Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tupelo, Mississippi

If you are ever in northern Mississippi, don’t overlook the little town of Tupelo.  We were first introduced to the town a year and a half ago when we picked up our motorhome from a dealer located just outside of town.  But, long before we picked up the motorhome we knew of Tupelo as the birthplace of Elvis Presley.  Needless to say, Betsy was all too happy to spend some time in the birthplace of the hip gyrating, rock and roll pioneer that she loved.  Elvis’s childhood home is a stark contrast to his mansion built on a hill in Memphis but entertaining all the same.

Henrietta coming to introduce herself to us and make sure we
paid the admission fee. The large house on the
left is the "dog trot" cabin with the school house
and chapel in the background.
I happened to stumble upon the Oren Dunn City Museum while reading Trip Advisor’s “Things to Do” list in Tupelo.  Knowing that a “city museum” would not get an enthusiastic reception from Betsy, I kept the museums identity hidden and told her that I wanted to go by a wine and liquor store on the way home so that’s why we were on a different road.  Under false pretenses, she drove to the concealed destination willingly.  When we arrived at the museum, we were greeted by a wonderfully, friendly tuxedo cat named Henrietta.  Museum items are housed inside a brick building and outside on the grounds.  It was the outside exhibits like the old diner, fire trucks, and wooden buildings that attracted our attention.  Factor in the price of $2 and I had Betsy in the door before I knew it.  The museum housed interesting and eclectic exhibits representing the history of Tupelo and the surrounding area. There were Indian artifacts, civil war memorabilia, a railroad diorama depicting the area from the 1940’s, and even a polio chamber – just to name a few. 


An old bookmobile.  Remember when those were around....before i-readers and the internet?
The highlight of the outside village was an 1879 “Dog Trot” cabin and a one-room chapel and school.  But don’t overlook the outhouse, grist mill, caboose, and sorghum mill.  The dog trot cabin is defined by two rooms divided by a breezeway and an upstairs loft that runs the entire length.  The breezeway and porch provided cool breezes and a relief in the summer heat.  The unique name was derived from the behavior that farm dogs exhibited by trotting through the breezeway to find a cool, shady spot and beat the “dog days” of summer.


The "dog trot" house.

Betsy learning about quilting.  Hope she
doesn't want a sewing machine for the motorhome.
The museum also housed a quilt exhibit that featured quilt stories and specimens made by local people.  A special feature that weekend was the talk and book signing by Lisa-Marie Sanders, the author of Quilting with Aliens who also had some of her quilts on display.  Now, Betsy and I are about as far removed from the world of quilting as possible but were intrigued with the display and conversation we had with Lisa-Marie.   After talking with her we learned (and as she describes in her book) that the stereotype of a “quilter” does not always hold true.  In fact, we did not even know how to define a quilt if an alien asked.  Now, we can confidently say that a quilt is defined as a coverlet or blanket made of two layers of fabric with a layer of cotton, wool, feathers, or down in between, all stitched firmly together, usually in a decorative crisscross design (or something like that).  We had a great conversation with Lisa-Marie and the museum curator Janice and left enlightened.
A chapel and schoolhouse.  

Inside the schoolhouse.  The high chair in the far right corner was where children
sat when being disciplined - they had to wear a tall, pointy hat.

This chapel had the luxury of a wood stove and piano.  Many did not have either.
Lastly, we found time to make the peaceful drive along part of the 444-mile long Natchez Trace Parkway (a scenic byway), a piece of American history dating back centuries.  The Trace is a travel corridor that was used so regularly by people on foot and horseback that its definition still remains to this day.  Mid-westerners floated their goods down river to Natchez or New Orleans to sell or trade.  After they sold their goods and boats for lumber, they started walking the long path back up north.  Today the road mirrors the original path and pays homage to the history that shaped our country from the Delta south to the Appalachian foothills. There are no commercial vehicles allowed, the speed limit is 50 mph, and there are no billboards – it is just a beautiful tree-lined road winding for miles through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.  What you will find along the Trace are scenic overlooks, historic gravesites, burial mounds, battlefields, and missions.  The natural landscape includes falls, creeks, bluffs, sloughs, and springs.   The Trace provided us with a lovely fall drive that occupied our time and relaxed us.  
This original part of the Trace is known
as the "sunken trace."  So many people used
the path that it became worn down. 

The Natchez Trace Parkway follows the
original route but looks much different.

2 comments:

  1. I remember Bookmobiles. I guess that makes me old... ;c)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are always miles ahead of us all! Teri

    ReplyDelete

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