It's 1800. You have just sold your boat and load of produce that you floated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Natchez. You have a pocket full of money and need to return to your home in Ohio. You find a three foot wide path leading out of Natchez to the northeast and begin walking (see picture). After 60 miles you come to the Choctaw Boundary. Behind you is Natchez territory and civilization. Ahead of you is Indian territory and wilderness. There are no inns or way stations, no food supplies. There are, however, bandits, Indians, wild animals and loneliness. You are on the Natchez Trace, an ancient pathway that was in use before Europeans set foot in this country. It runs for 444 miles between Natchez and Nashville and in its day was fairly dangerous but the main road between those cities. Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, was shot on the trace in1809 and is buried next to it about 60 miles south of Nashville. There is a monument there. You can still walk the trace if you want, although sections are now missing, but the best way is to drive the Natchez Trace Parkway. This is a well kept two lane road that runs parallel to the trace and is under the jurisdiction of the National Park System. It runs for the same 444 miles at 50 mph and has no billboards, no houses or other buildings and, as in olden times, no services but is a very scenic road.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Vicksburg, the historic river city that sits on the Yazoo river. Wait! You thought it sat on the Mississippi river? It did until 1876 when the river changed course and the Yazoo was diverted into the old channel to provide a waterway for the city. Otherwise the city would have been left high and dry and this was the era when most transportation was by steamboat. The picture shows the Vicksburg waterfront and the water is only several hundred yards wide. The Mississippi this far south is well over a mile wide. The confluence is now several miles south of the downtown riverfront.
Monday, February 17, 2014
We planned on staying one more day in Shreveport, before leaving on Monday for Mississippi. According to our tour books, the city has four museums as well as a science discovery center. I think that the city of 200,000 plus people does very well with tourist attractions. It can certainly be very proud of the Norton Art Gallery which we chose to visit yesterday. In our travels we have seen a wide variety of art galleries, usually most of them are not that large. The Norton art gallery has 400 American and European paintings by more than 100 artists. Sculptures, decorative arts, and rare books are also displayed.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Yesterday, Saturday, we left the piney woods of Texas and moved over the state border into Louisiana. After parking our rig north of Shreveport, we drove into the downtown area of the city.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
There are plenty of things to do in Austin for the tourist, and some of them we have done in the past during our visits to the capital city. Monday was a cool, cloudy day, John and I both thought that it was a type of day to be inside, probably touring museums. According to the tour books the presidential library of Lyndon B. Johnson has been given an excellent rating, so that is where we headed for the day.
As of 2013 there are 13 presidential libraries, from H. Hoover to George W. Bush. President Johnson’s library has been the only one to be located on a university campus, the University of Texas, Austin.
The library was dedicated in 1971, two years before the president’s death. As President Johnson noted during his address at the dedication: “ So it is all here, the story of our times with the bark off. This library will show the facts, the joys and triumphs as well as the sorrows and failures.” Within the library are 40 million pages of documents as well as photographs, videos and audio recordings. Below is a picture which I took looking up at the 5th floor, one of five floors of the archives.
President Johnson had a Dictaphone belt recorder installed in his office and recorded 643 hours of telephone conversations, some of which have been made available for the public. That feature of the library is what I enjoyed most during my visit there. I saw the brusque and bullish side of Johnson in his conversation with the Chairman of the House and Education and Labor, to whom he gave a dressing down for delaying legislative action on the Elementary and Secondary School Bill. I heard a compassionate and personal side of Johnson in his conversations with Jacqueline Kennedy as well as with his wife Lady Bird.. Another phone conversation which I found fascinating was the one President Johnson had with Katherine Graham, The Washington Post journalist. He expressed to her his frustration with congressmen who always seem to be out of town on one holiday or another. He was anxious to get bills passed and no one was ever around! He strongly suggested to Graham that she do interviews with them (in a kind manner) and find out what they were doing with their time when they were out of town. Other interesting conversations were those Johnson had with Martin Luther King, and John Steinbeck before the latter left on a fact-finding trip to Vietnam. There was certainly a lot of United State history in the years from 1963 to 1969, and it was a time I remember well. Pictured below is a replica of the oval office as it looked during the years Johnson was in office.Furniture belonging to our 36th President was his rocking chair and desk which he used as a senator, vice-president and president. The oval office during the late 1960s certainly saw lots of action , during his time as president Johnson signed many important bills- in regards to civil rights, poverty, education, clean water, public broadcasting, our national parks, head start, Medicare- to name but a few.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
As you may notice from the title of this posting we have certainly put on the miles this past week! This is the first time that I have tried to chronicle our travels with pictures, and they are not the greatest because I took them from the windows of our rig. Pictured below is the area of Cochise's Stronghold, in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona. The granite mountains, according to legend, was where the Chiricahua Apaches hid out when they were being pursued by the US Calvary.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
In my last posting I wrote that it would be my last posting from California, and I was wrong. John and I changed our travel plans and decided to stay in the state one more night. We did move our rig, as planned, from Vista on Saturday. However, our first night’s stop was in El Centro, California, not Yuma, Arizona. We had decided that we wanted to see the Salton Sea, which is about 30 miles from the Mexican border.
On Sunday we worshiped at the First United Methodist Church of El Centro. It was the only church which did not have services at 9AM, that is too early for John. It turned out to be a good choice, Rev.Dr. Ron P. Griffin gave a wonderful sermon on Micah 6:1-8. An interesting side note here is that we learned that John Glenn was a member at this church and his wife an organist during the time he was stationed at the local naval base. That must have been years ago!
On Monday we drove to the Salton Sea. We initially went a bit east of the lake so we could check out the dunes wilderness area at the base of the Chocolate Mountains.
The above picture was taken at a lookout area above the dunes. Highway 78, in the center of the picture, is the major road running through the area.
There are several interesting facts about the Salton Sea. First of all, it is below sea level. On are way to Salton Sea we passed a sugar factory which had a mark on one of its towers where sea level is located, and I was impressed by how far below it we were. Centuries ago the Salton Sea was a fresh water lake, called Lake Cahuilla by the Native Americans of the same name who once lived by its shores. In wet times the Colorado River would fill in the sink basin, other times it would bypass the sink causing the lake to shrink or disappear. The sea was also originally the northern part of the Gulf of California, so through the years it had a mixture of salt and fresh water. Currently the salinity of the sea is rising as rivers bring in dissolved salts and water evaporates. The sea also lacks any outlet.The Salton Sea supports significant segments of many migratory birds populations which eat fish. Unfortunately the sea's rising salinity threatens the 400 bird species which arrive here yearly along the Pacific Migratory Pathway. On our walk through this state park, along the shore, we also noticed many herons and egrets perched high in the trees. One solitary green heron sat on the wharf. He allowed me to get fairly close to him for a picture. Our path along the shore was lined with many tamarisk trees, also called salt cedar trees. They are in bloom now with beautiful pinkish-purple flowers. Our day trip took us completely around the sea, it was interesting to note how different the scenery was on each side of the sea. The western side is agricultural with palm (think dates) and citrus orchards. I also saw trucks filled with carrots on the road. The south eastern shore of the sea is all desert, with no appreciable development of any kind.