Sunday, September 28, 2014

HISTORIC VICKSBURG EXPEDITION!

This photo shows the historic railroad depot of Vicksburg, Mississippi, located on the Yazoo River, a tributary to the Mississippi River. 

Although the building is no longer used for railroad connections, it continues to serve as a "connections point" for those who want to learn more about the history of railroading, especially how that history is significant to Vicksburg. 

Not surprisingly, there is a gift shop you can visit to buy souvenirs, even if you are not able to tour the museum.

The red railroad car in this photo is about all that remains from the once-thriving railroad era.  It takes one back to the time when railroad tycoons amassed great fortunes from using the hand-laid tracks that criss-crossed out country in days of old. Unfortunately, some of those railroad tycoons who had put all their hope in rail transportation, lost everything when the automobile began to replace rail travel as the preferred method of transportation.  Therefore, I am using this photo as my visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says: " [Do not] put [your] hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but ... put [your] hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."  I Timothy 6:17

Just above the Old Depot Museum, on Washington Street, is the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. 

It is located in a restored 1890 building where Coca-Cola was first bottled  in 1894. 

In addition to the museum, there are over 100 Coca-Cola items for sale in the gift shop, as well as ice-cold Cokes and ice cream floats.


Since the location is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it seems like the perfect spot to sit down and enjoy a sip of this famous beverage!

Another scenic spot to visit downtown is Levee Street with the famous Vicksburg Riverfront Murals.  These consist of 32 life-like pictorial murals by artist Robert Dafford.

The Historic Washington Street is also home to the Saturday Farmer's Market, and one of  the Highway 61 MS Blues Trail Markers. 

The best way to get the maximum enjoyment from your time in Vicksburg is to stop by one of the locations of the Vicksburg Visitors Information Centers.  There is one located downtown on Levee Street, and another located across from Vicksburg Military Park.  Of course, visiting their website ( www.visitvicksburg.com ) can get you prepared even before you get into town!

There you can pick up maps of the area that will guide you to all the attractions of either the Red Scenic Drive or Blue Scenic Drive.  In addition to the map, the Scenic Drives are marked with signs like the one shown in this photo. 

The Old Court House sits high atop a hill, and can be seen from throughout the downtown area.  It is considered Vicksburg's crown jewel both architecturally and historically.  The National Landmark towers above the city on a hill hallowed by history.  It was on these grounds that Jefferson Davis launched his political career; it was here on July 4, 1863 that the Stars and Stripes replaced the Stars and Bars, signifying the end of the 47-day siege.  It has been a museum since 1948, and filled with items reflecting the Southern Heritage.  It is said to have the largest collection of Civil War memorabilia in the South.  Plus, when I visited, I noticed their gift shop even had certain relics available for sale. 

Since I was in Vicksburg to pay my respects to my great grandfather that fought in the Siege of Vicksburg, I took the drive to the Cedar Hill Cemetery, which is also the location of the Soldier's Rest Confederate burial ground.  As the late afternoon sun cast long shadows in front of all the Confederate tombstones, I pondered that somewhere, there was a family represented by each of those markers.  And every family represented, has a unique story to tell of their loved one who was swept away by the very bloody Civil War.  Although one of great grandfathers never made it home from Vicksburg, another of my great grandfathers DID return to his home in Carroll County, Arkansas.  He married a much younger woman, who became a Confederate Civil War widow, and was still alive and receiving a Civil War Widow Pension Check when I was born.  It is interesting that the U.S. Government honored the military service of her late husband, by continuing to send the Civil War Widow Pension check to my Great Grandma Rudd, even though her husband had been on the "losing" side, illustrates that active steps the government was taking to heal our nation.  That gives me "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia

LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER MUSEUM!

The Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site ( www.lmrm.org ) is located on historic Washington Street in downtown Vicksburg, Mississippi.  I first became interested in visiting the museum after seeing a television special about the research being done on the Mississippi River, by the U.S. Corps of Engineers staff in Vicksburg.  Before I arrived, I had been concerned about where I would park, but on the weekday I visited, I was able to park just a few steps from the front door!  There is also additional free parking on the back side of the building. 

Adjacent to the LMRM is an actual Corp of Engineers boat, the Mississippi IV, that visitors can tour to get a feel for life on board the boat. 

The numerous exhibits and interactive exhibits within the museum will give you a new appreciation for the "Mighty Mississippi", and I would recommend sitting down in the Theater to watch the short video that tells about the history of this magnificent watershed.

The beautifully designed facility has glass walls, clean restrooms, free WiFi, eye-pleasing displays, and its FREE!

Depending on the particular era in time that interests you, you can pick up a "phone" to talk to someone who lived along the Mississippi at that designated time period.

I tried my hand at this pilothouse simulator, and found out that even though I am a graduate of the Annapolis Sailing School, my river navigation skills are very questionable!

A metal walkway connects the museum to the main deck of the Mississippi IV boat.

The galley of the boat was well equipped to feed a non-stop line of hungry sailors!

