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Melissa L. Thornton            Artist....Photographer            Add color to all of YOUR life!!    

 

 

The Deep South, March 2018

Part One

The trip started in New Orleans, Louisiana with my college singing group, the V8s, gathering for our annual rehearsal weekend.V8s is not about vegetables...it's a shortened version of 'Victory 8s', a group started in 1942 during WWII by 8 talented Mount Holyoke College singers. It is still the 'oldest continuing historically all-female collegiate a cappella group in the nation'. And this particular subset of the group has been meeting to perform at every Class of 1974 reunion in the last 45 years. (!)
 
We stayed at a quirky villa site right on the canal that leads to Lake Pontchartrain. The villas were constructed of containers, but the interiors were quite nice. The breezes and weather were considered cold for the locals, but felt fabulous to us--having traveled from CT, IND, IL, NM and ME.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we often have trouble finding individual bedrooms, with private baths, for 6,
so I was happy to find this place...and in our price range!

 

Here's our closest neighbor on the canal, a 100' houseboat owned by Nancy. She said that she and her husband were enjoying listening to us singing and she said, 'hey, I know some of those songs....that's live.' And he said, 'nah, that's the radio'. But when we stopped for a break, she was proven correct.
 
Four days were spent eating....checking out the shopping district....eating....wandering the cemeteries....eating....and touring the historic districts...with rehearsals here and there...
My favorite restaurant was the Commander's Palace for brunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

......and we took a wonderful walk at the Barataria Preserve of the Jean LaFitte National Historic Park, SE of New Orleans, where I finally got my fill of Spanish moss...and were visited by egrets and alligators galore. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, New Orleans, LA to Moss Point, MS

Then it was time to say goodbye to the Songbirds and to start my exploring adventure of the Deep South. So I took off to the east and wandered backroads (route 90 is designated the scenic route) through the Gulf areas of Mississippi and Alabama. Everyone was amazingly nice and helpful...it really was the 'southern hospitality' that we Yankees hear about.

This was the plan for the first half of the trip.

 

 

Locals reported that they felt that Katrina had been a 'cleansing' of the Southern Louisiana areas. With rebuilding of houses and businesses, there's less crime, etc......but some buildings were just swept away...and left where they landed...
March 5

 

 

 

 

 

Along the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast, there were multitudes of stilts and signs, stilts and signs...so that high waves won't take away these lovely new waterfront homes...
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering East on Route 90, I came to Bay St. Louis, a lovely town that sits right on the Gulf of Mexico.
 

 

 

 

 

Bay St. Louis has some of the 'Angel Trees'...strong oaks that people held onto and climbed into too escape the massive waves of

Hurricane Katrina...and which saved many lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across the bridge, and soon I was traveling right along the MS Gulf Coast...
and I've always wondered exactly where you are when you're in the boonedox!
 

 

Very interesting to see the Presidential Library and Museum of the President of the Southern United States during the Civil War, Jefferson Davis.
 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 6, Moss Point, MS to Dauphine Island, AL and back....

March 6, it poured all morning, so I stayed put at a lovely, comfy suite in Moss Point, MS and further planned the trip. Then, when the sun came out at noon, I drove east to Alabama.  The ladies at the AL Welcome Center were delightful and I set out to discover Dauphin Island that very minute.

 

 

 

So here are the containers before they became our villa bedrooms!
 

The Welcome Center ladies exhorted me to note the cleanliness of the Gulf water, compared with the muddiness of the protected waters of southern LA and MS. They said that people fish and boat in LA and MS, but they drive to AL to swim...interesting!
Hmmm...this 'real Gulf' water appears to be the same color as the sand....but the beachfront was gorgeous, relatively untouched and full of wildlife...
 

 

March 6

 

Dauphin Island is the home to Fort Gaines, strategically placed for defense of Mobile Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dauphin Island is also the site of the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, where I met the largest alligator of the trip...turtles and lots of spring singing birds.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking down is something we do when we hike in Maine...because of the rocks and roots. Looking down is something they do in the Deep South because of snakes!!  

 

 

 

I loved  that the morning's rainstorm was still sitting on the lily pads.

 

 

 

 

On the way back up to the mainland, I stopped at the renowned Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore, Alabama and had a wonderful time and a long walk surrounded by early spring color...particularly appreciated since my town in Maine was having the second of three major snowstorms while I was away!
What a lovely breath of warmth and burgeoning life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trees....the trees....the glorious trees!!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 7 Moss Point, MS to Montgomery, AL

The next morning, I said goodbye to the Gulf and headed inland, towards Montgomery.

 

 

The first stop was at the magnificent Bragg Mitchell mansion in Mobile
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second stop was at the famous Visitation Monastery, also in Mobile, in the same neighborhood.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Then on to Montgomery on back roads...
 

 

 

 

March 8  Montgomery, AL to Gadsden, AL via the highest point in Alabama
Montgomery is, BY FAR, the cleanest and most impressive state capitol I have ever visited! I had a wonderful, long walk around the Capitol area on a glorious sunny morning.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first White House of the Confederacy...and its view of the current State Capitol.
 

 

 

 

 

 

And the more modest home where Martin Luther King was raised.
 

 

And a riverboat on the Alabama River...note the high water mark....58 feet, one inch!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montgomery is a LOVELY city.

And Alabama, like so many states, is a study in extremes....here are the back roads I took, heading northeast towards the highest point in Alabama,
in Cheaha State Park, near Lineville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the highest point of Alabama (2400 feet!!), in the Talladega Forest, near Delta, I found a hike...and a very large new friend. Sasquatch!! But seriously, these states are close to flat...and most of the hikes had no views. I'll take Maine for hiking any time.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But this state park did have the first of many waterfalls...lovely natural resources that abound in northern Alabama.
 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems this was near a former lodge, and the local Christian boy scout troop had built this reservoir....must have been lovely. The current lodge has other water sources!
 

 

The countryside flattened out pretty quickly on the way to Gadsden that evening.
 

 

 

Press here for Part Two of the Deep South trip

 

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