52 week's of Marie's Life

52 weeks captured through photos


7 Comments

45. Statue (Week 36)

“I never felt poor. There were always shoes to wear and food to eat — yet I knew there were things my parents did without just to make sure I was clothed and fed. “ ~ Elvis Presley ~

At milepost 260.0, we exited the Natchez Trace Parkway to go to Tupelo, Mississippi.  We rode through town in search of the birthplace of Elvis.  Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935, in this modest two-room house built by his father Vernon.

IMG_5877

Also on the site is a life-size statue of Elvis at age 13.

IMG_5872 - Copy

Many travelers make a pilgrimage to Tupelo to visit the birthplace of “The King of Rock and Roll”, and this complex has evolved to include the ’39 Plymouth the family  drove when they  moved to Memphis, a chapel, an outhouse, and a museum.  I wish I could’ve taken  more time in Tupelo.  I hear there is a larger-than-life size statue in the center of town which depicts a popular photo of Elvis.  One hand holds a microphone and the other hand is reaching out to fans.  If there is a next time, perhaps I’ll visit the hardware where Elvis bought his first guitar and Johnny’s Drive In to see the booth where Elvis liked to sit and all of the memorabilia on the walls.  But this trip, we had miles to cover and people to meet!

IMG_5879


2 Comments

8. Differences (Week 35)

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” ~Henry Miller ~

As we were pulled off in a rest area on the Natchez Trace Parkway, we watched as a group of vintage cars pulled in.  I was struck by the differences of their mode of recreational travel and ours.

IMG_5866

IMG_5869

IMG_5867


5 Comments

16. Group Portrait (Week 34)

“Take any road you please…it curves always, which is a continual promise, whereas straight roads reveal everything at a glance and kill interest.”   “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion”  ~ Mark Twain ~

IMG_5954

When traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway, it is helpful to follow the Milepost Gazetteer on the Natchez Trace Parkway National Park Service map.  I know, that’s a mouthful!  This guide helps you to know where you are on the 444-mile stretch of road.  As many settlers and farmers in the 1700s looked to the rivers to get their goods to market, it was easiest to get back up the river by an overland route.  This is why the mileposts are now numbered from the south and run north.  The markers are simple yellow posts with an engraved number.  The Trace travels through three states:  Mississippi (milepost 1-310), Alabama (milepost 310-344), and Tennessee (Milepost 344-444).  The idea of the Trace is to slowdown and enjoy the scenery;  speed limits do not exceed 50 mph.  As we rode our motorcycles, we would encounter an occasional bicyclist along the route.  There are no restaurants or gas stations on the Trace.  You would have to familiarize yourself with the mileposts to know where to exit.

One of the detours off of the parkway takes you to the Windsor Ruins (milepost 30.0).  All that remains of the Windsor Plantation are twenty-nine 45-foot eerie stately columns.  This Mississippi icon was the destination for our group photograph for all those who were involved in the “Motormaids on the Trace” ride.

IMG_5972

The antebellum mansion was built by Smith Coffee Daniell, a wealthy planter, beginning in 1859 and finished in 1861 just before the Civil War began.  Unfortunately, at age 34, Mr. Daniell died a few weeks after its completion.  Before our trip, I purchased “Guide to the Natchez Trace Parkway” and I read:  “The four-story house had 25 rooms with 25 fireplaces, and attic tanks supplied water to the interior baths.  The basement floor had a school room, dairy, and supply rooms.  The roof observatory was used to signal confederate troops about Union advances.  Twenty-nine 45-foot-tall columns were joined across the front with an ornamental iron balustrade.  Windsor was used as a Union hospital during the Civil War and survived intact.”  Further research on the web shows that this plantation has many stories to tell in legends and history.  Mark Twain would visit the mansion in his riverboat piloting days and he wrote of its elegance in his book, “Life on the Mississippi.”

IMG_5967

So many mansions were destroyed during the Civil War, but this one, on 2,600 acres, had survived.  Ironically, In February 1890, a party guest accidentally dropped left a cigar on the third floor balcony, causing the Windsor to burn to the ground.  There are no known photographs of the home and historians have had to rely on blueprints to imagine what the mansion would have looked like.

IMG_5958

Actually this site, though eerie, was quite tranquil.  Many of us took photographs and then were called in for a group photo.  IMG_5982

We then “saddled up” and found our way back to the Trace.

