Thursday, December 29, 2011

Louisiana Road Trip 2011, Part 4: Vicksburg to Natchez

Mosaic tile in Illinois monument, Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

Mosaic tile seal in Illinois monument, Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

Illinois monument, Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

This morning I went to the Vicksburg National Military Park.  Carol and I visited it earlier this month, but had only a brief time to whip through it. The park impressed me so much, I made it a part of this road trip's itinerary.

Visitors can hire a guide at $40 for two hours. I was willing to invest in this, but hoped to find one or more people who also wanted a guide so we could share the cost. Luckily, I was successful, hooking up with a Michigan couple en route to their winter playground in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Watched the 20-minute documentary in the visitor center first, which gave an overview of the Vicksburg campaign. Having a guide really was a help: One, because a guide shares colorful factoids that you wouldn't learn otherwise. Two, you can ask questions as you go along.

So why is the park so impressive? It's the whole battlefield right there. You can see where the regiments camped, the trenches, a tunnel, the forts, the gullies, the ridges. Even though the modern terrain is cleanly landscaped and marked with monuments, the hellishness of the soldiers' lives during the long siege and its battles breaks through from the past to the present.

Credit: Sean MacLachlan
Speaking of past to present and the Civil War, I was looking at my   blog stats today and revisited a post from my week in Harar. On that day, I'd posted a link to Sean, a travel (and other) writer who is kinda-sorta from Columbia, Missouri, and who was in Harar the same time I was. I noticed he's got a new blog called Civil War Horror, and damned if he hasn't written a novel set during on the Civil War: A Fine Likeness

Holy Trinity Park, Taos, New Mexico
After leaving the military park, I found a forgettable lunch in downtown Vicksburg, then took a circuitous route out of town (read: lost) and made my way toward Natchez. Before I stumbled onto the correct highway, I serendipitously passed a monument of love from a husband to his wife at Margaret's Grocery.  Parodoxically, the day was so sunshiney fine that I couldn't get a decent photo to come out.  But the artistry reminds me of the work I loved at a pocket park in Taos.

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