Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Down in the Delta

It’s taken me a while to decompress from my four-day excursion to the Mississippi Delta, and to figure out how to blog about it. When I downloaded my photos, I realized how much I failed to capture: the endless fields of cotton, the tiny churches dotting an otherwise empty landscape, the dichotomy of the very rich alongside the very poor, and how those same people can converge to enjoy some of our country’s best music and food.

So rather than presenting a travelogue, I’m simply posting photos and commentary from sights that caught my eye, or touched me in some way.

First stop, Greenwood: home of the Viking Range Corporation, the nation’s largest cotton exchange, several delightfully unique restaurants, and the grave of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. This is one of but three Johnson tombstones in the Delta, but historians consider this his most likely final resting place. Interesting to see what all other travelers had left behind: guitar picks, room keys, CDs, liquor bottles (including this one with a Canadian $5 bill inside), even a Livestrong bracelet.

Next door to the cemetery, we found our first night’s lodging, Tallahatchie Flats. Located right on the bank of the eponymous river (made famous by “Ode to Billy Joe”), the flats are actually sharecroppers’ shacks that have been relocated and refurbished for adventurous travelers.

I slept like a baby here, believe it or not; only thing missing was the sound of rain on the tin roof.

The rest of the trip was spent in Clarksdale, a city so steeped in musical and literary history that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface. Aside from all its famous denizens, it’s perhaps most noted as the location of the infamous “Crossroads.”

Though I lack photographic evidence, we partied in and slept above Morgan Freeman's blues club, the Ground Zero, as well as dined at his upscale restaurant, Madidi's. Madidi's was a far cry from Red's Lounge, where I heard the most soul-stirring blues of my life, played by one Mr. Robert Belfour. (Actually, Facebook friends can find those pics over there.)

It’s also home to Hicks Quality Foods, famous for its tamales. If you won’t take my word for how delicious they are, maybe you’d believe Bill Clinton and the long string of celebrities that will back me up on this.

My trip to the Delta was truly a life changing experience, one that instilled in me an even deeper appreciation for the state that I’m so proud to call home. Stay tuned for more of my favorite scenes, coming soon!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cold snap

Twenty-seven degrees on the coast, but feels like seventeen? Immenently grateful for this:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter color

Winter King Hawthorne makes up for Mississippi's lack of fall foliage, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Grand Gulf

Back in Claiborne County, Windsor isn't the only "ghostly" locale. The town of Grand Gulf -- once one of the busiest ports on the river, but long since abandoned after the river changed course -- is now no more than a state park. Buildings from Grand Gulf and the other nearby ghost town of Rodney have been relocated here, a testament to the power of the Mississippi, who both gives and takes away prosperity.

If you choose to visit, bring cash. The museum won't accept debit cards unless you are camping in the park.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

The view from my barstool at Underground 119 in Jackson on New Year's Eve.

If you're in the area, check out this downtown gem: tapas, original cocktails, live blues/jazz, and perfect ambiance since they're in a basement under an art gallery. (No, I'm not getting compensated for this . . . I just love it that much.)