“Olly Olly Oxen Free!”
My son and daughter-in-law introduced us to Sky Zone last year and here he is hiding from his son Graham. This is the Foam Zone.
And when my daughter came to visit this Spring, her sons Ethan and Berk, loved to hide, too!
“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo ~
Hmm… Winter Landscape – how am I suppose to show a typical wintery scene when I live on the sunny gulf coast of Sarasota, Florida??? I guess I’m just going to have to use some photos from when relatives came down to get out of their winter in January/February of this year. My cousin Don and his wife Juli came down from Minnesota. We took a drive down beautiful Casey Key and then enjoyed some sunshine at the North Jetty in Venice. I was amazed how many folks were just sitting in chairs along the banks of the Jetty. If we asked, I’d bet they’d say they were from Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York! Juli got her toes in the sand and then we did some shelling before heading for lunch under the tiki bar at Spanish Pointe in Osprey. What a great way to spend the afternoon with our northern cousins. Uncle Gene and his wife Edie came down for several weeks from Wisconsin. Edie wasn’t too steady on her feet, so we went to Turtle Beach at the south end of Siesta Key to take a look, but we didn’t walk it. And after stopping for dinner, Uncle Gene wanted to get some Florida postcards to send back up to snowy Bayfield Wisconsin.
“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.
Also on the site is a life-size statue of Elvis at age 13.
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!
“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 ~
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.
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.”
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.
We then “saddled up” and found our way back to the Trace.
~ With people you have known for years,
or with brand new friends,
the fondest memories are made gathered around the table. ~
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(L to R: Roy, Connie, Greg, Orlin, Me, Clara)
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.
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. ~
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.
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.
(That’s me to the right, and Clara to the left, of Schelley from MS who put this all together.)