This was our first trip to this area of the country and we were really looking forward to it. For the man child and I, 70% of the enjoyment of the trip is just the drive – looking out the windshield at all there is to see and exactly what it looks like. I think parts of it are imprinted in our brains. I know that’s the case with my brain as there are many times I take those imprints out from the place they are stored in my mind, and bring them up to remember again. And so it was with this trip – delightfully so.
We hit Mississippi after a night in Memphis. (That will be a different blog post.) It’s very flat in the north of the state. Lots and lots of casinos sit on the Mississippi River but we passed those by. Our plan was to coast down the Great River Road and we had been following those Great River Road signs down the Mississippi for a couple of states. One problem though – the Mississippi delta is flat and low and so all we really saw for miles and miles were levees built to keep the Mississippi out of the delta. Big levees. Levees so big you cannot see the Mississippi River when driving. After a while even our highway was built up on a levee. And as we had elected to follow the Great River Road we missed most of the Blues trail. Not a huge miss as we aren’t big Blues fans, but nonetheless, it probably would have been more interesting than hour after hour of farmland and levee. Most of my attention, at this point, went to maintaining the van on top of the levee road.
We were, however, delighted with the Mississippi Welcome Center on intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 61. We’ve made it a point to stop at these and this one was a delight. Built to resemble antebellum mansions, this one had an exhibit of Native American artifacts found on site. The gals manning the center were so helpful too. We took a couple of hours to have lunch in the parking lot and I noticed an RV dump, along with picnic tables, grill and RV parking. Apparently all their centers throughout the state were this well equipped. My guess is you could ask permission to stay the night onsite. We’ll definitely remember to stop at these next time we are back in Mississippi.
As we continued along our way, we came across the Winterville Indian mounds site. We parked and went into the small museum (free admittance). The tour started with a short video about the history of the area and the Indians who lived there and some background on the Mounds. We walked out the back of the museum and went over to the largest mound to see them up close. It was definitely worth the stop. It’s located on State Hwy 1, about six miles north of Greenville, Mississippi and the museum is open daily. I also noted the grounds must get very gorgeous in spring, as the local garden society has done lots of planting. There was also a pond on the property. It looked like the gate was locked nightly or this would make a great place to boondock.
Next up, Natchez. As we had arrived at night in Natchez I didn’t want to spend time driving around so when we came upon a Wal Mart, that’s where we stopped. Next morning, we drove the town delighting in the houses and how different than our own region they looked. The Natchez Visitor Center had been recommended and it was worth the stop. There is a huge area museum inside and a viewing area for the Mississippi. A National Parks site sits inside the Visitors Center with a very reasonable charge to see a movie of the area. It also it looked like boondocking in the parking lot was a no-brainer as the lot is huge. (Plus it looked like a couple of people were doing just that.) A better tip, if parking is allowed, was a large parking lot right on the Mississippi in a lot on South Broadway in the old downtown area. I imagine, though, that in the summer there were be lots of people and cars choking this lot, but since it was February, that wasn’t an issue. The view down the Mississippi from this lot was spectacular.
Continuing on, the topography changed the further south we got and Mississippi got super hilly and very piney and quite beautiful. (Still no bayous though.) But we so enjoyed the view out the window. Along the way, signs were popping up for antebellum houses and plantations and tours. Add this to my bucket list. We didn’t stop that day, as the man-child had absolutely no interest in seeing an antebellum house.
We coasted into Louisiana. After a quick overnight at the Cracker Barrel in Gonzales, Louisiana (RV parking behind the Cracker Barrel) and a stop at a few of their stores to drop some cash (who would have thought I would finally score the size 12 women’s black boots with the larger calf on a clearance rack in LA?), we headed on to Baton Rouge. Located right on the Mississippi River there is an old section of town (and an old and new statehouse) and we so enjoyed seeing it all. In my mind’s eye I could just see the trade and hustle and bustle down this river and into this town in ages past. We had a lovely lunch stop in Capitol Park and man-child grabbed the fishing pole and tried to catch a fish or two in the ponds. His main concern that an alligator would come out to eat him never came to pass (thank goodness) and while he fished, I tidied up the van. Both of us were basking in the warmth of 68 degrees, he after changing into shorts and a t-shirt. For us northerners, yes, 68 is warm. Especially considering we had word of a blizzard up where we lived. We were ever so glad to be in warm weather!
Later it was off the New Orleans. We had a couple of state parks in mind. We’ll share that adventure in another blog post. And what did BBQ have to do with all of this you ask? We stopped and ate it whenever possible. The BBQ joints got fewer and further between the further south we went (in favor of fish places). The best thing we did was buy it by the pound to have in the Roadtrek as we went. NOM, NOM. NOM.