New Orleans, Louisiana

Day 285


     We went into New Orleans for the day. We visited all the touristy locations, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, the French Quarter, the French Market, the Garden District, rode the trolley, took a ferry ride over to Algiers on the other side of the Mississippi. We will be going back here at least two more

      La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded May 7, 1718, by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.  The city is named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who reigned as Regent for Louis XV from 1715 to 1723. His title came from the French city of Orléans.

     We stopped by the Bank of Louisiana (see day 274). The bank was liquidated in 1867, and the building is now a police station. 


Mandeville, Louisiana

Day 281

     We are currently near New Orleans in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, where Barbara’s brother lives.  We went to our first Mardi Gras parade here in Mandeville, a suburb of New Orleans. There are about 50 different parades – most in the suburbs, very family oriented. We are going into New Orleans later for three more parades (one right after the other on the same route). Each has a theme and they are getting more and more elaborate as we near actual Mardi Gras day on Fat Tuesday, 2/28/17. 

     Our first Mardi Gras parade was in the pouring rain.


     It did not dampen the spirits of the parade participants

     Or of the spectators

     Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. However, Mardi Gras is only one day. The rest is called Carnival Season, which starts 12 days after Christmas, January 6th, and goes to Fat Tuesday. (For fabulous prizes, does anyone know the significance of the twelfth day after Christmas?)

     Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of eastern Texas.

     In 1703 French settlers in Mobile, Alabama, established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States. The first mystic society, or krewe, was formed in Mobile in 1711, the Boeuf Gras Society. It was these secret societies that first organized the parades. Today, these independent societies (no longer secret, by law) sponsor the floats of the parades. The first Mardi Gras parade held in New Orleans took place in 1837.

     You would not believe what Barbara had to do to get those breads. 


Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Day 280

     Ponchatoula, Louisiana, was originally established as a mining camp in 1820, incorporating as a town on February 12, 1861. William Akers was the first mayor and is credited with founding the town, establishing it on land he purchased from the Federal government in 1832. Ponchatoula is a name signifying “falling hair” or “hanging hair”. It was the Indians’ way of expressing the beauty of the location, with much Spanish moss hanging from the trees. 

     Because of it’s close proximity to New Orleans and this being Mardi Gras season, we will be staying here a month. Come by and see us. 

Technical Stuff:

Vidalia, Louisiana to Ponchatoula, Louisiana 138.7 miles

3 hours 15 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.22


Frogmore Plantation, Louisiana

Day 278

     Frogmore Plantation, in what is now called Feriday, Louisiana, was built on an enviable plot of real estate. A farmer named Daniel Morris built the farm along an early wagon trail that stretched from Natchez, Mississippi to Natchitoches—a city that, at 300 years old is Louisiana’s oldest. The trade route eventually led to the Camino Real in Texas, and all of this interstate travel meant that Frogmore’s cotton was easy to ship across the South and beyond. By the time the Civil War came to Louisiana, the once-tiny plantation had grown to a massive 2,640 acres.The plantation is named after Frogmore, England. 

     Today it is still a working cotton plantation, with a section kept as it looked in 1815. Barbara was tasked with picking cotton, but she didn’t meet her quota, and I had to leave her. 


Vidalia, Louisiana

Day 277


     We traveled from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Vidalia, Louisiana on Route 61, the blues road, named for the fact that it was the road taken by many artists going north from New Orleans to Memphis.      

     Our campground is on the Mississippi River in Vidalia, Louisiana, which is across the river from Natchez, Mississippi.


.    We walked along the river bank watching the barges going up and down the river. 


     Vidalia was founded April 21, 1798 by Don José Vidal, when he received a land grant from the Spanish Governor. This territory was under Spanish rule, before the United States acquired it in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. 

Technical Stuff:

Askew’s Landing, Mississippi to Vidalia, Louisiana 96.6 miles.

