The short trip from Alexandria was uneventful, and we arrived at Riverview RV Park on the banks of the Mississippi River in Vidalia, LA about 1:30 pm. The park is on the river side of the levee, and two years ago was under about 4 foot of water. With all the rain between St. Louis and Chicago, it is only a matter of time before the water levels raise here. From our rig, we had an excellent view of the “Mighty Mississippi” and watched the Riverboat Pilots push barges in both directions day and night. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge or any underlined to expand the topic.)
The following morning, due to rain being predicted for Wednesday, we decided to travel back westward about 10 miles to the Frogmore Plantation. For us, this was a different look at plantation life, and I think more accurately depicts what actual life in the mid 1800’s was really like.
This was indeed a tough life, and nothing was wasted, at to which this sign can attest.
Slaves worked from “see to can’t”, and had to live on very modest rations handed out weekly.
As many as 8 – 10 slaves would be housed in this simple two room structure, raised off of the ground to increase the air flow and stay cooler during the hot, humid summers. It also served them well as springtime rains would often cause flooding of this cotton plantation located in the Mississippi Delta.
Pictured below, the kitchen in the foreground, consisting of an oven and stew pot, with two hole restroom and cotton in the background.
Most of the barns were destroyed by Union soldiers during the Civil War, but this one is the original dating back to the early 1800’s.
Ginning cotton prior to the invention of the gin was a laborious task. Only one pound of cotton per day could be de-seeded by a single slave. This was the first steam powered cotton gin in the South, and was delivered in its first year of production after the patent was granted to Munger in 1884.
Rain was predicted for Wednesday, which it did, but subsided by around noon, so CC and I set out to see one of the many Antebellum Homes across the river on the higher grounds of Natchez, MS. Which one to visit was quickly decided when we discovered most charged $12 per person for a tour. However the Melrose is operated by the National Park Service, and since we purchased a yearly pass, it was a no brainer.
Lavish is just one way to describe Melrose. The National Park Service allows pictures but NO FLASH. I think they purposely keep the house dark with only minimal lighting, to prevent pictures from being taken. Of the few that were decent, this one of the dining room illustrates their way of living in the 1850’s. The most fascinating fact about Melrose is ALL the furniture is original, not reproductions or period pieces.
The parlor, or living room was equally opulent, with 24 karat gold leaf window cornices.
The children’s bedroom was nothing like I had growing up. How about you?
This estate had 25 slaves that lived at Melrose, and their accommodations were dramatically different than those of Frogmore Plantation, and actually had plaster walls, solid floors, glass windows and operational doors. Life as a slave at Melrose was much different than at Frogmore.
We discovered Natchez to be one of those “Diamonds in the Rough”, that we are constantly searching. One could easily spend a week or two here as there is so much to see. Click here to see more images of this historic town.
Thursday we visited the world renowned Delta Music Museum located in the bustling metropolis of Ferriday, LA. Their “claim to fame” is being the birthplace of cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart; as well as notable broadcaster and journalist Howard K. Smith and finally, Ann Boyar Warner, wife of Hollywood movie mogul Jack L. Warner.
After a brief introduction about the museum, one of the volunteers directs you to a small theatre to view a short documentary on all of the 20 inductees. Most are one hit wonders, but they all have their roots along the banks of the Mississippi from Vicksburg to New Orleans. All but one were present when they were inducted into this homegrown small town replication of the Stars on Hollywood Boulevard. Care to guess which one missed this prolific event? If you guessed Jerry Lee Lewis, you win the prize. But really, in his defense, he’s a busy man, as just last November, at the spry age of 77, got married for the seventh time! Triple sevens; hallelujah!!! Bet there was a “Whole Lotta Shakin’Goin’ on”…….........And just maybe, at his age, experienced “Great Balls of Fire!”
(Click on underlined to listen to two of his top hits)
Friday morning we drove the Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez to just outside Jackson, MS. The drive was relaxing; very little traffic and no commercial trucks as they are not allowed on the Trace. It’s only a two lane road with no paved shoulders, but the short 90 mile drive took us nearly 3 hours to complete.
We had reports from others that there were “numerous” places along the Trace to pull over and explore the area. We did see numerous ones, albeit NOT for a 43 foot coach with toad. In the first 90 miles on the Trace there are only about 3 or 4 large enough to accommodate our rig.
We exited the Trace just west of Jackson, where we back-tracked on I-20 West for 15 miles to Edwards, MS. Here CC found Askews Landing Campground on our “go to” travel website, where we were graciously greeted and escorted to our site. CC and I both commented about how friendly people in the South are to everyone. After our last couple of weeks of travel, I wonder how different our country would be today if the Confederates had won the war. From our experience, I can only assume that it would be like it is here today, live and let live; you do your thing and I’ll do mine and afterward we can have a cold one (or two).
The view as we exit our “home” is extremely spacious, and the grounds are grassy and well manicured. This land is still owned by the same family that owned it before the Civil War, the Askew’s, and Dan and Edna take great pride in ownership, and it shows
In fact, right across from the office, is this historical marker.
Painted on the side of the pavilion is this mural depicting the Battle at Askew’sFerry, about a half mile west of the campground, where Dan’s great-great grandfather operated a ferry crossing the Big Black River.
On Saturday morning, after coffee and our usual WDYWTDT, I logged onto www.tripadvisor.com and searched for things to do in Vicksburg, 15 miles west of the campground. Numerous things caught my eye, but after watching all those barges down river in Vidalia, the Lower Mississippi River Museum in Vicksburg stuck out like a sore thumb. They had onsite one of the largest tugs on the river, AND it was open to tour. And it gets better………..for FREE. Hallelujah; today is my lucky day. I may just have to buy a Powerball ticket as well.
Whew……..!!!!! What a week. I think we may need to slow down a little, as we’re just not used to this much excitement. We had only planned on being here until Monday, but have decided to stay for a couple of days. From here, we’ll move to Meridian, MS, and make our way to the Birmingham area by the weekend to visit friends and former neighbors, Patrick and Jennifer. For now, that’s about it. Thanks for stopping by and catching up on our dull lifestyle. Until next time, take care and stay well…………………..