Vicksburg National Military Park

Abraham Lincoln thought that Vicksburg was “the key” to winning the Civil War. The Vicksburg National Military Park has a 16 mile road that winds through some of the major battlegrounds of the Siege of Vicksburg.

One of the cool things that the NPS offers at these battlefields is an audio tour of the park. There’s usually a few different ones to choose from. We always get the longest, most detailed one. This time the longest one was two and a half hours. It took us over five hours to complete the whole driving tour. We get out at each stop and look around. Talk about it.

One of the times we stopped and got out to look around we found some hidden canons.

Along with the audio tour we got this great little booklet. In the picture above you can see one of the stops. At this stop we learned about the Shirley House. This house was caught in the middle of a siege. The army dug a “honeycomb” of shelters all around the house during the battle.

The house is still there today

and so is the “honeycomb”. The shelters have all fallen down and been cleared away, but the land is still scarred from the battle.

The Illinois Memorial was the biggest memorial we saw. So much thought goes into each Memorial. On the Illinois Memorial there are 47 steps that lead up to the entrance. One for each of the 47 days of the Siege of Vicksburg.

Inside the Illinois Memorial was this gorgeous seal.

We’ve been to several different battlefields, but this was the first time we found a tunnel!

We learned about the different types of artillery. You can see in the pic above that the opening is smooth. It has notches. These notches are super important! They allow the artillery to go farther and with more accuracy.

I think, perhaps, our favorite stop on the tour was at the USS Cairo Museum where we learned about the Ironclad River Gunboat.

On December 12, 1862, the USS Cairo became the very first armed warship to be sunk by a mine. They weren’t called mines at that point. They were called “torpedos” or “infernal machines”.

 The NPS has restored bits of the Ironclad and installed walkways that allow you to really get inside and see the guts of the boat.

The USS Cairo came equipped with 13 guns, including 3 large 64 pounder Navy smoothbores. Two and a half inch plate armor made of charcoal iron is what covered the mid section of the boat in order to protect the vital guts of the boat.

There was a model in the museum to show what the USS Cairo looked like. The USS Cairo sank in 12 minutes, but no lives were lost.

I did find a few pretties.

I don’t know what tree this was, but it had pretties all over it.

We really enjoy the battlefields. We learn so much and it’s such a great way for the boys to really get an idea of what took place there. Instead of just reading about it in a book while sitting in a classroom, they get to walk around the grounds it took place. I didn’t go into extreme detail about each stop, but hopefully I’ve intrigued y’all enough to go visit the Vicksburg National Military Park!

See y’all down the road!

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Mississippi, National Park | Leave a comment

Pizza Roundup Pizza Inn

To my fellow pizza lovers I bring to you a post from Pizza Inn in Vicksburg, MS.

Pizza Inn is a mediocre pizza place with a pizza buffet.

The desserts are pretty good and the decor was ok and the bathrooms were clean.

When you order a pizza with no cheese you get lots and lots of sauce on it.

With all of that I think Pizza Inn gets a 3.5 star review.

See y’all next time on…

Pizza Street!!

Categories: Mississippi, Pizza Street | Leave a comment

A Parkway And More

Hey Guys! 

We made it to Mississippi! We spent two very busy weeks in Vicksburg, MS! I’m going to be breaking our time here up into two separate posts.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is 444 miles long and snakes it’s way through three states. We didn’t get to explore all of it, but we got in around 122 miles of it!

 I know, I know…how interesting could a parkway be? Well…pretty darn interesting when it’s sprinkled with historical stops! This natural travel corridor was used for centuries first by animals, then by Native Americans and then when people would catch rides on boats down the Mississippi River to sell their wares. They would then walk the travel corridor back home.

The natural travel corridor that would become the Natchez Trace Parkway goes through the traditional homelands of the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. One of the stops on the NTP is called Emerald Mound.

Emerald Mound is one of the largest mounds in our country. It stands 35 feet tall and is 770 feet by 435 feet at the base and covers 8 acres. There are two secondary mounds that sit on top of the primary mound making the total height come to 60 feet. Emerald Mound was used as a ceremonial center for the local people who lived in nearby villages, but abandoned the mound in the late 1600s.

Mount Locust Inn and Plantation is one of the oldest structures still standing in the area. The Mount Locust story starts in 1780 and stretches all the way to 1944. The National Park Service started restoring it to it’s 1820 appearance in 1954.

 In the late 1700s boatmen (also known as Kaintucks) were taking their wares down the Mississippi River in their flatboats. At that point the best way to get home was to sell all their wares and the boat then walk back up the natural corridor that we know now as the Natchez Trace Parkway. Mount Locust is right about a day’s walk from Natchez. The travelers would ask the owners of Mount Locust for food and a place to stay for the night. Eventually, the family added on a separate, four room, two story building behind the main house.

We didn’t get to explore the all of Mount Locust due to some bad weather. We would like to eventually go back and see it all.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s the growing number of travelers on the corridor tramped down the rough trail into a clearly marked pathway. On some parts of the pathway where the ground was soft, the travelers wore down the trail and made the “sunken” sections you can see in the pic above.

We made it all the way to mile 122 and the Cypress Swamp!

There’s a nice little boardwalk where you can walk right out over the swamp.

Not far from where we stayed sat the remains of Windsor Plantation. Windsor was built between 1859 and 1861 and was the largest antebellu house in Mississippi at the time.

The plantation once covered over 2,600 acres. It had wrought iron staircases and was four stories that housed 25 rooms, each with it’s own fireplace. The plantation was an important landmark along the Mississippi River. Mark Twain wrote about it in his book “Life on the Mississippi”. The Windsor Plantation survived the Civil War only to be burned to the ground by a party guest who was smoking in 1890.

We also made it to the Mississippi SCB!

Check out the gold coated copper eagle on the dome! It is 8 feet tall and 15 feet across!

Check out the inside of that dome! *cue wondrous music* This is one of the best domes we’ve seen in a while!

And…if that dome isn’t enough to wow you…check out the stained glass in the Senate Chamber. The pics not the best. We weren’t allowed down on the floor so I had to lean out and get the shot from the public gallery.

Not to be out done by the Senate Chamber, the House Chamber has it’s own stained glass dome. We weren’t allowed on the floor again…so the pic is kind of weird, but you get the idea of how awesome the domes are.

The Mississippi SCB has some very nice details. I love these light fixtures.

Y’all know I have a thing for staircases…check out the wavy balustrade! You can also see some more stained glass at the top.

We really enjoyed the Mississippi SCB!

We had some spectacular sunsets while we were in MS!

Stay tuned for part two!

See y’all down the road

Categories: Capitol Building, EasternLoop2016, National Park | Leave a comment

Montgomery, AL

Hey Guys! We spent almost a week in Montgomery, but the only thing we did was visit the SCB.

Montgomery became Alabama’s capital city in 1847. The building you see in the picture above dates back to 1850-51.

The current SCB replaced an earlier building that burned down. There’s a lot of history to be found in Montgomery. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore any of it.

The House and Senate Chambers in the SCB were both made into museums. We could walk into the room but not too far.

The dome was gorgeous! This pic doesn’t do it justice at all.

There are eight different 1920’s murals beneath the dome that illustrate Alabama’s history. It took three years to complete all eight murals.

In 1861, the Confederate States of America was born in the Alabama Senate Chamber when delegates from the Southern states voted to establish a new nation.

I have a thing for staircases. It started this past summer in the New York SCB. I’m not the best at getting the shot yet, but I’m working on it. I love to look at the staircases in each SCB. They’re all so different.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this time. We had a short week filled with everyday mundane things…school, cleaning, work.

See y’all down the road!

Categories: Alabama, Capitol Building | 1 Comment

Pizza Roundup Pieology

To my fellow pizza lovers, I bring to you a post from Pieology in Montgomery, AL.

Pieology is a really tasty pizza place where you make your own pizza like what you do with sandwiches at Subway.

They have loads of tasty topping you can choose from and all  the toppings are unlimited!

Yum!

The decor is good and the food comes out quickly.

Price was very reasonable…

The bathrooms are clean as well. All in all I think Pieology deserves a 5 star review.

See y’all next time on…

Pizza Street!!

Categories: Alabama, Pizza Street | Leave a comment

Sweet Home Alabama

 

Hey Guys!!

We made it to Alabama!

On our way to Montgomery we stopped by a friend’s house and spent the weekend catching up with them! We met this family in June 2016 during our time in New York and our kids became fast friends. After a week of chit chatting and getting to know them, we jumped at the chance to stop by their home and see them again. They really made us feel at home.

We all went to see the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park where we got to poke around all twelve decks that are open to the public!

 There are all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore on this huge battleship.

What you can’t see in the picture above are the two big boys up on the gun turret too. All of the boys loved getting to really check out the big guns.

Once we climbed around outside, we headed inside. Check out the lockers. One was open so we could see what it might have looked like when the ship was being used.

I love the old pics and other personal items they have on the door of the locker.

