Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Ride Home

Time to come home!  Or rather time to post a few highlights of our last trip while still relatively fresh in my mind ! 

In Natchez, we began our 444 mile trek up the modern day parkway that parallels the original Natchez Trace.  Just like the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Natchez Trace Parkway was constructed during the depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps and is part of the National Park System. Worn by hundreds of years of travel by wildlife, native hunters, French explorers and eventually farmers returning home after floating their crops and products down the Mississippi in flatboats, it was an important wilderness road.  The road today makes a peaceful ride, with no trucks and light tourist and local traffic.  The southern sections are smooth, straight and scenic (almost to the point of becoming boring!).  Historic markers and points of interest are many.   There was no way we could stop at them all and still make it home in the time we had.  The National Park Service has a great map that we used to determine where to stop. 

This was one of the areas where a portion of the original trail was (supposedly) left to show what it would have been like for the early travelers. 
We took a couple little side trips from the Trace.  The first was to the Windsor Ruins.  Back in 1861, a wealthy farmer completed a beautiful twenty-three room home for his family, only to die a short time later.  His widow and children continued to live in the home even though they lost the family fortune during the Civil War. Though the house did survive the war it was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1891.  The columns are all that remain. It was kind of sad to see them standing proudly among the trees and  imagine the stately home and grounds that were once here.  You can see how large they were in comparison to our bike parked under the tree.

A close up view of the top of one of the columns.  We wondered how these have stayed standing for so many years. Especially after the bad storms that rolled through this part of Mississippi a few days after our visit.

Another side trip was to Vicksburg and the National Military Park.  We got here a little late in the day so didn't have time to take any of the tours or ride through the entire site of  the Civil War Battle.  We did manage to see the last showing of the film in the Visitor's Center which we found interesting and gave us an appreciation for battles that were fought on these very grounds.

A little ways past Jackson is the Mississippi Crafts Center. I always enjoy browsing these places.  The quality of the original crafts and art is usually pretty amazing.  Colorful Choctaw baskets  and beautiful quilts caught my eye.

Near the end of our journey at mile marker 438 in Tennessee is Birdsong Hollow and this beautiful award winning bridge.  We thought that the last third of the Trace is probably the most scenic. Would we travel the entire Natchez Trace again on the bike?  Probably not.  Though there are many places that we enjoyed and we'd like to go back to Natchez and Vicksburg, the road got a little boring after three days.  But we enjoyed our trip, had great weather and had a nice visit with family.   Thanks for riding along!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring in Natchez

Next stop, Natchez, Mississippi.  Scenes along the way included some pretty farms and yes, a quilt shop!   

This is Quilt n Stitch in West Monroe, LA.  It is much larger than it appears in this photo.  They are Bernina dealers and have a huge classroom and lots of nice fabrics.  Plus some beautiful azaleas out front. 

Our destination in Natchez was The Burn Bed and Breakfast.  If you've got a minute, check out their website to get the whole story of this historic home built back in 1830.  It was occupied by Union soldiers during the Civil War and now is home to a gorgeous bed and breakfast filled with many beautiful antiques and just as many stories.  Since it was the middle of the week and we were the only guests for the night, we received a private tour of the home by the owner's daughter. 

The front view of the house is deceiving.  With about 11,000 square feet, this house is much bigger than it seems in this photo and the live oak in front is huge!

This is a view of the back side from the gardens.  The azaleas were beautiful  here too but we had just missed the camellias.  The original owner had planted over 100 varieties. 
Though the home is filled with period antiques, only a few of them are original. This dining table and chairs were some of them.  Someone has taken a lot of time (and money!) to meticulously recreate this historic home.

We were served a delicious breakfast in the guests' dining room (this room had been used as a horse barn during the Union occupation!) complete with eggs, sausage, bread pudding and grits.  I didn't think I liked grits, but these were pretty good. 
This was our room.  Pretty. 

In the garden, the sound of this pretty fountain and  the birds singing was quite relaxing.  Usually we tend to stay in Hampton Inns or Best Westerns (they are motorcycle friendly) but we had received a Bed and Breakfast .com gift card for our anniversary. (Thank you!) This was a welcome treat to be able to stay in such a beautiful inn.
Before we left Natchez, we drove through town to see some of the other sights.  I wish we had spent another day so we could tour some of the antebellum mansions like the Rosalie.  We walked around the grounds but didn't go in. 