2 hours 29 minutes

11.4 MPG

Diesel: $2.17



Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi

Day 274

     The battle of Vicksburg is unique in that during the 47 day siege, May 19 to July 4, 1863, of the 100 skirmishes the union was only successful in taking one hill, which they were not able to keep. The Union Army, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, could not take the city of Vicksburg by force because the city was bordered by the Mississippi River on the west and by 300 foot bluffs on the remaining sides. However, Grant was able to cut off all supplies to the city. 

     Grant’s counterpart and defender of the city was General John C. Pemberton. (See day 272). On July 4, 1863, Pemberton surrendered 2,166 officers and 27,230 men, 172 cannon, and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles to Grant. This combined with the battle of Gettysburg, being fought also July 1-3, 1863, irrevocably turned the tide of the Civil War in the Union’s favor. 

     Interesting note: Following the surrender on July 4, 1863, the city did not celebrate Independence Day for 82 years. It appears Mississippi is a sore loser, as their state flag still displays the stars and bars. 


     We toured by car and walking the 16 mile loop of the Vicksburg Battlefield. Markers were placed at the location of each encounter, blue for Union, red for Confederates. 

     Also on the battlefield was The Cairo, a Union ironclad warship that engaged the Confederates on the Mississippi and surrounding rivers. Contrary to my high school memory, that there were only two ironclads during the Civil War, there were hundreds. This gunboat was sunk on December 12, 1862 at 11:52 AM by a mine on the Yazoo River, north of Vicksburg. This was the first sinking of a vessel by a mine. The mine was manually operated electronically by soldiers hidden on the banks of the river.

     Quire: Does anyone know why the South is referred to as Dixie?

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Day 273

Do you know what this is?

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     We are now in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In 1814 Newit Vick, a Virginia born methodist minister, erected a log cabin for worship here which he called “Open Woods”. Vick was the first methodist minister in this part of the country, and before his death in 1819 of yellow fever he purchased 612 acres of land, which he laid out as a town. To honor his death this town was named Vicksburg. It was incorporated on January 29, 1825.

     While John C. Pemberton invented Coca Cola in 1886 (see day 259), it was a candy merchant in Vicksburg, Mississippi who came up with the idea to bottle the soda fountain drink and ship it outside Vicksburg. Joseph A. Biedenharn, born December 13, 1866, was a confectioner who in the summer of 1894 came up with the idea of bottling the soda fountain drink Coca-Cola at his wholesale candy company building in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The bottles at the top where the originals. When the stopper was pulled, it gave a popping sound, hence the name soda pop. 

     An interesting note: In 1925 Joseph and his son, Malcolm Biedenharn,  purchased a crop-dusting business. They added eighteen planes, making it the largest privately owned fleet in the world. That company eventually developed as Delta Air Lines.


Edwards, Mississippi

Day 272

     We stayed at the Bridgeport Plantation, now an RV Park. Located near the Big Black River, the plantation was established by Duklet Askew in 1859. He and his brother traveled from North Carolina to Mississippi searching for land to build a cotton plantation. Duklet bought 2,000 acres northeast of Edwards Mississippi, along the old Bridgeport Road. He began by clearing more than 500 acres, farmed cotton, and built and operated a ferry across the Big Black River. Some time later, he built a cotton gin and operated a general store close to the ferry on the Big Black River. The park is now operated by Dan Askew. 

     John Clifford Pemberton, born August 10, 1814, was a career United States Army officer who fought in the Seminole Wars and the Mexican–American War. He served as a Confederate general during the Civil War and was noted for his defeat and surrender in the critical Siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. On May 17, 1863, Pemberton’s 4th brigade, commanded by Col. Reynolds, and portions of Grant’s 15th Corps, commanded by Gen. William T. Sherman, fought here, at our campsite, as Confederate forces retreated from their Champion Hill defeat. Subsequent skirmishing took place near here on June 13, 1863 when a Confederate cavalry force challenged the union picket guarding Grant’s eastern line. 

     I think I just put my lawn chair where General Sherman had his latrine. 


Technical Stuff:

Tupelo, MS to Edwards, MS: 249.1 miles

5 hours 19 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.21


Tupelo, Mississippi

Day 269


     Tupelo, Mississippi, is best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Of course we visited his home. He was born here January 8, 1935 at 4:35 AM. 


