Our day began at 6:00am with breakfast at New Orleans’ famous Café du Monde. We had delicious beignets (French fried donuts), a quick photo op at Jackson Square, and then it was time to hit the road for Biloxi, Mississippi.
Biloxi was my favorite city on today’s leg. We began our time in Biloxi walking along the gorgeous beach.
Along the way we found seashells and interesting baby jellyfish. The water looked a lot like Galveston’s; however, the beach was a lot cleaner. Close by the beach is the famous Biloxi Lighthouse. Built in 1848, the lighthouse is a historical landmark in Mississippi as it has survived several hurricanes, including Katrina. It is a local symbol of sustaining difficult times.
Also in Biloxi, running parallel to the beach, we found detailed tree sculptures created by Chainsaw Artist, Dayton Scroggins, in honor of Hurricane Katrina survivors. The tree sculptures included various creatures such as birds and fish. It’s incredible to think of the patience and skill needed to carve a full-grown tree!
We also drove through Alabama, stopping in Monroeville and Montgomery. Monroeville is most famous for being the hometown of two award-winning authors, Harper Lee and Truman Capote. At the Monroe County Heritage Museum, we learned about how both authors were childhood friends and remained close as they rose to the top in their careers in writing novels that became some of the most sought literature in the world. The Monroe County Heritage Museum also houses the original courtroom which was used as the model when Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck.
In Montgomery, we found the site where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. This act led to a bus boycott and the civil rights movement that changed America forever. Standing on the exact spot where such a brave woman stood up for her rights was an eye-opening experience.
We also stopped by Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached from 1954-1960 during the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. Coming across this landmark sent chills through my spine as I realized all that took place in Montgomery to achieve equality for African Americans. Although it was more than fifty years ago, it put into perspective for me that we take our civil rights for granted. Located just blocks from the Baptist Church, the Capitol Building of Alabama is an incredible example of detailed architecture on a grand scale, especially the large pillars and clock tower.
Our final stops included two other literary figures and one musical figure. We saw the historical marker for Hank Williams…
We saw F. Scott Fitzgerald’s home in Montgomery…
…and a marker for Alexis de Tocqueville, who stopped at the old Crawford County Courthouse in Knoxville, Georgia during his 1831-1832 tour of the United States.
Although we saw many places across three states, the sites all helped define “Southern Culture” and our 2012 tour.