE!!!

The other thing that makes Fort Smith famous is that Judge Isaac Parker was the judge at Fort Smith.. He was also known as “the Hanging Judge” and the Gallows and prison where he kept all the inmates going to be hung is still there. He sentenced 160 men (and women) to be hung, only 79 actually were. One day, he hanged 6 people at once….

This is the Paddy Wagon that took the prisoners across the lawn from the prison to the gallows… a very short walk.

The prison… can you see the mats on the far wall? That is how they slept…  Wow, can you imagine the uproar the prisoners               would make today if they had to stay in a place like this, without TV and all the perks they get in prison now???

 

 

The Welcome Center in Fort Smith has so many interesting stories to tell…

It used to be a brothel, and they have tried to keep it as close to the original as possible, giving tours and explaining what it was like.

The town was full of brothels at the time (which gave Judge Parker alot of people to hang!!) but this one lasted the longest and they have preserved it well.

I wanted to ask this nice old lady if she remembers the brothel? And if she was one of the gals??? But I really didn’t have the guts to ask.. and it wouldn’t have been nice.. But she must have been pretty close in age to the time.. (not really, the brothel was in the late 1800’s but she did look the part!) Isn’t she cute with her badge???

Some knitted (and crocheted trim) items from the “ladies of the night!”

Albuquerque and Santa Fe

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We headed out toward Albuquerque and Santa Fe, driving down the highway with some detours onto Rt 66..

We saw the sign for the Continental Divide and had to see what that was all about.. The Continental Divide is where the line runs basically thru the middle of the USA which divides the waterways of the USA… On the east side of the Divide the water runs to the Atlantic Ocean and on the west side it runs to the Pacific… It was really quite sad.. all there was was this..

It was very lonely down RT 66 with only the occasional big truck driving by. The road runs along the rail tracks and you really can see how old it all is.. RT 66 was the first road to run from Chicago to California… and since the highways came along, drivers seem to forget about the great roads built years ago.. Every few minutes another massive long train comes by blowing its horn.. I feel bad for anyone who lives near the tracks, so much noise.. they must lose their hearing. And the train runs about every 4 minutes, can you just imagine it?

As we drove into Albuquerque (planning on just passing thru) we saw a sign for the Air Balloon Museum and since I love Hot Air Balloons we decide to make a stop.. Who knew they were closed on Mondays.. BOO HOO.. I was able to take a couple of pix from the door and whatever was outside.

 

 

 

I would have loved to look around… Maybe next time?? Not sure if there will be a next time.. I am getting tired of this type of traveling. Different hotels every night, and you are never sure if they are any good or not.. and I am becoming a true germophob!!!

Once we saw that the museum was closed it was time to head out to Santa Fe.. We had heard that Santa Fe was a lovely old artsy town and we looked forward to checking it out. It’s only about 45 minutes from Albuquerque so not too bad.

SANTA FE

Driving into Santa Fe, doesn’t look like much.. The one thing is that you get a good feeling about it.. It feels like good things are happening there. You see tons of commercial construction and all the shopping plazas are full of cars and people. I guess Santa Fe is doing OK in this economy.

We checked into the hotel we chose,, What we do is find a McDonald’s and park outside, we piggy back off their wifi (which is free) and search for hotels in the area according to the ratings people have given them, then we check the hotel out in person.

In Santa Fe this one particular hotel got tons of fantastic reviews and the price was extremely reasonable so we headed out and checked in, it was on the way out of town, which suits us just fine. After unpacking we headed to old town. The best part is the architecture, it is mostly old adobe type structures, which I love.

Here is an example of a newer structure.. This is a hotel in the middle of Old Town…

 

 

But this is a picture of the oldest usable home in the USA..

 

You can see the difference in the Adobe materials used. The further away is the older version of Adobe and the part closer is the newer addition, but both are old. The older version is a mix of clay, hay and silt. When you go up close and personal to it you actually can see the little pieces of hay that was mixed in.

 

We walked the streets all around and visited a number of interesting shops and Churches.

San Migel is the Oldest Church in the USA too.. Actually, Santa Fe is the oldest State Capital in the USA. And the only Capital building without a dome on it.. But here is San Migel

 

One Church we were told we must go see, The Church Loretto was built in the eighteenth century and has a very interesting story.

Supposedly, they wanted to build a circular staircase to reach the loft above, but had no idea how to do it.  All of a sudden a man appeared and said ” I can do it” and what he built was a circular staircase without any structural or supporting beams. Once he finished building it, he disappeared.  Outside of the Church is a tree that is covered with Rosarys. People seem to lay Rosarys on the tree and say a prayer. No one knew how it started or what they call the tree, so I just called it the “Praying Tree” (How simple is that?)

When the staircase was first built, there were no railings and here is a picture of the original..

 

Now of course, they don’t let you on at all and have put railings and supports.. which I personally think takes away from the miracle.. If this person built it and it is truly a miracle, wouldn’t it last for all eternity??? The Church shouldn’t be worried about something happening to it. But that’s  JMHO!!!

 

 

 

I found a lovely store that sold weaved shawls.. She had her “loom” in the shop and some of her yarns.. She gets them specially made by Adirondack yarns… they were lovely… I couldn’t take a shot, sorry.

We had dinner at a lovely Asian Restaurant and since you all love food.. here is a pix of dinner that we had.

 

We went back to the hotel and crashed.. Who knew what will be next… and that we wouldn’t find another hotel room for the next night and have to sleep in the Van… UGH….

Next stop Amarillo, TX…  which we flew by!!!

I know I am a little late with the posts but we get spotty internet service sometimes.. So please bear with me…