Sunday, April 15, 2012

2012-9 Ocean Springs to Natchez Mississippi


Mt Olive MS
Natchez Mississippi

Campground:  Dry Creek Water Park.  PA rate $9.00, regular $18.  This park is run by the State of Mississippi but provides Passport America rates.  They are not as grand as a state park, more like an old fashioned county park with some type of water feature.  This one has a small fishing lake created by an earthen dam to control flooding.

Campground:  Natchez State Park.  $18 reg.  Discount for seniors 65+.  Beautiful forest setting, loop B has better sites for Rv’s, paved road and concrete pads for camper and picnic table.  Water/Elect. Nice bathhouse with one washer/dryer $1 each. Two pull-thrus.  Call ahead for reservations if you want one of those sites, no extra charge.

Natchez is filled with old run down bldgs. as well as nicely maintained
homes and mansions

  • Tip of the day:  Ever get frustrated at how to spell a word and using spell check just doesn't help  because your so far off the mark even spell check can’t help.  I discovered I can use my smart phone and just speak the word and let the internet find the word.  Walla, I have the correct spelling of my word.

My gosh, what a quiet serene experience.  I’ve arrived at Dry Creek WP where I stayed last fall for a couple of days and hadn’t remembered how peaceful setting is.  It’s an older park, on the lines of a county park, with concrete picnic tables, old asphalt roads that are chipped and cracking with only one circle of campsites and lots of trees.  All one hears are the sounds of birds cawing and chirping.  The sound of a bee buzzing by.  No cars or trains to disturb this serene atmosphere.  Now I’m here during the middle of the week which accounts for some of this feeling as the park is filled with campers, but most live or work near here and have set up their campers for weekend use.  So during the daytime at least, I pretty much have the place to myself.  My site backs up to a bank of tall thick trees with creeping vines winding up some of the trees.  The smell of jasmine and other blooming vines scent the air.


Touring the mansions of Natchez

After leaving the Mt Olive area, I headed west on hwy 84 to Natchez.  Some of the road was under construction but mostly it is a 4 lane divided highway with flashing stop signs occasionally for the rural cross traffic.  One note on Mississippi roads.  Most of their secondary roads appear to have no shoulders and often have drop offs which might be a bit unnerving for the larger Rv-ers especially when large tanker trucks whiz on by because someone (me) is only going the speed limit or slightly slower.

I’m staying at the Natchez State Park which is 11 miles from town.  I’ve been here before with it’s many southern mansions, Indian mounds, Mississippi River, Natchez Trace Trail and tons of southern charm.  I’m in luck as I’ve arrived during their Spring Pilgrimage (March 10-April 14).  Where many of the private homes are available for touring.  The town is famous for it’s Cotton Plantation Mansions (11 in town provide tours) and was once home to the most millionaires in the country before the civil war.  The owners of the many cotton plantations up and down the Mississippi preferred to build their homes in the town of Natchez where they would manage their plantations from a distance.  Being in town they were able to socialize with other plantation owners and enjoy the city life as well as be safe from river flooding.

the owner of the Towers on left

A large visitors center has all the information, but don’t expect them to be overly forthcoming with information.  My visitors rep. begrudgingly handed me a few brochures and pointed to a wall of brochures I could pick from.  No pulling out a map and highlighting the many nearby attractions what so ever.  Yet when I went to pay for the short movie they have on Natchez ($1.50 senior rate) the gal was as outgoing and personable as she possibly could be.  Even telling me about the movie The Lady Killers with Tom Cruz that was filmed in the area.  I’ll have to check that one out.  As you can tell as a full time Rv-er I consider a visitor center very important when touring an area.  If they don’t provide the information it can sometimes ruin the experience of touring an area.  One can often miss seeing something without good information.

So the next day I drove back to the visitors center and joined the morning tour of three homes ($45 including bus transportation).  I ended up seeing the Ellicott Hill House (1798), The Towers (1858) and Rosalie (1820) a national historic landmark.  Each had it’s own reason for fame.  The Ellicott house was the first to raise an American flag in Natchez.  It sits high atop the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi.  Interesting to learn that the Mississippi side of the river has high bluffs due to sand blowing east from Louisiana.  It mixes with the mist off the river and collects on the Mississippi side creating those high bluffs which occasionally collapse and fall back into the river.


The Towers mansion is privately owned and is also a B&B with an extensive collection of period lace, beaded purses containing between 50 and 100,000 tiny beads.  Note to my friend Patrick (don’t even think of trying to make one).   And the Rosalie was the Union headquarters during the civil war.  The owner left for Texas as he did not want to be any part of a war between the states.  Leaving his wife and children behind who lived upstairs during the Union occupation with officers living on the main floor.

The towers, one tower was burned down by a young girl smoking in her bedroom,
 so they just tore the other tower down too.

a face from the past
The Spanish, French and English all came to this area, one after the other.  The Natchez Indians of course were already living in the area, spread out over a vast region of farms where they cultivated their crops of corn, pumpkins, melons and beans.  Enjoying wild strawberries and peaches in season and later in the fall hickory nuts.  They had two Indian mound settlements in Natchez (Emerald and Grand Village) and initially got along with the new settlers even providing food to the Spanish soldiers.  But after more and more settlers came in the Natchez Indians revolted and killed everyone in Fort Rosalie.  The last of the native Indians in the area, around 400, were eventually taken into slavery and sent off to the West Indies .  Ending the Indian occupation of the area.  Today the area has no major industry as the paper mills and other majoyr industries closed down in the 70’s.  Now the area has high unemployment and survives only on tourism.

I visited one of those mound sites, The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians after having lunch at Mammy’s restaurant, which is inside of a large statuesque figure of a black Mama with large billowing skirt and holding a serving tray.  I’ve eaten here in this quaint roadside restaurant off of hwy 61 south of town the last time I came through this area and just had to experience all the southern charm and good food they have to offer. Today’s selection was a chicken pot pie, layered salad and corn bread with broccoli inside.  I could have done without the broccoli, but other than that it was a super fine meal.

Getting back to the Grand Village, where I saw the Great Sun’s Mound.  That’s where the head chief lived.  The French witnessed the funeral of one of the chief‘s in the early 1700‘s, where upon the Indians strangled the chiefs numerous wives and retainers so they could go onto the other side and continue to serve the Sun chief.  So many stories with historical significance in the area.

Other than that, I’m enjoying sitting atop a knoll above my pull-thru campsite here at Natchez State Park, overlooking the other campsites and the lake peaking through the trees.  It’s one of those sunny days with some clouds, with temps in the perfect mid 70’s and a breeze.  Birds chipping as usual, the occasional Rv a/c unit going on and off but otherwise it‘s very quiet.  Folks walking their dogs around the circle, waving and saying hi as they walk on by.   I’ve started reading an Agatha Christie book, Caribbean Mystery.  All the trees have their fresh new light green leaves creating a new canvas for spring and summer.  I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to spend a day.

A few more days in the area and then I'm off to Louisiana.

and of course more pictures on my PICASA web site.

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