Monday, November 1, 2010

Some Things About Mississippi

Today we drove north through Mississippi on Hwy 15. We usually choose smaller, two lane highways as a way of getting acquainted with an area. The Interstate Highways, a good way to get somewhere quickly, seem to "homogenize" the scenery.

Hwy 15 is a good example of local colour. There were houses all along the route, and what I found interesting was that so many of them had rocking chairs on their porches.

We had intended to spend some time at Legion State Park by Louisville, which the guide says has cabins and a lodge. When we got there we found a deserted park. There were a few vehicles, even park trucks, parked here and there, but no one at the gate, and no office to be found. The Lodge proved to be a deserted, locked historic building. So, back to Hwy 15 and on to the north.

Things that Mississippi has a lot of:
--logging trucks. Who would have thought that Mississippi has a lot of forests and logging going on? Big surprise to us.
--Waffle House Restaurants. Dear Daughter #1 had recommended Waffle House restaurants after trying them on a recent trip south to Myrtle Beach. A Waffle House restaurant resembles an old fashioned diner, about the same shape and size. And about the same "folksy" atmosphere--at least the one we had supper at in Jackson, Mississippi.
--Real Drive In Restaurants: a new chain that I had never heard of: "Sonic--America's Drive In" That one we haven't tried. We spend enough time in the car. If we stop for a meal, we want to get out and stretch.
--Churches! I think there's a church every mile in Miss. Predominantly Baptist of one sort or another, but also Methodist (also one sort or another), and we saw a few really magnificent, new Catholic churches, one of the Spanish-speaking.
--around Gulfport (and only there): Casinos
--tobacco stores. Yes, a store for just tobacco products. Remember a lot of tobacco used to be grown in the south.
--trees, especially pines
--Kudzo vines, crawling all over ditches, fences, trees, etc.
--signs reading "Bridge may ice in cold weather" Before every little bridge. In northern areas, and in Canada, drivers assume bridges may be icy in cold weather, but perhaps southern drivers need that message.

Something that Mississippi doesn't have enough of: tourist information centers, kiosks, pamphlets, etc. We found it difficult to access information on what there was to see. Last night in Laurel Jim asked the front desk attendant for some pamphlets, and was handed a bunch advertising casinos in Gulfport, a zoo in Florida, and an outlet mall somewhere in Miss. Not at all what we are interested in.

What I heard today in Mississippi: "On Waynesday she'll be in Tayxas." If that's how you pronounce a short "e," how in the world do you handle a long "a"?

We took an interesting little side trip today. We had noticed the "Natchez Trace Parkway" on our map, running from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. When we came to an access road to the Parkway, we left 15 and drove north on the Trace. I was interested in seeing it, as it was a famous historic trail (or trace).

The Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes used this trail for more than 8,000 years. In the late 1700's colonists on their way to the frontier followed this same path. In 1801 the land the Trace occupies was designated as US land. Soon after Congress appropriated money to develop the Trace for commercial purposes. But when steamboats became the main source of transportation, the Trace reverted back to wilderness.

"The efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution saw the parkway restored as a historic pathway by 1909." Quote and information from "Discover America" a Reader's Digest publication.

The current Trace Parkway is closed to commercial traffic, and has limited access, so it's a very pleasant way to drive. I suspect that it would become boring, somewhat like an Interstate, because it has no housing or commercial development, and thus no local colour.

We are now in Corinth, just south of some historic battlefields of the Civil War. There's lots of history up ahead. But I think we'll probably drive through and go to the scenic areas around the Tennessee River. We know the history of the Civil War, both from history in school, and also from Ken Burns' excellent programs on it. It was such a total tragedy, we'd prefer not to delve into it.

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