Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Natchez Getaway ... Chapter One


On Friday afternoon, August 8, my husband and I drove to Natchez, Mississippi, where we met his brother and his wife for a brief weekend getaway. My brother- and sister-in-law own an RV, and were en route from Houston, Texas to their destination of Nova Scotia.

Can you imagine the sights they will see along their journey! I wish I could have "stowed away" in their RV, and gone along for the ride. But instead ... I wish them "Happy Trails," as they embark on their wonderful adventure.

I'd like to begin my journal with a picture of Pearl Street Pasta, which is where we ate dinner Friday night ...

If you're ever in Natchez, I think you would enjoy the casual atmosphere at Pearl Street. I had their garden salad with the best "Herbal Vinaigrette" dressing I've ever had, and their wonderful "Shrimp Scampi with Penne'," with red peppers and scallions. Makes my mouth water just to think about it.

After dinner, we visited the Isle of Capri Casino on the Mississippi River, and I won $60.00, which was exciting.

I woke early Saturday morning (at 5:08 -- don't you just love digital clocks), looking forward to venturing out by myself and taking some pictures before the rest of Natchez awakened. I headed toward downtown Natchez, guided by the steeple on this beautiful old church ...

St. Mary's Basilica Catholic Church
It was a bright and clear morning, not terribly warm yet, and downtown Natchez was deserted except for a few early morning walkers and bicyclists.

I rode around getting acclimated to all the one-way streets and finally parked across from the church, behind which I discovered a glorious park underneath a canopy of majestic 100-year-old oaks.

I was so excited to be the only one in the park, and when I entered it, I could hear water cascading from a fountain. Sunlight was highlighting the limbs of the huge old lichen-covered oak trees, and church bells were striking the seven o'clock hour. Being in such a beautiful and peaceful place was truly an awe-inspiring way to start my day.

[Note: Upon researching it, I found that the park sits on the old burying ground site. When the city cemetery was established in its present location, the remains from the old burial ground were gradually moved to the present site north of the town. However, Samuel Brooks, the first Mayor of Natchez, from 1803-1811, is still buried there in the park.]

Here are some of my pictures of the park ...

This is the gorgeous fountain in the center of the park, with its cute little cherubs frolicking in the water ... (The detailing is amazing and I hope you will click on the pictures to enlarge them)

After I left the park, my next stop was the historical shopping district ...

... And a little early morning window shopping ...

Addie's Antique Mall was my favorite shop ...

Take a look in this window and you will see why. I love that goose on the top shelf and that tiered wire basket on the table ...

We went back to Addie's later and I loved it. It's one of those old antique malls where one room leads to another and you can just keep going and going and going, like "the Energizer Bunny." The prices were pretty reasonable and I bought an old decoupaged floral print which I'll probably post later.

After "window shopping," I decided to drive through some of the residential areas near downtown and everywhere I looked, I saw homes I wanted to photograph. However, I limited them to just a few (aren't you glad?)...

"Glen Auburn," circa 1875

"Pleasant Hill," circa 1835

These two antebellum mansions are located high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River ...

"The Parsonage," circa 1852

"Rosalie," circa 1820-1823
There was one more area I wanted to check out while I was downtown. It's called "Natchez Under-the-Hill," and it is located at the foot of the bluffs on the banks of the river.

Once, thieves, cutthroats, ladies-of-the-night and riverboat gamblers lurked in the shadows and trod the dusty streets to the heart of the most notorious port on the river. Up from the river they came ... to the saloons and taverns ... seeking the pleasures these places provided.

On this particular Saturday morning, however, I didn't see any thieves, cutthroats, riverboat gamblers, or ladies-of-the-night (unless you consider me a "riverboat gambler" since I won $60 at the casino the night before, but let's don't talk about that!).

The only "lurkers" were I and my camera, seeking places and things that might provide an interesting story and picture or two. And I didn't have far to look ...

As I drove down the steep road the first thing I saw was the "SALOON," and I got so excited, I nearly drove into the river.

The saloon is still in operation and it advertises that "you won’t find illicit love ... and there is no more gambling, but there’s always entertainment. Sometimes a rinky tink piano, or a jazz band will play, "Pretzel” the chicken is usually on hand, and there are old photos, artifacts, riverboat models and river memorabilia to interest most anyone." I wish I could have gotten a picture of "Pretzel," but she must have been "sleeping in."

There is also the "Mark Twain Guest House" above the saloon which offers: "Three rooms that share a large bathroom equipped with a washing machine and dryer. Weekend entertainment in the saloon is not overpowering, but one demanding complete silence before 2:00 A.M. should probably stay elsewhere. The nights are quiet during the week unless a steamboat drops in. It’s a party atmosphere." Gotta love it!

Just look at these old doors ...

It also advertises a dentist upstairs (I do believe this sign is an oxymoron, though) ...

As I was leaving, this pretty little courtyard beside the saloon caught my eye ...

There was one more stop I wanted to make before I went back to the hotel to meet the "late sleepers," and that was to get a picture of the famous "Mammy's Cupboard" in Natchez.

Mammy's 28-foot tall skirt is home to a restaurant and gift shop, and is a renowned Natchez landmark.

After finding Mammy's Cupboard, I headed back to the hotel to have breakfast with my husband, and that's where I'm going to stop for today.

I hope you will join me for Chapter Two of this exciting, spellbinding story of Natchez, as seen through my eyes and my camera lens.

Sincerely,



8 comments:

Bella said...

What a beautiful and quaint little town! I love that Italian restaurant, so simply decorated, but so inviting at the same time. Beautiful fountain...and I loved that tiered wire basket, too...lovely, lovely town, thanks for sharing it with us :)

Bella

Sincerely Yours said...

Morning Janie! I enjoyed the first part of our "mini" vacation! I love how you aren't afraid to explore by yourself (me too!) It's good the shops were closed or you may have spent that $60!!! I am fascinated by old trees and loved that pic; I could see that fountain in your garden!!(maybe smaller.lol) Look forward to continuing the journey! Have a great day - Sincerely, Jeannette

Julie @ Sweet Chaos said...

That 5 am thing sounds neat, but I would never last in my household... I'd have to go to bed at 8pm, before my kids!

Janie, I am so glad to have found your blog. You take us to some of the most interesting destinations and I am living so vicariously thru you. We'd make wonderful travel partners--your attention to detail and the things you find interesting are spot on with me!

Thanks for sharing. Natchez, Vicksburg, and a million more place I haven't been, are all on my wish list.

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Janie,
Your pictures of Natchez are great! I think it's neat that you got up early to explore the downtown by yourself. I don't know if I would be that brave!

Natchez is a beautiful place! I've been there twice...once on our Mississippi tour with the Geograhic Alliance and once with my husband and some other couples.

I'm looking forward to part 2 of the tour!
BTW, we finally got our rain....it
rained all night and is still going. This may be a great day to stay in!
Have a good one,
Diane

ForeverMe said...

Beautiful pictures Janie! I love the old tree pictures, although I must say, you're braver than I am, to go exploring like that all by yourself! lol Glad you didn't fall into the river!! Take care!

Tracey said...

Oooohhh, I am lovin' Natchez. I think I am going to have to plan a trip...............

bj said...

Oh, how I would LOVE to go to Natchez..what a wonderful place.
I so enjoyed your lovely photos...thanks for taking me along on this wonderful tour.

nikkicrumpet said...

So many wonderful sites...those old oak trees are amazing. What a lovely place to visit!