Monday - 8.28.00

After breaking camp, we decided to climb up the 4 story lookout tower and take in a view of the river and the area we had camped in. We took showers in the beautiful shower house and boogied out of the park. Pretty good for a free night night's stay. Following the Great River Road we came upon the town of Greenville, MS. I really needed a coffee fix, so we stopped at a back roads gas station. Somehow I managed to start a conversation with the scary lady behind the counter (the whole place was pretty scary, actually). I mentioned that we were headed to New Orleans and the lady said, "be careful".

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I was also a little disturbed that all the plastic coffee spoons were used. Fortunately we found a clean fork in the jeep so I could stir in the sugar.

Continuing south we stopped to watch a crop duster at work. We also picked a couple branches off some cotton plants. We finally got to see a cotton boll up close.

Vicksburg, MS

The Great River Road next led us to Vicksburg, MS. Our trusty guidebook mentioned a place called Margaret's Grocery, saying there was some very interesting yard work at the location. It also warned us to watch out for the owner, as he liked to talk to talk visitor's ears off. We decided to stop first at the Vicksburg visitor's center to ask a few questions. Two older classy southern bells gave us advice on what mansions to view and also directions to Margaret's Grocery . They both gave us extremely odd looks and you could tell they thought we were a little crazy - little did we know.

We took a quick driving tour of the town to look at a few of the old mansions. Both Kurt and I were a little surprised at how small the city really was. We expected a good-sized city when Vicksburg was really no more than a large town. After driving past a few of the mansions, we headed out to Margaret's Grocery.

Wow. That's all we could think when we first saw the 'store'. Margaret's Grocery was definitely the most garish roadside "yard art" either of us had ever seen. Little did we know that it was just a ploy to trap tourists so an 84-year-old man could come out and preach at the unsuspecting visitors.

He insisted that society was going to ruins and that the devil had told city hall to force him to stop construction of his 10 Commandment tower. The city gave him an old school bus to stop him from building a temple. The crazy man chased us right up to the Jeep. We got out of there fast and took off laughing.

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We headed south out of town and passed through Natchez. We also dined on the remainder of our turkey sandwiches. We crossed the border into Louisiana and switched drivers.


Our first adventure in Louisiana was Baton Rouge (must be said with the 'proper' accent). On our way into town, we managed to take a wrong turn and ended up crossing the Mississippi for the first time since Memphis. We hadnít meant to cross the river so soon, so we drove down to another bridge and crossed back to the East side. We of course found the capital building and took a few pictures. (No time for a self-guided tour today, unfortunately.)

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We headed out of town through LSU's campus and passed by their huge football stadium. We were headed for a ferryboat to take us across the Mississippi to the West side. The small back road mentioned in our guidebook ran right alongside the dike of the Mississippi River.

Unfortunately, we soon experienced our first big boo-boo - we forgot to fill up with gas before leaving Baton Rouge. We discovered this misfortune in the middle of no where on the levee road. When we looked at the Jeep's computer to see how much farther we could go before we ran completely out of gas, we discovered that we had zero miles to go! We turned in to the next small town; it had a NAPA store, but no gas station. We almost made it back to Baton Rouge but ran out of gas about 1/2 mile from the gas station. After a short walk and a few jokes, we were back in business with a full tank of gas. (**whew** It could have been so much worse!)

The Ferry was the next event for the day. This was the first time Kurt had been on an auto ferry. For $1 Kurt, the Jeep and I crossed the Mississippi River once again.

We then continued down the Great River Road to the Sunshine Bridge (interestingly the bridge inspired the song "You are my Sunshine"). We trespassed on the levee to get a good picture. Afterwards, we continued down the "Chemical Corridor" (the nickname for this part of the road due to all the chemical plants). After a short while, we ventured upon Oak Alley, the largest southern plantation in the state. The oak trees lining the front walk were over 250 years old.

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The mansion was extremely impressive. We also climbed up the levee to get another view of the river and the boats.

New Orleans, LA

We continued on East to New Orleans. Unfortunately, we took another premature turn and crossed the river again. This turn took us down I-10 instead of the Chemical Corridor. We missed seeing a graveyard directly in front of a nuclear power plant, but we did get to cross the southern edge of Lake Ponchatrain, a bridge that stretches for about 15 or 20 miles. I remembered crossing this same bridge into New Orleans when I was about 6.

Kurt and I proceeded to the French Quarter and found an old hotel for the night - Hotel Provincial on Chartres Street right in the heart of the French Quarter. We were two blocks from Bourbon Street - a location we figured would be prime after visiting the bars later that night. We unloaded the Jeep, cleaned up and headed out on the town. We walked around a bit and found a great Brew Pub/Oyster Bar for dinner. We had some delicious oysters on the half shell, crab cakes, and boiled shrimp. We also indulged in cheesecake for dessert. Bourbon Street was the next adventure. Kurt bought a beer and I bought the biggest Hurricane they had. We then walked all over the French Quarter and down to Canal Street with drinks in hand. After finishing the drinks we decided to head back to Bourbon Street. We "witnessed" something then - 3 men in plain clothes running down the street at a full sprint. After that a Honda and another small car took off in another direction at a high rate of speed. Seconds later police sirens and 3-4 police cars raced off in each direction.

We aren't really sure what went down but we knew we needed another beer.We found a bar with a balcony so we could "people watch" for awhile. It was a Monday night and everyone was being pretty good so we decided to go to the blues joint down the way.

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Beers are very expensive in New Orleans. Heineken bottles were $6.75 and the big frozen drinks were $11.00. After listening to the band at the blues bar for awhile, we went to Absinthe House (established in 1807) and had a few very strong mixed drinks. After that, we both decided to return to the hotel while we could still stumble. It was a little after 2:00 AM when we made it back to the hotel and discovered that we needed some ice. So we went in search of the ice machine. We also 'happened' upon the pool that closed at 10:00 PM. No gate - so you know what that means... We sneaked into the pool James Bond style with "finger guns" around the corners - Kurt also had a great body roll across the ground. We swam around for about 15 minutes then headed back to the room to crash. (Day 4)

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09.25.2000 -