It feels like we have been in Mississippi for a long time. Perhaps it is because the weather changed so drastically over the past week that it feels like we must have crossed several biomes. But here are some observations I’ve made:
The parks vary wildly.
We stayed at a variety of places—especially state parks in the Magnolia State. We spent one rainy, muddy, cold night at Puskus Lake outside of Oxford where we didn’t see a soul all night. We camped at a run-of-the-mill place outside of Tupelo that charged an okay price. Clarkco State Park is named the best in Mississippi and it’s easy to see why; the sites are beautiful and it is quiet. Then we went to the Paul B. Johnson State Park, which was just 125 sites of big rigs and monstrous RVs with only two bathhouses in the entire place. Big screen TVs, lawn ornaments, golf carts—this is not really our scene, but it gave us a place to stay for the night without fear of being rolled out. Then we went to Shepard State Park—the best of the bunch with just 28 sites and lots of secluded primitive camping.
Stock up on booze.
My sister in Virginia says she lives in the south and yes, compared to Ohio, her neck of the woods is decidedly southern. …But then there’s Mississippi. The laws here surrounding booze are from another time. Liquor and wine shops cannot be open on Sunday. You can’t sell wine and beer in the same shop. Each time we turn around there’s some other Prohibition Era wrinkle where we say, “Really?” Oh, and like most of the south, the wine is sweet like their tea. There’s no cider to be had anywhere. True story: Rod Stewart wanted to produce an album sober, so he bought a plane ticket and came to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record. Snuggled up to Mississippi, there wasn’t a wet county in sight and he made his first sober album.
Who doesn’t love the King? Even though we didn’t tour Graceland (because it is outrageously expensive) and we didn’t do the paid tour of his childhood home in Tupelo, we took in the campus. Miracle and I could walk Jolene around and debate which is the best incarnation of Elvis. I always go with sweaty, late-career Elvis who is trying to recapture the magic. Miracle prefers the hip swiveling early Elvis. If you have an opinion, drop it in the comments. Later, we swung through Gulf Hills where the famous photos of Elvis waterskiing were taken. There’s not much left of what the place once was, but it was still worth the short drive through.