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It seems like I’ve written about this trip forever! But we are almost at our destination…so, so close. Today I’ll be talking about our journey through Mississippi and part of our trip through Alabama.
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Crossing the Mississippi River
One of the highlights of our trip through this area was crossing a bridge between Louisiana and Mississippi over the Mississippi River. The river marks the state line, and is such a well-known river that it was exciting to finally get to see it.
What was extra-special, though, was that we got to sleep next to the river, too. Right over the border in Vicksburg, Mississippi, there are several casinos. We got permission to stay at the Riverwalk Casino Hotel and park right next to the water for free. The weather was warm with a breeze from the river so it was very comfortable. Another fun experience happened at this casino as well–apparently there is a barge parking spot along the river right in front of the casino. We got to see a few of them come through and stop there.
Roosevelt State Park in Morton, Mississippi
In Mississippi we had the chance to stay at another state park. At $20 we had full hookups (water, sewer and electric) with a lake view.
The campground has paved roads and we rode our bikes around the park. A scenic overlook tower provided a view of the park and surrounding area, which is in Bienville National Forest.
This looks like it would be a fun place to visit in the summer. They have a swimming pool and water slides. There are also lots of nature trails, tennis courts, a softball field, disc golf, and you can go boating on the lake. They even rent out cabins and have motel rooms! I don’t know how other state parks in Mississippi are, but this one seemed in competition with an amusement park.
Sweet Home Alabama
Next up after Mississippi is, of course, Alabama. Sorry for the blurry picture, I took it on a bumpy freeway while moving!
In Alabama the weather changed from the nice climate we enjoyed in Mississippi. During the day it was warm and sunny (less overcast too) but at night it got cold. And windy.
Gaineswood Plantation in Demopolis, Alabama
We stopped in the town of Demopolis and after work, we walked from our parking spot to Gaineswood Plantation. I saw Mount Vernon (George Washington’s plantation) as a child, but I only vaguely remember it. I love architecture and so we took a tour, which costs $7 per person. Because this is an historic house; you must buy a tour for entry to the house, but you can visit the grounds for free.
Gaineswood was originally owned by George Strother Gaines with only a simple 2-room log cabin on the property. But in 1843, Gaines sold his property to General Nathan Bryan Whitfield. Whitfield rebuilt the property in stages over the course of nearly 20 years, but you can still see part of the structure of the original log cabin inside.
The home that you see today remains as it was (with maintenance and restoration) when completed in 1861. It is built in a typical antebellum style; I would call it a Greek Revival.
The interior has original, restored wood flooring and some of the original panes are in the windows. Whitfield was something of a Renaissance man and did a lot of the design himself. He also designed and built several furniture pieces and a musical instrument, which resides in the home. He composed a lot of his own music, too.
The low-down on Gaineswood
So here’s some Whitfield gossip for you. Whitfield and his family came from North Carolina and bought a different plantation in Alabama. He brought his wife, 5 children and 6 children he adopted after their parents (his cousins) passed away. Flooding and disease came to the other plantation, killing some of his children. He decided he needed to move to higher ground. Gaineswood came up for sale and he bought all 480 acres.
Whitfield’s wife was one of his cousins (because that was a common/acceptable practice in that era). After she passed away, a different cousin came to help with all of his children, and she became his second wife.
Our docent for the tour was the descendant of Whitfield and his second wife, who had another daughter together. She explained to us that she lived out-of-state and only recently moved back to the area. She never lived in Gaineswood herself, however the youngest of Whitfield’s descendants that did live on the property were still alive when she was a small child.
It was interesting to receive the history of the plantation from someone whose family used to live there. It was a beautiful home, and they do a great job of keeping the property up.
However, the awkward part came when she started talking about the slaves.
How Whitfield was kind to them, and insisted that any tradespeople who came to work on the house teach the slaves their trade, not just having them do grunt work. She said that after slavery ended, many of the freed workers and their families chose to stay with him as employees.
Then it became more awkward when she said she would like to meet the descendants of these slaves someday and is actively looking for them.
I just don’t know how to talk to people whose ancestors owned slaves, about their slaveholder ancestors. And I don’t know how the descendants would feel about being sought out. So I just mostly made noncommittal noises to avoid getting ejected from the premises.
Let’s get back to positive things, shall we? Here’s a lovely picture of our RV at sunset.
Next stop, Tuscaloosa
We had more time to kill. At this point it was only mid-February and we weren’t expected in Georgia until around March 1st, so we decided to take a more circuitous route. We headed north from Demopolis to Tuscaloosa.
Tuscaloosa is a big city and a college town. After I finished work one day, we decided to head to a dog park to let the puppies have some fun in the sun. Along the way, we saw something Ryan just had to stop for. And I agreed, of course, because we travel full-time so we can stop and see things, right?
Veteran’s Memorial Park in Tuscaloosa is a small installment of different era military equipment and honors veterans from the area for all U.S. wars. It was very nicely done. And yes, if that looks like a Sears department store behind the jeep, it’s because it is! The park is in front of a shopping mall and easily visible from the street.
Will May Dog Park in Tuscaloosa
The dog park is in a larger park that has ample parking for a large vehicle. We had a parking lot all to ourselves!
We walked across a large field, past a sports complex and over to the fenced dog park. They have 2 dog parks, which was perfect for us. The other fenced area was filled with sociable doggies, and we had one all to ourselves. Other dog owners seemed to understand that we were isolating on purpose, and did not let their dogs come to the fence and harass our ill-tempered little bulldog. However, Tahoe had several friendly “talks” through the fence with dogs who passed by. He also got to run around and sniff every corner of the huge fenced area.
Our next stop in Alabama needs a whole post of its own, so I’ll stop here. I’m getting you caught up, I promise!