Since the boat is so long, and had so many levels, one could get their exercise just by walking up and down the numerous decks!

One reason the Corp of Engineers needs a reliable working boat is to keep abreast of the ever-changing course of the river.  The three colors on this photograph show the different twists and turns the river channel has followed for the years 1775, 1893, and 2010. 

Outside behind the museum is a scale model of the lower Mississippi River, that folks can wade in, if they so desire.  This photo of the PATH the river makes through the Delta, is the visual aid I am using for my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verse that says, "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:4-5.  Likewise, school groups can use this model to show the kids the ways of the river, teach kids about its path, guide kids in the truth of water resources management, and teach kids what they need to know so that they can continue to hope in the benefits provided by the river,  all day long!

When you look at the river model from inside the museum, you can also see an "ox bow" lake (lower right of photograph)  that has been formed when the river changed courses.

This display of the USA shows all the rivers that empty into the Mississippi River watershed.  That is a HUGE proportion of our country, and illustrates why the Corp of Engineers is being proactive in protecting this valuable resource of our country.  I am very thankful they have open this excellent educational facility so visitors can explore the river's past, examine the science behind water movement, and learn about the future plans for the Mississippi Valley.   The morning I spent at LMRM gave me "Miles of Mississippi Smiles"!  Tricia  

CHICAGO EXPEDITION!

Imagine you have been out of contact with civilization the last few years, and you are walking through a public park in a large, metropolitan city.  All of a sudden, you see a gigantic silver object, shaped something like a bean, right in front of you.  People are walking around it and under it.  They are touching it and taking photos of it.  Then they quickly look at the photos they just took, and see an image of them self in their photo.

The giant silver bean made "selfies" a fun activity, long before the word became a phenomena on social media sites.  Of course, I had to give it a try, as evidenced in this photo!   Seasoned travelers will know I am describing "Cloud Gate" in Chicago's Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue.  It is a free-form  sculpture made of mirror-like stainless steel.  It is 33 feet high, weighs 110 tons, and was designed by British artist Anish Kapoor.  It serves to not only mesmerize visitors with their own reflection, but also to reflect the amazingly beautiful skyline of "The Windy City"!

Also in Millennium Park, is the Frank-Gehty-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, with its distinctive silver band shell, framed by huge folded ribbons of stainless steel.

An overhead trellis made of interlaced steel pipes supports the pavilion's state-of-the-art sound system.  Up to 11,000 concertgoers can enjoy outdoor music performances in this thoughtfully landscaped park. 

As one walks in the opposite direction from the band shell on the gently climbing Bridgeway, you get the sensation that you are walking right into the skyline!

When you get to the top of the  tree-lined pedestrian bridge that connects the concert grounds to the area where the Chicago Art Institute is situated, turn around and look backwards to get a better overview of that amazing stainless steel trellis and the shiny, silver "shells" it is framing!

The landscaped gardens shown in this photo are a fairly new addition to the Millennium Park area, as they were built on top of the underground parking garage that is hidden deep below Millennium Park.  This "hidden" aspect of the parking garage is especially appreciated, because the design ensures that the view of the silver band shell and Chicago skyline behind it, is not obstructed by "ugly" stacks of parked cars!

When I visited, volunteers at the garden were giving free tours to visitors, to point out the native plants that were in bloom on this beautiful September day!

The
gentle curves of another pedestrian bridge that leads from the concert area, and passes over cars whizzing by below, also has pleasing lines. Its walkway is  made interesting through the use of various shades of weathered boards, along with shiny reflective rails, that match the other stainless steel designs of the park.

I spent the greatest amount of my time visiting Chicago's Millennium Park doing photography around The Crown Fountain. 

The Crown Fountain has two 50-foot-high, glass brick video towers showing a rotating display of diverse faces, contributed by a thousand Chicagoans.  Streams of water periodically shoot from the towers, making it look like the images are spitting into a shallow basin.

It was so enjoyable watching the little children splash around in the clear waters on the very warm day of my visit.

Perhaps since it was so hot and humid, there were a few adults who also wanted to get a "cooling off shower" from the fountain, as well!

It made my heart happy to see these little children laughing and giggling and splashing about in this "free-of-charge" big city "water park"!  I was SO THANKFUL for the opportunity to be visiting the city on a day when the weather was gorgeous, and the people were friendly!  Therefore, I am using this photo as a visual aid for my First Place 4 Health memory verse ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) that says "Give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Ephesians 5:20.  I am thankful to God for a wonderful visit to Chicago's Millennium Park---it gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia


Friday, September 26, 2014

VICKSBURG MILITARY PARK EXPEDITION!

