I have had a couple awesome days riding in these mountains with very favourable weather, and the most incredible roads. Well more of that later.
I left Arkansas after traveling down Hwy. 7 and it was a very nice road, it wasn’t incredible but still quite worth taking. After crossing over the Mississippi River and entering the State at Vicksburg I obtained a motel for the evening. I met 4 Harley riders that had come down from Toronto and they were asking what there is to see in this town. After telling then about the Federal Military Park and historic down town one of them said he doesn’t know much american history so they will keep going. Their mistake, as the park is really well worth seeing and I spent about 5 hours there
At the visitors centre they have a short 20 minute film showing how Gen. Grant finally took Vicksburg and what were the conditions like for all people in and around Vicksburg. It was both informative and well done, and so was a wall sized computer display of how the different armies moved around.
The grounds themselves are very large and you drive around and take a self guided tour. As I was on the bike it was a bit hard to read the guide provided and ride. After the war the Federal Government requested that all States that participated in the conflict at Vicksburg to erect a memorial to the fallen. The southern states after the war were very poor so they were the last to comply and their memorials were comparably small, but as time went on they rebuilt them and all of the memorials are quite impressive with there bronze statues. The families of some of the fallen have over time erected other smaller monuments with some very well done carved relief impressions of the individual. Most of these were of officers has they were usually from well to do families and the ordinary soldiers families were all quite poor, especially in the south.
Here is a few pictures taken in and around Vicksburg Mississippi
The following pictures are of some fabulous bronze statues on some of the monuments. The pictures do not do it justice
All in all the park was something to see and I’m very glad that I have visited it. This park and the one I visited in Tennessee called Shiloh makes one wonder that after this war that was so brutal and that concluded 150 years ago, why we as a species cannot seem to get along and our only way to resolve issues is to kill each other. I have many more pictures and videos of the park that placing them all in here would most likely be a bit depressing.
After visiting the park I rode down to the river and visited the old historic town of Vicksburg along with some of the surrounding areas and was quite struck with how poor some Americans live. I did not take any pictures of their dwellings as it didn’t seem right, and I was also worried for my own safety as the residents did not seem to enjoy me riding by.
I did take some pictures of the first bottling plant for Coke-Cola which was located in historic down town Vicksburg. This fellow that had a candy store and bottled soda drinks obtained the syrup from the inventor in Atlanta in 1894 and bottled and sold locally the soft drink. He soon started to branch out and sold many distributorships in Mississippi and beyond. Before this Coke was only available at soda fountains as they individually mixed the syrup with either plain water or carbonated water. I visited the museum there and found it quite interesting and of course I had to buy a Coke in an original sized bottle.
I then left Vicksburg and found one road that had been mentioned in M/C magazines as interesting, and as the name River Road sounded good. It wasn’t to be as I never got to see the river once and it was quite straight and went through farms of corn, peas and beans. A large part of Mississippi that I saw was quite flat and the only saving grace was the farms were divided by reasonable sized tree plantations. It was not on till I took a small portion (about 50 miles) of the famed Natchez Trace Parkway did I see anything that resembled hills. The Natchez Trace Parkway is for cars, bikes and bicycles only with no commercial traffic at all. It was quite pretty with various types of oak trees, other hardwood trees and a pine tree that looks a lot like our Ponderosa Pine. I had been warned not to speed on the parkway many times, from many people, and so I was an old man like I am and obeyed the measly 50 mph speed limit. It wasn’t until I arrived at Tupelo that I even seen a copper.
Along the way I stopped and visited an ancient indian mound area. These natives lived here long before any Spaniards even thought about crossing the Atlantic.
Tupelo was my next stop and I went out of my way to visit the birth place of Elvis Presley.
Toured through the small house that Elvis was born in and the church that he worshipped in. The museum was fairly good with many pictures of Tupelo Miss. back in the 30s and 40s. It was quite interesting to find out that when Elvis was about 7 years he asked is Momma for a gun. She thought he was too young and so bought him a child’s guitar for $5.00 and convinced him this was better then a gun. He loved to sing and eventually play the guitar in church, he also frequented the black jazz / blues part of Tupelo to listen to their music out side the juke joints. Tupelo was certainly worth going to for Elvis has, and continues to supply inspiration to musicians and contributes in a large way to the music most of us love.
Some pictures from Tupelo
I then left Mississippi and entered Tennessee where I visited another Civil war site called Shiloh. This was another in a soon to become series of sites that would remind me of the sheer stupidity of man. Shiloh has a very impressive cemetery, but I have to admit I was a little depressed walking through it to take any pictures.
The rest of my journey in Tennessee was uneventful but I did mange to find some fairly good roads that succeeded in whetting my appetite for the things to come as I neared the Appalachian Mountains.