Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 19, 2013 – “Vicksburg, MS to Nashville, TN”

Before we left Vicksburg, we made a quick stop at the Vicksburg Battlefield and Museum. Lucky for us, as this was the last free day to see this National Park and coincided with the last day our NP pass was valid as we purchased it last April. At $80, we have gotten our money’s worth out of it. We decided to purchase the audio CD that explains the stops along the roadway. As we toured the battlefield via automobile, it became apparent to me just how close the Union line was from the Confederate line; only 50 to 100 yards apart for almost 6 miles around the eastern side of Vicksburg. (Click on any image to enlarge or any underlined topic to learn more)

The Civil War was the deadliest war in US history, partly because all that fought were Americans, but also it was mostly fought hand-to-hand, and puncture wounds from a bayonet were most always lethal. The Confederates were flanked by the Union to the east, and the Mississippi River on the west, bring into play the Union Navy sailing up the river. Once the blockade of the river was breached by Cairo, the first Union “Ironsides” to be used in that battle, the Confederates were surrounded. It wasn’t long, however, that Confederate spies planted mines (at that time called torpedos) in the Yazoo River and sank the Cairo on December 12, 1862. The Union went on to form a blockade around the city, eliminating provisions from reaching the Rebels, and on July 4, 1863 the starving troops surrendered to the Union. The Cairo laid on the Yazoo river bottom for 102 years, before being raised and partially rebuilt here at the museum.

“Houston, we have a problem”, words I recall from Apollo 7, but apropos the following morning, as we tried to leave Askew’s Crossing RV Park, the ground was just soft enough from the recent rains, that as I tried to depart, could not. Rather than bury the rig and/or tear up their grass, I went to the office for advice; a few minutes later, voila………………(Great people and a great RV Park)

Finally on the road to Benchmark RV Park in Meridian, MS, it rained on us most of the way. We stopped at a rest stop for lunch, and along side of us was a semi with a big “Cooper Standard #29” painted on it. CC said, “I wonder who that is?” Well we are in the heart of NASCAR, and after a brief Goggle search determined it was Brad Keselowski

The following day the rain continued, so while CC got caught up on laundry, I worked on closing the books for April. I am thrilled to see that we are still under budget for the year by $5,200, but realize as we travel northward, our expenses increase, just as they have in years past. It’s a fact that wages and the cost of living are more in the north, and I often wonder if people are interested more in their standard of living OR their quality of life?

Friday we traveled to Hoover RV Park just outside Birmingham to visit with ex-neighbors Patrick and Jennifer. They have, since their move in 2006, added son Carson, and daughter Taylor. Beautiful kids, but who would have expected anything less from their parent’s genetic combination.

We had a great visit, and took the kids to the zoo. Carson is at that age (5), that all he wants to do is GO; waiting is not in his vocabulary as he would run from one exhibit to the next, and got particularly excited about feeding the Lorikeets. 

Taylor, on the other hand, seems to be content just being in the moment. She can entertain herself with her stamps and stamp pad, which is usually out of ink (according to her), or by just chillin’ at the zoo; but all the while keeping one eye on big brother, and announces verbosely of his indiscretions. Patrick, I think you are going to need to follow Rodney Atkins advice when she becomes a teen. (Click on the underlined for the rest of the story and grit your teeth through the opening ad))

Our visit in Birmingham was much too short and we enjoyed every minute. CC and I chuckle to ourselves, knowing the Patrick and Jennifer of Denver, and this parental version we now know. The conversations we had with them about having children seemed so foreign to them then, but I’ll be the first to admit it; they are good parents and love their children unconditionally. My only question is, when is #3 planned?
All good things must come to an end, and so it is we travel northwest to Tupelo, MS where we will once again get on the Natchez Trace for our trip to Nashville. We arrived unscathed at the Campground at Barnes Crossing for our two day stay. Nice park and super friendly people, and less than a mile from the Trace, so if you’re ever in the area, we highly recommend it.

The most significant landmark of Tupelo's modern history is the Birthplace of Elvis, a modest, two-room house where the King of Rock & Roll was born on January 8, 1935. From this humble beginning, Elvis Presley began his swift rise to become the world's most popular entertainer. The house, built by his father with $180, draws over 50,000 visitors each year from across the world.