For years, I have heard stories from my family about my ancestors that fought in the Civil War.   However, it wasn't until the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Civil War that my interest was rekindled enough to make me know I should have paid more attention to those stories!  At a recent family reunion, our Master of Ceremonies for the event (a retired judge/attorney, and author of numerous history articles/books) told us that our ancestor, Thomas M. Parrish, fought in the Siege of Vicksburg.  Since there is a National Military Park ( www.nps.gov/vick )  at the site, and it is not too many hours away from where I live, I decided it was time for me to make a trip to pay homage to my relative who took part in that conflict.  This photo shows the arch that marks the entrance to the 16-mile paved road that winds throughout the park.  When first constructed, the arch was over a public street in Vicksburg, but population growth and automobile traffic necessitated that it be moved to a more protected location within the National Park boundaries.
There are hundreds of examples of large and small memorials throughout the huge park, but perhaps the most recognized symbol of the park is the Illinois Memorial.  It is a very impressive structure, patterned after the Roman Pantheon.  At the time of its construction, "pantheon" was used to describe a building that honored the illustrious dead.  It has a portico, supported by four columns.  Circumscribing the circular temple are the words from Lincoln's second inaugural address, "With Malice Toward None, With Charity for All".  The steps leading up to the road are gray granite, and the temple is made of marble from Georgia and Tennessee. 

Inside the pantheon, the names of every soldier from Illinois who participated in that memorable and decisive campaign and siege, are preserved in bronze and stone.  The dome of the pantheon has an opening in it about the size of the round mosaic shown on the floor.  Surprisingly, I only saw one bird fly through the opening and land on one of the ledges.  It is amazing to me that the inside of the pantheon was so well preserved, considering it is open to the elements year round!
This photo shows the location of the U.S.S. Cairo Museum.  The U.S.S. Cairo was one of the iron-clad, steam powered paddle wheel boats that was used during the Civil War.  The white canopy protects the vessel from deterioration from the weather, and also serves as a welcome shade for visitors.

I would definitely recommend staying for one of the Ranger-led talks (scheduled several times throughout the day), so you can have a better appreciation of the structure of the vessel, and how its different parts functioned together to made it the most advanced naval vessel of its time.

The Park Ranger can demonstrate how the sailors worked together to fire the massive cannons that sat aboard the upper deck of the Cairo.

Although parts of the Cairo have been restored, one can still see some of the original wood used in its construction.

There is a museum adjacent to the Cairo, and one of its exhibits---this scale model---helped me get an overall view of what the vessel was originally like.

There are also exhibits that show some of the artifacts that were discovered inside the Cairo, whenever it was raised from its "burial ground" of the river where it sank.  When I saw these wooden cones, with their explanation that they were used to plug holes that developed in the ship's hull, it made me wish I had seen this exhibit BEFORE the great "titanic-like" incident where our houseboat started sinking because of a hole it sustained during a repair job my husband was doing on its toilet.  My husband's training as a physician taught him about "human plumbing", but unfortunately very little about "marine plumbing" on a houseboat!  It wasn't until after the incident, that I saw the admonition in a marine supply catalog, to always have a supply of different-sized cones on hand in your boat, to plug any holes that might develop!

Across the road from the Cairo Museum is the Vicksburg National Cemetery, which is the final resting place of nearly 17,000 Union soldiers.  About 13,000 of these soldiers are unknown.
Since my relative who fought in the Siege of Vicksburg was from Arkansas, I was most interested in seeing the monument to the Arkansas soldiers.  I would recommend that a visitor develop a "priority list" of sculptures to visit, as there are 1,370 monuments, tablets, and markers that dot the park landscape.  I find the words carved on the Arkansas monument very poignant:  "TO THE ARKANSAS CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS AND SAILORS, A PART OF A NATION DIVIDED BY THE SWORD AND REUNITED AT THE ALTAR OF FAITH". 

When I first saw the monument from a distance, I saw two columns with a cross in the center.  As I got closer, I could see that the sculpture has a tall central shaft, which is split down the center with a bronze sword.  (The sword is also designed to represent a cross.)  The circle on the front of the sword contains the Arkansas state seal.   In front of the sword is a plinth, or pedestal, which represents an altar.  The carving on the left represents the Arkansas infantry in battle.  The carving on the right represents the ironclad, CSS Arkansas, in battle on the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers near Vicksburg on July 15, 1862.  I am using this image of the Arkansas Memorial as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health memory verses ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ), taken from I Peter 4:8 that says "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."  It is my prayer that as I strive to love others as Christ loved me,  I can be forgiven for a multitude of sins!  That gives me an attitude of thankfulness and "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia    (Editor's Note:  By the Grace of God, our houseboat did not sink on the night of the "plumbing repair incident"!  The marina owner brought over several sump pumps to remove water that was flowing in through the hole, and arrangements were made for a crane to come lift the boat out of the water --- a major deal since it required getting a special "wide load permit" from the highway department in the middle of the night!  However, two fishermen,   returning from a fun night of fishing and adult beverages, motored past our noisy, well-lit salvage operation in process.  The fishermen were trained engineers, used to solving problems.  Sooooo,  after hearing what had happened, they went to their nearby dock, cut a piece of plywood slightly larger than the hole in our hull, dove down UNDER the houseboat with the plywood, and used the pressure of the water to hold the plywood in place long enough to stop the surge of water coming in through the hole!  Never underestimate the power of prayer---calling out to God for HELP!---when you are in a desperate situation!)