     We also visited the Tupelo Automobile Museum.  This museum had cars that I had not seen before, such as:

     Toyopet Crown Deluxe (1958). First Toyota offered for sale in the US:


     Benz (not yet Mercedes-Benz) (1886)


     Olds (1902)


     Carter Car (1912) a friction drive automobile – no clutch, no transmission, no driveshaft, no gears.



Quiz:       (what, you didn’t study?):

     Can you name these hood ornaments?



1. Plymouth (1959) 2. Lincoln Mark IV (1976) 3. Packard (1929) 4. Pierce Arrow (1929)    5. Cadillac (1939) 6. Triumph (1949)  7. Stutz (1927)  8. Lincoln (1931)

Of course, you remember this grill: day-269-tupelo-ms-9838_fotor

Engines were so much simpler in the 50’s


Technical Stuff:

Huntsville, AL to Tupelo, MS 179.5 miles

3 hours 57 minutes

9.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.26

Ditto’s Landing, Alabama

Day 266

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     We are staying at the campground located at Ditto’s Landing, on the Tennessee River, about 12 miles from Redstone Arsenal. In 1807 Pioneer James Ditto began operating a ferry service from here across the Tennessee River. This landing became a major crossing to Madison County, Alabama, and became a thriving port, with the town of Whitesburg being incorporated here on December 23, 1824. Throughout the 19th century this port was a major cotton shipping center. However, with the advent of railroads, water transportation declined and the town disappeared. The Post Office closed in 1905.


Burritt Mansion, Huntsville, Alabama

Day 267


     William Henry Burritt, was born February 17, 1869, Madison County, AL, in what is now Huntsville, AL. We visited Burritt Mansion built in 1938, after his first house burned down the day he moved in, June 6, 1936. Dr. Burritt was a medical doctor but in 1903 shifted his attention from medicine to the manufacture of rubber products. He developed and had a patent on a wheel and pneumatic tire system.

     The mansion was built in the shape of a maltase cross, and  located on 167 acres on Round Top Mountain. He was attracted to the healthful spring waters and mountain air that had won the neighboring mountain the name “Monte Sano,” or Mountain of Health.



      He had neat fireplaces. 


    The mansion contained an exhibit of the Life and Works of Maria Howard Weeden. Born July 7, 1846, she became famous for her drawings and literary works on the freed slaves following the Civil War.

     We visited neighboring Monte Sano. I feel much healthier.


Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

Day 265

     The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is located at Redstone Arsenal, an active military base. It was here that von Braun and his team developed and tested the rockets that led up to the Saturn V that took Apollo 11 to the moon.

     For the last 17 years, the Flight Center is the Payload Operation Center for the International Space Station. While the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas control the operation of the Space Station, The Marshal Center controls all the experiments that are done by the US on the Station. There are 6 people on the space station. 3 Russians and 3 Americans. Sometimes the Americans give up one of their spots to a member of one of the other countries that have contributed to the Space Station.

     The number of people on the Station is limited to 6 people, as the only way to get to the Station from Earth is through the Russian Soyuz vehicles, which hold only 3 people. The average stay is 6 months, with 3 people leaving and being replaced every 3 months. 

     We were able to view the Operation Center.


     There were live feeds from the Space Station. Here you can see the Russian ships at their dock. 


     In case of emergency the astronauts can leave the station on these two vehicles. 

     Here is a live view of the Earth from the Station.


     The Marshall Space Flight Center is also developing the next rockets


     As well as the vehicle and propulsion system that will take man to Mars in 2030. 


Huntsville, Alabama

Day 264


     The Deep South doesn’t get any deeper than Alabama. This is where cotton was king, where the Confederacy was born, and where Jefferson Davis’ birthday is still a holiday. We came here to get warm, but the temperature is still only in the 50’s.

     Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state on December 14, 1819.  

