The last blog already. Tomorrow we fly back to Bremen via Chicago and Schiphol. But first today the last part. We take it easy in the morning, and after noon we go to the last planned place. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Park. This is at the place where he was born, at the church where he preached, and also the place where he is buried. i.e. still a very impressive place. We first go to the Visitor Center where an exhibition about the man has been set up, then we walk to his birthplace, and finally to his grave. We go back to the apartment where Bernard and Ria stay and Bene and Margreet visit a Starbucks. I won’t elaborate too much on this trip, but I can tell you that it took about an hour and a half, and that we saw most of the Marriot and Hilton hotel. We close the blog with this, and hope that you have enjoyed our trip as much as we have experienced it ourselves.
The video of the day, a protestsong by Elvis, reffering to Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, and recorded some two months after his assassination:
As mentioned yesterday, it is still a short distance to our last apartment in Atlanta. We cover 80 miles and have something extra to drive to Stone Mountain Park. This is about 12 miles east of Atlanta. Stone Mountain Park is a park around a huge high rock, in which the largest bas-relief artwork in the world has been carved. Completed in 1972, the work depicts three Confederacy leaders, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. We all agree that it is very impressive. After some time we are back in the car and we drive to The World of Coca Cola at Centennial Park, in the heart of Atlanta. We park in the parking garage and buy tickets for this large-scale Coca Cola advertisement. When we were outside we still had an hour before we could go to the apartment, so we first do some shopping, that way Bernard can cook delicious food again, baked potatoes, green beans and a pork tenderloin, and then we go to the apartment. Bene and Margreet also buy a nice extra bag for the return trip ;-). The apartment comes with a assigned parking space, but due to a misunderstanding with the owner of the apartment, it is confused at first what is ours to use. However, this is also resolved and we move in for the last two nights. After dinner Margreet initiates a stroll towards Centennial Park. Bene and Bernard accompanied her and we all three enjoyed it.
The weather is beautiful when we wake up for the second time. Second time? you will ask, yes, second time, because there is a couple who find it necessary to discuss their whole love life in front of the door around five o’clock in the night. Imagine the woman as Laverne from Empty Nest and you have an image. Anyway, the weather is beautiful, so after breakfast we go to Biloxi Beach. We walk around a bit, put our feet in the Gulf of Mexico (nice and warm water, at least 20 degrees) and take some pictures. Still, the wind blows a little too hard to stay at the sea for too long, so we start the ride after an hour. We decide to make it a travel day today, which means that we drive to Selma as planned, stop there at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, but since that is also viewed in fifteen minutes, we drive another 200 kilometers further. As a result, we are now in LaGrange, GA, and tomorrow we only have to drive 125 kilometers to Atlanta, GA. We do some shopping, and because today we cross the time limit from Central Time to Eastern Time again and as a result we lose another hour, it is already half past seven when we are at the Walmart. We each decide to buy a microwave meal for ourselves because the rooms appear to have a microwave. Tomorrow the last leg to Atlanta.
Today has largely fallen into the water, unfortunately. We wake up to a strong thunderstorm, and after that it has hardly been dry anymore. Because of that thunderstorm we wait a little longer before we leave. Around a quarter past nine it is almost dry so we pack the car and drive to New Orleans. But on the way the shower increases again and we decide to go to the National World War 2 museum instead of the French Quarter. This museum had already been recommended to us by Klaas and Wilma, the ones who took us to the USA the first time, and it was also recommended by a hotel receptionist in Natchez. For example, the museum is also highly promoted by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. And rightly so, it is a very extensive museum with various exhibitions. Unfortunately, after we leave the museum at a quarter past one, it is still raining cats and dogs but nevertheless we set course for the paddle steamer that sails on the Mississippi, one of the standard tourist highlights of New Orleans. But arriving there the tickets for the half past three trip are already sold out, and it is raining too hard to walk to a similar boat further on. We discuss and quickly agree that it is a pity, but it is no different. So we set course for our next station, Biloxi. There it is finally dry around our arrival. We are looking for a restaurant, it will be a Steak and Seafood restaurant, and the food is delicious. Now we are sitting in one of the two hotel rooms, typing this story and having a drink together.
We have decided to build in a kind of half rest day today. We are in a beautiful house that is right between the two plantations on our program. We decide to only visit these plantations and leave it at that. And that’s a good thing because they leave a big impression on all four of us. The first one we visit is Oak Alley Plantation, this one is very focused on the former owners and the wealth they own and exude. The tour through the so-called “Big House” is therefore impressive. There is also a self-guided tour of some former slave quarters, but the “Big House” is what is showing off here. After this tour we first visit our house where we are staying, have some food and drinks, and then drive to Whitney Plantation, oh boy, what a difference. This tour is completely focused on what it meant to the slaves and the “Big House” is just a side note. What an overwhelming tour. We then drive to the supermarket for dinner, and Bernard spoils us again with delicious potatoes, Spinach special and a nice piece of beef. Tomorrow we will visit NOLA, which stands for New Orleans, LA.
The theme for today is fresh and hot 😉 The first planned stop is a swamp tour on Lake Martin. This lake is near Lafayette, LA. That’s a two and a half hour drive from Natchez. We had already bought tickets for the 13:00 tour yesterday, but the journey is going so well that we are at the door 2 minutes after 11.00 am. I walk in to ask if we might be able to join the 11:30am tour. The answer is no, but…. if we want to join the 11 o’clock boat they can take us there quickly, it has just left. We accept this gesture with gratitude, and 5 minutes later we are on the 11 o’clock tour. The journey is overwhelming. And the last 5 minutes back to the harbor is wonderfully refreshing. It’s more than we imagined from a swamp tour. We first planned to miss the planned trip to the Tabasco factory, but now that we have earned almost two hours we set course for the factory. Still glad we did this hot trip after all. At three o’clock we get in the car for today’s last leg, to the house we rented through AirBnB in Vacherie, LA. Tomorrow a reasonably quiet day, with only visits to the plantations that are about 4 miles to the left and right of us. So almost neighbours.
