Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vacation - January, 2010 - Post 1 of 3

The Husband and I recently took a road trip. This is post 1 of 3 documenting our activities.

Monday, January 18th

We left Tulsa at 1pm. We drove straight through to "beautiful" Pine Bluff, AR and checked into a local Best Western. We used our Garmin GPS in an attempt to find a locally owned restaurant. The first two restaurants we drove by at 7:00pm were closed. We ended up at a Red Lobster, which turned out to be fine. The waitress there was very personable and made our dinner very pleasant.

We were back in our room at the Best Western and I was in my pj’s, in bed, with a book, by 8:30pm. Whoo hoo!

Tuesday, January 19

We had a quick breakfast at the local Huddle House. What, you say, is a Huddle House? Why, it’s like a Waffle House, but not!

As we approached Grady, Arkansas (site of a state penitentiary), we saw 30-40 prisoners dressed in all white, clearing brush away from the railroad tracks. They were supervised by 6-8 armed guards on horseback. I so wanted to take a picture, but I had two thoughts: 1) I did not want the guards to gallop over and ask me what I was doing and 2) I felt bad for the prisoners.

We drove down the road another 20 miles or so and saw yet another group of prisoners dressed in all white, clearing a ditch under the supervision of a guard on horseback.

These two scenes brought to mind all the scary prison movies we have ever seen.

A little further down the road, we saw the following sign:

My first thought was “When did God get into coffee?” But, hey...if the restrooms are "ultra clean" as advertised, I'm going to stop in!

We made a pit stop at Jehovah Java in lovely Lake Providence, LA. It was a hopping place at lunch time. There were probably 18-20 people in there besides us. They have coffee (of course), sandwiches, burgers, salads, sweets, etc. All the food looked good, but we weren't hungry. They have a small gift shop and free internet access. They do not have a website, which is too bad because it was a cute place.

We drove on into Vicksburg, MS and took a driving tour of the town to get our bearings before checking into our Bed & Breakfast. We stayed at Ahern's Belle of the Bends. We selected The Josephine room. Mary and Dan, the Innkeepers, were charming and we looked forward to spending two nights in their lovely home.

We had dinner that evening at the Walnut Hills Restaurant. Oh my! I had fried catfish with fries that was wonderful. The Husband had fried chicken and a baked sweet potato that was to die for. Kenny was our server and he took excellent care of us. Ask for Kenny when you visit!

We stopped after dinner for a cocktail at Duff’s Tavern and met several nice people. It was, however, very pleasant to return to our gorgeous room in the Belle of the Bends B&B.

Wednesday, January 20th

Mary, the innkeeper, prepared a lovely breakfast for us. We started with yogurt and fresh fruit, accompanied by warm biscuits with butter and fresh strawberry jam. This starter was followed by Eggs Benedict and hash browns. Now let me just tell you that Eggs Benedict is my absolute favorite breakfast while on vacation. What a pleasant surprise that Mary fixed it this morning.

We sat and visited with her for quite a while after breakfast. She is a lovely person and very easy to talk with.

We finally got out and about mid-morning. We took a bit of a driving tour of the city. Here's The Husband at an overlook with a majestic view of the Mississippi:

We then made our way to the Vicksburg National Military Park, a Civil War site.

We toured the visitor’s center and watched their movie about the siege of Vicksburg. We then took the 16 mile driving tour of the park, while listening to a DVD which highlighted various monuments and special locations in the park.

There were many very impressive sites in the park. One was the raised gun boat, the U.S.S. Cairo:

A second was the cemetery of 18,000+ Union soldiers.

We left the park and ate a quick lunch at Bumpers. What is Bumpers you ask? It’s like Sonic, but not! Bumpers has a fried bologna sandwich on the menu. We did not try it. We should go back for it!

After our fast food fix, we drove to the Vicksburg City Cemetery, where 1,800 or so Confederate war dead are buried.

I can’t help it, I really like exploring cemeteries. This one in particular was so pretty and interesting. The terrain is hilly, so when you gaze in any direction there are interesting hills and hollows where the dead have been laid to rest. This cemetery is, obviously, very old. There are people buried there from before the Vicksburg siege in 1863, up until the present day. The family plots are very extensive and organized, representing generations of families in this area.

We also visited a couple of antique stores, but we found nothing we could not live without. I was disappointed, frankly. I love finding things I can’t live without!

A big storm blew in late in the afternoon with heavy rain, lightning and tornado watches/warnings. It was a perfect environment for a short nap before dinner.

We had dinner at Diamond Jack’s Casino, in DJ’s Seafood & Steakhouse. Sharon, the hostess on duty, was a delight to visit with and Roosevelt, the bartender, was a great guy. We had dinner in the bar and he took excellent care of us.

After dinner, we walked through the casino and somehow managed to lose $40 at the slot machines. Darn it!

The Husband and I are NOT casino people. We work too hard for our money and would prefer not to lose it in 5 minutes in a slot machine or at a gaming table. That said, we have been known to occasionally walk through an Oklahoma casino and marvel at the activity. Diamond Jack’s was different than the OK casinos. It was not packed with people, and because of that, it was not overwhelmed with cigarette smoke. We actually stayed longer in the casino than we do in OK and when we walked out we did not reek of smoke. People were gambling, but they did not seem as intense or desperate as in OK. Not sure what to make of that, but that’s how it seemed to us.

As we returned to the B&B, it was sprinkling. Once we were safely inside, another round of thunderstorms and lightening hit the city. Oh my, noisy and bright, but beautiful!

Thursday, January 21st

Mary, the innkeeper, prepared another great breakfast for us this morning.

As an addition to the B&B, Mary has a small gift shop on the grounds. Of course, I did not miss the opportunity to shop. It was evident that she carefully selects her merchandise, because all of it was quite special and she had a story for everything. Don’t tell The Husband, but I did spend some money there!

We found Mary very easy to talk to and very funny. We spent the most time with her, but her husband was equally as charming during the brief time we visited with him. Their B&B (Ahern’s Belle of the Bends) is what a B&B experience is supposed to be.

Special Note:

Mary and Dan are nearing the end of the “Innkeeper” phase of their life journey and have put the inn on the market. If you, or someone you know, is seriously considering becoming an innkeeper, I can’t think of a more beautiful and successful B&B business for you to own. Contact them for more information.

For those of us who imagine we might want to run a B&B some day, Mary recommends reading this book.

Check back in a couple of days for post 2 of 3 describing our vacation!


  1. I wish my husband would be up for a road trip!!! I SOOOOOOOO badly want to go to North Carolina and stay in a house on the beach for a few days (just like in all the Nicholas Sparks's novels)!!

  2. Mmmm, I love Eggs Benedict! I'll take a pass on the fried bologna sandwich, though. ;)