In American culture the state of Mississippi is the embodiment of the “deep South,” with all its customs and quirks, and, as such, is often the subject of much mocking and humiliation. Although we knew better than to blindly trust a bunch of spiteful stereotypes, our early assessment of the state’s tourist offering was not too promising either.
Mississippi has an extensive shoreline, but I can hardly call surveying the beaches tourism. Nonetheless, our trip had been arranged such that we would be entering the state via I-10 coming from New Orleans, and thus have to cover quite a stretch of the gulf shore anyway. So that is where we began.
Bay Saint Louis
The weather was gloomy and worsening when we reached Bay Saint Louis. On that account the L & N Historic Train Depot closed ahead of the posted hours, and our exploration of Mississippi started in a less than auspicious fashion.
Minutes later the mighty storm caught up to us, and we found refuge in a local Burger King. Over an unwillingly prolonged meal we debated whether to remain on the coast and head on to Biloxi, according to our original plan, or drive straight off to Jackson and avoid further encounters with the elements. In the end, the spirit of adventure persevered, and we continued our exploration of Bay St. Louis.
As with the majority of American coastal towns, places presenting most interest are concentrated near the shore. Occasionally, it is some peculiar beachfront property, but largely it is the marinas.
We observed quite a variety of those on our way to Long Beach.
Unfortunately, the rain resumed a little later, and we made no further stops until we arrived in Gulfport.
If not for the cute little lighthouse, the Gulfport marina might not have warranted a stop either.
Biloxi was our last coastal town in Mississippi. Again, the visit was of a cursory nature. Apart from the Biloxi Lighthouse (which, sadly, lit after the picture was taken)
there were a few neat casinos and hotels, but nothing else worth looking at.
It was well into the evening when we dutifully commenced our three-hour journey north, towards the heart of Mississippi, hopeful that the following morning in Jackson would be much more pleasing not only in terms of the weather but also sightseeing diversity.
Perhaps, we had been a bit too zealous in our prayers for good weather because the next day there was not a cloud in the sky, which is actually an unwelcome circumstance photography-wise. As for our places of interest, we started with very routine ones: the Old Capitol Museum,
the Capitol building,
and a street or two around…
Surely the picture of the South would be incomplete without its churches like the First Baptist Church of Jackson below.
As long as we were in Mississippi, even in an urban setting the Governor’s mansion appeared akin to a plantation house.
The façade of the Central High School building had a fortress-like look to it.
Though not as abundant or graphic as in New Orleans, there is plenty of abandoned property in the city of Jackson.
The most outstanding feature of Jackson, though, is probably its zoo. I apologize for so many animal pictures, but the creatures are simply too gorgeous.
In retrospect, if not for the zoo, Jackson would have been quite dull and bland.
The city of Vicksburg marked the last stop in our Mississippi itinerary. Although fairly small, it was arguably more entertaining than the state capital. See for yourself: the stately building of the Old Courthouse;
Southern residential architecture;
a riverfront with history of incredibly high floods (contrast the marks on the right against the water levels in the back)
and amusing murals;
the very photogenic Old Depot Museum;
and a few decent hilltop panoramas:
I guess, that is as much as one can expect to see in a small place in the middle of American South that most of the country has probably never even heard of. So, all things considered, Vicksburg presented itself better than the rest of Mississippi. And on that positive note…