Thursday, November 20, 2008

Six months ago I hopped in my car, drove south on Interstate 57, and began my second travel blogging series. I meant to do a summary post in August, but the recently concluded presidential campaign took too much of my time.

My first was My Kansas Kronikles, that journey took place in July, 2007. I picked Kansas for a couple of reasons. It was the only Midwestern state I hadn't visited. And Thomas Frank, who wrote What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Frank made the claim in that book that Kansas is the nation's least popular vacation destination.

I found plenty of things to do there, as I did in Mississippi.

Why Mississippi? Like Kansas, I hadn't been to the Magnolia State. And as I started to do research for this trip, I learned there are a lot of worthwhile places to see.

And great people to talk to. When you meet a Mississippian, you've met a friend. Howard Hite, a salesperson at Tupelo Hardware--where Elvis Presley purchased his firs guitar--and Dorothy Love Turk, who gave me a guided tour of the Jim Henson museum in Leland, were the first among equals.

Okay, it's easy for me to write..."Oh, those Mississippi people are so nice." Travel writers, who are generally sycophants for the tourism industry, pen such statements all of the time.

But I offer proof: Mississippi, which usually ranks near the bottom in state income rankings, regularly tops the lists of the most generous states in regards to charitable giving.

If you are a history buff--Mississippi is for you. Several Civil War battles took place there, I visited two of those battlefields, Corinth and Vicksburg. Indian mounds are scattered throughout the state.

If you love music, Mississippi is also for you. Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, and spent his early years there. Numerous blues artists trace their roots to the Delta region. Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, was born in Meridian.

Are you a nature lover? Mississippi is for you too. The Natchez Trace Parkway takes drivers through endless pine forests, a cypress swamp, the Pearl River, and fields of wildflowers.

Of course the western boundary of the Magnolia State is the Mississippi River. I didn't make it there, but southeastern Mississippi reaches the Gulf of Mexico.


Of great assistance to me was Marlo Carter Kirkpatrick's book, Mississippi Off the Beaten Path. The trip would still have been enjoyable without it, but not as much so.

Appreciation goes to Levois of It's My Mind for recommending that I visit the Delta town of Mound Bayou, the first municipality in Mississippi founded by freed slaves.

Thanks also to the local and state government officials who offered me encouragement as posted entries about my trip. I hope my efforts sends people, and their wallets, your way.

Below are my prior 41 posts of "My Mississippi Manifest Destiny." As I did during my Kansas trip, I ventured a across the state line a few times.

Take your time and review the posts at your leisure. I will have this entry on my blog roll.

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