On the video of the day today, we learned that a Bayou is a slow flowing river:
Get up, have breakfast, pack the car, and drive. That is also the case today, this time we drive to Vicksburg, MS where a major battle in the American Civil War took place. The battlefield is now a National Park through which a 16 mile long car route runs with a number of stops where you get interesting information. We first go to the inevitable Visitor Information Center to get information about the route and then spend about two hours here. Then we drive to Natchez, MS. This is a place on the Mississippi that has been well preserved despite the Civil War. We book rooms in the Grand Hotel on the Big River, indeed with a view of the Mississippi. After checking in we walk to the river, and from there into the town. It is well over 25 degrees Celsius and so a stopover with an ice cream is well deserved. For imaging purposes, we are currently at latitude 32 degrees, which is the same latitude as Casablanca in Morocco. We eat delicious, Mediterranean oriented, and then quickly do some shopping. Heading out tomorrow for a Swamp Tour, then heading to our next spot for two days, a house in Vacherie, LA.
After the daily morning activities we load the car again and head for Sumner. Here is the Emmett Till Interpretive Center. Emmett was a 14-year-old black boy who was accused of flirting by a white woman, which resulted in her husband and two friends lynching him. An all-white jury acquitted them. The brutality of this shocked America, and certainly sparked the creation of the Civil Rights Movement. In the center you find, among other things, the courtroom where this happened being preserved. But to our regret we discover on the spot that the Center only opens at 12 o’clock. Waiting two hours is not an option, so we continue empty-handed. Next stop is the B. B. King Museum in his hometown of Indianola. Here we spend a good hour and a half. It is a beautiful museum for a great artist. Then we drive west for about fifteen minutes to Leland. Here you will find the birthplace of Kermit the Frog. Leland is the hometown of Jim Henson, the big man behind the Muppets. It’s a small building and you’re done in 10 minutes, but definitely worth a visit. We get back in the car and head for Jackson, the capital of the state of Mississippi. On the way we eat a sandwich at Subway, and we are at the hotel at a quarter past four. We check in, do some small things and then drive to the destination planned for tomorrow morning, the Outlets of Mississippi, so the wardrobe has now been replenished fairly cheaply. We then find an Applebee’s and have a delicious dinner there.
Today is a planned rest day, and that’s what we’re doing. We sleep until about half past nine, have breakfast and a shower and then Bernard and Bene walk around the grounds of the Shack Up Inn to take pictures. In the Shack Up Inn lobby we are treated to a small private concert by a young woman who also walks around and takes a seat behind the piano. After the photo session we get in the car and drive first to the Crossroads, the crossroads where, according to the legend, Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his talent. A few photos and on to the Delta Blues Museum. There we look around, enjoy the Blues music and finally go to the Walmart. At our shack there is a barbecue, but it is too dirty to handle. But it does give us the idea to barbecue. We decide to buy enough meat and prepare it on the stove, add a few delicious salads and who cares. Now about the Shack Up Inn as promised yesterday, a shack is, in most cases, a workers’ cottage from the late 19th century, early 20th. What people do here is buy these houses, when they come on the market, and move them here. You can then rent such a shack and feel a bit like a Delta cotton picker, for example. We enjoy the peace here and the sunset and go to bed on time, tomorrow there are a number of interesting and fun things on the program.
The video of the day is in this case different from the one on the Dutch part, there we have a Dutch artist, André Hazes with a blues song called “As far as I know I’m married”, a cover of a Robert Johnson song called “I believe I dust my broom”, For now I selected the below song for you:
The alarm goes off early today, because we have to check out from our little palace and we have Ultimate VIP tickets for a quarter to nine and we have to report fifteen minutes in advance. This turns out to be with Page, a fantastic quiet guide who has all the time for our group and the six others who have booked this tour. And as she says herself, this early, first tour has the advantage that we have the mansion all to ourselves. And it shows, until 10 we don’t see anyone but Page and the other six of the tour. We are first taken with a van from the visitor center on one side of Elvis Presley Boulevard to the mansion on the other side and dropped off at the door. There we get plenty of time for photos and then we go inside and she leads us from room to room, the living room, the kitchen, the man cave in the basement, the jungle room, and then to the terrace outside, where also a number of buildings stand. And finally we go to the Meditation Garden where Elvis and his parents, but also his daughter Lisa Marie and his grandson Benjamin are buried. She then takes us to an area reserved for Ultimate VIPs only and shows us some of Elvis’s personal items, and we are allowed to gently hold one of them, a boot, with white gloves on. Then we go with a van to the other side and she shows us the different self-guided exhibitions to finally say goodbye to us at a quarter past eleven with the words, take your time and view all self-guided tours at your leisure. That’s what we’re going to do, but not before we’ve tasted a peanutbutter banana sandwich at Gladys Diner, Elvis’ favorite sandwich. We then decide to split up so that everyone can spend as much time as necessary wherever they want. We visit and see everything we want to see and meet at half past two at Vernon’s, another restaurant on the park. We have a delicious meal there, including Ribs, and decide that we have seen everything and can go on our way to the next overnight stay, the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, an hour and fifteen minutes drive south of Memphis. We have a rest day built in here tomorrow, so I’ll tell you a bit about this Shack Up Inn then.
The video of the day could of course have been any Elvis song, but it became for personal reasons: