Road Trip III: Natchez
By Ken DeLaat
“The Mississippi River towns are comely, clean, well built, and pleasing to the eye, and cheering to the spirit. The Mississippi Valley is as reposeful as a dreamland, nothing worldly about it . . . nothing to hang a fret or a worry upon.”- Mark Twain
The B&B in Natchez was nothing short of a fabulous experience.
For one the room itself located in what was called Aunt Clara’s Cottage down the street from the main house was made up of three spacious and luxuriant rooms (each, mind you, with their own loo) and a communal dining area constantly stocked with water, ice, coffee, tea and even a carafe of biscotti, coincidentally a personal snacking favorite.
The bed was huge and high there were windows looking out onto a street lined with flowers and trees in full force, the furnishings were southern stylish with ample accoutrements accompanying each piece and even...
...the ceiling fan (a personal nemesis of folks like me who are not only a bit taller than average but quite a bit clumsier than average) was far above the reach of my head even if I were to jump. I mean, if I could jump having been hereditarily saddled with limited leaping ability.
And then there was the front porch.
A perfect adjunct structure creating one of those long and wide areas with a splendid selection of seating where folks were meant to repose and visit in the splendor of a southern spring.
A place where time begins to mean little and schedules became superfluous when offered the option of interesting conversation. Interactions between people who knew nothing of each other moments before arriving and yet found the dialogue an easy one, with a wide range of topics involving the voices of differences without divisiveness.
The two guys from Belgian taking a car tour through the south in a Mustang convertible, no less. Top down and cruising The Trace that scenic roadway running from Nashville to Natchez. One part of the duo filled listeners with stories of past trips and unabashedly made his viewpoints known on any number of subjects while exuding a kindness and good-natured manner that tempered any air of arrogance that might have otherwise been perceived. He also revealed an extensive knowledge about automobiles arising from his fascination with American made cars.
“I asked the rental for a Mustang and they said it would be a ‘Mustang or comparable’. I just cringed at the thought of it being a Toyota. They’re just appliances on wheels.”
His companion was less gregarious but interjected at times, generally expressing disagreement with his friend though it was merely dialogue and not a competition, another refreshing blast of how conversation should be.
A couple from London, he German, she Swedish who were honeymooning through the south having come to Natchez from New Orleans and while finding their previous stop fascinating were rather pleased to be out of the Big Easy. They were struck by the level of imbibing in parts of that city not because of the amount consumed since both seemed to enjoy chatting with the Belgian guys about their shared affinity for multiple mint juleps, but more as to the irrelevance as to the time of day.
“8:30 in the morning and people are drinking as if it’s already well into the evening!”
Yep. That would be New Orleans.
Another couple we shared a breakfast table with (he German, she British) seemed to be a bit at odds and were using the meal as a battleground.
She, to server: I won’t have any if that it’s got meat and I don’t want the omelet either.
He: Just get it. I can eat your omelet.
She: No you won’t be having my food. You don’t need it.
Me: Could you pass the cream?
Natchez was charming. Well kept antebellum homes everywhere, a slow southern pace in the downtown area, the well shaded park that rises above the mighty Mississippi where tour boats and barges share the waterway.
And a bridge that displayed a slew of padlocks that puzzled me but did not my LSC who knew immediately what they represented.
The Pont des Arts in Paris. The ‘lover’s bridge’ where couples have locked in their love for decades by clasping a padlock of some kind fashioned with their names or a message. There were dozens of then clamped along this walkway emulating the famous Paris span. Lil knew the story and from her smile seemed to like the story quite well.
So after a couple days of wandering the streets of Natchez, sharing lazy moments on the porch and dining in a number of intriguing local eateries we took our last trip to the park and while on the bridge wrote our names on a lock I’d purchased the day before and added it to the collection accumulating along this riverside span.
“This means we have to come back to see it again,” she said.
“Oh, we’ll be back, rest assured. In fact we might get to know this area rather well after a time.”
“This is about the shoes isn’t it?”
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