June 27, 2007

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Below are the diary entries for June 27, 2007. We drove 301 miles (481 km) today; in total, we have driven 1831 miles (2929 km). Also, check out today’s photos.

Eric Spanish Moss
Eric (June 27, 2007)

Last modified: July 4, 2007 at 20:39:13

Spanish Moss, which we saw in the garden of the Rosemont Plantation. Our tour guide explained that back in the 1800s they used this to stuff pillows. The only problem was that there often were spiders hidden in it, which would then come out of your pillow. I guess people back then didn't suffer from arachnophobia much.

Mark Notin' new
Mark (June 27, 2007)

Last modified: June 29, 2007 at 17:04:10

Well, first off, I'm not going to do an entry for the whole day, just the afternoon/ evening.

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We are busy driving across a lake. Why? 'Cause it's 26 miles of coolness. What lake is it? Ponchatrain. Well, something like that. So, we're driving across this huge lake when a huge typhoon hits, we get swept off the bridge. Thankfully, we are able to swim to New Orleans. Well, that Louisiana for ya. Well... Not really... That's a lie. Everything is fake. Well... That's a lie too... Driving across the lake is true. And it is 26 miles long.

Mkay...

We get to New Orleans and TRY to find our hotel. I won't go into the details, but street names are not common here... Nor are signs in general. We find the hotel, unpack, and all that jazz... Haha pun, get it? all that JAZZ; the Mississippi is where jazz was created... Yea..? Ringing a bell?

ANYWAY

We leave the hotel and head to Bourbon Street, the MOST sinful place on earth. They have porn HANGING OUT THE WINDOW, "Big Ass Beers" being sold in every story, and Tee-shirts that say "Fuck milk, got weed?" I got one that said: "I got Bourbon faced on Shit Street"... So, we go eat at a restaurant that had musical instruments as lamps. We leave the restaurant and head back to the hotel, on the way, we see a group of people preforming. It really was rather good. We left and I found the cheapest shop that sold the shirt I wanted, only $13! We go back to the hotel and go to sleep... Ah, sleep.

Eric Mississippi to New Orleans
Eric (June 27, 2007)

Last modified: June 29, 2007 at 0:06:19

Today is the second day we intended to spend experiencing Mississippi. We ended up in Vicksburg yesterday, but it was overcast and even raining at the end of the day by the time we got to the Mississippi, so I never got any good photos of the river. One of the things I wanted to achieve today was get a really good picture of it. The first try was at Vicksburg itself, at the Tourist Information center.

At the tourist information, we learned that there is no road that comes close to the Mississippi, but one place where you can get close is at the Civil War park at Grand Gulf. We stopped there and I took a series of seven photos that could come together to form a single panoramic image:

The Mississippi is a river with a will of its own, and before the Army Corps of Engineers started "taming" it, it often changed it course. Still, the river will sometimes flood. Here is Mark with a flood marker at the Grand Gulf site, showing how much higher the river has come in the past.

I commented before how green the state of Mississippi is. This picture, taken on our way back from the Grand Gulf site to the highway, gives some feeling of the greenness we found here.

The next stop was Natchez, because it is known for its old mansions, one of which is the House on Ellicott Hills which, we think, may be named after one of the Ellicott brothers who founded Ellicott City (where we live in Maryland).

In addition to looking at the old mansions, we had our first DVD with a backup of photos to mail home.

Natchez, being a river town, also boasts a view of the Mississippi. This is where I get my last picture of the Mississippi before we get to New Orleans.

After Natchez, we stop at the Rosemont Plantation in Woodville. We expected something of a tourist trap, but actually there was nobody else there when we came. We got a private tour by the caretaker, which was nice. She once more confirmed our impression of Mississippi being a very friendly state. One of the cool things she showed us was a chandelier of oil lamps, with above each oil lamp a porcelain smoke catcher. This to prevent the soot from staining the ceiling.

After Rosewood, we cut through to the I-55 and from there into Louisiana. As I was driving, I thought about the goodbye party for Mike Gallagher at work. Mike is going to enjoy his retirement in South Carolina; driving through the South as we have been doing the last few days, that idea starts to be more and more attractive. Mike, if you read this: I'll wish you well in your retirement!

Frank specifically asked to take the causeway across Lake Pontchatrain, so that we did. It looked as if there was no end in sight!

We did some searching to get to the hotel, but finally made it. After unpacking, we started our exploration on Bourbon Street. Talk about a tourist trap... but of course it is part of New Orleans.

Most places on Bourbon Street sell food, drinks, T-shirts, or girls. There are a few different ones, like this House of Voodoo.

We had dinner in a restaurant where they had lamps made out of musical instruments, like this trumpet lamp. After dinner, we went back to the hotel. Frank and Mark went to the hotel swimming pool (on the tenth floor, if you believe it), while Nicoline and I went back out. We picked up my tripod from the car so I could take some night shots.

On our way back, we passed an Hard Rock Cafe, so here is a picture of it for my brother Theo.

Nicoline Vicksburg to New Orleans
Nicoline (June 27, 2007)

Last modified: July 28, 2007 at 16:06:40

We went from Vicksburg to New Orleans today. We started out on U.S. 61 and drove to Grand Gulf State Park because it had been recommended for its view of the Mississippi. It didn't disappoint:

From there we drove on to Natchez, which is a very pretty little town. According to the the Triple A tourbook, it was once home to Maj. Andrew Ellicott, who apparently did survey work there, as he did in what was to become Washington, D.C. I'll look into this when I get home.

We wanted to see at least one antebellum mansion, and we decided to visit Rosemont Plantation, the boyhood home of Jefferson Davis. As it is not a national historic site but still privately owned (although the Jefferson mansion is no longer lived in), the tour information was a just a tad biased towards the southern point of view, but whatever. It's a beautiful house, with a lot of period furnishings.

To the relieve of the boys, we finally went on to New Orleans after visiting Rosemont. The drive there was uneventful and to be honest a little tedious. We chose to travel via Mississippi state route 24 to I-55, so as to avoid rush hour traffic around Baton Rouge. Besides, Frank had requested that we drive into New Orleans over the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway. This 20+ mile bridge spans Lake Ponchartrain and it is quite an experience to drive over such a large body of water. It puts the Bay Bridge to shame. Frank rode shotgun, and he got some really pretty pictures of the sun and clouds over the water.

After some searching (Mark riding shotgun and map reading) we found our hotel, which is right on the edge of the French Quarter. Getting the car into the parking garage was an adventure in itself, with Frank walking next to it to make sure cargo bag on the roof wouldn't hit the ceiling. It only just fit in some spots! After we got all our stuff out of the car and into the room (except for the stuff in the rooftop carrier, which we stuffed in the back seat), we went out on to Bourbon Street. I now understand why NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu says that New Orleans is the only place in the south where you can get away from the Baptists. Really, as beautiful as the states that we've driven through so far are, you can't go a mile and a half before running into a Baptist church or some equally conservative other brand of religion. Whoever thought up the strategy of convincing the faithful that God really wanted a Republican in the White House was an excellent political strategist (but a lousy statesman). Let's hope God has tired of Republicans as thoroughly as the rest of the country! Bourbon Street probably qualifies quite easily as the most sinful street in America, but they're quite open and honest about it. Bourbon Street is one big frat party, but the rest of the French Quarter is charmingly old world, with people sitting outside cafes on sidewalks, pedestrians everywhere. The only thing I have against New Orleans is that it is so hot, and that will only be worse tomorrow, when we intend to walk to the different sights we want to see.