Melva Gomez, Day 2

Capitol Steps, at Sunset

Melva Gomez
Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is that smell? Is it the after math of Bourbon Street? Is it coming from the port of the Mississippi? No! It’s the smell of Café Du Monde. The group and I had some delicious Beignets along with some coffee and, for our risk takers, coke and hot chocolate. A Beignet comes in a plate of three small pouches of pancake/ donut that is sprinkled with powder sugar—by “sprinkled,” I mean a mountain of powder sugar on top of each pouch.

Once we were done we walked around the market, but unfortunately the local stores were closed. Accordingly, we decided to walk back to our hotel, a walk we enjoyed in 50 degree weather while reaching the obvious conclusion that women are better packers than men (no offense Ryan, Will, or Christian).

As it turns out, packing isn’t all that women are good at.  While in Biloxi, MS, we learned that three different women served as the keeper of the Biloxi Lighthouse, one for 57 years!  She was Mary Reynolds, and she retired at 77, passing her duties to her daughter, who was the keeper until the 1920s. 

The Biloxi Lighthouse was built in 1848, and is 65 feet tall, has 57 steps, and is made of cast iron, which no doubt helped it survive Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

Junior Fellows at the Biloxi Lighthouse

The staircase to the lighthouse was pretty small and narrow, and the steps, being grated, allowed a person to see through them, all the way down to the  bottom of the lighthouse.  May I just add that I was making this climb in two-inch heels, along with a small purse?  I never tripped, although I did bump my head.

The bump was worth it; it was a beautiful view of the Mississippi coastline.

Moving on to Alabama, I was surprised by the natural beauty of the state, particularly their trees.  Although the countryside is dotted with pines, the state also has many trees which capture the changing colors of fall.  The colors of the landscape were beautiful, taking my breath away, especially around the Capitol of Alabama. 

Alabama Trees

Incidentally, the Capitol grounds boasted the “Moon Tree,” a loblolly pine that went to the moon, literally.  In 1971, the astronauts took seeds of the loblolly to the moon with them.  When they returned, they were given to the state of Alabama, which put them to use on the grounds of the capitol building.

Moon Tree Plaque


Speaking of the capitol, it is actually now used for office space for executive branch officials.  The Alabama House and Senate stopped meeting at the Capitol in 1985, when space became an issue, and they have separate chambers off the capitol grounds.

Also off the capitol grounds was the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr served as pastor from 1954-1960.

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Where MLK served as Pastor

It’s amazing the diversity of sites we are able to see touring towns that I hadn’t previously spent a lot of time thinking about.  I should add that we are benefitting greatly from the work of one of our advisors, Stephanie Brim, who has been a “super mom” for the group, and that is nice to have when you are away from home.  She looks out for us and makes sure we are on the ball. This Deep South Tour has definitely been a great experience and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds for us. Thank you for reading this and I’ll keep you updated !!!


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