In many ways, our visit to Mississippi felt like a continuation of Louisiana with similar landscapes and cuisine (just a curious shift in accents). The state one can quite literally always count on (One Mississippi, Two Mississippi…) offered us a wealth of diverse activities to enjoy in our short time here!
We chose this location because of some notable hikes in the area, specifically the 11 mile Clear Springs Trail, which we were able to do right from our front door at the campsite! The Mississippi mist over the nearby lake was absolutely enchanting!
After our jaunt, we drove north to the delightful town of Vicksburg, right on the Mississippi River. This town features a number of historical sites worth visiting, starting with the original Coca-Cola Bottling Company! The museum showcases historical advertisements and machinery, but also serves up a mean Coke float!
We also visited the truly remarkable (and free) Lower Mississippi River Museum. This museum features the history of the river, specifically on it’s impact on the US economy, but also it’s protection. Visitors can explore an actual towboat used by the US Army Corps of Engineers in planning for flood protections.
That night we drove along the Natchez Trace to a Boondockers Welcome host for the night. We remain so thankful to the wonderful people we’ve met that have offered us a port in the storm (quite literally that night).
On our second day, we woke early, despite the cold temperatures, and drove to the nearby Ross Barnett Reservoir for some kayaking and fishing. It was lovely to be out on the quiet lake with views of the Natchez Trace and White Egrets in the distance.
Next, we drove to Meridian, where we had intended to hike the Bonita Lakes Trail, but it began to rain. Instead, we quickly visited the Grave of the Gypsy Queen! Many rumors have been circulated about this Roma Queen who was buried in this small town in Mississippi and many still come to visit her grave and decorate it with gifts.
That evening, we drove south to stay at a unique Harvest Host in Stringer, MS: A Stroka Gene-Us Alpaca Farm, where we purchased some really great hiking socks and learned about how to clean and spin yarn.
On our third day, we continued south to the De Soto National Forest, where we did a bit of mountain biking on the Bethel Mountain Bike Trail system. If you’re in the area and want to find some nice beginner mountain biking trails – this is for you! It was really fun, despite the mud!
That afternoon, we finished the drive south to the Gulf Coast (once again) for an overnight stay in Biloxi. After setting up camp at the Cajun RV Park, we took a chilly walk on the beach to Beauvoir, the final home of Jefferson Davis.
We had mixed feelings about giving money to an organization that keeps the memory of Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederacy, alive but we were hopeful that there would be an honest history of the man. We were disappointed. The museum/library only serves to glorify the man with a distorted sense of history. We do not recommend a visit.
On our fourth day, we drove just a bit east along the coast to explore the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We were very excited because from the very same parking lot, we found both kayak and bike routes!
First, we rode our bikes along the Live Oaks Bicycle Route. The ten mile ride included ocean views, suburban streets canopied by live oaks, and a visit to the thriving little town of Ocean Springs.
Next, we put our kayaks in the water to explore the Davis Bayou Blueway. Honestly, the water was too low to explore much, but it was nice to stretch our arms a bit!
That night, we drove further east to stay the night at another Harvest Host: Gulf Coast Ranch and Gator Tours. They were closed when we arrived, so we set up camp to wait for the morning when we could arrange for an air boat ride. It was a little nerve racking to stay at a gator ranch though!
On our fifth day, we waited for the gator tour company to open to schedule out ride! They arrived promptly and we were offered a chance to explore the ranch – and even pet a young alligator!
Next, we got out on the water. We were the only two visitors and it was too cold to find many gators out, so our guide asked if we liked to go fast. We said yes and away we went! It was a thrilling rush with much spinning! The only way to appreciate this fast ride is to watch our (coming soon) corresponding YouTube video!
That afternoon, we headed on into Alabama with the intention of getting to Columbus, Georgia to spend the holidays with family. (Yes, we are behind on getting this post out!)
Please stay tuned for our corresponding video for more insights!