April 10-17: Dogwoods and Dulcimers

Vicksburg was a planned housekeeping spot.  After a while we have located various campgrounds that have excellent facilities, including air-conditioned laundry rooms.   The minimum of charm and rural splendour, but practical.   We did not linger in Vicksburg, since we had already visited its enormous civil war battlefield.  This struggle is known as “The War of Northern Aggression” in Mississippi, and since it is 150 years since it all started, the war of words has been revived.  One Vicksburg resident called it “That Past Nastiness”.   We quickly tell people we are Canadians, and that our forefathers mostly stayed out of this bloody struggle.  So, no pictures, but there are thousands of internet sites that describe that war, and Google will suffice for those of you interested. 

Spring Sunshine - Still Following Us

After a brief run on the roaring Interstate we were back in the peaceful woods of the Natchez Trace.  Green and verdant at this time of year, and the wildflowers continued to escort our relaxing journey north.   Elaine was particularly looking forward to the spectacular dogwoods, and indeed there were many.  The highlight was to be “Dogwood Valley”, just north of Tupelo, famous for one Elvis Presley.  You may have heard of him!  

 Unfortunately we passed the parking entrance, and to preserve family peace, I turned at the next intersection, looking for a way back.   Alas, we had entered one of those winding back-roads with deep ditches on both sides, no shoulders, and no way to turn around with a trailer.  So we trundled along endlessly into the woods of darkest Mississippi.

 No schools, no stores, no churches, no farms and no factories.  Just collections of run down houses in the woods, and driveways that might just have sufficed for a turn-round.  But we were deterred by barking pit bulls and other attack dogs, and we feared the locals were reaching for some serious armament to deter intruding strangers.  The yards were full of old cars, abandoned appliances, and serious junk … some rusty lumps looking suspiciously like distillation equipment!   Bourbon is the beverage of choice in these parts.

 Score one for our lack of GPS.  We would never have seen this fascinating, and likely dangerous area, had we not groped around for several miles back to the Natchez Trace for another try.  

Propaganda for Dogwood Valley

Yes, we eventually found the Dogwood Valley Trail, and Elaine hurried ahead to check out the show.   Alas, she soon returned:  the big dogwoods showed nary a flower, so it was all in vain.

There is a Dogwood in the Parking Lot

So we took a picture of the ones in the car park, and sighed a sigh!

Tishomingo - An Exceptionally Peaceful Place

Then to one of our favourite haunts, Tishomingo State Park at the top of Mississippi, and a few days of relaxation before re-entering the land of Malls and Box Stores.   One downer here, though:  the park lake is leaking, and the level is way down.  Apparently the leaks could be plugged, but they lack the funding.  Never mind, it is still a beautiful spot.


Tishomingo State Park - Same Old Ducks!

The four ducks from last year were still around looking for handouts.   We walked round the picturesque lake, and congratulated each other for the exercise.


John - Exercising by Tishomingo Lake, MS

Of course we stopped here and there, and did not rush.  Looking over the lake you can just see our “home” parked on the far side.

 The trees were coming into leaf.  The bright fresh greens of Spring, and flowers everywhere, with dogwoods to add floral notes to the forest.   So far we have not had many bugs,  snakes or other nasties, and we enjoyed some peaceful, warm days.

 There is always a downside, and this time it was a series of dire warnings of thunderstorms, tornados, and flash floods.  Many fatalities in Oklahoma and Arkansas, and now the storms were attacking Mississippi.  Alas, we had to move to a different site that day because of a reservation, and while never fun, this was aggravated by pouring rain.  Ah well, the tornadoes were well to the south, and we settled in to cook supper.   Warble warble on the radio and an emergency tornado warning from the U.S. National Emergency Service.  Which county?  Tishomingo and its State Park!!  “Take cover in your basement under a strong table.”   No basement, no table, but … fortunately, the storm missed us by five miles or so.  Ink-black clouds, but no funnel to photograph, and we were not sorry about that!


Dulcimers Beneath the Dogwoods

We were lucky our visit to Tishomingo State Park coincided with the Hollis Long Memorial Dulcimer Festival.   This is organized by the Alabama and Mississippi Dulcimer Group, who showed up in force.  Quite the event, and listed in the Mississippi tourist book.

 Less lucky was the weather.  Although the tornados and rain had moved on, the Saturday event was marred by cold winds … not conducive to the playing of this intricate instrument.   But the brave souls persevered, and it was good music and fun.  The dulcimer is a “gentle” instrument, and while the songs were “country-style”, they were well done and the whole event had a festive air.


Dulcimers and More

There were various sales tables, including one with some beautiful hand-crafted dulcimers for sale, in various woods and with imaginative decoration.


The Tishomingo Swinging Bridge

Tishomingo is always interesting and a nice break on the way home.   The swinging bridge links to agreeable riverbank trails.  I hoped that the bridge would not tip Elaine in the river before I got the picture.


Tishomingo Waterfall

In another part of the park is an old waterfall and cabin.  Very photogenic, but we had left taking the pictures until the sun had deserted us and the cooler weather had set in.  We bundled up, and enjoyed the walk anyway.

Onward and northward now, but we still plan to have some enchanting times as we follow Spring.

 John, with Elaine helping a lot (and not falling off the bridge).



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One Response to April 10-17: Dogwoods and Dulcimers

  1. Vi says:

    It never ceases to amaze me the wonderful countryside tours. Sometimes you see the best things off back road tripping. good for you for doing it. there better not be a soul to try and tell me that you two are not brave.You know not a lot of people get to do the things that you have done these past months. You will treasure this forever.Some people say they will wait and then it never happens. The flowers and trees are most awesome there and all the little side trips take you to things you would never see otherwise. We are having sun now and it is enjoyed. Take care and I will see you around the next corner.. Love Vi

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