There were several interesting shops downtown.  This photo was taken from the second floor of Darby's Gifts and Decorative Accessories. 
We ate an early lunch before leaving town at this restaurant.  Mammy's Cupboard has been a tourist attraction for many years and though she's showing her age a little, she still knows how to serve a nice meal.
She's famous for her Blueberry Lemonade and chicken salad.  I tried both :)

The Natchez Trace Parkway was on the itinerary next.  We wanted to take advantage of the wonderful spring weather and get headed up through Mississippi.  It's a good thing we didn't spend more time playing tourist in Natchez as we might not have gotten out of the state before bad weather hit.  Luckily we made it home dry and safely. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a wrap up of the final (long) phase of our trip.  Thanks for joining us on a visit to Natchez!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Southern Springtime Road Trip

Time for a road trip!  Yes, I know it seems like I've not been home anyway but this road trip involves a motorcycle and a husband in need of a vacation.  We began with a journey to visit family in Southern Arkansas.  With the GPS programmed for a route avoiding major highways, we saw lots of "country". 

 Mississippi was a new state for me.  The North West corner of this state was a lot of the above.. The cotton fields were interesting, but after many miles of this I was beginning to wonder whether this state had  anything else to offer. 

But before our visit to this corner of the state was over, we found this little cafe/bakery run by the friendliest Mennonite ladies in Leland, MS.  We enjoyed a nice sandwich here, but the cinnamon rolls we bought for later were awesome!

It took us about a day and a half of riding, but we reached our first destination late Friday afternoon.  El Dorado, Arkansas is known as the original oil boom town back in the 1920's. 
D's dad and step mom were gracious hosts for a nice weekend visit. While the guys messed around in the workshop, Pat patiently taught me how to do Peyote beading. 

I wasn't sure if this was a craft I could master, but I finally got the hang of it. I'm not giving up sewing though.  Pat owns Stitcher's Workshop and has experience teaching a variety of needlework so I had an excellent teacher. 

We left home with the trees just budding out but down here everything was nice and leafy green.  There was still plenty of pollen in the air though and all the cars seemed to wear a haze of yellow dust.    Next post I'll show you some of the beautiful azaleas we saw along the way. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

He Arrived!

He's arrived!  Grandson number three made his debut on Tuesday, April 6 at 7:59 a.m. weighing in at 8 lbs., 10oz.  With a surprise last minute name change to  William Stafford Dugan, his great-grandpa is extremely pleased.  We spent Easter and the following week with his family so I was able to spend some time with the "big" brother and help keep him occupied while mama was away.  
Brother J is a sweet little boy and he and Grammie had a good time for a few days. Some of his favorite things are chocolate donuts, Dora and Deigo, and "coloring" the driveway with colored chalk. So far he doesn't seem to mind that Mama brought home a new baby, but just that she went away for a few days! 

This is one of the quilts that I've been working on for Baby B.  I used a layer cake of Goodnight Monkey along with some yardage of the green monkeys for the border.  I didn't realize it was going to be so hard to find these fabrics, but after some online searches was able to come up with the right ones.  The quilting was done by  LAQ Tina.  I've had a couple of quilts done by her and have been very pleased.  I love the way she duplicated the stars from the fabric and also added the swirls that remind me of the monkey tails!  However, this quilt ended really quite large and will probably be saved for B's youth bed. And I never did get it held up to get a good photo of the entire quilt. There was enough of the layer cake pieces left to make a small little baby-size quilt which I free motion quilted myself.  Not quite as pretty but still usable!

I love this photo of the little guy!  He looks like he's angry - but my camera sends out a little beam of light to focus before you take the photo, even without the flash.  I'm sure there's a way to turn that off, but that might require reading the instruction manual and actually figuring out how to use that fancy camera.  Anyway - that light made the poor little guy squint everytime Grammie tried to take a photo when his eyes were open!  So I guess, maybe is was angry! 
I had serious deja vu everytime I held little B.  He looks so much like his daddy did when he was a baby that I even found myself calling him by his name.  We even found some of his daddy's baby pictures that confirmed it! 

Now that we're home again, I hope to get back to some quiltling/sewing.  I need to make a list of projects to complete before I start something new, along with working in the yard and doing some late spring cleaning!  And I'm sure there will be a motorcycle ride in the future too!

Thanks for stopping by and your patience with my lack of blogging!  Hope you all have a great week!