Vicksburg – just a touch

On the Lubbock to Destin road trip, Llama made a 18-hour stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Llama’s travel companions had been there 40 years ago and decided it was time to stop again. The previous visit was on a trip back from Virginia and was a cold, rainy Thanksgiving that necessitate the car camping they were doing for a last minute hotel stay. They hoped for much better weather and visit this time.

Llama arrived in Vicksburg late in the afternoon/early evening. After checking into a surprisingly nice Quality Inn just a 1/4 mile from the National Battlefield, they headed out to explore. The front desk agent suggested going down to the riverfront. She was not wrong.

The Yazzo River runs through Vicksburg. From the this guage marking you can see that is has obviously had some pretty significant floods in the past when levees have failed.

It was a truly spectacular evening in Vicksburg. We hung by the river through sunset. Birds, little boat, and little tugs shared the evening river with us. We were among many couples and families, most didn’t seem to be tourists, who came down to the river to view the sunset. So peaceful and quiet.

It was a beautiful sunset that my camera didn’t do justice.

Along the waterfront begins the Old Historic District. Like most of the “Old South”, it is crumbling. Much still remains and there is beautiful architecture. We walked around for the evening and enjoyed the night. We also spotted a the Lower Mississippi River Museum. We didn’t have time for a visit this time but if we pass this way again, it is on the list.

http://Lower Mississippi River Museum

(not the museum)

Opposite the riverfront is a play park. Though it closes at sunset, some children were still out climbing and playing. One of the structures is made to look like the river boats which were the mainstay of the economy for Vicksburg. The whole park is bright and joyful. As we walked around the park and riverfront, everyone said “hi” and wished us a pleasant visit to Vicksburg. Very friendly folks, made Llama happy.

Children’s Artwork in the play park

What drew us to the riverfront, as suggested by the hotel front desk, were these murals. The Murals http://www.riverfrontmurals.com/, stretched the length of the accessible waterfront. Each was marked with a plaque that gave a description and information about the artist. I must admit that most of the murals focused on the white history of Vicksburg practically ignoring the contributions of the African Americans. With Mississippi being the birthplaces of the blues, I was thrilled to see this exquisite mural of the late, great Willie Dixon. There are 32 murals in all.

From the waterfront, we moved the car up the street and parked alongside the Old Courthouse. I wish I had known in advance, but they offer Haunted Tours of Historic Vicksburg. We probably could have joined in on the spot, but we didn’t want to intrude. We just walked around the Courthouse and admired the old architecture.

Llama did laugh at the tenacity of Vicksburg residents to climb to their courthouse or the genius of the leaders to exhaust the visitors before trials! I’m sure most were huffing and puffing by the time they got inside.

“We’ll keep the lights on for ya.” Historic Vicksburg

The next morning after a very restful evening, Llama and company visited the Vicksburg National Military Park. https://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm

Key to taking control of the Mississippi River and a turning point in the US Civil War, the Battle of Vicksburg was another of the bloody confrontations in a stupid war that was fought over the rights to own another human being. And for the record, no one has the right to own another.

The Military Park is beautiful today. The trees, part of which were already cleared for agriculture at the onset of the battle and the rest torn up by the war, are now regrown. They make both a beautiful drive around the 8 miles of roads in the park and obstruct the horrors of the war. You almost forget where you are.

After the war, states and other groups erected monuments throughout the park honoring those who fought on both sides. There has been extensive discussion in the past few years about statues and monuments from the war. Having them at the battle site, in context and remembrance, seems appropriate to Llama.

Illinois monument. Illinois lost the most to this battle. Inside the structure and listed all the names of the over 3000 dead including 1 woman who hid her identify to fight for her beliefs.

Also at the battlefield is the USS Cairo. Her mission was to sweep the Yazzo for mines. No one is sure how she blew but a mine did blow a hole in her side and she sank. Luckily, no one died in the accident.

Llama learned that the Cairo was crewed by mainly a crew of immigrants. These immigrants learned on the job, most having no experience. They were brought to the job by the pay and opportunity, and some by the cause of the Union they had come to this country to join.

Both the Visitor Center and the Cairo Museum were closed. Llama was worried that he couldn’t get a stamp in his National Parks Passport. He need not have worried. The Rangers had a tent outside with information and THE STAMP.

Very exciting! Right Baby Yoda?

Llama asked why the centers were closed when others were open. The Ranger informed them the center was built in the late 70s and very small inside and couldn’t accommodate visitors safely during COVID. The Ranger also gave them the information for the audio tour. The tour is now accessed through the cell phone. When Karol and Michael had visited back in the 80’s, they had to purchase a cassette tape. The Ranger laughed and said, yes then they had CDs, now cell phones.

It was time to leave Vicksburg and head to the coast. We stayed off the main highway to Hattiesburg, instead opting for a smaller state road. Llama was very surprised by the ease of the drive. Make no mistake. We saw plenty of poverty but lots of beauty in this state as well.

Next stop – Dauphin Island and Mobile Bay.

FYI – Llama’s companion, Karol, and friend, Groot, write a food blog to check out – https://cookingwithgroot.wordpress.com/

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