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
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 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.
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.
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!