     Wernher von Braun was born in Wirsitz, Germany March 23, 1912. He received a doctorate degree in physics from the University of Berlin in 1934. He was interested in rocketry and his work became widely known, which led to the establishment of the Rocket Center at Peenemuende, Germany in 1937. During WW2 he led the team that developed the V-2 liquid fueled rocket used in the bombing of England. 

     When the Allied forces advanced into Germany, von Braun and some of his colleagues surrendered to the U.S. Army. The German rocketeers began working with the Army to enhance the V-2 and develop other rockets. 

     In 1941 the Army chose Huntsville, Alabama as the location of a wartime chemical munitions plant and arsenal, now called Redstone Arsenal. It was here that von Braun was eventually brought. In 1950, von Braun became the technical director of rocket development. On April 14, 1955 he became a United States Citizen. 

     On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration day-264-huntsville-al-9579_fotor

      Responding to President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon, he led the team that developed the Saturn Rocket that took Apollo 11 to the moon and back. This site became the Marshall Space Flight Center.

    Today we toured the museum, tomorrow we will go to the Marshall Space Flight Center.      


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They had a live feed from the International Space Station.

Barbara walks the Arm for her space walk.




On display was one of the moon rocks brought back by

Apollo 11. I wonder if my brother, Norman, worked on that rock?

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Technical Stuff:

Cumming, GA to Huntsville, AL 248.4 miles

5 hours 7 minutes

10.0 MPG

Diesel: $2.34


Stone Mountain, Georgia

Day 263


     Stone Mountain is a granite rock, 9 miles long and 1,686 feet high formed at the time of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is most noted for it’s carving on it’s north face. 

     The carving was conceived by Mrs. C. Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). She wanted to have a lasting tribute to the Confederacy. She got a lease from the owners of the Mountain in 1916 and commissioned Gutzon Borglum to do the carving. He wanted to do  a sizable Civil War monument showing General Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson leading a group of soldiers. However, because of various disputes Borglum abandoned the project in 1925 (and later went on to begin Mount Rushmore). He had completed a good part of the carving. Nevertheless, the supsequent carver actually blew off the mountain Borglum’s work.

     Numerous disputes and carvers followed. The project, consisting only of Lee, Davis, and Jackson, was not completed until March 3, 1972. (No wonder they lost the war. And, why didn’t they put it on the South face?)


     We stopped at the grist mill that had been moved from somewhere else to the base of Stone Mountain. 


Roswell, Georgia

Day 261

     Finally, far enough south to see flowers.


     In 1830, while on a trip to northern Georgia, Roswell King passed through the area of what is now Roswell and observed the great potential for building a cotton mill along Vickery Creek. Since the land nearby was also good for plantations, his idea was to put cotton processing near cotton production.

     We visited Bulloch Hall, the childhood home of President Theodore Roosevelt’s mother, Mittie Bulloch, which has been preserved and restored. 


     The Bulloch family moved to Roswell at the invitation of founder Roswell King, a family friend. Major James Stephen Bulloch, who served in the Revolutionary War, built this house in 1839. Mittie Bulloch lived with her family here until she married Theodore Roosevelt in 1853. They then moved to New York City. Their son, Teddy, became the 26th President of the United States. 

     The family tree goes like this: Major Stephen Bulloch married his second wife,  Martha Elliott, in 1832. Their second daughter, Martha (Mittie) Bulloch, married Theodore Roosevelt in 1853. Their son, Theodore Roosevelt, was the 26th President of the United States. Elliott Roosevelt, another son of Theodore Roosevelt Sr. and Martha Bulloch, was the father of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt who married her fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who became the 31st President of the United States. Got that?


Swan House, Atlanta, Georgia

Day 260


     Completed in 1928, Swan House was the home of Edward and Emily Inman, heirs to a post Civil War cotton brokerage fortune. Edward Inman died in 1931, but Emily collected her family into the house and lived there until 1965. The house and grounds were acquired by the Atlanta Historical Society in 1966. The house is maintained as a 1920s and 1930s historic house museum, with many of the Inmans’ original furnishings.


     It got it’s name from the decorations of swans throughout the house and property.


     They also had other unusual animals.