I had to share this picture of a food tray in the infirmary. Check out the Nestle’s wrapper! It looks so different that what we see now.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many valve wheels to turn in one place! I’m not gonna lie…I might have tried to turn more than a few. Maybe. *wink, wink*

What did I tell you? Valve wheels everywhere!! And buttons. Lots of buttons. I may or may not have pushed a few of those too. Shhhh…..

Besides the battleship, the park also had several aircraft. The coolest one (in my opinion) was the A-12 Blackbird spy plane. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a decent picture of it. Sorry. You’ll just have to take my word for it…it was very cool.

If the battleship and the aircraft weren’t enough, there was even a submarine we could explore! This was our first sub exploration and it was awesome!

The USS Drum is the oldest submarine on public display.

It was set up to look like it might have during it’s time in service. I love seeing all of the old items.

And added to the wheels and the buttons…levers. Tons of them! We kind of felt like kids on a playground.

I got a workout just going through all of the doors. They don’t look that bad, but when you’ve got short stubby legs and a big camera around your neck…well, I’m not the most graceful.

We had dinner that night at Ed’s Seafood Shed. Gotta have seafood when you’re in the Gulf Shores area, right? The food was fantastic, the view was ah-mazing, and the company wonderful! We had the best time visiting with our friends and we can’t wait for our next adventure together!

See y’all down the road!

Categories: Alabama, EasternLoop2016, Foodie Find | 2 Comments

Tallahassee, FL

Hey Guys!! We spent a week in the Tallahassee area of Florida.

The whole point of this stop was to see the State Capitol Building.

The Old and the New Capitol Buildings are right next to each other in Tallahassee.

 The Old one has a very pretty dome, but the New one doesn’t even have a dome.

The Old SCB has been turned into a museum. We were able to go into both the House and Senate chambers and look around. It was pretty neat.

In the New SCB we had to peak through the windows at both the Senate and House chambers. That was kind of a bummer. Usually, the ceilings in the House and Senate chambers are totally picture worthy. We’ve seen everything from murals to huge chandeliers to stained glass domes! So, I’m always curious to see inside the House and Senate chambers.

The Old SCB had some fun picture opps!

The New SCB had an art gallery and

a 360 degree view on floor 22!

The RV Park we stayed at had some huge live oaks trees! They were amazing!

And…we even got to eat at a Whataburger! Woot, Woot!! We look forward to being back in Whataburger country all year! Yum!!

See y’all down the road!!

Categories: Capitol Building, EasternLoop2016, Florida | Leave a comment

Lake Louisa State Park

Hey Guys!! We stayed at the Lake Louisa State Park in the Orlando area for one week.

Guys…this park…

There are three lakes that make up this park. There’s a beach on one of them with a swimming area. I’m not sure I would swim there…there are gator signs around, but there’s also a great playground and picnic area.

There are docks that you can fish off of. We walked to this one often. There are stairs that lead down into the water, but again…gators.

There are some very nice sized sites at Lake Louisa State Park. We had to site hop throughout the week because the place was booked and we stayed here spur-of-the-moment. This park books up a year in advance. If you’re going to go to Disney or Universal…this is a great place to stay. At only around $30 a night it’s quite a bit cheaper than staying in a hotel.

There are tons of tangerine trees around the park. We went on a walk and passed a couple of guys who had bags full of tangerines so we thought we’d be cool and grab some tangerines for ourselves…they were the most sour…we spit them out. I couldn’t keep it in my mouth! Bleh!!! I don’t know what those two guys were doing with all of the ones they picked. Maybe they knew which ones to pick and we got ones that weren’t ready?

One of the coolest things about this park is that you can rent canoes. We took the opportunity to teach the boys how to paddle a canoe. I kept an eye out for any weird looking logs…aka…gators. I didn’t see any, but we avoided the areas we thought they would most likely be during that time.

I did take my camera out on the canoe to get a shot of the cypress trees in the water.

We found an awesome pizza place right down the road. Littlest told you all about it in his last Pizza Street post. If you missed it go check it out here.

We didn’t really do much the week we were there. Hung around the lake, had pizza, and stopped by an RV Dealer to check out what was new. We’re not in the market for a new RV, we just like to keep up on all the changes.

Seriously Guys…if you’re in the Orlando area for any reason check out Lake Louisa State Park. We will definitely stay there again!

See y’all down the road!

Categories: EasternLoop2016, Florida, Foodie Find, State Park | Leave a comment

Pizza Roundup, Flippers Pizzeria

To my fellow pizza lovers, I bring to you a post from Orlando, Fl.