IMG_5976x


12 Comments

10. Family Table (Week 33)

~  With people you have known for years,

or with brand new friends,

 the fondest memories are made gathered around the table.  ~

IMG_5797

Our second night in Natchez, Mississippi, Greg & I, the couple we traveled with, and a couple we hadn’t met yet moved to Bisland House.  Schelley, the coordinator of our “Maids on the Trace” event had arranged for all of the Motormaids and their traveling companions to soak in the historic atmosphere of Natchez by staying at one of the many houses and cottages in walking distance from downtown and not far from the bluffs of the Mississippi River.

IMG_5816

The Bisland House on Commerce Street, was 3 blocks from downtown and 3 blocks from the bluff.  The Evergreen Cottage was located on Cemetery Road on the bluff.  The remaining accommodations were on Pearl Street, around the corner from us – Clarimount House, Savannah House, Emsley House, Marcia’s Cottage, and Evergreen Cottage.

After we all met for dinner at Roux 61,  we were to meet back on Pearl Street to pick up the commemorative red shirts and patches that we had ordered. IMG_5827

It was fun to look into the other houses.  The Savannah House was not new, but much of the building materials were from old Natchez structures and in 2009 won the Historic Natchez Award for New Construction in a Historic District.  The 1852 Planter’s Cottage known as the Elmsley House won the 2008 Historic Natchez Foundation Award for Restoration as the result of a 2007 renovation.

Our bed & breakfast, the Bisland House, was a Circa 1904 Colonial Revival Historic Home, listed on the National Register of Historic Homes.  We learned from our conversations with the current innkeepers, Byron & Christine Tims, that they bought the house after losing everything in a hurricane that swept through New Orleans, Louisiana.  Since their purchase, they’ve been renovating in stages and have filled the home with antiques and period pieces.

IMG_5799

IMG_5805

IMG_5806

IMG_5802

IMG_5804

IMG_5803

After a restful night, we looked forward to breakfast – this was a B&B, afterall!  When we sat down at the dining table, we felt like we were all at a family table as we all ate together and shared stories. Our innkeepers did not join us at the table, but they propped nearby as they served us and joined in our conversation.

IMG_5832

With breakfast over, it was time to thank our innkeepers and start our journey up the Natchez Trace Parkway, but first they requested a picture of us all in front of Bisland House.

IMG_5834

(L to R: Roy, Connie, Greg, Orlin, Me, Clara)

IMG_5833


8 Comments

21. It Happens Over Time (Week 32)

“Life is short – eat dessert first.”  IMG_5778

Finally, our first scheduled “Maids on the Trace” meet up was for lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard.  We were to look for a 28-foot high structure on Highway 61, south of Natchez, Mississippi, that was of a smiling mammy wearing a red kerchief, white blouse, horseshoe earrings, and red skirt, holding a tray.

IMG_5751

Mammy’s Cupboard dates from 1940 when it was constructed for Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gaude.  A mammy character had been portrayed in the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind”, about the same time plans for the restaurant were being made.  Along with now being the embodiment of political incorrectness,  the building is also unusual in that its architect was a female, which was not the norm in 1940.  Mrs. Gaude operated the restaurant, which was built as a compliment to an existing service station.  Many tourists were drawn to the bright red skirt, as they came through the Natchez area for the antebellum mansion tours.

This roadside structure has been many things over time – a gas station, restaurant, gift shop, and craft center. It had gone through quite a bit of decay over the years, but it has had its periods of renovation and restoration.   The exterior bricks, which form the skirt, have been repaired many times and the red skirt is given a fresh coat of paint periodically.  During the Civil Rights period of the 1960’s, Mammy’s “skin” was repainted a lighter shade.

Currently the restaurant operates Tuesday through Saturdays, offering a lunch menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and made-from-scratch desserts.  As you enter the restaurant through a door in her skirt, you will step into a gift shop and dining room.

~ Good friends.  Good food.  Good times. ~

IMG_5780

There was a feeling of nostalgia, as we were seated at one of the old fashion tables of varying sizes throughout the room.  Then we watched arrivals to see who was going to be doing this ride with us.  It was fun to see faces we knew and also to introduce ourselves to new friends.

IMG_5777

As more would come in, we’d finish eating so we could give up our tables and then congregate outside around our parked motorcycles and a picnic table.

