A little recap

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Monday, October 1, 2012

A little recap

Since I've fallen behind on the blog here, I feel like a
little review including some additional pictures would be nice.

First, the town of Oxford received short shrift. This is
where Faulkner wrote and where his family had roots. I think I mentioned that
the University of Mississippi is there; this is interesting because Faulkner's
writings focus on rural life in Mississippi and so one might have the
impression that he lived in a more rural area. Obviously, compared to the Bay
Area, Boston or Philadelphia, Oxford is a tiny little enclave, but an enclave
it is and one with a university which seems pretty significant. Anyhow, we have
some pictures of Oxford here because we found it to be a very delightful, at
least looking, little town. It has many cool historic buildings and homes. It
also has a monument to the town members who died for the Confederacy right in
the middle of the town square. Contradictions abound.

I also have a sweet picture of Faulkner dressed in full
riding habit which he apparently had done of himself. I'm not entirely sure
what to make of this because Faulkner does come across as pretentious in his
writings, but he obviously was a huge horseman. Still, with the red riding
jacket, it makes me giggle. It was very British of him, I suppose.

We also have a couple of pictures of the cotton fields. We
didn't really encounter any until we were in Mississippi. Mike was leaning out
the window to get them, but I still think they came out pretty well.

Mike's Graceland pictures are also here because I only put
up a smattering before. Our friend Sharon particularly enjoyed the pics of
Elvis' glittery costumes so I am including those assuming that you will enjoy
them too. You'll note that Elvis had a thing for blue and yellow. I actually
really like his basement tv room which is decked out in these tones. You'll
note the rad monkey he also had here. The rest is fairly self-explanatory.

New Orleans didn't get any pictures at all really and this
is because I forgot my camera when we walked out to have dinner. Then, we
didn't feel we needed to lug the camera along to Commander's Palace so no
pictures there. With the rain coming down so constantly, we didn't end up
walking around the city the remainder of the day. So, unfortunately, there are
no fabulous pictures of New Orleans to share. You'll just have to imagine it.

As I mentioned earlier, we took the Natchez Trace from the
town of Natchez in Mississippi up to Jackson. We bravely stopped several times
in spite of the rain. We must have looked like lunatics. The Emerald Mound was
pretty amazing. There wasn't a ton of information on site, but these mounds are
common in many parts of the world. There are numerous in Ireland. As you can
see, the Emerald Mound is a good size. 

Next stop was Locust House which was sort of a pioneer
house, I suppose you could call it. A family had settled near the Trace and it
went from what they called a "stand" or an informal inn to a more proper inn
(although they said guests slept on the porches). Traders would stay on their
way back up (north) on the Trace since going up the Mississippi against the
current was not an option before steamboats. This was between 1780-1820. Around
1820, when the steamboats became popular, the family that owned Locus House
decided to turn to agriculture since the hospitality business was not so
lucrative. At this point, they bought additional slaves bringing their total
workforce to around 50. What we have learned from traveling to a few
plantations is that slave labor only seems to have really taken hold in the US
in the mid-19th C. For some reason, we find this creepier than if it
had been a longer-standing practice (which it was), but it apparently only
became a "way of life" in the South during this period of what they call "King
Cotton." So, it was only when the demand for cotton grew to such a pitch that
slave labor and the expansive plantations which we generally associate with the
South came to be entrenched. For example, last year when we went to the Oak
Alley plantation in Southern Louisiana, we learned that it was built somewhere
between 1840-1855. Consider that this is only 7-21 years before the Civil War. Maybe
it is just our ignorance, but it had been our combined impression that slavery
was just a given part of the South and this just seems misleading in our
history. That's not to say that people didn't have slaves, even in northern
states like Rhode Island, since nearly the beginning of British-American
settlement, but it just wasn't a supremely common thing. This may have simply
been a matter of how expensive it was to own a slave, but I think it seems a
lot more complicated than that.  Anyhow,
the Locust House plantation expanded during this same time and, according to
the signage, it would have constituted a mid-sized plantation with barely fifty
enslaved persons. The Locust House site also has a slave cemetery which is
interesting, but also depressing because they know next to nothing about the
people buried there. They have a few names (perhaps taken from the family
bible?), but there is only a single marker for the 43 buried there.

Finally, we stopped at a swamp on the Trace that was full of
cypress, as you can see. We tried to take some art-y pictures so you can judge
how well that worked out. Many parts of the Trace, including the swamp, would
have been much more beautiful on a sunny day, but there was still a certain
charm to seeing it in the rain. For one thing, there was almost no one on the
road which is more enjoyable.


At long last, we have arrived in Nashville. It is insane
how much it is raining. We are glad to be done with driving for the day.
Unfortunately, it looks like we are following the rain up north so we don't
have much hope for the next few days. Nashville is someplace that several
people have recommended to us, but when I attempted to put together an
itinerary, I had trouble filling it out. Perhaps Nashville is a better city to
hang out in than to vacation in. Anyway, I don't think we will have much of a
chance to see the sights anyway because of our short stay.

We'll keep you posted. Now that we are not driving through
Mississippi, we should have more regular access to an internet connection. On
to Louisville tomorrow and to Mammoth Caves where we hope to avoid the rain. 

It turns out that we did get a chance to see some of Nashville, at least. We took a little nap and that perked us up for dinner at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant which was good, but the ambiance and the dessert made it well worth while. We heard a good folksy bad called Alan Thompson Band. The rain having stopped for more than five minutes, we decided to give ourselves a walking tour of downtown. I've posted a bunch of those pictures which are fairly self-explanatory. The waterfront area was nice especially with the very large stadium which we are supposing to be their minor league baseball venue. I wasn't aware of how popular minor league teams were down South. I guess this means I should go check out the Paw-Sox more. We also saw a lot of fun neon signs in downtown. 

And, by a complete coincidence, I was reminded of Nashville's replica of the Parthenon when we went to find a souvenir spoon in one of those tacky stores. They also had a little statue of the Parthenon. So, we decided to go see if it was visible at night which, as the pictures show, it certainly was. Our only really big disappointment is that we can't stay in the morning to see the giant Athena which is housed (as it should be) in the Parthenon building. Check out this link to see how amazing it is! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenon_(Nashville)



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