First Stop, Vicksburg
It was almost randomly that we ended up spending our first night in Vicksburg, Mississippi. My husband has a colleague from there, and it’s less than an hour’s drive from the airport, so we decided to give it a try.
We drove into this city by the Mississippi River with no idea of what to expect. We followed the directions in our guidebook to The Cedar Grove Mansion Inn by route of one of the main roads through town. We passed a majestic brick building that said “The Vicksburg” in white letters down the side.
The Mississippi River ran along our left side, and on it, a giant Mississippi river boat turned gambling palace. (It wasn’t until the next morning that we realized it was actually planted on land; it just looked like it was in the water from the road up above.)
On our way to the Inn, we saw that many shops in town were boarded up, out of business, trashed. This scene would be repeated over and over as we drove through the state. I’ve been to Mississippi before, but the poverty is overwhelming each and every time. And especially in a city with such a majestic framework like Vicksburg.
The Cedar Grove Mansion Inn is enormous. The plantation grounds are lush and gorgeous. We sure enjoyed the fried green tomatoes in the restaurant there! And it was quite a sight to see the floorboards still split in the parlor from a cannon that was fired during the civil war. In fact, the mansion was turned into a Union hospital during the war.
I’m sure it costs a fortune to keep up a place as grand as this one, and it looked as if the economy has taken a toll. The rooms were almost beautiful. The restaurant was almost great. The tennis courts were in disrepair and the pool needed a deep cleaning. In fact, throughout Vicksburg and throughout the state, we found a haunting juxtaposition of elegance and despair.
The next day we wandered down the main drag of Vicksburg, where we experienced the real charm and character of the city firsthand.