Flippers is a really, really good pizza place with amazing bread sticks and pizza! The bread sticks are smothered in garlic butter and is not horrible when you dip your pizza crust in it.

The jalapenos are cut differently than others that you find and are roasted! So good!

They have more than pizza like their brick oven sandwiches and their salads.

The decor was mediocre but all in all, from bread sticks to the pizza, a definite 5 star review.

We also ate at Anthony’s which was also tasty but, however the crust was a burnt on the outside but it was still tasty so I Give Anthony’s a 4 star review.

See y’all next time on…

Pizza Street!!

Categories: Florida, Pizza Street | 2 Comments

The Keys For New Year’s Eve

We were sooo close to The Keys that we really didn’t want to miss checking them out, but we couldn’t stay long. We do have a schedule and in order to keep all of our doctoring appointments we could only spend two nights in The Keys. And…those nights happened to fall on New Year’s Eve.

I knew we were in trouble when the water turned this amazing color of blue as we drove along the Over The Seas Highway. I knew right then that we were all going to love the area and that we weren’t going to want to leave so soon.

For anyone curious…it really is just a bridge connecting a bunch of little islands or “keys”.

For our first day there we were supposed to get there, set up, and then spend the entire afternoon in Key West. It went really well until we hit the traffic. It ended up taking us about four hours to go maybe 60 miles. It was a little insane. We did make it to Key West, but so did roughly a million other people (I may be exaggerating that number by a couple). We stood in line for 45 min to take our pic with the Southernmost Point buoy.

We tried to go to a fort, but it closed at 5pm and we were late so we headed over to the place I’d found for Key Lime Pie…but there wasn’t a free space to park…anywhere…within several miles. So, we left. We were tired and it was getting dark and I’d been warned beforehand that Key West after dark wasn’t exactly family friendly. On the way to the Key Lime Pie place we passed by the end of Highway One! We’ve been on this highway on and off all year so it was kind of neat to see mile 0!

The next day we had reservations for a snorkeling excursion! We woke up to a very cold, but pretty morning.

The water was so cloudy from the choppy water that we couldn’t see a thing. And…the water was pretty cool. Not cold, but cool enough that no one (there were 15 people on our boat) stayed in the water long. We were kind of bummed about that, but it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re surrounded by the beauty of The Keys.

The Captain of our boat felt really bad about the conditions, but there wasn’t anything he could do about the weather. He ended up taking us on a little sight seeing tour to make up for the snorkeling! You can see Seven Mile Bridge in the picture above.

We got to see a pod of dolphins playing around! I didn’t get the best pics of them…they didn’t jump out of the water or anything, but they would surface and play. You can see two of them near the bottom center of the picture above.

By this time in the tour it was starting to warm up to a balmy 70 and we’d all stopped shivering.

 Our snorkeling/boat tour was a great way to spend our only full day in The Keys. We were done by noon and were able to relax the rest of the day.

I did get a little video of the boat ride. What do y’all think? Do you like the videos or not? It’s all done right on my phone…I’m not a professional at all…

Our Captain took us by this place. It’s a dockside restaurant called Burdines. We ended up going there for lunch!

Everything was fresh and we had some of the best burgers we’d had in a long time!

We were able to get some Key Lime Pie…

two different ways. Regular and fried! It was soooo good! We experienced the laid back Keys vibe at Burdines while we were waiting for our food. It’s not the fastest place, but it does warn you right at the top of the menu. Everything is made fresh…it’s not fast food. You didn’t go to McD’s. Everything we had was top notch and our server was genuinely nice.

 After we got our fill of food, we moseyed over to Bahia Honda State Park and stopped by this bridge view on the way there. This is the same Seven Mile Bridge you saw in a pic earlier. You can see it better here.

We’d heard that there’s camping at Bahia Honda State Park that’s suitable for RVs and we wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, only registered campers could get to the the campground. But…we did get to stroll around the beach and do a short hike to the view above!

We hung out at the SP long enough to see the beginning of a spectacular sunset.

It was so pretty, I’m going to give you another shot of it.

We got back to our RV park just as the sun was sinking and we headed back to our little home on wheels and had a very nice, very quiet New Year’s Eve celebration. Our tradition is to have a Back To The Future marathon and some sparkling cider at midnight.

There were pretties everywhere, but I somehow only got a shot of these. They were at the park we stayed at.

We hated to leave The Keys. The small amount of time just made us hungry for more of the island life and we were already making plans for round two before we even pulled out of the RV Park.

See y’all down the road!

#easternloop2016

Categories: Destinations, EasternLoop2016, Florida, Foodie Find | 2 Comments