IMG_5784
And of course pictures needed to be taken!

IMG_5902

(That’s me to the right, and Clara to the left, of Schelley from MS who put this all together.)

IMG_5781


13 Comments

30. One Step at a Time (Week 31)

“Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton, Old times there are not forgotten. Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land!”   ~ Dixie lyrics ~

Since we were not meeting up with Motormaids for our motorcycle adventure until lunch on Friday of the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to cross the Natchez-Vidalia bridge into Louisiana and visit a plantation.  For those arriving early for “Maids on the Trace”, a well-prepared list was provided for sights in the area, as well as along the Trace.  Frogmore Plantation and Gin was highly recommended, so we added it to our itinerary.

Frogmore Plantation and Gin is a working cotton plantation.  We were greeted by the owner’s wife, Lynette Tanner, in costume from the period.  She took us on a tour of the property and explained the whole cotton process.  This building pictured is the one that housed the cotton gin.  And did you know that gin is short for engine?  We went upstairs in this building and learned the process of cotton, one step at a time, from picking the cotton, sending it through the historical steam engine to remove the seeds, to baling it for transport.

IMG_5762

Aside from the buildings used for the cotton process, there were also preserved buildings from the area that the slaves had used – housing, laundry building, overseers house, to name a few.  Mrs. Tanner had done a tremendous amount of research and had written a book based on  interviews with slaves. Her interpretation of the life of the enslaved people was very informative;  Mrs. Tanner shared quite a bit about southern planters, overseers duties, slave labor, and how the Civil War impacted plantation life.

We did not see the modern part of the working plantation in this visit.  That would be another tour, another time.  If you’re in the area, allow two hours and take a step back into some history of the old south. There is more to learn here than you’d imagine.


4 Comments

A4. Night Shot (Week 30)

“Advice From A River” – by IIan Shamir

 
Go with the flow. Be thoughtful of those downstream. Slow down and meander. Follow the path of least resistance for rapid success.
Immerse yourself in nature, trickling streams, roaring waterfalls, sparkles of light dancing on water. Delight in life’s adventures around every bend. Let difficulties stream away.
 
Live simply and gratefully in your own true nature, moving, flowing, allowing, serene and on course.
It takes time to carve the beauty of the canyon-Rough waters become smooth
Go around obstacles
Stay current
 
The beauty is in the journey!

IMG_5748

This is a night shot of the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge taken from our hotel on the Mississippi side of the Mississippi River.  This twin bridge carries nearly 30,000 vehicles traveling on  US Routes 65, 84, and 425 across the Mississippi River from Vidalia, Louisiana, to Natchez, Mississippi, every day.  The twin bridges appear similar, but were built nearly 50 years apart.  The original span was built in 1940 and has two 8-foot lanes with no shoulders.  Over time the bridge became overwhelmed with traffic, so a parallel bridge was built just downstream of the original bridge to separate westbound and eastbound traffic.  Completed in 1988, the  eastbound bridge has two 11-foot lanes with shoulders.  This is actually the tallest bridge in Mississippi.

The City of Vidalia and the State of Mississippi collaborated to add lighting to the twin spans in hopes that it would become an area scenic attraction.  The Mississippi DOT agreed to pay for the $3-million project, providing that the city supplied the electrical power for the lights.  This project was completed in 2010.

You’ve seen on previous blogs that I am a member of the Motormaids.  This is a women’s motorcycling organization, established in 1940 with  over 1200 members across the United States and Canada.  As a Motormaid, you have an opportunity to ride, travel, and get to know great people all across North America.  Whenever I have gone to an event in Florida, I found it is not unusual to find women from many other states in attendance.  With this in mind, I pulled out my Motormaid calendar.  The idea was to find something that fell between May and October that was reachable in a 7 to 10 day vacation plan.  The Arkansas/Louisiana/Mississippi Motormaid District had just the thing May 22-25.  The event was called “Maids on the Trace.”  This was to be a “4 day adventure from Natchez to Nashville…444 miles along the famous Natchez Trace Parkway with many stops in between.”  So my husband, being the planner, began the e-mails and phone calls to secure reservations and map out routes so that we would arrive in Natchez in time to join in this adventure.  And this is how I found myself at this spot, our first night in Natchez,  to take this picture.

IMG_5732