Southern Tour Day 3: Natchez, MS and New Orleans

Day three of our trip gave us an early start in Natchez. We drove over to the Natchez National Historical Park Visitor Center along the river to get my Passport stamped and then drove past the William Johnson House (couldn’t go in because they are currently short staffed and closed the day we were there) and then walked through the grounds of Melrose Estate. Finally began to get the feel of the Southern Plantation life.


From there we continued on to New Orleans. Getting there early, we decided to head straight down the the French Quarter. Parking was a pain to find, but we eventually found a parking garage near Bourbon Street. Never again will we park along that stinky, filthy, street. I have no idea why everyone enjoys it so much, other than if you purely want to go to get drunk at anytime of day.

We quickly headed towards the river, away from Bourbon Street. The main street along the river is much cleaner, although still filled with homeless. Our first stop was Jackson Square and the Saint Louis Cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful, but we giggled over the fact that signs said “Please remain quiet” and they had drills running at top speed on the second level balcony that roared over everything as they refurbished something up above.

From there we walked all the way down to the Old U.S. Mint building, where the Jazz National Historical Park is currently being housed as the renovate their visitor center. We were able to take in the second half of their free concert, which was pretty awesome to be able to say that we got our New Orleans Jazz in during our first hour or so in the city.

After walking back to our car in the heat and smell, we determined we’d had enough of the city for the day. We drove over to our Super 8, which is located right next to an abandoned Holiday Inn still left behind from Hurricane Katrina. It was obvious our hotel’s neighborhood still was attempting to recover nearly a decade later. While the neighborhood wasn’t much to look at, our hotel was nice, aside from the pool undergoing maintenance that day. We decided to stay in the rest of the night and ordered a pizza! New Orleans had already taken a toll on us in only our first afternoon there and we didn’t feel like paying for parking to go back in for some authentic cuisine that night!



Southern Tour Day 2: Jackson and Vicksburg

After spending the night in Jackson our first stop of the day was the Mississippi State Capitol. We were greeted warmly by the staff and even though we decided on a self-guided tour, the nice older tour guide gave us a brief intro. We enjoyed following our way through the sheet of information and also enjoyed hunting for the portrait of Robin Williams great grandfather among the governor portraits.  They also had a really neat exhibit put together about the dome.


Following our visit to the capitol, we drove about an hour west to Vicksburg to visit Vicksburg National Military Park.  We began our time in the visitor center, learning a little bit about life in Vicksburg during the Civil War and how the Union became victorious throughout the battle.  Then it was back in the car for the driving tour of the battlefield.  We simply used the guide we received when coming in and stopped at all the major numbers along the way.  Plan extra time for this place folks! We were here far longer than I expected. About halfway through the park, there is another museum: The U.S.S. Cairo Museum, where you can see the remains of the U.S.S. Cairo, a battleship used during the Civil War. This was a highlight for Andrew during our visit to Vicksburg.

Our next stop took us even further west, into Epps, Louisiana. We visited Poverty Point National Historic Monument, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a State Historic Site. Similar to the Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site in Cahokia, IL, here at Poverty Point you can see old Native America Mounds and the remnants of a city long forgotten.  It was extremely hot and muggy the day we visited, so we opted not to climb the mound and just drove along the tram route in our car, stopping at the various numbers that guided us along the way.


Our time in Louisiana was short lived for the moment as we drove back southeast into Mississippi for the night to reach our hotel in Natchez.  We were greeted warmly by the hotel staff at the Days Inn and even offered their free dinner they served during the week!