The trip up the Trace was peaceful, very little traffic and with the 50 mph speed limit, gave us time to look around and smell the roses. Most of the time we only drove 40 – 45, as there were more cyclist than vehicles, and being a twisty two-lane highway through the hills, we wanted to be careful and not force any on the riders into the ditch. We stopped for lunch at this peaceful creek side location.

Many traveling the Trace in the 1800’s succumbed to disease, snakebite, or Indian attack and in some instances entire families fell fatally victim during the hazardous 444 mile journey.

This headstone caught my eye, and it seems she outlived her death by 11 months.

We arrived at Two Rivers Campground in Nashville, and escorted to site 205. After we set up, we realized there was a tree blocking the satellite dish, so CC went back to the office and asked if we could move a few sites down to 207, where we were pretty sure we would get reception, to which they agreed and we did. Perfecto!

Our primary reason for being here is to visit my cousin, Wendell, who has been in ill health since birth with an undistinguishable mystery hernia, to which he reverts to on a “as needed basis”. Now that he is a grandfather, my major concern is for the baby, and the genetic links she may have inherited. We invited to whole family to share a special dinner with us at the infamous nearby eatery, Chez Dos Rios. Afterwards, the court appointed parole officer removed my cousin’s shackles so we could get a family picture.

The following morning we journeyed downtown to the Visitor’s Center, to purchase a Total Access Pass which allows us to choose 4 out 15 or 20 different attractions in and around Nashville for only $50, which is almost a 50% savings off of the original tour price. We had heard from others that The Hermitage was a must see; so it was after dining at Gabby’s Burgers near downtown. I’ll give the burger a 7 and the fries a 2; not exactly star billing that TripAdvisor and Urban Spoon had it to be. Now, on to The Hermitage east of Nashville.

The Hermitage Manor Home is the home of Andrew Jackson, our seventh President, and was built between 1819 and 1821 on the 420 acre plantation. (They only allow pictures outside the home, but the inside is very opulent; especially by 1820 standards.)

The tour starts in the visitor’s center with a short movie about the life of General Jackson. The day we visited, so did a school group of about 100 fourth / fifth graders. I don’t remember being that disrespectful at that age, but guess that is why they are often referred to as “The Me Generation”.

This was General Jackson’s home at The Hermitage from 1804 to 1821. As you can see, there is a huge difference in the two homes.

The tomb of Andrew and wife Rachael Jackson is located in the Hermitage garden.

The following day took us to Fontanel; a 27,000 square foot log home built by Barbara Mandrell and her husband, Ken, in 1987 – 1988, and lived there with their 3 children until they sold it in 2002. The family loved to entertain guests but sleep-overs were not encouraged as they only had two guest bedrooms in this sprawling mansion.

Barbara Ann Mandrell (born December 25, 1948) is an American country music singer. She is best-known for a 1970s–1980s series of Top 10 hits and TV shows (1980-82) that helped her become one of country music's most successful female vocalists of the 1970s and 1980s.

For whatever reason, the YouTube on Blogger was unable (or I'm too dense) to find the video showing the construction of this behemoth. So click on the following to watch it. I think you'll find it fascinating.

YouTube video Building the Fontanel

The following day we made the 12 mile trip downtown Nashville, and visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The building itself is very spacious and contemporary, not what you would expect. After visiting the Patsy Cline exhibit, it was slightly mundane. All the displays are behind glass, and for each artist inducted, usually consist of an article of clothing, shoes or boots, musical instrument(s), hat, and a few other various mementos. Each artist represented the same way, over and over and over. I was so un-impressed; I didn’t even take a picture, which they actually allow, albeit without flash. The overall lighting was dim, so it was a moot point anyway.
Next up on our list to visit is Belle Meade Plantation, no doubt a distant relative, and has been on my “Must See List” for many, many years. CC and I have visited many plantations on our travels this year, one that she has aptly named “Our Family and Friends Tour 2013”, so this falls in that category and goes without saying, is special.

Well, that sums up what and who we’ve been doing. From Nashville, we’ve decided northward toward Louisville, KY to The Bourbon Trail, National Corvette Museum, and possibly Mammoth Cave. We’ve seen Carlsbad Caverns and so I’m guarded about this cave as I fear a replay of the Country Music Museum; but only time will tell. Thanks for taking the time to drop in, as this posting has been most likely the longest ever. Until next time, take care and stay well………..