Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Vicksburg Trip -- Day 4

We had a quick and easy drive home through increasingly heavy rain and gray skies. It was a nice trip.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Vicksburg Trip -- Day 3

First Presbyterian Church of Port GibsonThis morning we had breakfast in the hotel and then headed south 25 miles to visit the small town of Port Gibson. Downtown the storefronts and shop signs all looked very old and well-aged. There's a traditional Greek-revival style grand old courthouse with a stone soldier in front. You can see more photos in the slide show I posted yesterday.

The town is also noted for the First Presbyterian Church with the finger pointing to the sky -- 12 feet from wrist to finger tip. Also worth a look is Windsor Ruins -- a mansion that survived the Civil War but burned down in 1890. Only the massive columns still stand.

Click on image to enlarge

We entered the Natchez Trace Parkway in Port Gibson and drove along the 25 mile long segment that leads to the back road to Vicksburg. It was peaceful and lovely. Someday we want to drive the whole length of the Parkway from Natchez to Nashville, 444 miles.
Natchez Trace
Here are some links for more information about the Natchez Trace.

U.S. Park Service Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail Site
U.S. Park Service Natchez Trace Parkway Site
Natchez Trace Wiki's Natchez Trace Parkway Travel Guide

We were delighted with our visit to Port Gibson and the drive along the Natchez Trace.

Back in Vicksburg we decided to have lunch at a place we had been reading about in the tourist guides -- Walnut Hills Round Table Restaurant. You sit at big round tables and the food is piled up on a lazy Susan in the middle. You sit with strangers and share the huge meal boarding house style. The web site says that during the meal we were to expect regular visits from the owner, chief cook, waitress, waiter and other staff members making sure that your meal is "just right". Yeah, sure.

The slogan is "World Famous Southern Plantation Cuisine." We found it was over-priced dull food with grudging service. Let's just say, we weren't charmed.

Rainbow Casino, Vicksburg, MississippiAfter some afternoon nap time we ventured out to visit another riverboat casino. This time it was the Rainbow Casino and it was bright and lively. Vicksburg is situated on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi. To get to this casino and several of the others you must drive down very steep access roads to the river bank. It's very steep and very dramatic with the view of the river and the bright lights of the casinos.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Vicksburg Trip -- Day 2

Eudora Welty's House -- Jackson, MississippiWe slept late and left the Cabot Lodge, our hotel in Ridgeland, shortly before noon to set off on the 40 mile trip to Vicksburg. But first, because we had lots of time, we drove around Jackson to see the sights. Pictured above is the Eudora Welty House.

Historic marker at Eudora Welty House
Click on image to enlarge

Operated by the Eudora Welty Foundation and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. It was her home for all her 76 years and she wrote all of her books there. Jack attended her writing classes at Millsaps and visited her at home.

In Vicksburg we drove through town and enjoyed seeing the the old, and restored, down town and the old court house, built and re-built throughout the mid to late 19th century. It is now a museum. Across the street from the old court house is the new courthouse completed in 1940. It is a gem of art deco architecture. We loved the lighting fixtures beside the front steps. There's an example on the left.

Vicksburg Bridges over the Mississippi River

Rusty's Riverfront Grill, VicksburgWe had dinner at Rusty's Riverfront Grill. The food was good -- spicy and very Cajun-style for this side of the river. We had blackened chicken, spicy grilled shrimp, cheese grits and fabulous crisp-fried onion rings. Desserts looked good but there was no possibility of finding room for another bite.

DiamondJacks Casino logoOn our way back to the Holiday Inn Express we stopped for a few minutes at one of Vicksburg's five riverboat casinos -- DiamondJacks. Not much luck there. And the decor wasn't very festive. The previous owner apparently went for a cave look (a Flintstone's Casino, perhaps?). Most of it was dim and grim.

The Vicksburg Trip -- Photos

Here's a link to a slideshow of the photos we took on this trip to Jackson, Vicksburg and Port Gibson, Mississippi.

Historic Marker -- Vicksburg, Mississippi

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Vicksburg Trip -- Day 1

We needed a few days out of town and decided to head north to Mississippi and visit Jackson and Vicksburg. The latter is about 290 miles northwest of Pensacola and the drive takes about five hours.

Mid-morning we took the cats to the pet hotel and set out on our way. Much of the route is not on Interstate highways but the secondary roads were good and there was little traffic.

Millsaps College in Jackson, MississippiWe spent the first night in Jackson. It's about 40 miles east of Vicksburg. We wanted to drive around the city on Tuesday morning before we drove over to Vicksburg. Jack is an alumnus of Millsaps College in Jackson and spent many years in the city a while back. This trip will be my first visit ever to Vicksburg and Jack hasn't been there for more than 40 years.

Ely's Restaurant, upstairs in Olde Towne Ridgeland, Mississippi overlooking the railroad tracksWe had a great steak dinner at Ely's Restaurant & Bar, located in Ridgeland, just north of Jackson. There were Lebanese touches to some of the dishes -- we enjoyed their "family recipe" tabouli salad made with bulgur wheat, parsley, green onions and lemon juice. It was a nice break from more traditional steak house salads. The side order of their steak fries was a wonderful accompaniment to the steaks. The serving is generous with enough fries for at least four people. The potatoes are hand-cut and served with a delicious Gorgonzola and Asiago cream sauce. It turned out the cheese sauce is very good with the steaks, too.